The National Digital Research Centre has set up an initiative to encourage women to start up technology companies. Female Founders, which also involves Enterprise Ireland and the AIB, is looking for applications for the programme which will provide commercial planning and technology advice to the would-be entrepreneurs.

Amy Neale from the NDRC says that technology companies started and led by women tend to deliver better returns. Ms Neale says the centre was struck by research which showed that high-tech startup companies led by women achieve returns that are 35% higher than those led by men yet female founders in the sector are still thin on the ground. Research also shows that companies who have more diversity on their management teams do better. She says the barriers to successful start-ups are somewhat perceived with people of the view that while they use technology they can't build technology. Women with high-tech business startup ideas should apply for the programme by July 2. The programme will run from July 25 to August 29 and will provide expert commercial planning and technology advice, along with the opportunity to build a startup team, plus contributions from experienced mentors and role models. The programme is one day a week so as women can continue to work while they do it. More details of the programme are available here.  

MORNING BRIEFS - Technology company HP, one of Ireland's biggest multinational employers, has announced plans to lay off up to 16,000 employees worldwide. The redundancies are in addition to those previously announced by HP as part of a restructuring plan in 2012 in which it said it would reduce the size of its global workforce by 34,000 over a number of years.

*** Fitch has upgraded Greece's credit rating to "B" from "B-" and is predicting the economy will return to growth this year for the first time since 2008. In a statement this morning the ratings agency said the decision to upgrade reflects the efforts made by the government to tackle its budget deficit. On its official guidelines a "B" credit rating with Fitch denotes that an investment, in this case Greek government debt, is still "highly speculative". It is five notches below the highest "triple A" grade which is the highest available credit grade.

**** Carmaker Toyota has initiated another recall, its second in as many months. The Japanese company is recalling about 520,000 vehicles, mostly in North America, over several issues including cable corrosion that could see unused spare tyres fall off. Toyota last month called back over six million vehicles worldwide over a series of problems.

*** Facebook has bowed to pressure to overhaul its privacy settings and give users more control over personal information shared on the social network. Previously Facebook users had to choose only to share information they posted with friends rather than with the public at large. The friends-only setting will now be the default setting. Users will also have to opt in to a range of services such as location tracking. Until now such services were selected by default and users had to opt out.