New data from Beauhurst shows that the proportion of equity deals secured by teams with a female founder had been making great strides, increasing from 14% in 2011 to a high of 22% in 2017. However, this figure has plateaued during the last three years of political and economic uncertainty.

Released today (6 Dec) and sponsored by Newable, ​Female Entrepreneurs: gender diversity across the UK’s high-growth ecosystem​ looks at all high-growth UK companies with founder gender data, and identifies key trends. Overall, the data is encouraging, but illustrates how much still needs to be done to increase diversity in the ecosystem.

  • 25% of the UK’s high-growth companies have a female founder. The devolved nations of Scotland (33%), Northern Ireland (32%) and Wales (29%) have the highest proportion of femal- founded companies in the UK, whilst the North West region and East of England has the lowest (20%).
  • The proportion of equity deals secured by teams with a female founder has increased from 14% in 2011 to a high of 22% in 2017. This figure has plateaued in the last three years of political and economic uncertainty
  • The proportion of pounds invested into businesses with at least one female founder is in decline: from 15% in 2015 and 2016 to just 9% in 2019. This is due to the increasing number of megadeals secured by all-male teams
  • All-female founded teams have received just 1.5% of UK investment this year.
  • Crowdfunding is the most gender equitable investor type, with 24% of deals going to
  • female-founded companies. Angel investors follow second, with 20% of deals going to female-founded businesses since 2011. Only 16% of VC deals went to female-founded companies.
  • Since 2012, the proportion of large innovation grants awarded to female-founded businesses has quadrupled to 16%. But this figure is still well below the population of all high-growth companies that have a female founder (25%).

Henry Whorwood, Head of Research and Consultancy, Beauhurst, said:

“The data in this report clearly shows that there is a long way to go before female entrepreneurs are on an equal footing with their male counterparts. But the situation is improving, and we are proud of the role our data and analysis can play in identifying the areas where change is needed. We will continue to produce this kind of analysis in the hope that we continue to see change in the right direction.”

Beauhurst provides research and insight on the UK’s high-growth companies and the supporting business ecosystem. Established in 2011, we have collected unrivalled data on over 30,000 ambitious companies, all the investments and grants they have received, and data on every competitive startup accelerator programme.


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