M12, the venture fund from Microsoft, in association with the EQT Ventures fund and SVB Financial Group, announced the Female Founders Competition, offering $4 million to two winners.
Submissions will be accepted from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2018, and open across three regions: Europe, Israel, and North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico).
Companies will be eligible to apply if they have at least one woman founder, have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding and/or loans at day of application, and offer or intend to release a product, service or platform that addresses a critical business problem.
Up to 10 finalists will pitch in person for the chance to be one of the two start-ups that earn a $2 million investment as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and additional support.
The competition seeks to drive awareness for both finalists and winners, with the potential for future funding from the broader VC community.
“We formed M12 to make smart bets on innovative people and their ideas, and the Female Founders Competition is an extension of that mandate,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft.
Women entrepreneurs receive a small amount of venture funding, with only 2.2 percent of the total invested in 2017 going to women-founded start-ups. Studies have shown that investing in companies founded by women delivers significantly higher returns than the market average.