Thursday 13 December 2018

Female-led startups get less than 1pc of Irish venture capital cash

Women’s startups receive less
Women’s startups receive less
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

New figures show that the amount of venture capital allocated to female-founded companies has fallen below 1pc in Ireland so far this year.

Of €310m of venture funds placed in tech and biotech companies in Ireland between January and March, just €2.3m went to a firm with at least one woman as co-founder.

While the average male-founded firm received €16m in venture funding, companies founded by women attracted an average of €0.8m.

"There is clearly a problem," said Elaine Coughlan, a co-founder and partner of Atlantic Bridge, one of the country's biggest venture capital firms.

"There are supply issues with girls in computer science courses but also problems in the VC industry where you typically see just single-digit percentages when it comes to senior female executives."

The figures, taken from the Irish Venture Capital Association's (IVCA) cyclical 'Venture Pulse' survey for the first quarter of the year, will raise further questions over female participation rates in high growth indigenous technology companies.

"I don't really buy the argument that there isn't good enough deal flow from women," said William McQuillan, a partner at Frontline Ventures, one of the most active 'early stage' venture capital firms in the State. "There are fantastic female entrepreneurs out there, but the investing world has been a little hostile to them over the last decade."

The drop in cash to female founders comes after a relatively buoyant year for female tech entrepreneurs in Ireland.

In 2017, €72m of the €958m of venture capital placed in 190 tech and biotech companies here went to a firm founded or co-founded by a woman.

Despite being just 7.5pc of the total pot, it was twice as much as previous years in Ireland.

So far this year, 22 tech and biotech companies received €310m in venture capital. Of this, just €2.3m was landed by a firm with at least one female founder.

The figures do not include grants or subsidies garnered through State bodies.

Enterprise Ireland says that it gave out some €10m to female-led startups last year, amounting to a third of startup grants given out by the body in 2017.

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