Malin Lindberg, researcher in gender and innovation at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Melina Granberg

More female business owners when adviser becomes coach

Published: 7 November 2013

When VINNOVA recently distributed 29 million SEK for research on gender and innovation, three of the ten projects that received money came from Luleå University of Technology. The LTU-researcher Lindberg received 3.4 million SEK to produce a handbook in how the business advice can be designed to give women as good opportunities as men to start businesses.

– Today goes a bigger part of the financial aid to men and to products, says Malin Lindberg who advertises for business advisors who works more gender-sensitive.

The concept of innovation is too narrow and often involves technological product innovation. Social innovations, such as new ways of working with gender or methods of working with patients in health care, is rarely seen as an innovation that could lead to new businesses.

With advisors who coach the women with business ideas instead of being the sole judges, reduces the risk that the decision on financial aid is based on old gender patterns. The advisor's role is then to help the women to connect with others who started similar businesses for inspiration and experience. It lays the ground for a more equitable evaluation process which means that fewer ideas are rejected and more companies started.

Three organizations working with various social innovations for gender equal enterprise, collaborates with researchers to produce a handbook with suggestions on how business advisory can be performed in a more gender-sensitive manner. The participating organizations are WINNET Sweden, Magma and Leia Accelerator. All use different methods to support women in business.

– We will gather the organizations' methods, look at how and what they do and the impact of this. Less hierarchical and more gender equal business consulting is our goal, says Malin Lindberg.