Female High Fliers is an accelerator programme for Ireland’s best early stage start-ups, specifically addressing the challenges facing female entrepreneurs. The programme will fast track your business development and leadership skills. Your journey of business growth starts with us.

Are you looking for a tailored programme that understands the particular needs and challenges facing your startup? Do you want to propel your business on the fast track to profit and scalability? Could your business learn important lessons by being being part of a supportive group of like-minded female founders?

Female High Fliers is the first accelerator programme in Ireland designed exclusively for startups founded and run by female entrepreneurs. With over 130 high calibre applicants competing for 10 places, per cycle, it’s very competitive.

The Academy has fine-tuned the Female High Fliers programme again in 2018. With the continued support of Enterprise Ireland, we are offering an even more focused opportunity for startups to accelerate to the next level. As well as receiving the usual top-flight tools, support and guidance – for which the Academy is renowned – this special programme has also been constructed with the unique challenges facing female run business in mind.


  • Your business development and growth will be accelerated.
  • Access to peer start up founder network
  • Access to the DCU Ryan Academy experienced entrepreneurs & investor network
  • Weekly practical workshops and training content
  • PR Opportunities.
  • Critical challenges on your business plans and assumptions.
  • Exposure to our experience mentor panels.


1. Female founders of start-ups which are less than 5 years old.

2. Individuals and teams (max 3 people) may apply.

3. The company MUST be female led.

4. Must show strong Growth Potential.

5. Must show strong Export Potential

(This accelerator has “NO EQUITY” implications)

Applications for 2018 Now Open


For more information contact Niamh Collins at:  info.ryanacademy@dcu.ie


We understand the specific challenges facing female-led startups in Ireland today and recognise the huge under- supported opportunity they present.

Female led technology companies achieve a return on investment that is more than one-third GREATER than their male-run competitors. Yet new US and UK research suggests they are 60% LESS likely to get a bank loan approved. Perhaps more worryingly, females also continue to be more risk averse than their male counterparts.

You will be taken on a 13 week journey of discovery – equipping you with the information, guidance and tools you need to turn your great idea into a profitable and scalable business. Throughout the programme you will be supported by expert business mentors as well as gaining access to the Academy’s unrivalled network of alumni and investors.

Each programme is designed to propel the startup towards an Academy Demo Day where participants pitch to an invited audience of investors, corporates and mentors – all focused on attracting potential funding, future customers and possible partnerships. We are keen to hear from businesses in every market sector. The programme also creates powerful and long lasting relationships. Alumni from previous cycles still meet regularly to share each other’s valuable lessons and learn from their ongoing startup journey.





The Female High Fliers Programme was a turning point for me personally as founder of an International company.  It helped to give me the confidence, clarity and frameworks from which to progress the business to the next stage.  Launching an international business is very exciting however, also quite overwhelming.  Thanks to The Ryan Academy I now feel confident to take this on!

The Ryan Academy had a real sense of making you and any participants that attended from your company for the workshops to feel included and were very welcoming.  I also liked the fact that supported by The Ryan Family who themselves business people.

Thanks again to The Ryan Academy and people involved which were exceptional.”

Fiona Leigh, CEO, Unipupil (2015)

“The Female High Fliers has been such a tremendous help to our business!  It helped us focus on the fundamental elements we needed to build an efficient and scalable business model.  The quality of the mentors far exceeded what I had expected.  To gain access to such high profile mentors was amazing and their insight and information was extremely beneficial to our business.  The peer to peer learning was also invaluable to me personally and the relationships I have built since are still impacting on our business.  The support of my peers has given me so much value and continued optimism.  I personally cannot recommend this programme enough to other female startup entrepreneurs it has certainly put us on the right road to success!”

Sophia Mc Hugh, Co-Founder & CEO, Oodilique (2017)

“Thank you so much for such a well organised programme. When I started Female High Fliers, I had never used power point let alone done any public speaking and while I can’t say I enjoy the public speaking any more than before, I know now I can do it!  Moreover, thanks to the team in the Ryan Academy, I’ve been introduced to people I would never have had an email response from before. I got so much support from the programme, and from the people there, and I’ve learned so much, so a very heartfelt thank you for everything – there will be a very large gap in my life now!”

Olivia Smyth, The Stork Exchange (2014)

“On a personal level I really believe the Female High Fliers was an amazing experience, this was the first programme I had completed. What a great bunch of people, I participated in one other programme and I can honestly say the Ryan Academy is streets ahead of anything else I was involved in. It changed my mindset, there is so much variety but at the highest level, I wished I had had this knowledge and experience at an earlier stage because it was really fantastic. I loved my interaction with the other participants too. The team in the Ryan Academy from the welcome to the inclusion to the support, encouragement etc you receive. You feel (I felt) I was in an alone bubble, to becoming part of something supported. This was a really “magical” experience. Niamh, Maura, Afric and even the CEO, Eoghan make you feel so welcome, there is always an open door (which I made used of). Lastly, the mentors – I am still in contact with for advice/contacts. There has never been a “no” / radio silence.  I am so grateful for the experience of the Female High Fliers”.          

Mary O’Brien, Co-Founder, Video Doc (2016)

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