Female start ups land £200,000 funding for new business ideas

Female innovation was recognised at 2022 Women in Tech Conference. From left - Fiona Gildea (ComplyFirst), Audrey Osborne (Techstart Ventures), Lucy Baxter (Sensalience), Roseann Kelly (Women in Business), Francesca Morelli and Chloe Henning (both VaVa Influence), Kathleen Garrett (Techstart Ventures) and Daniel Jelly (ComplyFirst)

SIX women-led start-ups in the north are to share £200,000 in prize business grants as part of a Female Founders competition delivered by Women in Business in partnership with Techstart Ventures.

The initiative, which received more than 50 applications, welcomed pioneering projects from a broad spectrum of the region's business community, with ideas ranging from med-tech to baby products and virtual reality.

It comes at a time of significant growth for female entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland, with the Rose Review revealing that more than 1,500 companies were established by women in 2021, double that of 2018.

Lucy Baxter, whose enterprise Sensailence was among the winning start-ups, said: “It’s essential to celebrate and encourage women in the entrepreneurship space, a growing sector here.

“In 2020, just 2.4 per cent of global VC funding went to female founding teams and 5 per cent of VC partner roles were held by women, but Techstart and Women in Business are helping to redress that balance.”

The Female Founders competition sought to support female entrepreneurs with a grant and business mentoring support directed towards exploring the viability and commercial potential of their innovative business idea.

Kathleen Garrett, who heads up the grant fund at Techstart Ventures, said: “It’s inspiring to see first-hand the innovation and ingenuity within Northern Ireland’s community of entrepreneurs. The calibre of entries to the competition was really impressive.”

Roseann Kelly, chief executive of Women in Business, added: “Thanks to this partnership with Techstart Ventures, we have an opportunity to empower female entrepreneurship right here on our doorstep.

“It’s clear there is a real appetite here for female entrepreneurship. By accelerating the next generation of female-fronted start-ups, we can kindle a female enterprise ecosystem in Northern Ireland that has a positive ripple effect across society and the local economy for years to come. A massive ‘well done’ to all the winners.”

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