About AWE

Academy for Woman Entrepreneurs (AWE) in Iceland

Let's harness the innovative powers of women!

The University of Iceland participates in Academy for Woman Entrepreneurs (AWE) in collaboration with the American Embassy in Iceland.

It has never been more important to increase the number of start-up companies and strengthen innovation in the Icelandic economy and at the same time increase the share of women in the field.

The aim of the AWE programme is to support women in developing their business ideas, offer education and know-how and strengthen social networking.

Other collaborators are the Association of Business Women in Iceland (FKA) and Women of multicultural ethnicity network in Iceland

There is no participation fee and both individuals and teams can take part in the programme. 

Application deadline was on the 9th of February.  

On the 31st of January 2023 we held a meeting about the programme – check it out here.

What is AWE?

Academy for Woman Entrepreneurs (AWE) is an initiative from the United States and is offered all over the world. AWE comprises the online training program DreamBuilder organised by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, and workshops organised by the University of Iceland in collaboration with the Association of Business Women in Iceland.

The online training program is free of charge for participants and consists of 13 lectures accessible at a time that is convenient for each and every one.

In addition to the online program are workshops organised by the University of Iceland to better adapt the program to Icelandic circumstances and strengthen participants as entrepreneurs and business owners.

Over 5,000 women in over 80 countries participated in AWE in 2021.

25 women took part last year in Iceland and have gone on to carve out niches for themselves in Iceland and abroad by continuing to develop and finance their business ideas.

What is the advantage of participating in AWE?

Academy for Woman Entrepreneurs supports women in developing their business ideas and provides tools to facilitate starting a company based on them.

AWE is also designed for women who already own companies to develop them and improve the conditions of operation.

This creates a knowledge-based community where participants are mentored by experienced women in innovation and entrepreneurship in building businesses, networking and strengthening work development and professional competence.

Who can apply?

Women of all ages can apply to participate and 20 business ideas will be selected from the applications. Both individuals as well as teams of 2-5 women can apply.

Applicants are not required to be or have been students at the University of Iceland.

It is preferable that applicants have a business proposal that will be developed throughout the course, or have recently started a company that would benefit from going through the program.

The AWE program is ideal for entrepreneurs who are taking their first steps and can make use of their participation to form ideas and implement them.

Companies registered in the last two years are applicable or as long as their total revenue in the past year from the date of registration does not exceed 5 million Icelandic krona.

Please note that there is a possibility of a travel grant for participants in regional Iceland.

  • The application deadline was on the 9th of February 2023.
  • An introduction to the AWE program was held in Gróska – Fenjamýri – you can watch it here. 

All applications are confidential.

What is the AWE timeline?

The programme begins on 22. February and ends on 12. May with graduation. 

The AWE programme consists of the online training programme DreamBuilder organised by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and workshops organised by the University of Iceland. Participants are mentored by women who are experienced in innovation and entrepreneurship. Mentors will help them to build their businesses, develop networks and strengthen their professional skills. The programme aims to attract women living all over Iceland from diverse backgrounds and origins. Most workshops will be streamed online.

The online program is based on 13 lectures that can be watched at any time anywhere and cover around 25 hours in total. In addition there is one trip to Akureyri.

The workshops add tips and practical advice to the online program on:

  • Marketing
  • Starting companies in Iceland
  • Networking
  • Funding
  • Social media
  • Intellectual property

…and other practical matters that prove useful when starting and developing a business.

The women selected for participation obligate themselves to go through the online course curricula and take part in the workshops.

The University of Iceland offers its support to AWE participants as:

  • Fida Abu Libdeh, CEO and co-founder of GeoSilica, 
  • Sandra Mjöll Jónsdóttir Buch, Managing Director of The Science Institute of University of Iceland

In addition the University Career Connection and a representative from The University of Iceland Counselling and Career Centre also offer participants their support during the AWE programme.

Other experts within and outside of the University of Iceland will add to the expert knowledge in the course.


At the end of the programme prizes are awarded for the best business plans, best pitch and most progress. The Prices are:

  • First prize – ISK 700,000
  • Second prize – ISK 500,000 
  • Third prize – ISK 300,000
  • Best pitch – ISK 300,000
  • Most progresses – ISK 200,000