Istanbul, Turkey, February 1, 2022 – Powered by UNDP Europe and Central Asia, BOOST, a regional acceleration programme for social impact innovation, is launching a new call for innovative ideas that leverage the power of technology to support women and girls to thrive and advance in the digital economy.
As digital transformation and new technologies propel us forward, a widening gender digital divide is impacting women’s socio-economic opportunities in a wide range of fields. To close the gap, BOOST: Women Innovators calls for women-led startups, SMEs, social enterprises, non-profits or academic institutions in Europe and Central Asia* to submit innovations in four key thematic areas: women and digital access and use, women in the digital economy and STEM, women in data, and women driving technology innovation.
“As digital transformation in our societies and economies accelerate, new and emerging technologies and digital tools hold immense promise as enablers of women’s empowerment. BOOST provides an opportunity to strengthen ecosystems of women innovators in the region and boost women’s voices, economic participation, and civic engagement through the use of technologies,” says Gerd Trogemann, Manager of UNDP’s Regional Hub for Europe and Central Asia in Istanbul.
Launched in collaboration with public and private partners, the call consists of two tracks open for different kinds of applicants. Track 1 is open for applications from women-led startups, SMEs, social enterprises, non-profits, and academic institutions operating in Europe and Central Asia* with innovations in the three key above-mentioned thematic areas. Track 2 is open to applications from women-led start-ups registered in Turkey working on innovations in any industry.
“As a global leader committed to gender equality, we are working to narrow the gender gap in leadership and participation in technology and innovation. BOOST: Women Innovators in Turkey provides a unique opportunity to support women-led start-ups and to mobilize our diverse set of experience, skills, and resources. Together with our partners and Koç University Entrepreneurship Research Center (KWORKS), we are pioneering a model for inclusive design, leadership and implementation of digital solutions and innovative practice.” says Oya Ünlü Kızıl, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Sustainability and External Affairs, Koç Holding.
Over 30+ innovators from across Europe and Central Asia will be selected to join the BOOST regional acceleration programme to access world-class trainings and mentorship to develop, reimagine and scale their impact innovations – and compete for US$10,000 in equity-free capital. The innovations will become part of a region-wide portfolio that lays the groundwork for a better and inclusive future.
“Diversity is critical in all aspects of human development, including tech. It brings unique ideas and perspectives to the table, helps create results that benefits all sections of society. The ambition of BOOST is to support women in playing an active role in conversations and processes which shape our common future and provide a platform for bringing together a community of innovators from across the region,” says Tatiana Zilkova, Team Leader, Development Cooperation, Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic.
BOOST is financed and supported by partners across the region and beyond, including Koç Holding, the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, and the Islamic Development Bank through its Tadamon platform. BOOST is also working with STEM4ALL, Startup Grind, KWORKS and ImpactAIM, amongst a growing list of partners, to amplify the call across the region and deliver an impactful program for BOOST’s new cohort.
The application deadline for BOOST: Women’s Innovators is March 1. Apply here: boostimpact.org/challenges/boost-women-innovators.
*Eligible countries/territories are as follows: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
Svetla Baeva, Communications Lead, Innovation Team, UNDP Europe and Central Asia
 References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).