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Women Innovators Featured at #BCTech Summit

BCBusiness + BC Innovation Council Western Canada's largest technology conference, the #BCTECH Summit, is set to welcome some of the industry's greatest local and global thought leaders and power players from May 14-16 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.


BCBusiness + BC Innovation Council

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Lam

Hiring more women is good for tech companies’ bottom lines, argues #BCTECH Summit speaker Norma Biln.

Western Canada’s largest technology conference, the #BCTECH Summit, is set to welcome some of the industry’s greatest local and global thought leaders and power players from May 14-16 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. 

The Summit saw over 5,550 participants in 2017, and is projecting 6,000 for 2018. Key programs are the Investment Showcase and B2B Matchmaking Programs, which will connect technology buyers with solution providers. Youth Innovation Day is designed to open young attendees’ eyes to career possibilities they might not have considered. 

“The conference is built for everyone: government, academia, industry and companies of all sizes that are looking to take in knowledge, and hear from leaders, to help their businesses succeed,” says Lindsay Chan, #BCTECH Summit’s director. The Summit will showcase technology’s transformation of key sectors such as natural resources, forestry and banking. Some speaker sessions will centre around robotics ethics, blockchain and crypto-currencies. 

While Brent Bushnell, CEO of Los Angeles-based experiential entertainment company Two Bit Circus, and Jared Cohen, founder of Google Ideas and CEO of Jigsaw, are keynote speakers, the Summit also showcases the talents of female technology entrepreneurs.  

BDC Investment Manager Michelle Scarborough will speak on the importance of investing in women-led businesses to fuel growth and innovation. Scarborough joined the bank’s investment arm, BDC Capital, in May 2017 to head up the strategic investments team. She was recruited specifically to lead the Women in Tech Venture Fund. Launched in November 2017, the fund has already increased its allocation from $50 million to $70 million. Nine investments were made as of January 2018. 

 “The growth of the number of women starting technology companies is expanding dramatically,” Scarborough says. The criteria for success of female-led (or any) technology enterprise are a global market opportunity, a scalable service offering and a marketable product. These, she says, together with hard work, a belief in oneself and tenacity in the face of a “no” are recipes for success. “Every no gets you closer to a yes,” she says.

Another Summit speaker, Norma Biln, founder and CEO of Augurex, was named to Women’s Executive Network’s list of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017. Biln, who has a background in both business and biological sciences, was awakened to the marketing capabilities of the business of science while working for Pfizer. 

Augurex is a biotechnology company that develops biomarkers that can predict rheumatoid arthritis in patients prior to diagnosis. The company’s JOINTstat blood tests help doctors to determine and diagnose joint damage before it happens. Already used on hundreds of thousands of patients, the product is available in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. 

While seven of the eight people in Augurex’s core team in Vancouver are women, Biln says the company hires based on qualifications, not gender. “We are looking to hire more men. [And] it’s just as important for male-dominated companies to start increasing the number of women. It’s not to do women a favour; it’s because it’s good for the organization. It adds to the richness of the organization—and to the bottom line.”