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European Innovation Council

EIC Women Leadership Programme

women innovators



Women-led companies are on the rise. The participation of women in deep tech is not only a matter of fairness but an important case of using Europe’s full potential of excellence in science and businesses. 

To further support the role of women in innovation and tech the European Innovation Council (EIC) is, in partnership with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), offering a skills enhancement and networking programme for women researchers and entrepreneurs, the Women Leadership Programme (WLP).   

The programme is open to female researchers and entrepreneurs from the EIC Community and EIT Supernovas.  Each cohort consists of both online and physical trainings, led by high-profile experienced trainers who challenge participants’ leadership approaches with inspiring case studies and use participatory approaches to encourage active engagement. 

Who can participate?

The EIC Women Leadership Programme targets EIC beneficiaries, specifically:

  • Business women in management positions, who want to strengthen their skills and expand their network;
  • Women within established companies aspiring to take over leadership positions in business development; 
  • Women researchers involved in research projects aspiring to lead the transition of their research into businesses. 

For detailed conditions regarding past engagement in EIC-funded projects, please consult the FAQs.

What does the programme offer?

Participants join specific training sessions with interactive exercises and discussions, networking events, and take part in a personalised mentorship and business-coaching schemes.


Participants have access to a tailor-made trainings on topics such as negotiation, pitching, leadership styles, marketing, and public speaking, that address the participants needs. The trainings take place in the morning hours of business days, with the duration of 2 hours each.


Dedicated networking events take place throughout the programme to increase the participants’ network and heighten their visibility with key stakeholders in the European innovation ecosystem. During the training sessions, keynote speakers provide testimonials and facilitate networking moments. WLP fosters and promotes the exchange of experiences between its cohort participants and provides speed-dating activities with Mentors.

Personal Mentoring and Business Coaching schemes

Participants obtain access into a pool of experienced personal mentors and business coaches across sectors and geographies. The mentors (M/F), ranging from experienced CEOs and investors to VCs and serial entrepreneurs, are matched with the participants, help them along the way, and offering support in defining their personal and career goals. Each participant also works with an expert EIC business coach who helps identify new business opportunities and potentials.

Alumni Group

Programme’s participants are included into an exclusive alumni group on the EIC Community Platformto maintain an active contact with fellow participants, network, share events and relevant news.

Event calendar

  1. 17 March
    deadline to apply to the 3rd Cohort and become a WLP participant
  2. 4 April
    online Kick-off meeting with selected participants
  3. April - May
    3rd cohort online & in person events & activities
  4. 16 June
    Awards Ceremony


Find all the answers on the EIC Women Leadership Programme in the FAQ.

9 MARCH 2023
(390.96 KB - PDF)


Background information

Despite the high demand for talent, the European pool of next generation leaders in research, innovation and venture investment continues to be limited by the underrepresentation of women. Women represent less than 20% of senior management in deep tech start-ups that have raised Series A or B funding round.

Initiatives from the European Innovation Council are providing a positive outcome to change the status quo and the gender gap in research and business. EIC in supporting deep tech innovation and breakthrough technologies indicate that 20% of the EIC Accelerator funding was dedicated to women-led companies, and an even higher number of 30% women researchers were supported by the EIC Pathfinder instrument.

The EIC Women Leadership Programme and the Women TechEU scheme are the main actions that the EIC is taking to support the role of women in deep tech. Check the Statement on Gender & Diversity in the EIC for more information.