Sectors & markets

Ireland is a leading light in Europe for venture capital input into startups led by women

When it comes to investment, Ireland is ranked third in Europe

Ireland is a European leader when it comes to venture capital (VC) investment in female-led startups, according to a new report from financial data and research firm PitchBook.

Findings from the inaugural All In: Female Founders in the VC Ecosystem report were showcased recently at Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Funding the Future’ event, which explored how female-led Irish businesses are financing their journey to success.

The event was opened by junior minister Jennifer Carroll MacNeill and saw more than 100 female entrepreneurs and members of Ireland’s enterprise-funding ecosystem gather to learn more on VC investment.

When it comes to investment in female-led startups, Ireland is ranked third in Europe per deal count on a per capita basis, says PitchBook.

The ‘Road to VC Investment’ programme focuses on helping female founders

The pan-European report also noted that Ireland has consistently ranked in the top five countries in Europe for investment in female founders over the last 10 years. And it also found that VC firms invested €100m in Irish female-led startups in 2023.

To support the ecosystem of female founders, Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) launched a new phase in their partnership at the same event.

The ‘Road to VC Investment’ programme focuses on helping female founders prepare for the VC investment journey, aiming to increase the amount of VC invested in female-led businesses in Ireland.

The founders who are selected to participate will get access to mentorship, strategic workshops and masterclasses, and access to leading VCs in the Irish ecosystem.

​The new phase of this programme will also include webinars on tax governance and legal issues, as well as an equity and pitching workshop, and an opportunity to further develop pitching skills and to receive feedback from members of Ireland’s VC ecosystem and mentors.

Those who attended the EI event heard more detail on the All In report and the ‘Road to VC Investment’ programme during a fireside chat with Sarah Jane Larkin, director general of the IVCA.

The event also included two particularly interesting panel discussions.

The first focused on the topic of closing the gender gap, from the perspective of investors, with a panel including Helen McBreen (partner at Atlantic Bridge), Debbie Rennick (general partner at ACT Venture Capital) and David Bowles (managing partner at Yield Lab Europe).

The second panel featured leaders from EI-supported companies who have successfully funded and scaled their businesses, including Caroline Sherry (CFO at Hostelworld), Orlaith Ryan (co-founder of Shorla Oncology), and Karen May (CFO at XOCEAN).

In 2011, only 7pc of high-potential startups (HPSUs) that Enterprise Ireland invested in were led by women; but by 2023, that figure had risen to 31pc off the back of a focused strategy.

Enterprise Ireland believes our country’s economic success will be driven by harnessing a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem which utilises the skills, ambition and talent of the diverse population.

We are committed to championing this agenda and are working to achieve an equal gender divide while fostering a business ecosystem, where female entrepreneurs can thrive and deliver transformative innovations.


Share this page Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin