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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
News article31 May 2024European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency2 min read

Record-breaking response from women-led startups for the new call of the Women TechEU programme

On the 20 May, the first call launched by the consortium now in charge of the Women TechEU scheme received 820 applications from across 38 eligible countries. This is a 75% increase in applications from the 2022 Women TechEU call, managed by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Agency, continuing the positive trend wherein each call sees more and more applicants. 

Türkiye and the United Kingdom led the way with the highest number of applicants, followed closely by Spain in third place. Notably, 22 widening countries applied to the call.

Applications were received from over 15 sectors. More than half the applicant startups fall into the “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (including Big Data)” category. The next most popular sectors were “Biotechnology, Life Sciences and Agritech" and "Sustainable Energy, Clean Technologies and Greentech”.

What’s next? 

The project consortium will be launching the next three calls for applications over the span of the programme's remaining 1.5 years. Following a rigorous evaluation process, a total of 160 beneficiaries will be selected (40 per call). Each beneficiary will receive €75 000 grant (non-dilutive finance) and a personalised business development programme which includes mentoring, coaching and targeted training among other options.

The success of the first call launched under the new management and the incredible response received proves the need for R&I funding to be channelled towards women-led deep tech startups. The Women TechEU consortium is currently analysing the call’s data and discussing future strategies to ensure that the  next calls continue on this impactful trend. The objective is to reach  out to more startups in regions which we saw relatively less applicants, especially Widening countries and territories, and to engage further with different deep tech sectors, especially those where  relatively less applications came in. 

R&I stakeholder organisation that would like to collaborate with the Women TechEU project to hold physical or virtual events to promote the scheme to women-led startups in their region, please reach out to the dedicated Events team here eventsatwomentecheurope [dot] eu (events[at]womentecheurope[dot]eu).  


The third rendition Women TechEU targets early-stage deep tech start-ups founded, or co-founded, by women holding a top management position (CEO, CTO or equivalent). Women should hold at least 25% of the shares in the company at the time of submission. The company must be registered and established in an EU Member State or a Horizon Europe Associated Country for at least six months at the time of opening of the call and a maximum of eight years.

The company must be a SME according to the European Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC and must be at a stage before reaching a high fidelity Minimum Viable Product1 as well as having raised less than 1M€ in equity.

All information on Women TechEU can be found on: and Women TechEU – EISMEA webpage. Potential beneficiaries are asked to carefully read the Guidelines for Applicants and our FAQs to determine their eligibility. 

Do you have any questions on the Women TechEU scheme? Please reach out to the official Helpdesk Team at helpdeskatwomentecheurope [dot] eu (helpdesk[at]womentecheurope[dot]eu).