A contribution by Ana Alcaine, European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food

A supernova is the explosion of a star, that results in sudden great increase in brightness. We believe that now is the time for women to shine in deeptech entrepreneurship ecosystem. And that is why we named our programme Supernovas.

Supernovas is a programme sponsored by European Institute of Technology and Innovation (EIT) that focuses on deeptech startups with a dual objective:

  1. To help young female graduates in STEAM studies get jobs in the deeptech entrepreneurship ecosystem (both startups and venture capital funds)
  2. To support women leading deeptech startups.

Let’s go by parts:

What is a deeptech startup? A recently created company that offers technological solutions based on substantial scientific advances and high tech engineering innovation.

Why do we need to attract women with STEAM studies to deeptech startups and venture capital funds? Only 15% of deeptech start-ups are founded or cofounded by women, and only 6% have an all-female founding team.

Startups in general and deeptech ones in particular need to get money from investors to be able to grow and be successful; this type of funding is called venture investment or venture capital. And deeptech startups led by women are raising much less of this funding than their male-led counterparts: across Europe, only around 5% of venture capital goes to mixed teams, and only 2% to all-female teams. So, only about one third of their weight in terms of number of companies!

This means it is less likely that a women-led deeptech startup will be successful (grow) or even survive!

Not surprisingly, venture capital teams lack gender diversity, with 85% of them having all male investment committees (that is the committee that makes a final decision on which companies their money will be invested in).

What do we need to do to change this picture? If we want more successful female entrepreneurs in deeptech we need:

  1. More girls to choose STEAM studies.
  2. More women with the technical and scientific education (STEAM) needed in deeptech startups being exposed to an entrepreneurial environment, so that they can – with time – either take senior positions in those startups, or become entrepreneurs themselves that will launch new companies.
  3. More women in investment committees when making decisions on which deeptech startups to give funding to: more diversity leads to less gender-biased decisions.
  4. More support for female entrepreneurs in deeptech

What is our plan to achieve this? We have developed 4 activities:

  1. Startup Stairway: to help female recent graduates in STEAM studies get paid internships in deeptech startups.
  2. Women2Invest: to train female recent graduates in STEAM studies in venture capital and help them get paid internships in funds.
  3. RocketUp: to help female-led deeptech startups grow international and start selling in new markets.
  4. EIT-EIC Women Leadership: to help female entrepreneurs in deeptech lead through training, mentoring and coaching.

Details here: Supernovas – EIT Food

Please help us spread the word amongst female STEAM students and graduates, deeptech startups and investors! If you are considering or have already chosen a STEAM degree, we would love to hear from you in a few years when you are close to graduation should you consider a career in deeptech entrepreneurship or investment (we hope you will!).

This article has been published in the June 2022 edition of the ENGIE Magazine.