Applications now open for second cohort of Innovation Cluster’s Women Breaking Barriers program

Six-month business accelerator program, which begins on March 1, fast tracks female-led companies in STEM and social innovation fields

Rosalea Terry (top left), lead for the Innovation Cluster's Women Breaking Barriers program, in a Zoom session with some of the 10 female founders in the first cohort of the program. The next six-month cohort of Women Breaking Barriers begins on March 1, 2021, with applications for the next 10 female founders open until February 12. (Photo courtesy of Innovation Cluster)
Rosalea Terry (top left), lead for the Innovation Cluster's Women Breaking Barriers program, in a Zoom session with some of the 10 female founders in the first cohort of the program. The next six-month cohort of Women Breaking Barriers begins on March 1, 2021, with applications for the next 10 female founders open until February 12. (Photo courtesy of Innovation Cluster)

Applications are now open for the next 10 female entrepreneurs to join the Innovation Cluster’s Women Breaking Barriers program.

The program is designed to fast track the development of businesses founded by women in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and social innovation fields. Statistics reveal that only six per cent of Canadian technology firms have a female CEO, and more than half have no female executives at all.

The six-month program includes specific and advanced training sessions geared towards female founders, as well as weekly mentorship with advisors, peer-to-peer learning, and community networking. At the end of the six months, participants have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to angel investors. There is no cost to participate in the program.

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“Targeted programs are essential to decrease roadblocks and move the dial forward for female-led companies in STEM and social innovation which face unique challenges,” says Rosalea Terry, program lead with the Innovation Cluster.

Made possible by a $75,000 seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and RBC, Women Breaking Barriers launched in September 2020 with its first cohort of 10 female founders.

They will end their participation in the program at the end of February by pitching their businesses to the Peterborough Region Angel Network.

“With the first cohort coming to an end, we have seen how much of a difference this program can make and the group has exceeded all expectations,” Terry says. “The founders are about to pitch to the Peterborough Region Angel Network made up of over 30 investors.”

 Through the Women Breaking Barriers program, which is made possible by a $75,000 seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and RBC, the Innovation Cluster is working towards changing statistics that show women are significantly under-represented in technology businesses are related fields. (Graphic courtesy of Innovation Cluster)
Through the Women Breaking Barriers program, which is made possible by a $75,000 seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and RBC, the Innovation Cluster is working towards changing statistics that show women are significantly under-represented in technology businesses are related fields. (Graphic courtesy of Innovation Cluster)

One of the 10 participants in the first cohort is Othalia Doe-Bruce, founder of InnovFin Consulting Inc., which specializes in blockchain technology for finance companies.

“My participation in the Innovation Cluster was a game changer for both me at a personal level and my business, especially given the impact of COVID-19,” Doe-Bruce says.

“I was lucky to be selected as one of the very few brilliant women disrupting their industries and to benefit from the support of knowledgeable and experienced advisors, mentors and experts. I encourage aspiring female entrepreneurs to apply to the program and see their ideas and businesses exponentially boosted.”

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The next six-month cohort of Women Breaking Barriers begins on Monday, March 1st. Applications are now open until Friday, February 12th. To learn more about the program, including eligibility requirements, visit innovationcluster.ca/breakbarriers/.

The Innovation Cluster is also holding a free virtual information session on Zoom for interested applicants from 12 to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com/e/135880946569.

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