EIC Women Leadership Programme Wrap-Up: 2021 marked the first year of the female entrepreneurship programme. Here's our recap!
During the first year of the new decade, the European Innovation Council launched a new scheme to mentor women in innovation and tech, offering training and networking activities for female entrepreneurs and researchers supported by the EIC. The EIC Women Leadership Programme (WLP) is now in full swing, but before moving to new events and trainings, let's revisit the first year of the initiative that promises to support the female leaders of tomorrow.
The right leadership recipe
Many aspects can influence aspiring female entrepreneurs, especially when they are taking their first steps. They can be affected by their perception of opportunities, business and leadership skills, fear of failure, or even their contacts and network. The new EIC Women Leadership Programme considers all these obstacles that can make starting a business more difficult for women, including lack of access to information, training, funding, mentors and support networks. It offers the right leadership recipe, combining mentorship and coaching schemes with participatory training sessions and networking events, and the programme immediately caught the attention of many interested female innovators.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, participated at the EIC WLP Launching Event and highlighted its importance "I am convinced that all these initiatives in general and the new European Innovation Council Women Leadership Programme in particular, will contribute to the creation of a society where women participation in innovation will be easier and highly successful.".
In March 2021, the programme started with a call searching for mentors. The EIC gathered close to 500 applications, and in less than two months, more than 200 mentors were approved and joined our initial mentoring pool.
The call for participants was launched in June, and a new array of applications arrived at our mailbox. More than 213 beneficiaries applied, but only 50 female innovators got the exclusive spots. The 50 approved participants are from 18 countries and have diverse backgrounds and sectors, bringing unique inputs to the programme.
Joana Vaz Cardoso, Chief Scientific and Technical Officer at Ophiomics, is one of the 50 participants of the first cohort and believes that this opportunity is boosting her confidence. "I feel that I am engaged in something that can be important in the bigger picture, and not only for me. I am committed to this programme because I want to improve my capabilities, but I also want to help change things for others! I think the Programme boosts my confidence to take action towards what I want to achieve.".
Leadership empowerment activities
The first weeks of activities of the EIC WLP were filled with a series of engaging events:
- The Workshop "Mentoring the Mentors" marked the beginning of the mentoring scheme and helped the selected mentors shape their relationship with the participants.
- Two public events helped to bring the female leadership topic to the European innovation agenda – the Launching Event of the EIC WLP, on 7 October, with the participation of Mariya Gabriel (European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth) and Jean-David Malo (Director of EISMEA), and the roundtable "Dialogue of Confidence: How to Elevate Gender Equality and Tech Leadership" hosted at the EIC Summit on 25 November 2021.
- Four exclusive training sessions for our 50 female participants were delivered and focused on the first steps of the business development ladder, such as pitching, personal branding, how to scale up a company and early-stage fundraising.
Ana Maiques, CEO of the EIC-funded company Neuroelectrics, who participated in our 4th Training on "Personal Leadership and Branding", pointed that these female entrepreneurs need to have safe groups where they can grow together. "I think this programme is very interesting for women to realise that the way some of their peers think is usually very common, even to people that you perceive as a lot more successful than you. Some people seem very successful in the public eye, but they have also been through the impostor dilemma and not believing that they are good enough. So, the realisation in a group setting that this is a common cultural issue allows you to shift things. I would really encourage this kind of Programme to help change the mindset of many women leaders.".
What is coming next?
In this first cohort of the EIC WLP, the participants will finish off their journey by taking part in four training sessions between January and March 2022. During these final sessions, we will consolidate the learnings gathered since the start of the Programme by focusing on successful partnerships, internationalisation, team empowerment and the creation of a long-lasting legacy. More information about these events will be shared soon in the EIC Community.
If you're a female innovator or researcher funded by the EIC and you're wondering how to join this programme, we have good news for you! We saved the best for last! The EIC Women Leadership Programme will have a second cohort with more information to be announced in February 2022. So, follow us closely on the EIC Community and the EIC Women Leadership Programme page to be up to date on the latest news coming very soon.