TechIreland releases new figures for women founders €100m goal

19 Jul 2018

There is still a way to go for Irish women-led start-ups to overcome funding obstacles. Image: nobil/Shutterstock

Back in March, TechIreland set an ambitious goal to see women-founded tech companies receive more than €100m in funding in 2018. How are the figures looking?

Data platform TechIreland announced the beginning of a campaign in March to see Irish woman tech founders grow their total annual funding from €79m in 2017 to more than €100m in 2018. The campaign has the support of organisations such as NDRC, as well as Draper Esprit’s Brian Caulfield and Elkstone Capital’s Alan Merriman, among others.

Today (19 July), new figures on women founders’ funding have been released. TechIreland tracks the campaign by noting women founders or co-founders who secure funding during 2018. To date, only €18m in funding has been secured, but this is still €2m more than this time last year, and nine companies have raised more than $1m each compared to five in July 2017.

The most successful women-founded or co-founded firms in terms of funding in the first half of 2018 were: ProVerum, Soapbox Labs, Avectas, Payslip, Pharmapod, Wndyr, Kite Medical, SalesOptimize and MicroGen Biotech.

TechIreland notes a major funding gap

According to TechIreland, the fundamental issue is that female founders receive much less funding than their male counterparts: “Even at the highest level, when you include all public and private funding sources, female founder companies on average raise €1.1m versus the €2.2m average across all companies on TechIreland, versus €2.4m when you look at male-only founders.” This funding gap widens further when private funding sources are considered.

TechIreland CEO Niamh Bushnell puts this problem down to a series of factors. “The melting pot of answers includes things like trust and belief systems and culture and habits, but it also includes a straightforward dose of bias and the fact that there’s a dearth of investors in Ireland with loud, strong, female voices,” she said.

The need for investors to adapt to changing business environments at the pace of these female-led companies is also crucial at this juncture, according to Bushnell: “Female founders in Ireland are asking for more opportunities to secure funding and they deserve to get them, as well as to feel supported in walking away from deals that don’t add up for them.”

Support is available for women founders

Bushnell also emphasised that, although it can seem like a lonely journey, support is out there. TechIreland is currently tracking 64 female-founded firms who have all secured more than €500,000 in funding. These founders are only too happy to provide perspective and feedback, and Bushnell implored founders to email TechIreland if they wish to be introduced to a woman founder they admire.

In 2017, a number of women-led businesses received major funding rounds, from Axonista and Soapbox Labs to WarDucks and Nuritas.

Back in March, Patricia Scanlon from Soapbox Labs said: “A diverse founding team that understands all markets and consumers is critical to prevent groupthink, which limits a business’s potential. More than that, studies have shown repeatedly that female leaders run more profitable companies. Investing in companies with female founders just makes business sense.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects