What’s the biggest untapped entrepreneurial potential in Europe? Women!

EIT Director Martin Kern at Brain Bar Budapest

Europe’s top female entrepreneurs recognised at the Women Startup Competition Europe

Europe’s best startups run by women were recognised in Budapest last weekend during the Women Startup Europe Competition, organised as part of the Budapest Brain Bar festival. The winner, BOOKR Kids, an interactive library application for children, inspires children to read classic and modern children’s stories, even in our digitalised world.

Martin Kern, Interim Director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), was a member of the jury on the Women Startup Competition Europe. The winners were chosen from the 12 finalists, who were selected from over 160 applications. Most applications came from Hungary - 17 startups, the UK, Spain and the Scandinavian countries. 'What’s the biggest untapped entrepreneurial potential in Europe? Women. Women constitute 52% of the European population but only 30% of entrepreneurs. Winners of the Women Startup Competition Europe are great example of amazing talent and innovative minds – Europe needs more women entrepreneurs,'  said Mr Kern.

'It seems that this year we have seen the result of three years of work as one of our selected teams - who participated in our competition and has been prepared during our mentoring and pitch training week -also won Friday’s CEE Lift-Off – claimed to be the biggest regional competition,' said Tamas Muller, founder of the Women Startup Competition.

The project, which aims to foster female entrepreneurship, has two targets: on the one hand, through the supporting ambiance and environment set by the organisers, backed by sponsors, they wish to help, inspire and prepare female entrepreneurs to stand successfully in an environment dominated by male entrepreneurs; on the other hand, they wish to attract investor attention to the less represented, but high potential, of female entrepreneurs.

A well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, First Round Capital, announced in their report last year that there is a 63% higher success rate in their investments where there is at least one female founder in the team, compared to those who have only male founders.

'We are surprised and delighted to see such a huge interest. This inspired us to start negotiating about bringing the event to other continents.,'  said Mr Muller.

With the winning startup’s application, BOOKR Kids, you can reach a whole bookshop’s worth of children’s stories for free, or for a small subscription fee.

'We’d like our service, BOOKR Kids, to become a place on the internet where children and their family members can spend valuable time together. Our goal is to become international by making available more than 10.000 books in 27 languages within our app. The two prizes we won can help us get closer to this dream,' said Dorka Horvath, founder of BOOKR Kids, Winner of Women Startup Competition Europe.

Kids Friendly Media, a Finnish startup, came second place. Kids Friendly Media, with over eight million users, helps families discover and book child-friendly services they need.

Third place went to BloomyLoom, a Hungarian small design startup with textiles designed to the last fibre. Their focus is baby wraps that support the developing spine and also help parents with visual impairment wrap their babies close to their hearts with ease.

And the finalists…

  • ALINA (Latvia) is new type of eco-friendly antimicrobial additive for building materials to prevent micro-organisms’ negative effects, as a result protecting and prolonging durability and aesthetics of materials for more than two decades.
  • Blendlee (Germany) develops and licenses Experiential Blended Business Training Packages in the area of management.
  • ClearKarma Group SAS (Austria), trusted food information platform, is solving the problem of global food traceability end-to-end from the farmer to the consumer, via food manufacturers and distributors.
  • Gather (Hungary) offers customized home interior designs for their users based on their personalities in the form of a mobile application. The system will learn and understand the needs and personal style of the users and create a custom set of colors, materials and furniture that they can easily purchase from the app.
  • ICAN Future Star Ltd (UK) creates mobile apps, under the name 'HelloUni' to help applicants find their dream universities and universities find their ideal applicants.
  • Lilla Fisk AB (Sweden) is offering a subscription-based service, where parents can rent high-quality baby clothes in a full set.
  • Orrlando (Spain) helps you book any artist online - as an Airbnb for artists.
  • Plan Penny (Danemark) is a light-weight digital project planning tool designed for the creative minded freelancer.
  • She'z (UK - Israel) creates a community and social marketplace for wellness and lifestyle services based on the wisdom of women.

Although this season’s event-series ended with the Women Startup Competition, from autumn the organisers continue helping gender diverse startups reach greater success.

'It is our pleasure that this year we could continue working on Women Startup Competition Europe thanks to such great sponsors and partners like GE Digital, institutions from the Hungarian government and The European Institute of Innovations and Technology – who believe and see long-term potential in female innovations and to whom it’s important to create gender diversity in tech and gender equality,'  said Mr Muller, who pointed out that workshop and mentoring events play a crucial role in supporting female entrepreneurship.

Press release courtesy of Women Startup Competition Europe press material.