By Wyle Baoween
Thousands gathered at the #BCTech Summit in Vancouver from March 14-15, 2017 to explore the latest ideas and innovations fueling our economy. Among those gathered were some of Vancouver’s own entrepreneurs who have been using technology to solve pressing social issues.
Vancouver: The New “Impact” Tech Hub
Bloomberg’s Businessweek has called Vancouver “the new tech hub,” a place offering “world-class talent and few immigration headaches,” as well as “great views in a convenient time zone.” We are home to three of Canada’s four tech unicorns (startups valued at more than $1 billion), namely Slack, Hootsuite and Avigilon, and provincially, the tech sector generates an impressive $23 billion in revenue and employees nearly 100,000 professionals.
The highly regarded and sold out #BCTechSummit is the largest technology conference in British Columbia. The two-day event featured speakers such as Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Technology Amrik Virk, alongside leaders from Microsoft, Tesla and IBM to name just a few of the luminaries. The calibre of this event is a clear signal of the importance of the technology sector for our economy.
Impact and Socialpreneurism
Vancouver is also earning a reputation for its impact entrepreneurs—those building purpose-driven businesses to solve local and global challenges, while creating new economic opportunity.
“Vancouver’s impact entrepreneurs are changing perceptions, locally and globally, about how businesses operate by demonstrating that profitability is possible when taking social, environmental and cultural impact into account,” says Ian McKay, CEO of The Vancouver Economic Commission.
The types of problems Vancouver “socialpreneurs” are trying to solve with technology range. We are seeing companies create smarter logistics systems to help take more vehicles off the road while delivering services more efficiently. Others are addressing climate change.
Technology for Human Rights
PeaceGeeks, a finalist for Google Impact Challenge Canada, develops apps for peace builders, human rights defenders and humanitarian responders. At HRx Technology, we tackle bias and discrimination that many job seekers face by removing any identifiable information during the job application process.
BC’s social venture labour market has grown by 35 per cent with sector earnings exceeding $500 million dollars annually, according to UBC Sauder School of Business. Within that market, Vancouver has the greatest number of impact businesses—a key differentiator from other startup hubs around the world.
The 2017 #BCTech Summit once more celebrated not just our technology sector, but our impact entrepreneurs—those who are growing our economy while making our city, province, country and the world a better place.
Wyle Baoween is CEO and Co-Founder of HRx Technology, a Vancouver startup that provides technology solutions and services for unbiased recruitment, commonly referred to as blind hiring. Wyle speaks regularly on the topics of entrepreneurship, recruitment and unconscious bias.