By Claire West

While the number of women-led firms continues to grow, the size of those firms does not. Yet those female entrepreneurs who are successful at accessing networks and capital perform on par with their male counterparts.

In an ongoing commitment to women high-growth entrepreneurs a global collaboration of women and men, named We Own It, seeks the most promising woman-led companies for a Global Pitch Competition organized by Astia and The Next Women.

Entrepreneurs will compete for cash prizes, global visibility, and valuable investor contacts, at an international audience at the Fourth Annual We Own It Summit in London, UK on June 27th.

Entrepreneurs with an innovative product or offering in a high-growth sector such as technology, life science, clean tech, consumer products and who qualify for the criteria of the 'Global Pitch Competition', can apply until June 1, 2013. Qualifying applicants are high-growth businesses ready for equity funding with at least one woman in a c-level position or equity stake. Additionally, the company must either have a global market or be ready to expand into one.

"Innovation can come from any source," noted David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, lead sponsor of this year's competition. "We are pleased to sponsor the summit as a way to encourage women entrepreneurs to showcase the great ideas that will lead to future economic growth."

Both Astia and The Next Women have a strong track record of sourcing, selecting and showcasing exceptional female entrepreneurs and connecting them to the investor community. Both organizations have built global ecosystems that ensure access to capital as well as expertise.

"The Global Pitch Competition presents an excellent opportunity for greater participation and visibility in the industry by these exceptional entrepreneurs," commented Simone Brummelhuis, CEO, The Next Women, "so I anticipate a lot of applications."

"New research by Dow Jones shows that women-led venture-backed companies outperformed their male counterparts over the past fifteen years." commented Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia. "As a collaboration, we believe that it makes abolutely no sense that women account for less than 5% of venture-backed companies while at the same time they account for over half the college graduates and graduate degree participants. With the Global Pitch Competition, we are increasing the opportunity for female entrepreneurs and investors alike."

The Global Pitch Competition will culminate in finals held during the Fourth Annual We Own it Summit, 27 June and 28 June 2013 in London. Interested startups and investors can register on the We Own It website: www.weownitsummit.org