Tech and innovation conference to put the spotlight on women leaders in Alberta

A virtual conference on Tuesday hopes to inspire women entrepreneurs across the province. 

The Women Leading Innovation half-day event will focus on the tech and innovation sectors, the challenges “women face in the workplace” and ways women can better support women-led startups, according to the event’s website.

The conference is being put on by a group called SHEInnovates Alberta, a pilot aimed at celebrating and inspiring women innovators and entrepreneurs in Alberta.

“These are women innovating inside their large organizations and institutions and helping to make change inside of organizations,” Jennifer Koury, co-chair of SHEInnovates Alberta, said of the event’s speakers.

The Alberta branch of SHEInnovates launched almost two years ago as a pilot part of UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC), which wants to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment by promoting their stories, according to their website. 

It’s the only GICC project of its kind in Canada.

“Given I was retired and I know that Alberta is such a can-do province, we started it here,” Koury told CBC’s Radio Active on Monday.

The pilot capitalizes on the growing industry in Alberta. According to the Alberta Entreprise Corporation’s 2018 Alberta Technology Deal Flow Study, there is a growing number of women in the province who are tech company founders.

The SHEInnovates Alberta pilot recognizes the work of these women by highlighting their stories online, on social media and at speaking events.

It’s being used as a model for GICC to launch similar projects around the world.

For the last two years, SHEInnovates has been promoting the stories of approximately 70 women entrepreneurs in Alberta.

“Having these women be recognized, these are women who wouldn’t normally be recognized,” Koury said. “They are just quietly, humbly going about building their businesses all over Alberta and making a difference in our community and our economy.

“The whole concept of recognizing them, especially for younger generations, is if you can see it, you can be it.” 

Their event on Tuesday will help continue that recognition, Koury said.

The virtual event will feature Arielle Gross Samuels, head of global business strategy and engagement at Facebook, as the keynote speaker. 

Among the speakers is Shelley Kuipers with The51, a women equity fund founded in Alberta.

“It’s going to be a fantastic half-day conference,” Koury said.

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