Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership

The EIT’s mission is to empower innovators and entrepreneurs across Europe to turn their best ideas into products and services. The EIT is tasked with driving innovation and together with our Innovation Communities, we place a strong emphasis on education to train the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

This is currently limited to the university level and we have noticed that that the participation of women entrepreneurs in EIT activities should increase. We want to change the low participation of women entrepreneurs across all EIT C.ommunity activities. 

Learn more about the EIT's Gender Mainstreaming Policy

Underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship, economic leadership and the technology sector is recognised as a significant problem globally.

Women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. Women are the largest untapped entrepreneurial and leadership potential in Europe. Only 5-15% of high-tech business is owned by women.

EIT Community women entrepreneurs have scored considerable success. Finalists in the EU Prize for Women Innovators, winner of the Rising Star category of the EU Prize for Women Innovators, and named on the Forbes Europe 30 under 30 lists.

Although women are often early adopters of new technology, they are rarely at their inception. If technological developments are almost entirely conducted by men, then half of society is not represented in the development process. It is also widely admitted that a more diverse ecosystem leads to better products and services, grants access to new and different experiences, and significantly improves the work environment and company and talent productivity.

In addition, young girls’ interest and enthusiasm in digital entrepreneurship and leadership are often damaged over time by stereotyping, cultural discouragement, peer pressure, and lack of inspiration and role models resulting in a lack of confidence to engage with entrepreneurship, leadership and technology.

Our long-term objective is to empower women entrepreneurs and nurture women leaders by increasing the number of girls aged 12 to 18 interested in technology, innovation, digitalisation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Through this, the EIT will:

  • Support a cooperation platform that implements women entrepreneurship & leadership activities;
  • Expand and link our 2017 and 2018 activities and their success stories and lessons learned to interested partners, EIT Alumni, in our EIT Community activities, such as INNOVEIT, and also through EIT Innovation Communities' own women entrepreneurship & leadership activities;
  • Disseminate success stories to encourage the empowerment of girls and women across Europe


EIT Woman Award 

In 2018, the EIT introduced a new EIT Awards category for women innovators. The EIT Woman Award recognises the outstanding achievements of women entrepreneurs and leaders from our Innovation Communities.Sara Guimarães Gonçalves, Co-Founder of Trigger.Systems (supported by EIT InnoEnergy and EIT Food), won the 2019 EIT Woman Award for irrigation system that uses calculation models based on weather forecasts and plant conditions to save up to 40 per cent of water. 



Activities for 2019

The following activities will take place in 2019:

Enhancing digital and entrepreneurship skills among girls

The European Commission, through the Digital Education Action Plan, supports technology-use and digital competence development in education. The EIT welcomes the adoption of the Digital Education Action Plan and plans to contribute to the implementation of its Action 8 Training in digital and entrepreneurial skills for girls.

Project goals

The specific goals we aim to achieve in collaboration with our partners are the following.
  • Promote positive role models and enhancing digital and entrepreneurship skills among girls that help to tackle the gender gap and boost female participation in science, technology and business
  • Inspire female students to consider careers in technology, entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Organise a series of workshops on digital and entrepreneurial skills throughout Europe for girls in primary and secondary education (up to 20 000 girls by the end of 2020), with a particular focus on EIT RIS countries. Related procurement information is available here while more information on the EIT involvement in this intiative can be found here 
  • Active participation in key Women Leadership and Entrepreneurship events across Europe.
  • Participation and sharing of content with select online women leadership and entrepreneurship platforms
  • The dissemination of profiles of 'Inspirational EIT Community Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs'
  • Leverage Women Investors network at a European Level and connect them to EIT Innovation Communities and EIT Alumni investment dealflow
  • The EIT Woman Award
  • Support and promote the Women @ EIT initiative

Initiatives from the EIT's Innovation Communities

The empowerment of women entrepreneurs is an EIT Community wide objective. Each of the EIT's Innovation Communities are committed to increasing the number of women in innovation. For example:

Women @ EIT
WE Health

Previous activities

Throughout 2016 and 2017, the EIT organised a series of women entrepreneurship and leadership workshops, with the long-term aim of increasing the overall number of women innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs participating in the economy. In 2016, three workshops were held in October and November at Mozaik, Impact Hub and Kitchen Budapest, and a total of 16 speakers provided their insights over the three workshops.

In 2017 the EIT, with the support of Ernst & Young (EY), and Junior Achievement expanded these workshops into other RIS countries. Namely: Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, and Romania.

Read about our some of our workshops below:

The future is digital. I encourage all young women to get involved Martin Kern, EIT Interim Director

Other EIT activities included: