Funding for women-founded firms more than doubles, report shows

Female-founded companies raise more than €230m, up from €105m in 2020

Nuritas founder and chief executive Dr Nora Khaldi

Irish women founders raised more than €230 million from tech-focused investors last year, more than twice the amount secured in 2020.

This is according to a new report from TechIreland, which shows a 120 per cent jump in funding for women-led businesses in the Republic.

Overall, 55 tech-focused start-ups and scale-up companies with a woman founder or co-founder secured investment last year through venture capital, grants and/or angel investments.

The new figures show a marked improvement in funding with TechIreland, which was established in 2017, initially running a campaign to boost investment for female founders to €100 million. This goal was achieved in 2020 when €105 million in funding was raised.


The increase in funding comes amid a rise globally with a 138 per cent rise in VC investment in companies with at least one female founder to $54.8 billion last year, according to Pitchbook. But, funding to all female-founded businesses still lags, accounting for just 2 per cent or $64 billion of VC money secured in 2021.

Nuritas, the Dr Nora Khaldi-led biotech firm, was among the female-founded companies to raise last year. It closed a $45 million Series B round in November. Others include Altada, which raised $11.5 million, and Payslip, which secured $10 million from backers.

Overall, eight women-founded companies raised more than €10 million each in 2021, equivalent to 70 per cent of the total secured by women-led businesses locally.

Lower than average

Despite the big jump in funding, companies with a female founder still raised less than the general population of tech companies. While women founders on average doubled their investment to €4.1 million last year, that was still lower than the average of €5.3 million for all companies. Moreover, the report shows a drop in the number of early-stage rounds between €100,000 and €1 million.

"We can be confident that the investment climate for female-founded companies in Ireland is improving. However, none of us can be happy with a world where women secure only 13 per cent of all funding, and we must now focus on efforts to accelerate the funding of female-founded start-ups," said Sarah-Jane Larkin, director general of the Irish Venture Capital Association.

TechIreland, which is tracking more than 470 female-founded companies locally, said there is a significant gender imbalance within the investor community. Just 20 per cent of the partners in Irish VCs are women.

Additional new figures provided by Catalyst indicates that 23 per cent of all investments in tech-focused businesses in Northern Ireland last year went to companies that were led by or had at least one female founder. Women-led or founded companies raised £16 million of the record £100 million raised by start-ups and scaling companies in the North in 2021.

Catalyst’s NI Deal Tracker report indicates that the number of transactions last year jumped by 127 per cent with 75 per cent of funding come from investors based outside Northern Ireland.

"In 2014, there was only £5 million of venture capital invested so reaching £100 million-plus in 2021 is testament to the quality of founders, start-ups, scale-ups, the strong local ecosystem and heightened interest from investors outside NI," said Kieran Dalton, head of scaling at Catalyst.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist