Artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted as the wind in the sail of technological advancements shaping the future of work, healthcare, commerce, etc. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is sad to note that women still account for a paltry 22 percent of the workforce in the field of AI, according to the Global Gender Gap Report, 2018.
This gap is even more glaring in the startup space which is home to major technological developments. Budding entrepreneurs largely turn to Venture capitalists for funding, a luxury that most women-led businesses are denied.
A recent survey by Atomico on the State of European Technology shows that 2019 saw a decrease in the share of capital invested in women-led businesses on the continent as compared to the previous year. In fact, it revealed that for every $100 investment in Europe, $92 went to all-male founding teams.
Women in AI (WAI), which is on a mission to help close the gender gap in the AI ecosystem, launched the Women in AI Awards in 2019 to recognise and celebrate women techpreneurs in Europe. Co-Founder of WAI and Director of Women in AI Awards, Moojan Asghari said this annual event is one of the many initiatives by the organisation to achieve this goal. “WAI Awards is for the purpose of supporting female founders and innovators in the AI field by showcasing their achievements and providing them with business and financial support”, she said during the online event to announce winners of this year’s awards.
More than 170 applications were received this year from 38 countries across Europe, representing 100% increase over last year’s numbers. The judges took into account the extent of a company’s use of AI technologies in its operations, its MVP or industrialized products and/or number of clients with an added consideration given to companies with AI for Good relevance. After months of carefully poring over the applications, the judging panel selected three women techpreneurs as winners of the 2020 Women in AI Awards. The winners were announced at this year’s France is AI event on November 16.
The ultimate winner was Raluca Crisan, co-founder and CEO of ETIQ, a London-based company that is developing softwares to identify and mitigate biases embedded in algorithms. In second place was Deva Senevirathne, co-founder of Sonrai Analytics whose primary product provides a cloud platform for big data warehousing, transformation and analysis. The third prize winner was SomeBuddy’s CEO and co-founder, Suvi Uski whose Helsinki-based startup uses AI technologies to offer support to victims of social media harassment and abuse.
“We at ETIQ are incredibly committed to this equal opportunity agenda … it is really at the core of it and we are so happy to be recognised for it”, said Raluca Crisan when her company was announced as the winner.
The three would share 15 000 € cash prize among themselves while receiving business acceleration support from the main partners of the awards, Capgemini. The Chief Operating Officer of Capgemini France, Helene Chinal hinted at future collaborations with Women in AI for these awards, “last year we launched this award with Women in AI to inspire women and female entrepreneurship in AI. And for the second year, we renewed our support because, for us, it’s not a one-shot but a long way run”.
The five-member judging panel was made up of experts from across the fields of business and technology. They are; Anne-Laure Thieullent, VP Artificial Intelligence at Capgemini, Roxanne Varza- Director at Station F, Reshma Sohoni- Founding Partner at Seedcamp, Stewart Rogers-Managing Editor at GritDaily, and Robin Wauters- Founding Editor at Tech.eu.
After going through the brilliant applications submitted by women-led startups, Roxanne Varza had this to say, “there has never been a better time to be a female founder than now!”
Last month, WAI launched the Women in AI Awards for Australia and New Zealand, the first of its kind within that region. In a statement announcing the awards, Moojan Asghari said it was time the awards were expanded to cover the various regions and continents in which Women in AI is present. “It is our fervent hope that this event and subsequent ones will mark a significant contribution to the promotion of diversity in the field of Artificial Intelligence”, she said.
Join us again on this amazing journey and apply to this new edition of the WAI Awards at https://www.womeninai.co/waiawards2021aus-nz