In this section, you will find everything you need to know about the application and the selection process of the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, a thematic award that we launched in 2021.

More than ever, we need to fuel innovation by women. This award is especially dedicated to recognizing women impact entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation. Open to women entrepreneurs from any country and sector, this award highlights 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 call for applications for the 2024 edition is now closed. For 2025, we will be hosting an Impact Awards edition, open only to former Cartier Women's Initiative Fellows.



• US$ 100,000 grant for each first-place awardee

• US$ 60,000 grant for each second-place awardee

• US$ 30,000 grant for each third-place awardee

• Access to CWI Loan Fund, which offers loans up to US$200,000 to CWI fellows at preferential interest rates


Our fellowship program is part of the human capital support we offer our fellows. It focuses on several key areas of human capital support for women impact entrepreneurs and offers a combination of 1:1 training and collective workshops.

• 1:1 training in specific business areas

• 1:1 advice sessions with subject matter experts in CWI Community

• Community peer learning and networking sessions

• Online and in-person leadership communications and media training workshops

• In-person INSEAD Women Impact Entrepreneurship Program

• 1:1 leadership capacity executive coaching by The Women’s Impact Alliance (formerly The Coaching Fellowship)


Throughout the program, 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 and media visibility

• Access to an online and offline community of 700+ experts and peers

• Ongoing support for the development of the fellows’ businesses

Eligibility Criteria


The Science & Technology Pioneer Award of the Cartier Women’s Initiative is looking for women-led impact-driven businesses. Entrepreneurs across all sectors and geographies are encouraged to apply.

To be considered for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, the applicant and her 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 here (page 50).

For-profit: The business should be designed to generate sufficient revenue to support its operations and return some level of profit to its owners. Non-profit enterprises are not eligible. That said, the business does not have to be profitable at the time of application.

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 have been commercializing its final product/service for more than 6 years.

Positive impact: The business should demonstrate the potential to have a significant positive impact in its industry. It should contribute to 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: The applicant must be a woman and she must fill one of the main leadership positions, for example as CEO, COO, CTO, General Manager, or Managing Director of the business.

Ownership: The business must be majority owned by its founders and team members at the time of application. Moreover, one of the following conditions must be met: (1) a woman or multiple women are the largest shareholder(s) of founder equity (not total equity), or (2) the applicant owns a share greater or equal to that of each of her co-founder(s), or (3) if not part of the founding team, the applicant owns a share greater or equal to that of the business (co-)founder(s). Sole proprietorships are ineligible for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that is not a separate legal entity from the business owner. The business owner has unlimited liability (i.e. the business owner is personally liable for all the debts and losses of the sole proprietorship). It is also known as individual entrepreneurship, solo trader, or simply proprietorship.

Legal entry age: The applicant must be at least 18 years of age on the day of the application deadline (June 30, 2023).

English proficiency: A good command of the English language is required. We require the Common European Framework of Reference Level B2 or 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. English proficiency is important because this is the common language for the Cartier Women's Initiative team, its partners, the jury members and the overall community. Being proficient will allow the fellow to fully participate in the community and in the fellowship. Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply, and every effort will be made to include them appropriately.

Time commitment: The applicant must commit to participating in the fellowship program from January 2024 to January 2025. Fellows will be expected to dedicate 1 to 3 hours/week virtually to the program from January 2024 to January 2025, as well as two days of on-site filming of the fellow and their business between the end of December 2023 and the start of January 2024. In addition to the virtual training, fellows will be expected to attend one week of in-person events in May 2024 in Shenzhen, China. Fellows will also be required to report their impact for three years after completing their fellowship.

Application: The applicant should be the author of the application. We accept only one application per business. Furthermore, a business will only be considered for one award, so pick the category where your business fits the best: refer to FAQ. Businesses that submit applications to multiple award categories will be disqualified.

Supporting Documents


To apply, you need to complete the online application form and provide the supporting documentation listed below.


• Your resume

• Your business registration document

• Your business financial statements for the most recent financial year (unaudited acceptable)

• 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?


• Your business’ impact framework (Theory of Change)

• Your business’ competitive landscape

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

These documents must be submitted with the online application and cannot be sent separately.



Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

• Embedded positive impact

We are looking for impact businesses that will create more impact as they scale. We consider:

  • Intentionality: Was the business created to solve a social or environmental problem?
  • Embeddedness: Is positive impact locked into the business model?
  • Magnitude: Is there significant (number of people: local to global) and/or (degree of change: marginal to transformational) of impact?
  • Measurement: Is the business tracking and managing to optimize impact?
  • Impact potential: Is the impact potential and/or realized?

• Technological innovation

We are looking for new and realistic solutions. We consider:

  • Disruption: Is the solution built around unique, protected or hard to reproduce technological or scientific advances?
  • Sophistication: Does the business leverage a solid research base that requires a mix of advanced skills, knowledge, and infrastructure?
  • Enabling technologies: Does the business improve products or service and create new markets to solve major societal and environmental issues?

• Business model sustainability and validated development plan

We are looking for businesses that have the potential to be profitable. We consider:

  • Financial sustainability: Does the business have sufficient financial return potential to allow for strategic growth?
  • Well thought-out: Are expectations (sales cycles, price setting, etc) and models well thought out and defensible?
  • Growth strategy: Does the business have an expansion plan with clear business and impact goals and resource requirements (people, capital other)?
  • Risk assessment: Has the business thoroughly evaluated risks and capabilities?
  • Monitoring systems: Is the business working to set up dynamic mechanisms to monitor execution?

• Market and access strategy

We are looking for businesses with a clear competitive advantage and a defined market access strategy. We consider:

  • Unmet need: Has the business identified a large, unmet need in a growing industry (requiring a reasonable level of behavior change)?
  • Competitive advantage: Does the business have clear, long-term, defensible competitive advantage?
  • Market share: Could the business secure a big share in the market (#1 or #2)?
  • Validation and product-market fit: Does the business have evidence of (potential) customer validation and (potential) product-market fit?


We are looking for a capable team to build the business. We consider:

  • Complementarity: Is the team diverse, with 2-4 members who complement each other?
  • Technical skill: Does the team have relevant technical/leadership skills and experience?
  • Track record: Does the team have track record of execution and/or significant achievement?
  • Network: Does the team have relevant networks and advisors?

·Leadership character of applicant

We are looking for bold impact leaders, who can attract talent and foster purpose-driven team culture. We consider:

  • Entrepreneurial spirit: Does the applicant display integrity, motivation and high energy, entrepreneurial approach?
  • Cartier values: Does the applicant display the following character traits: Curiosity, Open-Mindedness, Generosity, Sharing, Respect, Rigor, Independence?

·Commitment to CWI vision and community

We are looking for fellows who will become active, lifelong members of our community.We consider whether the applicant is aligned with:

  • Our vision: A world in which every woman impact entrepreneur driving social change can achieve her full potential
  • Our mission: To provide women impact entrepreneurs with the necessary financial, social and human capital support to grow their business and build their leadership skills
  • Empowering women: Does the applicant empower women within their business, including inclusive policies, procedures or processes; as well as engagement with other stakeholders (partners, suppliers, etc.)? Does the applicant empower women through their external engagements? Does the applicant have a desire to share their expertise/contribute to the CWI community?


The selection process includes shortlisting, in-depth due diligence on the top five applicants in each region, and presentation before the jury. The jury selects and ranks the top three applicants who become our fellows. The announcement of the ranking takes place during the Awards Ceremony.

  • arisa-chattasa-0LaBRkmH4fM-unsplash.jpg

    Selection Criteria - Science & Technology Pioneer Award

    Download the selection criteria and scoring rubric to have a deeper understanding of our selection process.

    • 399 KB
    • PDF

Prof. Dr. Rana Sanyal, 2021 fellow, Professor at Bogazici University, Co-Founder and CSO of RS Research

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The go-to page for answers to all questions relating to the application procedure, application form, eligibility criteria, and more.



Regional Awards

Every year, 27 fellows are recognized from 9 regions across the world.




A new thematic award created to encourage entrepreneurial solutions designed to close gaps of access, outcome or opportunity for communities that have been underrepresented or underserved.