Female entrepreneurs wanted – Astia opens applications for its European accelerator

I won’t get into the “women in tech” debate but any help for startups is definitely a good thing. On that note, Astia, the not-for-profit “venture accelerator for women-led high-growth companies”, is calling for applications from UK and European startups for its Entrepreneur Programme, to be held in London in March 2011. Specifically, it’s targeting Technology, Life Science and Clean Technology companies.

Held annually in Silicon Valley, New York, and London, Astia’s Entrepreneur Programme provides women entrepreneurs with access to resources and experts in the pursuit of the capital needed to grow their startups. Participants this year will spend five days in London (between 14-18 March 2011), attending a series of workshops, one-on-one sessions and discussions with investors, entrepreneurs and the like who’ll help to show the way to successful fundraising and “growth strategies”.

But they’re not left hanging: This is also followed by an eight week advisory period which includes investors, CEOs and business professionals from the Astia community of over 1000 men and women. Select companies will then present to the investment community at the Astia Investor Forum on 12th May 2011. Prior Forum attendees include Accel, Octopus Ventures, Index Ventures, Atomico, and the Technology Strategy Board.

And it’s not just talk. Astia says that since 2003, more than 60% of the companies showcased at its Investor Forums have secured funding or an exit within one year, totalling more than $750 million raised and 21 exits including two IPOs.

The deadline to apply is 7th February 2011 (via astia.org). Online screening will be done by investors, CEOs and business professionals until February 18th, followed by in-person interviews on February 24th.

Update: We’re more than a little concerned by Astia’s mechanism of asking startups to pay to pitch, and other matters.