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TechX: Accelerating Inclusion

18 November 2021
Written by Laura Paterson

From the get-go, our mission at TechX has always been clear: we’re accelerating the future. A future with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows for the creation of exciting new jobs. A future in which passionate and creative entrepreneurs are given the necessary support to develop their innovative technologies. A future with more disruptive clean energy solutions that can help us, at pace, transform the energy industry and meet our net zero goals.

To date, we’ve seen 33 start-ups successfully graduate the TechX programme. Many of our impressive alumni have gone on to secure field trials, additional investment and to commercialise. TechX has had undeniable success, but as always, we continue to look at how we can shape a better future for the energy industry.

As we continue to close technology gaps at this pivotal time, there is another unquestionable gap that must be addressed. The distinct lack of female entrepreneurs and founders, particularly in the technology and clean energy sectors, has become increasingly apparent as we continue to nurture new and upcoming start-ups. UK companies alone attract more venture capital than those in any other European nation, yet just 1% goes to all-female founding teams (SJP, 2020).  Within the cleantech industry, women represent only 30% of the workforce and face many challenges that are gender specific (Women in Science & Engineering). Here at TechX, our previous cohorts had only 10% females, with last year’s having none.

The lack of gender diversity in this space translates to this: fewer ideas, less innovation and worryingly, less societal progression.

Diverse teams can offer a wider skillset, more effective planning and a higher success rate. Female-led businesses are more capital efficient with a return on investment 35% higher than male-led businesses and they hold a 95% target hit rate (Forbes, 2019). While benefits like these are attractive to any business, we also look at what the overall aim is when prioritising diversity: we need to enable a positive environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can equally progress. Here at the Net Zero Technology Centre we proudly offer an inclusive culture and we thrive on diversity of thought. We want others to do the same, so we’re taking action where possible.

This year, TechX are actively encouraging start-ups with female founders and diverse teams to apply for a place in our acclaimed accelerator. Starting with the application process, our aim this year is for 30% of shortlisted start-ups to be led by females (either by a female CEO or by another senior female leader with an equity stake in the company). We’re actively engaging with networks that help put female-led start-ups on the map. The accelerator itself has been shaped to help teams that may not contain diversity to reap the benefits, with the programme now offering a dedicated session on building and benefiting from diverse teams. As we’re in the midst of finding our next cohort, we’re also delighted to continue partnering with Deep Science Ventures, who will not only help us create new clean energy companies, but also has a target that 50% of these TechX Venture start-ups will be gender-diverse.

We’re still a long way off, but TechX have set a bold aspiration of having at least 40% of start-ups that graduate the accelerator programme to be female-led by 2025. With the programme now delivered in a fully virtual format, we hope this opens the door for more diverse teams to apply, helping us increase representation in this space which is, at present, severely lacking.

It’s all about the coming-together of minds, with different experiences and perspectives, that can help us strengthen as an industry, and as a society. By empowering women and harnessing potential our transformation towards a better future will be accelerated.

If you, or anyone you have in mind, would be interested in applying for the TechX Clean Energy Accelerator, there’s still time – applications close 28 November. Find out more here.

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