The official project kick-off meeting for Women Entrepreneurs in Regional Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (WeRIn) was held virtually from February 18-19, 2021 with all 14 project members in attendance. WeRIn is one of two Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance Key Action 2 projects ACEEU is involved in and it will run for three years (2021-2023). ACEEU will be leading the project’s quality assurance measures and also support multiple other realms of the project.
The background of WeRIn is that, despite a rise in participation of female students in entrepreneurship education (EE) at Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), they still lag compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, even when they have participated in EE, they are less likely to move towards actual entrepreneurial careers after they graduate. And when they do, these graduate female entrepreneurs are less well embedded in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem: fewer of them participate in local incubation and acceleration programs, move into science parks, seek and receive funding and or are active members in regional networks. Many simply do not feel sufficiently invited. Given that female students now make up over 60% of the student population in Europe, this signifies a considerable loss of potential entrepreneurial talent and capacity.
The project seeks to address this concern by cultivating more inclusive ecosystems for entrepreneurial aspiring female graduates. The overarching goal is to enhance inclusivity of entrepreneurship education and support programs with the intent to increase the share of female graduate entrepreneurs and enhance their level of embeddedness in regional entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe. The project targeted a wide range of stakeholder groups across the academic and industry spectrums, which is also evident in the variety of project partners taking part: Münster University of Applied Sciences (lead member; Germany), ACEEU (Germany), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands), University Industry Innovation Network (Netherlands), University of Zagreb (Croatia), Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland), Istanbul Technical University (Turkey), Momentum Marketing Services Limited (Ireland), European Centre for Women and Technology (Norway), WESt mbH (Germany), Impact Hub Amsterdam, Technology park Varazdin (Croatia), Rubicon Centre (Ireland), and ARI Teknokent Proje Gelistirme Planlama (Turkey).