In the wake of COVID-19, digital technology has become a lifeline for millions around the world, and a critical tool to cope with the crisis. But as we embrace digital transformation and new technologies to propel us forward, the widening gender digital divide is impacting women’s socio-economic opportunities in a wide range of fields – from healthcare and education to work and financial independence. 

BOOST: Women Innovators is an open call for innovative ideas that leverage the power of technology to address gender inequalities and boost opportunities for women and girls to advance and thrive. Tapping into the innovation potential of the region, together, we can bring about social change, articulate alternative futures, and lay the groundwork for a new inclusive reality. 

We invite women-led or women-owned startups, SMEs, social enterprises, non-profits and academic institutions in Europe and Central Asia* with innovative and/or tech-driven ideas in four key areas: women & digital access and use, women in the digital economy & STEM, women in data, and women in tech innovation.   

The BOOST regional acceleration program will support 30+ women innovators from across Europe and Central Asia with training, mentorship, funding (up to USD $10,000 in grants or equity-free capital), investor access and much more to reimagine their organizations/business models and scale their social impact innovations.  

The call has two tracks based on applicant eligibility. See which one is the right fit for you and join BOOST’s next cohort of changemakers. 

*Find out what countries are eligible here. 

What we’re looking for

  • Women and digital access and useInnovations that help bridge the gender digital divide, enabling women and girls to equally access and use digital technologies – from creating affordable tech and enhancing digital literacy skills to tackling gender stereotypes.
  • Women in the digital economy and STEM:Innovations that help increase women’s active participation in digitally transformed economies and STEM or boost opportunities for women to be creators/drivers of innovation – for instance by leveraging the amplifying effect of emerging technologies, or by facilitating access to affordable finance.
  • Women in data: Innovations that can help close the gendered data gap, using gender-sensitive data – data specific to women – to improve research, planning, design, monitoring in urban planning, transportation, policy, design, manufacturing, and other fields. 

BOOST: Women Innovators, powered by UNDP Europe and Central Asia, was launched with the support of our key partners:  

  • Koç Holding, a leading Turkish investment holding company, that focuses on sustainable and profitable growth, with leadership positions in Turkey and the region. 
  • The Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, under the umbrella of SlovakAid, pursues innovative cooperation programmes with partners from Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  • Startup Grind, the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators. Its mission is to give startups everywhere the education and opportunities they need to build, grow, and scale. 
  • Koç University Entrepreneurship Center (KWORKS) is an entrepreneurship hub that assists tech startups to grow into sustainable, scalable, and successful ventures.
  • STEM4ALL is a UNDP platform that uses knowledge and advocacy to advance gender equality in STEM across Europe and Central Asia. 

Selection criteria

  • Viability and scalability: Innovations that have the potential to be implemented and scaled within or even beyond their respective geographical area of operations. 
  • Degree of innovation: Innovations that use cutting-edge technologies or innovative digital tools. 
  • Potential for impact: Innovations that can help bridge the gender digital divide by addressing one, two or all three thematic areas, and their underlying challenges.  
  • System transformation: Organizations that work to understand the systems in which they operate, and continuously re-assess and adapt their organizations and businesses to the context and markets.  
  • Management: Organizations must demonstrate that they have an adequate team in place, with clear roles and responsibilities, and the capacity to implement their innovations in 6–9 months. 

More information on the program and the application process initiation could be found HERE.