Women founders netted €234m in funding last year, says TechIreland

8 Mar 2023

Image: © Looker_Studio/Stock.adobe.com

While 2022 was another record funding year for women founders, Northern Ireland-based companies and sustainability start-ups fared poorly by comparison.

Women-led start-ups are experiencing record levels of funding, according to new data released today (8 March) by TechIreland.

The organisation’s report, the Female Founder Funding Review 2023, found that women founders across the island of Ireland raised a total of €234m over the last year.

This was a record figure, beating 2021’s previous record figure of €230m. These figures for 2022 show that women have kept their record streak going, as the year saw a large number of companies led by women. There were 72 women-led start-ups last year.

The latest edition of the report also shows that women have outperformed the overall start-up founders population. Funding for start-ups in Ireland dropped in recent months. However, women-led start-ups have not suffered too much as a result of this.

TechIreland singled out organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, NDRC, HBAN, Spark Crowdfunding and other independent angel investors for what it described as a pleasant anomaly.

The healthtech sector continued to top the funding by sector, with 22 companies raising a total €106m.

Start-ups specialising in enterprise tools secured €43m, with 16 companies sharing in that figure. Women-founded e-commerce start-ups jumped from just one the previous year to 11 companies last year.

Early-stage rounds between €100k and €300k increased dramatically to 36 last year, partly due to Enterprise Ireland increasing their early stage pre-seed round to €100k.

Some disappointments

The data was not all positive. The cleantech and sustainability sector fared comparatively poorly, attracting less than €2m last year.

Northern Ireland start-ups only raised a total of €4m, which is small in proportion to the island total. The report did note that companies in areas outside of Dublin performed well, with funding going to start-ups such as Kilkenny’s TransferMate and Galway’s Carrick Therapeutics.

Like previous years, the top three outliers made up 66pc of the total funding raised by women founders. These outliers were TransferMate , which raised €66m; Carrick Therapeutics, which raised €30m; and Proverum, which raised €30m. Another large outlier was &Open which raised €26m last year. The other 68 companies raised €58m between them.

Commenting on the data, the CEO of TechIreland, John O’Dea said that “women-led start-ups are pushing the bar higher each year.”

Martina Fitzgerald of Scale Ireland agreed that the results were impressive, particularly “given the challenging investment background in the second half of the year.”

“However, the total funding into women-founded startups in 2022 does not tell the full story,” she cautioned. “Sadly, women-led companies represent just 24pc of the total number of companies that raised funding last year, and only 13pc of the total funding raised.’’

Mary McKenna of the AwakenHub in Northern Ireland also remarked that the investment ecosystem was “challenging.”

According to Gillian Buckley of the Western Development Commission, “We need to better communicate to girls and young women that engineering disciples help address major societal issues. We must also encourage more women into the VC industry and more women angel investors.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.