Mariya Gabriel is European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Gender equality is a core European value and a long-standing commitment for me.
Women continue to face multiple barriers when bringing new ideas to the market and raising capital for their companies. This negatively affects the success rate of women-founded businesses and perpetuates the lack of awareness about the systemic nature of gender inequality.
The theme of today’s summit is Resilience, Empowerment, and Innovation. These topics are fully aligned with our ambition to close the gender gap and achieve equality.
Let me highlight some of the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, women investors and women innovators and some of the solutions that we are bringing at European level:
Women founders have more difficulties accessing the right networks and connecting with potential investors and customers. It is obvious that the lack of proper networking opportunities and the underrepresentation of women founders in these networks significantly influences the prosperity of women-led start-ups.
Women-led companies have more difficult access to venture capital. Women-led companies represent only 5% of all venture capital start-ups, and companies founded solely by women garnered just 2.4% of total venture capital invested in European start-ups.
To properly address those challenges and increase the resilience of our society we must break this cycle of inequality. These are some of the concrete actions that we have put forward to support women innovators and investors:
We have launched a brand-new call to invite European regions to become regional innovation valleys. The presence of women in this call is an essential ingredient for building resilience in the face of global competition.
With the EU Prize for Women Innovators, we bring visibility to the most talented European women entrepreneurs who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market.
Under the New European Innovation Agenda, through programmes such as the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) Women2Invest, we help women start their careers in venture investment and also give investors access to a group of promising women with technical background that will add diversity to their investment teams.
Another dedicated initiative is Women TechEU, which offers coaching and mentoring to women that have successfully founded their start-ups. With over 15 million euros budget for the 2023-2024 period, we will continue to support deep-tech start-ups led by women to grow into tomorrow’s female tech leaders.
Finally, I would like to highlight the need to support a gender-equal culture within research and innovation organisations, allowing women researchers to become the innovators of tomorrow. That is why with Horizon Europe, the EU framework programme for Research and Innovation, we have strengthened gender equality provisions. In order to be eligible for EU funding, public bodies, research organisations and higher education establishments must have in place a Gender Equality Plan.
To close the gender gap in Research and Innovation, we must all join forces. Congratulations to Novatore for organizing this Impact Summit for women’s economic empowerment!
I wish you fruitful discussions and success.