DCU Ryan Academy tackling challenges facing female-led start-ups

By August 28, 2018 No Comments

Access to funding and finance, confidence, technical skills and building sales strategies have all been cited as significant challenges for female-led start-ups who want to bring their business to the next level.

The DCU Ryan Academy, supported by Enterprise Ireland, is aiming to help ten female-led start-ups break through these barriers by providing an intensive 13-week business development, leadership and mentoring programme at its Citywest campus.

The Female High Fliers (FHF) programme has already supported over 75 start-ups since its inception in 2014 and is now inviting applications from female-led businesses to take part in the next cycle of the programme, commencing this September.

Applications are sought from start-ups less than five years old, who have the potential to generate over €1m in sales and create up to 10 jobs in less than four years.

Successful candidates will avail of access to a peer start-up founder network and to the DCU Ryan Academy network of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. They will take part in weekly tailored workshops and will be involved in the development and presentation of business plans as well as pitching to potential investors.

A survey of recent graduates of the Female High Fliers programme found that:

  • 54% of companies who were mentored on FHF indicated a growth in turnover
  • 64% increased their staff numbers
  • Market focus shifted from 34% to 57% export focus
  • 77% highlighted that they were now more confident in a business environment
  • 92% were more confident seeking finance and investment
  • 46% expressed an advancement of their technical skills

Niamh Collins, FHF Programme Director & DCU Ryan Academy Chief Operations Officer said;

“The Female High Fliers programme, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, was established to respond to the challenges facing female-led start-ups. We are pleased to have helped accelerate the growth of over 75 start-ups since 2014. However, challenges remain in tackling issues such as access to finance, developing the necessary technical skills, and showcasing the business with confidence.

The FHF programme is a crucial component in assisting the growth of female-led businesses across Ireland which are contributing enormously to the Irish economy. In 2017, 35% of all high-potential start-ups (HPSUs) backed by Enterprise Ireland, were women-led, a huge increase from 7% in 2011. There are fantastic opportunities for successful applicants to the programme and I encourage interested parties to submit before the closing date of September 4th.”

For further details, go to


About the Ryan Academy

Dublin City University is Ireland’s university of Transformation and Enterprise and the DCU Ryan Academy is a leader in entrepreneurial and innovation practice. The mission of the Ryan Academy is to promote and accelerate early stage entrepreneurship in Ireland through leading entrepreneur and start-up programmes and through events and activities which support broader entrepreneur and start-up ecosystem development.


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