NI female start ups scoop £200k funding for their new business ideas

Six women-led start-ups are to share £200,000 in prize business grants as part of a Female Founders competition delivered by Women in Business in partnership with Techstart Ventures.

By Claire Cartmill
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:36 pm
Audrey Osborne, Techstart Ventures, one of six grant winners Lucy Baxter, Sensalience, Roseann Kelly, Women in Business and Kathleen Garrett, Techstart Ventures
Audrey Osborne, Techstart Ventures, one of six grant winners Lucy Baxter, Sensalience, Roseann Kelly, Women in Business and Kathleen Garrett, Techstart Ventures

The female-focused initiative, which received over 50 applications, welcomed pioneering projects from right across the broad spectrum of NI’s business community, as prize-winning ideas ranged from MedTech to baby products and virtual reality.

It comes at a time of significant growth for female entrepreneurship in NI, with the Rose Review Progress Report revealing that over 1,500 companies were established by women here in 2021, double the figure in 2018.

Lucy Baxter, whose enterprise Sensailence was among the winning start-ups, said: “It’s essential to celebrate and encourage women in the entrepreneurship space, a growing sector here. Crunchbase figures show that in 2020, just 2.4% of global VC funding went to female founding teams and 5% of VC partner roles were held by women; Techstart and Women in Business are helping to redress that balance.

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Fiona Gildea, ComplyFirst, Audrey Osborne, Techstart Ventures, Lucy Baxter, Sensalience, Roseann Kelly, Women in Business, Francesca Morelli and Chloe Henning, VaVa Influence, Kathleen Garrett, Techstart Ventures, Daniel Jelly, ComplyFirst Fiona’s husband

“I’m passionate about the Createch sector, and our new enterprise Sensalience mixes my skills in cinematic VR filmmaking and my partner Elaine Bousfield’s excellent track record in digital mental health. We’re so excited to get going, and thanks so much to Techstart and Women in Business for giving us that opportunity!”

The Female Founders grant competition sought to support female entrepreneurs with a grant and business mentoring support directed towards exploring the viability and commercial potential of their innovative business idea.

Kathleen Garrett, who heads up the Grant Fund within Techstart Ventures, stated: “It’s so inspiring to see first-hand the innovation and ingenuity within NI’s community of entrepreneurs. The calibre of entries to the competition was really impressive. Congratulations to the winners who we look forward to supporting on their journey to success.”

Roseann Kelly, CE of Women in Business, added: “We’re thrilled to announce the deserving winners of our Female Founders grant competition. Thanks to our partnership with Techstart Ventures, we have an opportunity to empower female entrepreneurship right here on our doorstep.

“After more than 170 women attended the information session on female funding, it’s clear there is a real appetite here for female entrepreneurship. By accelerating the next generation of female-fronted start-ups, we can kindle a female enterprise ecosystem in Northern Ireland that has a positive ripple effect across society and the local economy for many more years to come. A massive ‘well done’ to all the winners.”

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