EMPOWA is a strategic alliance of research, innovation and business stakeholders, aiming to boost the participation of women in H2020-SME Instrument calls
The main problem EMPOWA addresses is that despite the EC support mechanisms for enhancing women entrepreneurship and the H2020 targets for gender equality in Research and Innovation, women are still under-represented in the flagships programme of H2020, the SME Instrument. In more detail, women account for only 19.7% of the business enterprise sector with a poor 11% participation share in Horizon 2020 SME Instrument activities. The goal of EMPOWA project is twofold: a) establishing a better representation of women in high-profile European SMEs and b) raising the number of businesswomen applying in SME Instrument calls and the number of the respective successful applications. The EMPOWA consortium is made up of Enterprise Europe Network experts. In order to foster female participation in the SME tool, EMPOWA followed a structured methodology to identify highly-innovative SMEs led by women. An online survey was performed to identify the needs of women entrepreneurs related to SME Instrument proposals submission. The results were used to develop appropriate support measures for the target group. A strategy was implemented to raise awareness of the Instrument among female entrepreneurs. Training, mentoring and advisory services were provided to the selected SMEs. The training areas covered information about the scope of the SME Instrument and successful proposal writing but also included general topics such as Entrepreneurship and business management.

Resources needed

In total, EMPOWA project budget was 277.761€ funded by the European Commission. This budget covered mainly staff costs for Enterprise Europe Network experts from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Italy and Spain/Catalonia as well as training and webinar events costs.

Evidence of success

The important project impact is demonstrated through a number of Key Performance Indexes focusing mainly on the number of reached target groups and beneficiaries. In more detail, 150 women Entrepreneurs received training, mentoring and advisory services, 3000 women Entrepreneurs were reached through awareness-raising actions, at least 10 women entrepreneurs proceeded with an SME Instrument proposal submission and 10 good practices and success stories were developed/published.

Difficulties encountered

EMPOWA provided women with support in basic issues of female entrepreneurship such as finance, information and training accessibility. Other pertaining challenges such as reconciling business and family life limit the project impact and the level of female participation in SME Instrument activities.

Potential for learning or transfer

The EMPOWA project can serve as point of reference for public entities when designing and drafting female innovation entrepreneurship strategies and action plans. In more detail, EMPOWA provides insights in vertical themes such as hosting proposal preparation training events, organizing female entrepreneurship success stories and role models mentoring group sessions and providing proposal screening advisory services. Nonetheless, EMPOWA methodology and its objectives and actions can form as a reference model for public authorities when elaborating policy measures with horizontal priorities such as supporting gender equality in research and innovation, designing dedicated business incubators or accelerator programmes for women entrepreneurs, maximizing policies’ impact and enhancing female participation in innovation activities and entrepreneurship.

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Main institution
National Documentation Centre
Aττική, Greece (Ελλαδα)
Start Date
October 2017
End Date
October 2019


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