Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show women are now driving more than 34 per cent of all businesses nationwide and their presence as founders is growing, but funding for female-led startups continues to lag well behind the financial backing that goes into companies with all-male founding teams.
To make its contribution towards overcoming such underrepresentation, the University of Queensland (UQ) has developed its first accelerator program specifically for women founders to provide them with the support needed to take their ideas to the next level.
The UQ Ventures Empower Women's Accelerator builds upon UQ Ventures experience in delivering ilab, one of Australia’s most experienced accelerators, and LeadHers, a confidence and leadership program for women.
The three-month program starts in September and will conclude with a pitch event in November to showcase the startups that come through the program.
Participants in the accelerator will receive personalised support through mentoring, weekly seminars, network building, promotional opportunities, co-working space, and $10,000 in equity-free funding.
"I am very excited to work with a cohort of amazing women. To support them to grow and develop as founders and feel ready to take their ventures forward. We want to see more women-led startups thriving in Queensland," says UQ Ventures Empower Women's Accelerator manager Beth Lawrance.
"Participants in the accelerator will receive personalised support with focused attention from mentors, facilitators, and our EiR (entrepreneur in residence).
"Founding a startup can feel like a lonely road but we want to change that experience and create a collegial environment for our founders."
Joining the accelerator as Entrepreneur in Residence is Rebecca Wilson, who was the founder and CEO of award-winning media website for older Australians, Starts at 60, as well as its sister company Travel at 60.
Wilson has since gone on to found Epic Retirement and has recently launched her book 'How to Have an Epic Retirement'.
She brings her wealth of knowledge and experience as a founder to the accelerator and is looking forward to supporting other women achieve their business goals.
"I am delighted to be involved in this accelerator. I have built four - nearly five - businesses in the last 20 years, as an entrepreneur and founder, and along the way I have had some amazing mentors and fantastic support from accelerators and frankly, I’ve learnt a lot," Wilson says.
"I am happy to be able to help female founders more rapidly and successfully pursue scale in their businesses and avoid some of the dangers and traps.
"It is my hope that the program excites founders and empowers them to achieve their potential."
Applications are currently open and UQ Ventures are looking for early-stage startups ready to take their ventures to the next level.
Eligibility criteria for the program:
- Teams (can be a solo founder) have a woman founder that has 51 per cent or more ownership of the idea or business;
- Founders are over the age of 18 years; and
- Teams have a strong connection with The University of Queensland (UQ) as evidenced by 50 per cent of founders being UQ students (undergraduate & postgraduate), staff, or alumni.
Applications for the accelerator are open until Friday 28 July. You can find out more information and apply here: https://ventures.uq.edu.au/programs/empower-womens-accelerator
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.