International Women’s Day: the gender funding gap

This International Women’s Day, we’ve taken a look at how women founders are faring so far in 2022 when it comes to raising startup investment. Although we are just 10 weeks into the year, we are seeing a similar pattern emerge to recent years. All-women founding teams have secured just 0.4% of European venture capital so far 2022, with mixed-gender founding teams raising a further 15.2% of capital.

Comparatively, in 2021, all-women founding teams raised 1.1% of capital, and mixed teams 8.8%.

The lack of investment into female-founded startups is a missed economic opportunity. Research by First Round Capital and Boston Consulting Group has previously found that founder teams with women are more likely to exit and have a higher internal rate of return (IRR) — 112% versus 48%. Women founders hire 2.5x more women into their teams, in an industry that struggles with diverse hiring. As this generation of startups shape and define our future societies, also imperative that the make up of our societies are reflected in entrepreneurial teams.

Despite increasing efforts to diversify VC investments, women founders continue to struggle to raise funds. While initiatives such as the recent ‘200Bn Club’, one of several accelerator programs teaching women how to pitch, are great for providing learning opportunities for women. They do not seem to affect the amount of capital reaching the women founders. 

Key to moving the needle on funding decisions, is moving the needle on decision makers. While women VCs are 2X more likely to invest in female founders, women are also critically underrepresented among the investment community. Much needed initiatives like Included VC, and the Newton Program now offer traineeships aimed at bringing underrepresented groups into VC.

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Five women founders to watch in 2022

Dr. Bhavagaya Bakshi, co-founder, C the Signs – London – £5M Series A, Feb 2022

C the Signs is an AI tool helping with early cancer risk diagnosis. Supporting GPs, and already used by the NHS in the UK, their platform enables patient cancer risk diagnosis in 30 seconds, in order to facilitate enhanced monitoring, early diagnosis, and improved outcomes. It is fast enough to be used during the consultation to speed up decision-making, ensuring at risk patients are identified and access the right service at the right time for their clinical needs.

Charlotte Kufus, co-founder, Legal OS – Berlin – $7M investment from Google’s innovation fund, Gradient Ventures.

Legal OS is a no-code platform that helps lawyers and their legal teams automate their expertise into digital knowledge graphs. These graphs can be used to build legal service products, generate documents (SPAs, shareholder agreements, legal risk assessments), embed compliance, or automate processes through its open source Legal OS automation platform. The company’s platform cuts down on repetitive legal team tasks and allow lawyers to focus on clients’ business objectives to create higher added value with their legal expertise.

Sílvia Frutos, co-founder, Splice Bio – Barcelona – €50M Series A, Feb 2022

SpliceBio is a biotechnology company making the most of Protein Splicing to develop the next generation of gene therapies. Its proprietary platform is based on technology developed in the Muir Lab at Princeton University after more than 20 years of pioneering intein and protein engineering research by the company’s co-founders. The company is backed by UCB Ventures, Ysios Capital, NEA, Gilde Healthcare, Novartis Venture Fund and Asabys Partners.

Priska Herger, co-founder, Micropsi – Berlin – $30M Series B, Feb 2022

Micropsi Industries is a robotics software company that provides ready-to-use AI systems for controlling industrial robots. Micropsi’s most well-known AI system, MIRAI, enables robots to learn from humans and act in dynamic environments. Working to enable automation where automation was previously not viable, Micropsi’s mission is to make factories more productive, workspaces more ergonomic, and businesses more resilient. With about 40 people, most of them at based at its headquarters in Berlin, Micropsi is working to make task-specific, on-site machine learning for industrial robotics a reality.

Kate Hyndman, co-founder, FNZ – London – Raised $1.4B in funding (fundraising values FNZ at over $20B), Feb 2022

FNZ is the global platform striving to make wealth management accessible to more people. The startup combines technology, infrastructure, and investment operations in a single platform that frees its institutional customers to create hyper-personalized and innovative products and services that are aligned with the needs of their clients. The company, which is partnering with over 650 financial institutions, and over 8,000 wealth management firms, has over 4,000 employees in 21 countries.

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