The Athena Festival 2024: A festival of Inclusion, Innovation and Investment for Female Founders


Wisdom. Bravery. Resourcefulness.

Tuesday 15th October 2024

Nexus, Leeds University

Unlock the Power of Female Entrepreneurship

Almost 45% of England’s female-led high-growth enterprises are in London.  Considering that only 13% of the UK’s population resides in London, this represents a clear regional imbalance of female founding high-growth activity. 

Join us at the inaugural Athena Festival, a transformative event dedicated to empowering female founders beyond the London bubble. Held at the cutting-edge Nexus Leeds, and supported by Leeds City Council, this festival is your gateway to unparalleled growth, invaluable connections, and groundbreaking opportunities.


For Female Founders: Scale Beyond Limits

Are you a visionary female founder ready to take your company to new heights? The Athena Festival is designed to equip you with the tools, insights, and networks to scale your business effectively. Experience:

  • Expert-Led Workshops: Gain practical knowledge from industry leaders on scaling strategies, fundraising, and market expansion.
  • Mentorship Sessions: Connect with successful entrepreneurs and business mentors who can guide you on your journey.
  • Networking Opportunities: Meet like-minded female founders and form alliances that drive your business forward.
  • Pitch Competitions: Showcase your innovative ideas to a panel of influential investors and secure the funding you need.

For Angel Investors: Discover and Support the Next Wave of Innovators

Are you passionate about supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs? 

Female Founders face challenges when accessing funding, data showcases for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p, all-male founder teams get 89p, and mixed-gender teams 10p. 

But there are proven business benefits to backing female founders. Female-led businesses generate twice as much revenue per pound invested, despite receiving half the capital.

The Athena Festival provides a unique platform for angel investors to discover high-potential startups led by women outside of London. Experience:

  • Exclusive Pitch Events: Get early access to pitches from some of the most promising female-led startups.
  • Investment Panels: Participate in discussions with other investors and industry experts about the latest trends and opportunities in female entrepreneurship.
  • Networking Sessions: Build relationships with fellow investors and find co-investment opportunities.
  • Founder Meetups: Engage directly with founders, understand their visions, and explore potential collaborations.


Why is the Athena Festival important?

"The Athena Festival is a groundbreaking initiative for the Leeds region, signalling a new era of support and growth for female entrepreneurs across the UK. By providing a platform for female founders outside of London to scale and succeed, the festival fosters a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. It catalyses economic growth, drives innovation, and strengthens the community by connecting visionary founders with passionate angel investors. This festival is not just an event, but a movement that will elevate female-led businesses, inspire future generations, and solidify Leeds as a hub of entrepreneurial excellence."
Jordan Dargue
Co-Founder of Lifted Ventures and the Athena Festival

The Athena Festival is brought to Leeds by Lifted Ventures, an early-stage investment connector, existing to increase the flow of early-stage capital to female founders, and to promote the business benefits of backing women. Lifted Ventures exists to ensure regional funding is accessible to all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, neuro or physical diversity.

Read the Lifted Ventures blog on the proven benefits of backing female founders.

Why Nexus Leeds?

Nexus Leeds is more than just a venue; it’s a vibrant innovation hub that fosters collaboration and growth. With state-of-the-art facilities and a thriving community of entrepreneurs, Nexus Leeds is the perfect backdrop for the Athena Festival’s mission to elevate female founders and connect them with visionary investors.

Join Us at the Athena Festival

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to be part of a movement that champions female entrepreneurship and fosters impactful investments. Whether you’re a founder aiming to scale or an investor looking to make a difference, the Athena Festival is your launchpad to success.

Date: 15th October 2024

Location: Nexus, University of Leeds, Discovery Way, Leeds LS2 3AA

Time: 9.00am – 6.00pm

Become a Part of the Athena Legacy

Together, let’s break barriers, build bridges, and create a brighter future for female-led innovation.

Stay Connected

Follow us on LinkedIn for updates and insights leading up to the festival. For any inquiries, please contact us at [email protected]

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