Canadian Innovation Week: #InnovateforCompetitiveness

Social Innovation

#CanadianInnovationWeek #InnovateforCompetitiveness

Innovation ecosystems are incredible drivers of growth and new technology, but how accessible is this powerful infrastructure? Despite making up 3.5% of the population, less than 3% of employees in Canada’s tech sector are Black. Similarly, less than 2% are Indigenous, even though Indigenous communities make up 4.9% of the total population. 90% of venture capital deals over the last 5 years went to companies led by men. As we grapple with today’s complex pressing social problems, we cannot afford to leave talent and ideas on the table.

So how do we change these numbers? We’ve heard from the source that communities of colour often have less, or unequal, access to the social networks and capital needed to launch and scale their enterprises successfully. With these gaps in mind, Innovate Calgary, with over a dozen partners, recently hosted a BIPOC Women Founders in Pitch Competition to celebrate their journey and support each finalist with a cash prize and business development resources.

Hear from the first and second-place winners Kelise Williams MSc, Founder of UpRow; Kajal Dattani and Ange Paye, Co-Founders of VOTO in a video captured from the event.

The ripples have already begun – the event saw a sold-out crowd of investors, tech founders, and innovation enthusiasts. This momentum is helping to shift BIPOC women from a corner of the innovation ecosystem – to centering their solutions and the value they bring to our economy and communities. Numerous articles further amplified the stories of these innovators and help signal that “the faces of Calgary’s tech scene are changing.”

Broadening who is seen as an innovator and how the innovation ecosystem supports innovators and entrepreneurs are tangible ways to work towards a more inclusive economy and ecosystem that creates a better future for us all. We need more spotlights of founders broadening the impact of the innovation ecosystem with their solutions and perspectives, and partners supporting their work.

The Challenge: Share a link to a founder (or more!) whose innovative work (product, service, platform, approach) is helping to make Calgary’s economy more inclusive.

Complete the Challenge

This post was a part of our Canadian Innovation Week participation where we encourage the wider community to engage with innovation and celebrate the amazing founders/startups in Calgary, Alberta and Canada.