As we settle into 2020, we recognise the maturity and integration of the European Startup Ecosystem. Well-established startup hubs such as; Paris and Berlin continue to excel, with cities like Stockholm and Amsterdam ascending into the list of Top 30 Global Startup Ecosystems, and cities like Dublin, Barcelona, and Munich entering into the same arena of play.

However, a key feature of this cross-border ecosystem still has a way to go, as women founders continue to be underrepresented; with just 8% accounted for in the top EU ecosystem, Paris – fig. according to the 2019 Startup Genome.

This statistic adding yet another reason as to why, here at the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) we are continuing in the support and nurturing of women founders across Europe, through the Women in Entrepreneurship (WER) project (supported by the European Commission, Startup Europe, the US State Department and Amazon), launched in March 2019.

Since 2012, we have supported women in entrepreneurship, integrated within our first steps into the pan-European ecosystem. Expanding this key value, over the past 12 months; having planned and hosted 10 roadshow events across Europe, created a near 300 strong alumni network of women entrepreneurs, with the addition of leading investors and founders a variety of startup and innovation fields; including sustainability, slow fashion, mobility, and deep tech, and assisted in making women founders more represented and accounted for within the overall voice of European startups and innovation, through access to funding opportunities.

Through the #WER project, our initial aim was to connect 300 high-potential female entrepreneurs with 30 US and European VCs to improve their access to finance. Mapping the main challenges and obstacles that women entrepreneurs face in their entrepreneurial journey and facilitate the best practices, from the US, by working with existing national mentoring networks. Also raising awareness about these barriers and starting to build a consensus of the needed changes that must be implemented.

As the project has flourished, so have our aims and goals. The #WER project is now an established player in the diversity  discussion in Europe, as we set about concreting the long-term intention of the project, namely through the exclusive week-long Startup Bootcamp in May 2020, in Tel Aviv, home to the highest number of startups per capita, second only to Silicon Valley. As well as the ambitious Women in Entrepreneurship Summit, in June 2020, in the heart of Europe, Brussels.

Taking #WER into both the international and institutional facing stages, to broaden the horizons of women entrepreneurs in Europe, creating a more open, diverse, and inclusive landscape.

Nicholas Zylberglajt President of EYIF and founder and  COO of Unmanned Life.