Around half of Enterprise Ireland’s start-ups are now women-led

10 Jul 2017

Dr Carol Gibbons, director of ICT programmes, Enterprise Ireland. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

We are going to keep going, Enterprise Ireland’s Dr Carol Gibbons tells Inspirefest.

Out of 128 start-ups that joined Enterprise Ireland’s programmes last year, 63 were women-led businesses, said Dr Carol Gibbons, director of ICT programmes at the State agency, to the audience at Inspirefest 2017.

This is up from 43 women-led start-ups in 2014, and an increase on the overall total of 104 companies that same year.

‘If there was a lack of role models, we brought them. If there was a lack of networks, we created networks’

Gibbons said that Enterprise Ireland is something of a rocket ship when it comes to enabling innovation. The agency has already facilitated more than 1,000 company collaborations with the third-level sector.

By 2018, she revealed, the funds raised by Enterprise Ireland since 1994 will reach €1.9bn.

Moving in the right direction

“We are going in the right direction. In 2011, our CEO Julie Sinnamon took a look at our numbers and found that investment in female founders was only 11pc. She asked what needed to be done.

“We did it. How? If there was a lack of role models, we brought them. If there was a lack of networks, we created networks. If there was a lack of ambition, we pushed forward and asked for that investment that you know will make a difference.

“We are proud. We will keep going at this, adding another dimension, encouraging start-ups to add diversity onto their teams.”

While good progress has been made, Enterprise Ireland is not resting on its laurels.

Gibbons said: “63 isn’t enough. We need to shine a light. We deliberately went out and sought female founders. We didn’t change the fund but we targeted the messaging and wrapped a lot of supports around female founders.

“We will keep going until it becomes the norm. Because it is not the norm today.”

“Our CEO has that mantra and she will continue to drive and develop more female founders,” Gibbons concluded.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years