The EU’s way of closing the Deep Tech Gender Gap

When it comes to helping the capital markets around deep technology, the EU is offering assistance to women-owned companies. Starting the pilot program of Women TechEU in July of 2021, the EU hopes to help even-out the underrepresentation of women in deep tech. Research from the EU shows that only 15% of technology startups are founded or co-founded by women. The data also indicates that women-led tech businesses raise substantially less from capital markets than male-only businesses, including at the important early milestones.

With only 2% of venture capital going to all-female business teams, it’s no surprise the EU has established the Women TechEU. This program offers financial support and mentorship to women-led tech startups. Some funding for these businesses is as much as € 75,000. The mentoring is offered through the EIC’s Women Leadership Program. If this pilot program is successful, as many as 50 EU women-led technology businesses will get funding. In order to apply, the applicant must be a founder or co-founder of the company, and must retain a top position in the company, such as CEO. The company must also be in its early stages of fundraising and must be registered in an EU Member state. The application for this incredible funding opportunity closes on November 10, 2021.

This program is the first step needed to increase diversity within deep technology. With a historical bias against women and minorities in the sciences, it can be more difficult for women-led businesses to get the publicity and funding they need. This program, if successful, may launch a series of programs by the EU to promote diversity within the deep tech sector. As there are thousands of businesses run by women and other minorities, there will be no shortage of candidates for government funding. Should this program be successful, hopefully other countries will take notice and establish similar programs.

Across the Atlantic, the US has yet to establish any similar policy. While the American government created the National Quantum Initiative in 2018, which offers funding opportunities for quantum research and quantum technology companies, it does not designate funds to promote diversity. Perhaps with the success of Women TechEU, the U.S. will establish a similar policy. The US has updated the National Quantum Initiative policy in recent years, with the NSF giving new Quantum Leap Challenges, but these again do not promote any diversity or address any gender gaps within quantum technology specifically.

Funding from the government can make or break a start-up company. While women-led tech businesses struggle to raise funding, the nature of their business may work against them. A majority of deep tech startups take a much longer time to make a profit due to an extensive research and development process. This can make it more difficult to succeed in fundraising, as many tech businesses need more funding up front, and cause longer return periods for investment. Without proper funding, many of these companies fail. Women TechEU comes as a blessing for many of these women-led startups, as fundraising will not be as difficult due to federal funding.

The many sub-industries within deep technology, such as virtual reality (VR), biotechnology, or AI make this funding opportunity irresistible for many companies. Because this funding is open to all deep technology, there will be a wide variety of businesses who are accepted, allowing for funding to be spread in different subsectors, and help to advance technology in different areas of society.

References:

O’Dea, Blathnaid. “New EU Pilot Scheme to Address Lack of Women in Deep-Tech.” Silicon Republic, 19 July 2021.

“Putting Women at the Forefront of Deep Tech with Women TechEU.” Innovation News Network, 19 July 2021,

“Women TechEU.” Eic.ec.europa.eu. 2021.