Startup Stairway breaks the European trend

In Europe only 30% of the startups are led by women whilst 55% of the participants in Startup Stairway are female-led startups.

SUPERNOVAS is the Cross-KIC project launched in 2022 and aimed at increasing the number of women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the investment industry. It is implemented by EIT Food, EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility.

In its 2022 edition, it comprised four different actions, Startup Stairway, Rocket Up, Women to Invest and the Women Leadership Programme. This last one in collaboration with the European Innovation Council.

It has been demonstrated that the existence of references can speed up the integration of women to launch their own companies or becoming investors. With SUPERNOVAS we aim to generate a recognized  community of “references” that can spread out the word and attract more women in this domain.

Antoni Pijoan, EIT Manufacturing CLC West Director

Startup Stairway aspires to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of young women in STEAM and to support startups that want to improve the gender balance of their teams, providing them with female talent. That’s why a call for startups that wanted to hire more women, was opened. The participant startups provided some information about their needs, their country of registration and the gender of their CEOs, which allowed us to get some conclusions about them.

With the Startup Stairway programme, we wanted, on one hand, to trigger the entrepreneurial spirit of young women and on the other hand, to increase the presence of women in STEAM roles. Currently, women presence across professional roles is unbalanced. Specially, women are under-represented in STEAM roles.

Blanca Chocarro, Circular economy and water scarcity Project Manager at EIT Manufacturing

Twenty eligible applications were received within Startup Stairway and almost half of the startups (40%) were registered and located in Spain. On the other hand, 20% of them were registered in Germany; so together, they amount 60% of the eligible applications. Additionally, startups from other countries such as France, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Rumania, Greece and Austria, were also present.

On the other hand and as a striking result, 55% of the startups had female CEOs; which is not the trend in Europe, where only 30% of startups are led by women.

This is proving that we are walking on the right direction, but still there is a lot of work to do. In Europe and on average, data confirm that only 30% of entrepreneurs are women and in certain countries, this percentage is even lower. Programmes such as SUPERNOVAS are key to overcome these numbers and bring more women into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Natalia Méndez, Cross-KIC Project Manager at EIT Manufacturing

Regarding the startups needs, computer or software engineer was the most demanded profile (36,8%) followed by industrial engineer (21,1%), which clearly shows the need for this expertise. Additionally, other STEAM qualifications, such as chemists and biologists were also required by the startups.