For students

Alison Wood - Lilypads

Lilypads ensures women have access to sanitary products that fit their needs

Edinburgh Innovation's client Alison Wood

Entrepreneur profile

Founder: Alison Wood

Student client while studying MA Economics

Business School


The idea

Lilypads ensures women have access to sanitary products that fit their needs by bringing a tailored fit and environmentally friendly sanitary product to the British market. The success of this product also supports Lilypads’ work in Kenya, which sells affordable sanitary products enabling girls to remain in education.


“I had just completed my economics dissertation ‘how we effectively teach sexual health’. The School of Economics has a link to a charity in Kenya. I went on a trip to Kenya as a volunteer which changed my career path. I learnt that many girls in rural communities have little to no access to sanitary products and were not taught about their menstrual cycles in school. Hearing that broke my heart. This has a big impact because some girls will miss school during their periods due to a lack of sanitary products.”


Environmental issue

Sanitary pads, the favoured product around the world, can in some cases be made from about 90% plastic – containing as much plastic as four supermarket bags. Tampons are predominantly cotton and rayon but have components made up of polyester materials. Many come individually wrapped with plastic applicators.


Many of the world’s pads and tampons end up in the sea and washed up on beaches. It has been estimated that 1.5–2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year, the great majority of which end up incinerated or in landfill.


Figures from the Marine Conservation Society reveal that on average, five pieces of menstrual waste are found per 100 metres of beach cleaned. 


“Go for more than once source of advice. I benefited a lot from the one-to-one business advice at Edinburgh Innovations but also from the mentor at Enactus Edinburgh.”



Alison has attended many of our events including Startup Bootcamp, 3 Day Startup, Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 and the Masterclass: Growing your Team. As part of the student society Enactus Edinburgh she won the Entrepreneurial Achiever Award in 2018, and Lilypads won the Social and Environment Award at Inspire Launch Grow 2019. Alison was part of our first cohort for the Santander-sponsored Startup Summer Accelerator programme and has received funding support.


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