'Women TechEU' Programme Launched

The EU celebrated International Women’s day 2021 with a brand new initiative to support women in deep tech. We think it's great and want to share it with as many people as possible.

The ‘Women TechEU’ programme will assist female leaders working in deep tech in growing their businesses into future industry leaders. It's funded under a Horizon Europe work programme and matches first class mentors with female CEOs and founders. Participants will also be provided with expert advice and targeted funding to bring their businesses to the next level. Mentors will be recruited through the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Women Leadership Programme.

Supporting deep tech

As a tech founder, I welcome this new programme and encourage others to get involved. Deep tech accounts for over a quarter of Europe’s startup ecosystem, generating over €700 billion revenue annually, and women are grossly underrepresented (European Startups, 2021). Women are overlooked because of stereotypes and gender bias in an industry where it is difficult to get started. This is further compounded by the fact that funding can be difficult for any deep tech start-up to get, as we have longer R&D cycles, and it takes more time to scale.

If all that wasn't challenging enough, the global pandemic has also led to further setbacks for female-led startups. Last year it was reported that 90.8% of all capital raised in the EU went to all male teams, and this is up from 90.3% in 2019 (Atomico, 2020).

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Constructive leadership

It's a grim picture and what's needed is solid leadership with proactive initiatives that really support women in tech. The EIC has made great strides in this respect. Their latest funding accelerator call had 25% of applications for the second stage of their evaluation process generated from women-led companies. This was a staggering jump from 7% to 34% and equated to an overall increase in the female-led companies to a total of 15 (Segler Consulting, 2021). It's a great example of how to deliver on equality with a lasting impact. The next EIC Accelerator is currently recruiting innovative SMEs and they are particularly interested in hearing from female-led SMEs. For further information, check out the EIC website here.

Call for mentors

The ‘Women TechEU’ pilot scheme will launch on the 23-24 of June at the European and Innovation Days online event. The scheme will support a first cohort of up to 50 promising deep tech start-ups from across the EU. The Commission is looking for experienced entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, or senior managers, both male and female, who are motivated to make a lasting impact on the role of women in innovation and tech.

The time commitment on the mentors' side is expected to be a minimum of 2 hours per month, and they will be invited to participate in networking events with other mentors and mentees. Applications are on a rolling basis and more info can be found here.

Mentoring programmes like this are critical as they enhance skills, build confidence and create networks for all involved. A great initiative, one well worth getting involved in.

Further reading

Report on Diversity and Inclusion: 'The State of European Tech Report 2020' by Atomico.

Report on European Deep Tech: '2021: The Year of Deep Tech' by European Startups.

Report on Women in the EIC Accelerator: 'Why It’s Great to be a Female Entrepreneur in the EU (EIC Accelerator)' by Segler Consulting.

Photo credit: Claudio Centonze, European Union