“NEWS: Techstart Ventures is launching in Scotland soon! To register your interest contact us at info@techstart.vc

Female Founders Funding Opportunity

Based in Northern Ireland?

Have an innovative Business Idea?

Looking to kick-start your idea and could use some Grant Funding and Business Support?

Then don’t miss out on this Female Founders Funding Opportunity!


CLOSING DATE – Tuesday 30th April 2024 @ 5pm


Techstart Ventures and Women in Business are excited to partner together, for the third consecutive year, to invite Females across Northern Ireland with an innovative Business Idea, to apply for a Grant of up to £35k to help kickstart their Business.

Whether you are an individual with an exciting, novel idea … or an established business looking to explore a new product or market … you could receive a grant to support your innovation.

Applicants can apply for a grant of up to £35k. The grants will be provided by Techstart Ventures. Successful Applicants will also receive a business mentor through the Women in Business mentoring programme.

How Do I Enter?

The Female Founders Funding Grant Competition is NOW OPEN for applications!

To Apply, all you need to do is complete our online Application Form (APPLY HERE) and submit your application form by the Closing Date (5pm, Tuesday 30th April 2024)

Once the Closing Date has passed, and all Application Forms received, Techstart will complete an eligibility check on each application. If your application is eligible, you will be invited to present your Business Idea to a Panel.

Competition Schedule:

  • Applications are now Open
  • Information Session – Tuesday 19th March 2024, 10am-11am. Find out more & book here
  • Application Closing Date – Tuesday 30th April 2024 @ 5pm
  • All eligible applicants will be invited to a Pitch Session with Techstart & Women in Business – throughout 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2024 (further details on this will be provided post-application submission)
  • Decisions on applications will be made and the winners will be publicly announced on Thursday 6th June 2024 at the All-Island Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2024 at the Europa Hotel, Belfast.

MORE INFORMATION & GRANT APPLICATION CRITERIA: (If you require further information to what has been provided in the criteria below, please don’t hesitate to contact Techstart via grants@techstart.vc and one of the team will arrange a call to discuss any queries you may have, ahead of the Application Closing Date.)

What’s the overall objective?

This Female Founders Funding Opportunity will seek to support female entrepreneurs with a grant and business mentoring support directed towards exploring the viability and commercial potential of their innovative business idea.

What form does the Funding come in?

Grants of up to £35k. (Grants of different values may be awarded, but the maximum grant awarded to any one applicant will be £35k)

Are the Grants 100% funded?

Yes, up to the limit mentioned above.

What are the criteria to apply for the Female Founders Funding Opportunity?

  • Applicants must be a Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company to apply. Applications from Community Interest Companies and Social Enterprises will not be considered.
  • You (i.e. Sole Trader, Partnership, Limited Company) must have an innovative business idea.
  • You must be resident in Northern Ireland, and if the principal applicant is applying through a Limited Company then the Company must be registered in Northern Ireland, with the principal applicant being the majority shareholder in the Limited Company. (Please note that Techstart may ask for a copy of a recent utility bill for proof of address)
  • If you are applying for some of the grant to cover the employment costs of people promoting the project, then the application must be made by a Limited Company.
  • For independent third-party costs, at application stage you must identify your proposed supplier. If your proposed supplier has provided you with a quotation, you should append to your application.
  • Successful applicants will be required to provide formal quotations from the proposed Suppliers in advance of a Letter of Offer being issued.
  • Up to 30% of the grant awarded is available to cover the employment costs of the people promoting the project with a set daily rate of £200. For such costs to be approved, your application must clearly detail what work will be done during the PoC project under these costs and what the output will be. Please note that Administration Time, Project Management Time and similar Overhead activities will not be eligible activities to be covered within employment costs.
  • Applicants cannot previously have received a grant of up to £35k from Techstart Ventures.

Do I need to provide any additional information to the supporting quotes from my chosen suppliers?

In addition to the application form and supporting quotes from suppliers, Techstart may request further information or documentation before a decision on your application is reached.

Should I apply as a Sole Trader, a Partnership or a Limited Company?

All of the above are eligible, however if you are applying for part of the grant to cover employment costs then you can only apply as a Limited Company. It is vital to note that if you are successful the grant will be awarded to the entity that applied for the grant. This will be the entity that will have to incur the costs as the grant is paid in arrears to the applicant.

Can the Grant be used to cover employment costs?

Yes - however, if you are applying for employment costs to be covered within the grant please note the following -

  • The application must be made by a Limited Company, and not a Sole Trader or Partnership.
  • You must clearly detail within the application form what work will be done during the PoC project under employment costs and what the output will be.
  • Administration time, project management time and similar activities will not be an eligible employment cost activity.
  • There will be a cap on the amount of grant that can cover employment costs, which will be 30% of the grant awarded.
  • There will be a set daily rate of £200.
  • To drawdown the grant for employment costs the beneficiary will submit self-certified timesheets.

What activities are Eligible within the Grant?

  • Eligible activities for support include but are not limited to:
  • Concept/Prototype Development – i.e. Costs directed towards designing and developing either a software or hardware based product such as UI/UX, platform development, building a web/mobile application, producing an MVP or construction/manufacturing work.
  • Market Research – i.e. Activities around further understanding and sizing of the addressable market, such as Focus Groups, Domain Expert Consultancy and/or Attendance to relevant Trade Shows.
  • Market Validation – i.e. Costs associated with testing the concept with potential customers and end-users.
  • Market Testing Activities – i.e. Expenditure incurred in testing the best way to take the product to market.
  • Assessment of uniqueness of IP - i.e. A patent search.
  • Employment costs where a clear output will be delivered – If the Applicant has the expertise to carry out some of the activities above they may do so as long as it falls within the 30% limit previously explained.

What activities are Not Eligible within the Grant?

Non-eligible activities include but are not limited to:

  • Costs of Company Registration/legal incorporation.
  • IP Protection costs including trademarks.
  • Product Development activities beyond the core product – (i.e. costs directed towards product refinement).
  • Marketing and costs of selling.
  • Costs incurred before the award of the grant and outside of the agreed project timeframe.
  • VAT - if you are VAT registered.
  • Costs not directly connected with the project.
  • Tablets, laptops or similar equipment.
  • Trading stock/stock for resale.
  • Administration time, project management time and similar overhead activities will not be eligible employment cost activities; and
  • Subsistence (including food, taxis, mileage).

Who can I use to undertake Grant related activities?

Applicants can appoint an independent third-party supplier who they deem to be most suited to undertake the proposed work provided they are completely independent of the applicant/entity applying for the grant e.g. have no relationship or directorship in the company.

What happens if my application is successful?

If your application is successful, you will be notified via email and invited to a ‘briefing session’ to explain the process thereafter. Techstart will finalise an agreed plan of expenditure with you and clarify the claims process with you in advance of a Letter of Offer being issued. Women in Business will also be in contact with you to determine a suitable mentor to provide support throughout your project.

If I am successful, how is the Grant money paid?

Grant payments will be made in arrears on submission of a project report and evidence of expenditure, relative to the agreed project plan of expenditure. This includes invoices & receipts from your suppliers and a copy of the applicant's bank statement showing relevant payments. An ‘End of PoC Project’ meeting is required to take place before the final instalment of the grant is released. If you have been awarded a portion of the grant for employment costs, then you will be required to submit self-certified timesheets with a daily rate of up to £200. Further information on the claims process will be provided if your application is successful.

If my application is unsuccessful, will I be given feedback?

Feedback will be available following your pitch if requested.