Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive Julie Sinnamon says that much work remains to be done to encourage more women to start businesses and become entrepreneurs — though Ireland is leading the way.
Ms. Sinnamon was guest speaker at a major Regional Innovation Showcase at IT Sligo, attended by business owners, startups and key support and development agencies.
In a keynote address to more than 200 invited guests, Ms Sinnamon said that a subject ‘close to my heart’ was the relatively small numbers of female business owners.
She said: “The lack of female entrepreneurs is a big problem. It is a global problem not just an Irish problem. Only 8pc of tech entrepreneurs globally are female. The women and men in the room today will know that this has got nothing to do with talent.
“We really need to focus on that. Up to 2011, 7pc of our startups were female led, last year it was 22pc so we are leading the field. Certainly, in every country I go to, it is now being raised as an issue, in how we are succeeding in being three times more successful at developing female tech entrepreneurs? It is being done by addressing the issues and putting a specific spotlight on successes.”
Ms Sinnamon went on to underline Enterprise Ireland’s commitment to regional entrepreneurship and development and urged businesses not to wait until Brexit officially happens but to prepare for it now.
She said that although the UK remained Ireland’s number one market, it showed the importance of “not putting all the eggs in one basket” and that businesses needed to develop other markets.
IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT (LYIT), in partnership with Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme, hosted the showcase at IT Sligo’s Hume Hall.
Ms Sinnamon congratulated companies that successfully completed the 2016 New Frontiers programme and heard pitches from a selection of innovative businesses.
Dr Brendan McCormack, President of IT Sligo, said: “Our Innovation Showcase highlights the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of the North West. In the face of many challenges we are strongly promoting self-reliance and regional business development. The New Frontiers Programme has been hugely successful in stimulating innovation and job creation and is crucial component in the North West’s economic development.”
New Frontiers has launched a string of new businesses in diverse sectors such as tech, online retail, agtech, food, digital media, tourism and creative.