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European Innovation Council

EIC Women Leadership Programme



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

The programme is open to female researchers, aspiring female leaders and entrepreneurs from the EIC and EIT Communities.  Each cohort consists of both virtual and in-person training sessions, led by high-profile experienced trainers who challenge participants’ leadership approaches with inspiring case studies and use participatory approaches to encourage active engagement. Participants benefit from individual coaching and personal mentoring. Through dedicated networking events, they also engage with peers and inspiring role models. 

Who is eligible to participate?

The EIC Women Leadership Programme offers recurring cohorts aimed at participants from both EIC and EIT beneficiary groups:

  • Aspiring female leaders seeking to enhance their skills and broaden their professional connections.
  • Female researchers engaged in research endeavours with ambitions to spearhead the transformation of their research initiatives into successful businesses.

The 5th WLP cohort, starting in April 2024, is specifically designed for female researchers and aspiring female leaders open to EIC beneficiary groups.  In addition, one more WLP cohort will be launched at the end of 2024, with a focus on female (co-)founders and leaders in C-Suite positions. Eligible candidates can apply to open calls launched on the EIC Community (see further details below). 

What does the programme offer?

Participants will benefit from a tailored programme following a needs assessment, including specific training sessions with interactive exercises and discussions, networking events, personalised mentorship, and business-coaching schemes:


Participants have access to training sessions on topics such as negotiation, pitching, leadership styles, marketing, and public speaking, that address the participants needs. The trainings take place during business days, with a duration of 2 hours each. Sessions are led by experts from the industry and are designed to be interactive, offering hands-on exercises and case studies to help participants put their leadership skills into practice.


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

The mentors, ranging from experienced CEOs and investors to serial entrepreneurs, are matched with participants based on career challenges faced by the participant. Participants meet with their mentors on a regular basis to receive support on their career goals and challenges.

In addition, participants can work with an expert EIC business coach. These experts support participants with business related goals and challenges, such as identifying new business opportunities. 

Alumni Group

Participants of the programme are invited to join an exclusive alumni group on the EIC Community Platform, facilitating ongoing communication with fellow participants. This platform serves as a hub for networking, sharing events, and staying updated on relevant news within the community.

EIC WLP 5th Cohort for female researchers and aspiring female leaders - timeline


April- June 2024 Training sessions and networking activities, online or in person (TBC) 
June 2024 Closing Ceremony 

Upcoming cohorts

Not ready just yet? Check the timeline for the upcoming cohort focused on female (co-)founders and leaders in C-Suite positions.

The programme is confirmed to continue in 2025. More information on the cohorts and their timing will come soon.

  1. September 2024
    Application period opens
  2. October 2024
    Start of activities
  3. December 2024
    End of the cohort

Background information

Support to women innovators is among the cornerstones of the EIC efforts to the economic competitiveness of Europe. The wide recognition and traction with high potential startups, especially from underrepresented groups such as women innovators and those from less developed ecosystems, has thus been included among the six strategic goals that the EIC Board has identified the period 2021-2027.

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 supported deep tech innovation and breakthrough technologies indicate that almost 25% of the EIC Accelerator funding under Horizon Europe was so far dedicated to women-led companies, with similar EIC average funding per project (€ 5.6 million and €5,8 million, respectively). Since 2021, EIC women-led companies have received €852 million. In addition, 30% of all researchers supported under the EIC Pathfinder are women.

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.