Underneath the gilt ceiling of Paris's City Hall, a select group of 10 of Europe's best early stage, women-led startups pitched their companies on October 25th in front of an assembled audience and a group of international judges. The noble setting was the scene of the Women Startup Challenge Europe, a pitch competition co-hosted by the office of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and put on by Women Who Tech and Mozilla. The ten selected startups were chosen from a selection of over 300 applicants.
The in-person jury included Mitchell Baker co-founder and chairwoman of Mozilla, Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor of Paris, Fatou Diagne, Partner and Cofounder at Bootstrap Europe, Julien Quintard, Managing Director of Techstars Paris, and Stéphanie Hospital, Cofounder and CEO of OneRagtime.
“Paris is determined to provide girls and women with the resources to occupy their rightful place in the society and in the tech industry. We were thrilled to cohost the Women Startup Challenge Europe and showcase 10 talented women-led startups who are making an impact in this world,” said Deputy Mayor Jean-Louis Missika.
- Sampson Solutions from the UK, pitched by Colleen Becker was awarded the grand prize. The company will receive $35,000 to help scale their company from Women Who Tech. Sampson Solutions is an industrial biotechnology company that creates carbon-neutral construction materials.
- Inorevia from Paris was selected for the Audience Choice Award. Inorevia's patented combination of microfluidics and magnetic particles helps lower the cost, time and manipulation needed in precision medicine.
- Vitrue Health from the UK was selected for the $25,000 Mozilla prize by jury member Mitchell Baker. Vitrue Health collects accurate quantitative health data in clinical settings, enabling clinicians to improve patient outcomes and increase cost savings.
“I’m honored to award the Mozilla prize for privacy, transparency and accountability to Vitrue Health. Vitrue creates data about mobility capabilities, makes that data accessible and useful, and provides it to patients. By providing patients with access to their data in a useful way, Vitrue offers us an example of how creating new data -- even personal data -- can be quite positive when it is handled well,” said Mitchell Baker, co-founder and chairwoman of Mozilla.
The Women Startup Challenge was launched three years ago by Women Who Tech, in partnership with Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Today, the Women Startup Challenge has become one of the largest global programs to showcase and fund women-led tech ventures with a pipeline of over 2,000 women-led tech startups. In addition to Paris, the Women Startup Challenge hosts events in New York, Silicon Valley, and London. To date, the startup cohorts have raised more than $28M.
“While it’s alarming to see the amount of funding for women-led startups compared to European companies as a whole go down from 14% to 11% between 2016 and 2018, the Women Startup Challenge is on a mission to close the funding gap once and for all. If the tech world wants to innovate and solve the world's toughest problems and generate record returns, they will invest in diverse startups,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech.
The non-profit Women Who Tech was founded in 2008 with the goal of closing the funding gap for female founders. In 2018, only a tenth of investor funding was allocated to women-led startups, and in the EU, funding for women-led startups has gone down to 11% in 2018 from 14% in 2016. The organization found that nearly two-thirds of women in tech have been sexually harassed by male counterparts, with some propositioned for sex in exchange for funding, introductions, and jobs.