Oleksiy Mark - Fotolia
Following the success of Tech Nordic Advocates’ International Mentoring Programme in Denmark, attention has now turned to Finland, via the Helsinki Female Tech Founder Frontrunner Programme.
Designed in the same way as the organisation’s launch in Denmark last year, Helsinki’s instalment has once again called on budding female entrepreneurs to not just put forward their ideas, but to receive invaluable guidance from Finnish and international mentors on how to launch, grow and scale tech businesses.
“Creating more women entrepreneurs and diversity in tech is crucial to help Helsinki and Finland remain tech innovation frontrunners,” said Tommo Koivusalo, a member of Tech Nordic Advocates’ global board and head of NewCo Helsinki, before the programme was unveiled at Slush last December. “There clearly is room for more female founders in the local tech scene.”
He added: “The city of Helsinki’s funding will enable talented, ambitious local female entrepreneurs to take their ideas to the next level.”
Just like the Danish programme, the process began with a call for both applicants and mentors. The first module – the International Mentoring Programme – will then kick off, with accelerator and venture fund modules following on further down the line.
The programme itself, Module 1, will begin by focusing specifically on aspects that female entrepreneurs may not previously have been exposed to, such as the systemic gender bias that still exists in the tech sector.
This is especially important for a country that prides itself on both digital acumen and social opportunity.
“Helsinki has been developing into a leading hotspot for startups,” said Pia Partanen, business adviser at NewCo Helsinki. “And although it is known that female-led startups succeed better than average, the number of them is alarmingly low. Female entrepreneurship is one of the key focus areas in developing new businesses in the city of Helsinki, and we are proud to be a partner of a superbly composed programme that is designed to tackle this problem at hand.”
Read more about tech diversity in the Nordics
- The shortage of women in the boardroom is a problem in the Nordics, like other regions, but work in its tech sector means the future could be more promising.
- Tech Nordic Advocates adopts a different approach to closing the gap between women and men in the Danish tech startup sector.
- Arriving in Denmark to find she was the only woman on a computer science master’s course was a shock to Plamena Cherneva.
Tech Nordic Advocates’ step into Finland represents the second stage of what continues to be Europe’s only international growth programme designed specifically for female tech entrepreneurs.
Its initial formulation derived from an acknowledgement that, although the Nordic countries were often seen as socially progressive and inclusive, there was still a noticeable and unfavourable gap between female and male representation in the tech ecosystem.
This historical, and slow-moving, state of play meant that women were not exposed to notions of job security information, role models, skillset awareness, business registration, legal requirements, funding processes, and a host of other considerations that help to get an idea, and business, off the ground.
Just as is already happening in Denmark, the hope now is to inspire and inform a new generation of talented female tech entrepreneurs in Finland by filling in many of these gaps.
Jeanette Carlsson, founder and CEO of Tech Nordic Advocates, said: “In Denmark, our International Mentoring Programme has created more women tech entrepreneurs and helped stimulate the growth of existing tech businesses led by women, while enabling access to international markets and capital to the tune of €1.5m.
“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. More importantly, we’ve shown what can be achieved with the right support, and Helsinki and Finland already have huge unexploited female potential. We need those women for sustained innovation, competitiveness, growth, jobs and equality in tech, business and society as a whole.”