VICTORIA, BC (December 12, 2019) - VIATEC is honoured to announce that it has, with partners, secured a $475,000 CAD investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster to pilot a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will be a dedicated set of three accelerator cohorts created by women, for women, to increase the support for and the presence of women founders in the rapidly growing tech-sector. The program intends to strengthen the capacity of organizations elevating women entrepreneurs by ensuring they have the business support they need to start or grow a business.
This collaborative project including Accelerate Okanagan, UVic’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre, Purpose Five, and CDMN/Communitech, will see three cohorts of women entrepreneurs created; one in Kelowna and two in Victoria. If successful, this pilot project has the potential to evolve into a nation-wide offering.
"Typically, 10% or less of tech companies have a female founder. This pilot project is aimed directly at empowering women to build a program that works for them,” said VIATEC’s CEO, Dan Gunn. “It’s important that any program feels welcoming and supportive to entrepreneurs considering participating. It’s also vital that the participants feel a sense of belonging and identify with others in the program through shared perspectives. Most accelerator programs were developed by men and we’ve learned that those programs aren’t always the right fit for women entrepreneurs. We’re proud that we have been able to bring together this group of experienced partners with the funding needed to empower some of the trailblazing women in our communities to build a program that will better serve and support current and future women founders in tech.”
The VIATEC cohort will be helmed by Shelley Voyer as Program Manager. Voyer, currently an Executive in Residence for VIATEC’s Accelerator Program, will take on the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.
“Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the unique challenges women in business face - especially when launching and scaling their own company. I felt this first hand when I launched my tech start-up”, said Voyer. “While the rigours of growing a successful business aren’t unique to women, the support they need is. I’m thrilled to be a part of this essential initiative to provide an environment where women can thrive and ultimately strengthen our community for everyone.”
"Tech has been the #1 industry in our region for over a decade and it’s well on its way to $10 billion in annual revenues,” continued Gunn. “However, there is plenty of evidence that women continue to be underrepresented in the sector and leadership roles in particular. In order for our companies and communities to reach their full potential, we need to take steps to engage, involve and empower more women which will both make our companies stronger and also help address the talent crunch. Supporting women to build an accelerator program that works for them is a step in that direction and I expect that not only will this assist women entrepreneurs, but it will help evolve accelerator models in general."
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program aligns with VIATEC’s values and current focus on developing new projects, programs, and partnerships aimed at supporting existing and future women leaders in the Greater Victoria tech sector. This project announcement comes on the heels of the VIATEC Foundation’s donation of $30,000 in funding towards the Gender Equity Fund and VIATEC’s sponsorship of HR Tech Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Tech Project.
VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Technology is Victoria's #1 industry with a $4.06 Billion Annual Revenue, a $5.22 Billion Economic Impact and over 16,775 employees across 995 high-tech companies - and growing!)
The Digital Technology Supercluster consortium, led by Founding Members MDA, Microsoft, Telus and global leaders such as D-Wave Systems, LifeLabs, MDA, Teck Resources Limited, and TimberWest, and in collaboration with BC’s leading post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations including Accelerate Okanagan, British Columbia Institute of Technology, BC Tech Association, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), and other Members including Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, LlamaZOO, and Terramera. (a full list of Members can be found here) aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies and solve industry’s and society’s most challenging problems. The Supercluster co-invests in ambitious technology solutions to improve sustainability and competitiveness of our natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors and energize the economy. By leveraging the strengths and diversity of small and large companies, research organizations and government agencies, our approach aims to deliver an impact with the speed and magnitude that no single organization could achieve on its own. The Supercluster manages the investments provided by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the public and private organizations which constitute its membership. www.digitalsupercluster.ca.
About the Capacity Building Program
The Capacity Building Program aims to develop a diverse pool of digital talent to ensure we have a workforce prepared for the jobs of tomorrow with a focus on improving the inclusion and participation of under-represented groups, including Indigenous Peoples and women.
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