The Rise of Female Pioneers in IDEATE Ireland’s Startup Competition

The Rise of Female Pioneers in IDEATE Ireland's Startup Competition

In a world where innovation knows no bounds, one cannot help but notice the resounding surge of female brilliance making waves across the Irish entrepreneurial landscape. This surge can be attributed to a decade-long strategic commitment by academia, government, industry, and the startup ecosystem to implement interventions to level the playing field for women in entrepreneurship.


Unlocking the Power of Female Innovation

IDEATE Ireland has witnessed an unprecedented increase in women applying to the competition. What was once a modest 30% representation soared in 2023 to 90% of finalists having at least one woman on the team and 50% being female-led, signalling a seismic change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The referral from a colleague, coupled with IDEATE Ireland’s reputation as a nurturing space for women-led ventures, convinced me that this was the perfect platform to propel Digi Academy forward,” said founder Esther Murphy (Trinity College Dublin).


Diverse Sectors, Singular Vision

But who are these trailblazers, and what sectors do they represent? The answer is as diverse as it is inspiring. Women from many backgrounds are stepping into the spotlight, bringing their unique perspectives. From education, e-commerce and healthcare to financial services, HR, and marketing, these visionaries leave an indelible mark on every industry they touch.

According to Siobhán Kelleher, founder of OnaWave Medical (NUIG) and an award winner in last year’s competition, “IDEATE Ireland offers a platform for women to realise their full potential. She emphasises “that it’s not solely about the ideas themselves, but also about the invaluable peer learning experience shared among fellow teams and access to the IDEATE Ireland alumni community.”


Thriving in Structured Learning Environments

But what sets these founders apart? It is not just about having a seat at the table; it is about thriving in an environment that fosters growth and cultivates potential. According to IDEATE Ireland data, 95% of female participants value the structured learning environment and mentorship, with most accessing next stage supports and investment funding post-competition.

The support offered by IDEATE Ireland was pivotal for Alison O’Shea, co-founder of NeuroBell. “The guidance and resources provided have been instrumental in steering us through the stages of venture development,” she reflects. “This programme catapulted us towards success, instilling the confidence to raise a seed round of €2.1M within 18 months of completing the accelerator.”


A Call to Action: Empowering the Next Generation

As the 2024 edition of IDEATE Ireland’s startup competition gets underway, it marks the dawn of a new era for women in entrepreneurship on the island of Ireland. Helen Fullen, co-founder of IDEATE Ireland, remarks, “The significant number of women applying to IDEATE Ireland’s Startup Competition isn’t a statistical anomaly, but rather it signifies a burgeoning confidence and the influence of an increasing number of female entrepreneurial role models.” This sentiment underscores a powerful message: the time has come for aspiring female innovators, visionaries, and changemakers across the island of Ireland to seize the moment and become part of a transformative movement that is shaping the future, one idea at a time.

IDEATE Ireland is open for applications to undergraduate and postgraduate students, recent graduates (within two years), and researchers in universities and research centres across the island of Ireland. (While the focus of this article is on female entrepreneurs, the programme welcomes applications from individuals of all genders). Applications close on Tuesday, 19 March 2024.

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