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This International Women’s Day, the EIT celebrates 16 years of investing in women to accelerate progress

Our gender equality activities unleash the potential of women in entrepreneurship and innovation so that women can unleash the innovation potential of Europe.

This year’s International Women’s Day is giving the clarion call to the world to invest in women to accelerate progress. The challenges of climate change, health, energy or food can only be addressed by empowering women. The EIT faces these global challenges head on, knowing full well that integrating women into innovation, tech and business is the key to meaningful change. Our gender equality policy is more than talk – it’s action. Our focus on gender equality means we’ve already pushed the participation of women in high-level entrepreneurial and innovation roles past the European average where only 15% of European start-ups are founded by women. Women within the EIT Community make up:

  • 25% of CEOs/owners of EIT KIC-supported start-ups and scale-ups 
  • 24% of CEOs/owners of start-ups created
  • 35% of graduates from our EIT Labelled-education programmes
  • 57% of participants in non-EIT Labelled education programmes and trainings 
  • 38% of the EIT’s own management

We’ll continue to strive for a Europe and a world where women – half the population – have the same support and access to the world of tech and business as men do. We’re accomplishing this through gender mainstreaming and a broad array of women-focused programmes and initiatives supported by the whole EIT Community. That includes programmes that:

  • increase the number of women in venture capital
  • fight the gender gap in STEM 
  • boost women’s participation  in innovation and entrepreneurship in key sectors, including energy, climate, food and health
  • build stronger networks of women leaders across Europe
  • and so much more

We don’t quietly support women – we shout their accomplishments from the rooftops

We’re especially proud of how our work has raised the profiles of women entrepreneurs and innovators across Europe. We strongly believe in the power or creating role models that can inspire girls and women everywhere to follow in the footsteps of women leaders coming out of the EIT Community. These efforts were recognised in 2023 when we were awarded the EU Agencies Network (EUAN) Diversity & Inclusion Award for the way we power outstanding women innovators and entrepreneurs through the EIT Women Leadership Award.

We’re continuing that work alongside our friends at the European Innovation Council (EIC) through the European Prize for Women Innovators. The prize is both a grand celebration of women in business and tech as well as an opportunity for contestants to win funding, connect, and build new communities. With the finalists announced at the EIT Summit on 20 February, we’re looking forward to announcing the winners at R&I Week on 18 MarchNominees compete in three categories:

  • Women Innovators: Open to all women who are founders and co-founders of businesses across the EU and Associated Countries
  • Rising Innovators: Open to promising young innovators under 35
  • EIT Women Leadership: Open to those with a direct link to the EIT Community

It’s not just a mantra – our own research proves women’s inclusion powers innovation

The EIT Community continues to prove the importance of women in tech and business through its in-depth research. Our study in association with Dealroom revealed that women-founded tech scale-ups grew 1.2x faster than their competitors over the past five years, giving us a taste of the progress that can be unleashed if Europe invests more in women. 

EIT Community research has also shown why venture capital funds and agrifood businesses gain in value and success  not just from women’s participation but from women’s leadership.

The fight’s not over

The gender gap in innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the key barriers to enhancing Europe’s innovation potential. We believe that fixing the numbers – increasing the participation of women in innovation and entrepreneurship – is not enough. We need to fix the institutions and ensure gender bias and discrimination-free inclusive environments. We also need to fix the knowledge gathering process by incorporating the gender dimension into research and innovation content.  We need to address the specific needs and barriers women are facing in entrepreneurship and innovation when shaping our Strategic Agendas, work plans, monitoring processes, and daily work. Only then can we create and commercialise innovation that responds the needs of the whole society and answers the world's most pressing challenges. 

Want to learn more about all of our activities, research, and policies?

Check out our EIT Gender Equality Factsheet

Read our EIT Gender Equality Policy