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Breaking the Gender Bias in the Start-Up Ecosystem


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  • Projekt-Nr: GRS-037/22 
  • Förderbeitrag: CHF 50'000 
  • Bewilligung: 06.10.2022 
  • Dauer: 01.2023 - 04.2024 
  • Handlungsfeld:  Freie Mittel, seit 2022



The FE+MALE Think Tank has designed The Beat Funding Bias Initiative (BFBI) to lead efforts to push and build the institutional capacity for a gender-bias-free systematic approach to help remove funding barriers for female entrepreneurs in Switzerland. Specifically, this innovative initiative was designed to address those gender biases or stereotypes that women are likely to face during the screening stages, vetting interviews, or ‘funding rounds’ that either qualify or disqualify them for potential funding. To this end, the FE+MALE Think Tank conducted a series of expert interviews from May to June 2022 (which included representation from well-known institutions from within the Swiss start-up space, including ‘Angel’ investors, VCs, prospective entrepreneurs, etc), to better understand the underlying dynamics where gender bias is occurring or where it was likely to be exhibited during the various vetting rounds. FE+MALE Think tank found there is not a systematic approach to avoid biased processes in the funding settings, hence there is no sharing of best practices or learning from each other.

To goal of the implementation orientied project is to:
1) Raise Awareness on the topic,
2) Conduct targeted stakeholder workshops,
3) Design & develop & test toolkit with partners to build institutional capacity,
4) Validate to scale it up.

Main Partners involved in the project are SICTIC, Venturelab, Startfeld, SwissEF, Startup days. The iniative is supported by a number of GREAT female founders.


The Beat Funding Bias Initiative reached a significant milestone with the successful completion of its 2023 pilot project. During the dissemination phase, the primary focus was on public validation, documentation, and widespread dissemination of the toolkit. Targeted activities included diverse initiatives such as marketing materials, public interventions, webinars, stakeholder engagement, and the publication of impactful articles.

Key Activities include:
- Marketing Materials developed a due diligence checklist, skill track, brochure, deck, and interactive map (work in progress for 2024).
- MassChallenge Lecture consisted in a simulation addressing investor bias, engaging 60 startups, and providing transformative insights.
- Hosted two WEBINARS with Women In Cleantech and Sustainability, and FONGIT, attracting significant participation.
- Swiss Innovation Forum 2023
- Concluded and publicly validated the project in a panel with experts, complemented by an interactive booth showcasing the BFBI project.

Media Highlights and published articles:
- Featured in renowned publications, disseminating insights on gender bias across various online platforms and addressing funding challenges.
- September 23: Interview featured by Dr. Carole Ackermann and published in Ladies Drive magazine.
- September 23: The article "Breaking the Gender Bias in the Startup Ecosystem" was disseminated in The Swiss Startup Association.
- October 23: Article “The Way We Answer Affects What We Fundraise. Pitches, Questions, and Gender. The Funding Bias Puzzle” disseminated in StartupSticker, The Swiss Startup Association, and FE+MALE Think Tank online channels.
- December 23: The article “Understanding Unconscious Biases in Investment Decisions” was disseminated in Ladies Drive Online Magazine, FE+MALE Think Tank online channels, and the Swiss Startup Association.

Impact and Validation:
The initiative successfully raised awareness of unconscious bias, with full validation of the toolkit's effectiveness for female founders awaiting a later stage. Tested by up to 10 institutions, the toolkit garnered participation from up to 50 influential individuals in 2023, drawing interest from investors and founders nationwide. Partnerships with service providers are in their early stages, with planned activities and meetings for 2024. Seeking additional supporters and funding, the initiative aims to scale and consolidate the project during 2024-25, preparing for a spin-off beginning in 2026.

Next Steps:
- Identification of new research,
- Raising awareness through targeted communication activities, e.g., the campaign "I am biased, so are you.”
- Learning platform, including technological integrations and certification,
- Assessments, mapping, benchmarking and rewarding best practices.

Exploring innovative approaches for growth and success, The Beat Funding Bias aspires not just to lead but to be a trailblazer. Offering creative solutions to ensure a fair chance at obtaining funding, BFBI seeks to redefine the landscape by providing groundbreaking solutions promoting gender equity in funding settings. Guided by scientific research, the approach lies in skilfully unravelling unconscious biases with finesse, ushering in an era where equity naturally thrives. The goal is to address unconscious bias simply and effectively, creating a future where fairness comes naturally. Striving not just to be a part of the industry, BFBI aims to be pioneers in shaping a better tomorrow.


Am Projekt beteiligte Personen

Patricia M. Montesinos, project leader
Nicholas McCoy
FE+MALE Think Tank members collaborate actively in the project (development and execution) as well as external consultants.

Letzte Aktualisierung dieser Projektdarstellung  13.05.2024