More women needed to lead and innovate in start-ups

More women needed to lead and innovate in start-ups

By addressing the gender gap Ireland can unleash innovation and creativity and spark a new era of entrepreneur led economic growth.

Entrepreneurship fuels economic growth, with new businesses accounting for a significant proportion of new job creation. Ireland is not fully exploiting its entrepreneurial potential, with fewer women starting and growing new businesses.

Research shows that women have particular skills and characteristics that lend themselves to being successful entrepreneurs, and in addition, increasing gender diversity in leadership positions results in higher profitability and productivity outcomes. By addressing the gender gap Ireland can unleash innovation and creativity and spark a new era of entrepreneur led economic growth.

When it comes to innovation we are living in an era characterized by exponential discovery. But the innovation that underpins entrepreneurial success, drives competitive advantage and allows Irish enterprises to win customers across the globe, is not always about an entirely new invention.

Commercial success is supported by continuous improvements both to internal processes and to the external manifestations of products and services. Constantly striving to find ways to solve customer problems more effectively for them and more efficiently for the business is innovation, and it is the life blood that sustains the growth and sustainability of any enterprise.

New start-ups that are highly innovative are often underpinned by technology. Tech start-ups are more likely to attract the type of investment required in order to create enterprises that scale on global markets, creating important employment and economic benefits.

However, less than one in five engineering graduates in Ireland are women, and a recent study by EIGE highlighted that, although the actual number of female ICT specialists in Ireland has risen, the proportion has fallen from 26% in 2006 to 19% in 2018. This has implications for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to encouraging and supporting more women to start and to scale enterprises underpinned by innovation. There are a wide range of supports available both from Enterprise Ireland and through the Local Enterprise Offices aimed at supporting innovation at all stages of company development.

Programmes such as New Frontiers enable entrepreneurs to explore an innovative business idea. Research and development supports are available for all levels of intensity, from Innovation Vouchers to R&D partnerships, and continuous improvement initiatives are supported through programmes such as LEAN. Women led innovative start-ups with international ambitions can also win investment funding through the Competitive Start Fund and the High Potential Start Up offer.

Enterprise Ireland’s ongoing commitment to promoting female entrepreneurship is a clear recognition that addressing the gender gap and fully utilising the innovation potential of 50% of our population offers opportunities for powerful economic impact, as well as the improvements to productivity and company performance that come about with increased diversity.

Sheelagh Daly

Enterprise Ireland
Sheelagh Daly

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