Science & Technology Pioneer Award

Science & Technology Pioneer Award

In this section, you will find everything you need to know about the application and selection process of the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, a new thematic category launched in collaboration with Hello Tomorrow for the 2021 edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative.

For entrepreneurs who wish to apply to the Regional Awards, please head to this page



More than ever, we need to fuel innovation by women. This new award is especially dedicated to recognising women impact entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation. Open to women entrepreneurs from any country and sector, this award will highlight disruptive solutions built around unique, protected, or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances that require heavy R&D, a long commercialization cycle, high capital intensity, technology risk, and complexity. 


The three fellows will receive:


• US$ 100,000 grant for the laureate (top business)
• US$ 30,000 grant for each of the two finalists (2nd and 3rd runner-up businesses)



Our fellowship programme focuses on several key areas of human capital support for women impact entrepreneurs, including developing a strategic financial mind-set, speaking to inspire, and scaling social impact.
• Community peer learning sessions
• ‘Strategic financial mind-set’ module that aims to support fellows in building their roadmap for growth
• ‘Speaking to inspire’ communication module that focuses on leadership presence and media training
• Strategy mentoring module developed by our academic partner INSEAD business school that supports fellows in refining their business strategies
• A scholarship to attend a one-week INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme pending admission based on INSEAD’s eligibility criteria and selection process

For more information, please consult the Fellowship section.



Throughout the programme, we strive to highlight the social and environmental impact created by our fellows and bridge connections between women impact entrepreneurs and their supporters.
• International exposure & media visibility
• Access to an online & offline community of the Cartier Women’s Initiative and Hello Tomorrow
• Ongoing support for the development of the fellows’ businesses
• Passes to the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit and the Deep Tech Week
• Recognition by Hello Tomorrow as Deep Tech Pioneers, a label which grants fellows exclusive access to industry experts, investors and corporate partners at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit



To be considered for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, the applicant’s business must meet the following eligibility criteria:

• Technological & scientific innovation: The business should be based on the development of a new technology, a complex engineering process, or a scientific discovery, and not only on a disruptive business model. Development of the technology and product, from idea (TRL 1)* to commercialization (TRL 9)* should take at least 2 years.

* Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are commonly used to estimate the maturity of technologies. The framework enables consistent, uniform discussions of technical maturity across different types of technology. The detailed framework can be found on page 50 of this report.

• For-profit: the business should be designed to generate sufficient revenues to support its operations and return some level of profit to its owners. Non-profit enterprises are not accepted.

• Early-stage: The business should be in the initial phase of its development or growth. It must have at least a proof of concept, a prototype, or be in the process of producing one (minimum TRL 4) and must not be commercialising its final product/service for more than 5 years. Moreover, we are focused on companies that are majority-owned by founders and employees at the time of application.

• Impact: The business should demonstrate the potential to have a strong impact on its industry. It should meet at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. The SDGs are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the environment. They cover a series of social, economic, and environmental development issues.

• Leadership: A woman must fill the main leadership position, for example as CEO, General Manager or Director of the company.

Ownership: The founder needs to be a woman and she must be the largest shareholder of founder equity in the company or own a share at least equal to that of her cofounder(s).

• Legal entry age: The lead entrant must be 18 on the day of the application deadline.

• English proficiency: A good command of the English language is required (both verbal and written). We require the Common European Framework of Reference Level B2 and above. This level requires an understanding of the main ideas of complex text, technical discussion in business and your field of specialization and an ability to interact with fluency and spontaneity with native speakers.

• Time commitment: The applicant must commit to participating in the fellowship programme from February 2021 to November 2021. She will be expected to dedicate up to 4 hours/week virtually to the programme from January 2021 to May 2021 and up to 2 hours/week virtually from June 2021 to November 2021. In addition to the virtual programming, the applicant will also be expected to attend two weeks of in-person training: one week from May 21st to May 28th 2021 and one week in November 2021.


To apply to the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, you need to complete the online application form and provide the supporting documentation listed below.

• Your resume
• Your business registration document
• Your pitch deck: we are not looking for a specific format, just submit an existing pitch deck that accurately describes the impact of your business. This can be an investor presentation or a product presentation (no more than 15 pages max.).
• A one-minute video of yourself in which you answer the following questions:
   - What is your motivation behind solving the problem that you have identified?
   - What is the impact you wish to create through your solution?
   - What do you wish to gain/contribute to the Cartier Women’s Initiative community?

• Three additional attachments of your choice: image of product, brochure, press, article, research, etc.

These documents must be submitted on the online portal in the "Attachments" section and cannot be sent separately by email.

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The Jury evaluates the applications based on the following criteria:
• Technological innovation
• Market & access strategy
• Business model sustainability & validated development plan
• Embedded positive social impact
• Leadership team & character of founder
• Commitment to Cartier Women's Initiative
• Quality of submission

To view the detailed list of criteria used by the jury to evaluate your business, please click here.



The selection process is divided into two rounds: the finalist selection and the laureate selection.

• Round 1: The jury selects three finalists on the basis of their application form.

• Round 2: The finalists are invited to the final round, which includes submitting further business information and presenting their business in front of the jury panel during the preparatory training week. Based on the selection criteria, one laureate is selected. The announcement of the laureate for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, together with the 7 laureates for the Regional Awards, will take place during the Awards Ceremony.



• August 2020: The CWI team and selection committee screen out the ineligible and weakest applications.
• September - October 2020: Our due diligence partner runs a desk diligence on the top 10 best applications for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. The CWI team selects 5 applications to move on to the next stage.
• October - November 2020:  Our due diligence partner runs an in-depth virtual due diligence on the top 5 businesses. This involves a series of calls with the founder, senior management team, suppliers, partners and clients of the company. Additional documentation may also be requested at this stage. Our due diligence partner then drafts a detailed memo that is shared with the CWI team and the jury to support them in their decision-making. 
• December - January 2020: The jury panel reviews the top 5 applications. The jury members, who are granted access to the application form, supporting documents and the due diligence memo, are tasked with the responsibility of selecting the top three businesses for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award on the basis of the CWI selection criteria. These top three businesses are nominated as part of our 2021 cohort of fellows and move on to the next phase of the programme. 

The applicants who have not been selected will be informed of the status of their application by the end of the month of February.