Irish women entrepreneurs surpass a record €234m in funding

72 women-led Irish start-ups achieve new record for third consecutive year.

Funding into women-led start-ups in Ireland reached an historic new high last year, according to data from TechIreland.

Despite the macroeconomic challenges and a general cooling of investments into startups globally, female founders on the island managed to raise €234m, another record for the third consecutive year, just pipping the €230m raised in 2021.

“The total funding into female founded start-ups in 2022 does not tell the full story. Sadly, female-led companies represent just 24% of the total number of companies that raised funding last year, and only 13% of the total funding raised”

Not only is this the highest funding, it was also a record number of companies with 72 women-led start-ups.

A lot done, but more to do

“Female founded companies in our portfolio are among our highest performing and have collectively raised over €110m to support development of technology solutions addressing global challenges in healthcare, climate and communications,” noted Helen McBreen from Atlantic Bridge.

While overall funding for start-ups in Ireland dropped, women-led start-ups have bucked the trend, said John O’Dea, chief executive of TechIreland.

“When we reported the record €230 million in 2021, we thought it was an outlier. But women-led startups are pushing the bar higher each year, thanks to early stage backing from Enterprise Ireland and our investor community. We should continue to build on these strengths.”

Sinead Lonergan of Enterprise Ireland added: “Through our Action Plan for Women in Business, Enterprise Ireland is now taking a broader approach to influence lasting change to the overall enterprise landscape.”

Scale Ireland’s Martina Fitzgerald said the €230m figure is impressive given the challenging investment background in the second half of the year. “However, the total funding into female founded start-ups in 2022 does not tell the full story. Sadly, female-led companies represent just 24% of the total number of companies that raised funding last year, and only 13% of the total funding raised.”

Mary McKenna of the AwakenHub in Northern Ireland said the picture is similar up north. “2022 saw a small number of female-founded medtech and medical device companies in Northern Ireland raise investment but the investment ecosystem is challenging.”

Out west Gillian Buckley of the Western Development Commission said progress is being made but it is slow.

“A third of our enterprise investment in 2022 was in female founded and/or led enterprises. We need to better communicate to girls and young women that engineering disciples help address major societal issues. We must also encourage more women into the VC industry and more female angel investors.”

Venture funding in Ireland hits speed bumps

The picture isn’t all rosy for investment into Irish tech firms. Like previous years, the top three outliers make up 66% of the total (€66m by TransferMate Global Payments, €58m by Carrick Therapeutics and €30m by Proverum).

Another large outlier was &Open which raised €26m last year. The other 68 companies raised €58m between them.

Early-stage rounds between €100,000 and €300,000 increased dramatically to 36 last year, partly due to Enterprise Ireland increasing their early stage pre Seed round to €100,000. There were also some smaller bridge rounds into previously seeded start-ups.

In terms of sectors, HealthTech continues to top the table with 22 companies raising a total €106m, followed by Enterprise Solutions – €43m into 16 companies.

E-commerce was a significant winner – from just one the previous year to 11 companies last year. One sector that fared poorly, despite a lot of push, was cleantech and sustainability, which attracted less than €2m last year.

In terms of the regional spread, 60% of the funding went to regions outside Dublin, aided by TransferMate (Kilkenny) and Carrick Therapeutics (Galway). However, it is encouraging that half of all women-led startups funded last year were in the regions.

Northern Ireland based start-ups raised €4m which is small in proportion to the island total.

Last year also saw a more diverse mix of investors funding female founders, with at least 40 domestic and international investors, which underlines the confidence in women entrepreneurship on the island.

Tech Ireland Female Founders & Funders
John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.



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