Female-led GreenTech firms now raise more funding than all-male founding teams

According to the report from the Female Founders Forum, a partnership by The Entrepreneurs Network and Barclays, the gender funding gap has closed in the UK’s thriving GreenTech sector, with £2.8 billion in equity finance being raised by female-led GreenTech businesses since 2018.

Female-founded companies in the GreenTech space make up 34% of businesses in the sector, but are raising 42% of all equity funding.

However, progress is still needed, as a funding gap remains across all equity-backed startups, with female-founded businesses raising just 15% of all equity finance — AI female founders, for example, receive just 2% of funding.

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“Women start businesses with on average half as much money as men do, as they are less likely to take out personal loans or use savings,” said report author Aria Babu, head of the Female Founders Forum.

“Equity finance is critical in high-tech sectors where rapid growth is a priority and the path to commercialisation and profitability can be long.”

Katherine Morgan, head of high growth & entrepreneurs at Barclays, commented: “It’s inspiring to see female entrepreneurs leading the charge in GreenTech.

“In the run up to COP26, innovations from these companies will be vital in helping the UK reach its target of net zero by 2050.

“However, despite this sector setting the standard, overall progress is stagnant – and we need investors to help women in all sectors succeed.”

Women and Equalities Select Committee Chair, Caroline Nokes MP, endorsed the research: “I support calls for a more diverse venture capital industry, to tackle the “leaky pipeline” of talent in STEM, and suggest ways to make childcare more accessible for working mothers.

“We cannot afford to have a recovery designed by men for men. As this report spells out, we will all end up poorer and less able to tackle the challenges of the next few decades if women are held back from founding companies and achieving their full potential as entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors.”

Greyparrot: a GreenTech case study

Female-led GreenTech business Greyparrot is one company that provided insights to the study, and is looking to change the way businesses deal with their waste.

Using AI, the business is able to analyse, in real-time, the types of waste making its way along conveyor belts in order to increase recycling rates.

To date, Greenparrot has raised £4.1 million in funding from investors, and £500,000 from the governmental innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Greyparrot’s co-founder and CEO, Mikela Druckman, highlighted the importance of creating role models and supporting peers: “I was incredibly inspired by examples of women who had to break barriers in their fields, and I knew that I wanted to be able to do the same for the next generation.

“When most of the people in the room are still all male, it can create an imbalance. But being able to be connected with peers going through the same thing is incredibly beneficial to the entrepreneurial journey.”

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In the lead-up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow, tech companies in the UK are increasingly finding ways to mitigate envir0nmental impact — Tech Nation, for example, announced the acceptance of 32 climate tech companies onto its Net Zero 2.0 programme, last month.

The full report from the Female Founders Forum, titled “Inspiring Innovation”, can be found here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.