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One-Third of the Finalists for the EU Prize for Women Innovators Awards are Irish

7 female entrepreneurs from Ireland will be competing to win the EU Prize for Women Innovators awards. These prizes recognize outstanding women who have founded globally impactful companies that are making an impact globally. Three prizes of €100,000 each are awarded in the main category, and the fourth prize of €50,000 is awarded to a promising ‘Rising Innovator’ aged 30 or younger. The awards are funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe program for research and innovation and are managed by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency.

This year, 264 applications were submitted from 35 countries resulting in a total of 21 finalists overall. The judging went from July through October with the winners announced at the European Innovation Council Summit on the 24th and 25th November 2021.

Historically, female entrepreneurs have been underrepresented as three-fourths of startups in Europe are founded by men. In addition, 92 percent of all funds raised by European VC-backed companies in 2019 went to all-male founding teams.

Ireland’s hub of innovation is focused on combating this issue.

Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland, says; “This announcement is a phenomenal success for the finalists and for Ireland. It is a testament to the capability and talent of women leaders and entrepreneurs within the Irish innovation and commercialization system. It also highlights the international competitiveness of Ireland’s women entrepreneurs and our Irish start-up community.”

The 7 Irish entrepreneurs nominated are:

  • Anita Finnegan, the co-founder and chief executive of Nova Leah, a Dundalk-based cybersecurity company that develops risk assessment software for connected medical devices. Anita is a proven expert in cybersecurity for medical devices and has written two industry standards for medical equipment; ISO/IEC 80001-2-8 and ISO/IEC 80001-2-8. Finnegan has also won multiple awards for innovation, security, and technological impact including the SFI Entrepreneurship Award.
  • Ciara Clancy, the founder and chief executive of Beats Therapeutics which is developing technology solutions to tackle the mobility symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Clancy is a physiotherapist and researcher and was awarded the ISCP Anne O’Brien Prize for Clinical Excellence in 2012.
  • Lisa O’Donoghue, the founder and chief executive of Votechnik, a start-up providing automated recycling technology for safe and sustainable disposal of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) units. Dr. O’Donoghue is a Ph.D. scientist who won the Young Entrepreneur of Year Award in 2010.
  • Patricia Scanlon, the founder and executive chair of Soapbox Labs, a company developing an innovative speech-recognition solution for children. Scanlon has over 20 years of experience working with speech recognition technology and was named one of the world’s top women in tech by Forbes.
  • Suzanne Moloney, the founder and chief executive of Hidramed Solutions which offers advanced wound care solutions for the everyday care of chronic wounds. Moloney pivoted from a career as a pastry chef to founding HydraWear when she felt a need for better wound dressings herself as a sufferer of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Moloney won the Irish Times Innovation of the Year award in 2020.
  • Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, the founders of Izzy Wheels which create fashionable covers for wheelchairs. Izzy Wheels sells its covers in over 50 countries and the founders were named on Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe for Retail and E-commerce.

The EU Women Innovator Awards nominations show that Irish female entrepreneurs are breaking new ground not only with their products and ideas but also with their leadership. These 7 women, along with all the women nominated, are inspiring generations of young female leaders and are working to share their ideas not only in Ireland but globally. 

“In line with Enterprise Ireland’s strategy, these awards help promote Irish women entrepreneurs and provide a platform for them to build on their existing capabilities, scale and create jobs.” – Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland.

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