Deep tech accounts for more than a quarter of the European start-up ecosystem, with European deep tech companies valued at around 700 billion euros. Yet women remain largely underrepresented in this industry. A new European Commission scheme – Women TechEU – aims to change that.
Only 15% of innovative start-ups are founded or co-founded by women, and only 6% have exclusively female founding teams. What further complicates the situation is that these women-led companies raise less venture capital than their male-only counterparts. The critical early-stage investments, and the amounts they raise, also tend to be lower. Accordingly, across Europe, only about 5% of venture capital goes to mixed teams and an astonishing 2% to all-female teams. These are alarmingly low figures for women’s representation in the industry.
To respond to this situation, the European Commission recently launched Women TechEU – a new EU programme to support women-led deep tech start-ups and foster their development into the deep tech champions of tomorrow. This programme is part of the new Horizon Europe Innovation Ecosystems Programme, reinforced by the European Innovation Councils (EICs).
Women Tech EU is one of a series of measures to promote female innovators. Earlier this month, the European Commission announced that it had received a record number of applications for the EU Prize for Women Innovators – a testament to the need for initiatives like these that celebrate and support female innovators and entrepreneurs. The new scheme explicitly addresses the gender gap in innovation by supporting women-led deep-tech start-ups in the early, riskiest stages. It provides financial support to women-led start-ups with grants of €75 000 and coaching and mentoring from the EIC’s Women Leadership Programme.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, says: “With Women TechEU, we want to increase the number of women-led start-ups and create a fairer and more thriving European deep tech ecosystem. We believe that today’s support for female deep tech founders will increase their chances of success and strengthen the entire European innovation ecosystem by attracting more female talent.”
This first Women TechEU pilot call will support up to 50 promising deep tech start-ups from EU Member States and associated countries. Thinking of applying? If you meet the following criteria, submit your application by 10 November 2021:
- Applicants must have founded or co-founded an early-stage deep tech start-up.
- Applicants must hold a top management position (CEO, CTO or equivalent) within the company.
- The company must have been registered and established in an EU Member State or Associated Country for at least six months at the time of submission.