Each month, the team at Switchboard Public Relations connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives informing the B.C. tech sector.
For March’s Connecting The Dots, the team looks back on an International Women’s Day to remember, the B.C. tech sector’s latest wins and a tech-enabled surge of support for Ukraine.
Moving the needle on International Women’s Day
The Short: With the Canadian tech industry continuing to under-represent women, it’s important to celebrate female voices – and on March 8, the B.C. tech community did not hold back in this regard.
The Long: With accessibility to capital being one of the biggest challenges facing women entrepreneurs, Backbone Angels launched on IWD 2021 to tackle this issue by funding and empowering female founders, businesses, and ideas. When a woman entrepreneur gets investment from one of the Backbone Angels, they also get access to all 10 founders and their collective experience across talent, marketing, design, data, and more.
In celebrating their one-year anniversary, the collective of 10 women has validated its model – and then some – by investing more than $2.8 million in 42 companies, with 72 percent of this invested capital is in first-time founders.
Led by the World Woman Foundation, the socially enabled movement aims to mentor one million women by 2030 and will feature inspiring stories from 60 women told in 60 seconds, presented together in a powerful 60 minutes of film. The hour will inform viewers about how women, every hour, lack access to healthcare, education, sanitation, energy, equal pay, and its impact on gender inequalities worldwide.
Switchboard Founder and Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Reid joined the conversation by penning a powerful opinion piece. Headlined “Mompreneur and she-EO must go if we’re going to #BreakTheBias,” Kathleen’s pointed questions to four female leaders in Canada’s tech ecosystem yielded a wealth of unique insights.
Hot streak continues for B.C. tech sector
The Short: Just sit back and marvel at a few of the partnerships, investments, hirings, sales and office expansions that emerged in March alone.
The Long: The month began with a bang for Vancouver green building company Nexii, which announced a partnership with Siemens to develop a new sustainable EV charger prototype designed for electrifying fleets and high-demand charging applications at scale. Co-patented by the partners, the prototype is the industry’s first EV charging system to house all necessary electrical infrastructure components that power EV chargers in an above-ground, enclosed and low-carbon structure. But wait, there’s more:
- Langley’s CubicFarms announced the sale of 27 CubicFarm System modules in Winnipeg at a price of over $5 million. The new modules were purchased by experienced greenhouse farmers Sheldon and Carrie Enns who operate the Green Valley Garden Centre. The Enns have been supplying high-quality vegetables and ornamental plants in Southeastern Manitoba for the past 12 years, and will use the CubicFarm System’s automated indoor growing technology to grow commercial scale amounts of leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens.
- Vancouver’s ConnectionPoint raised USD $1.5 million for the launch of CoCoPay, the first community-centric healthcare payment solution that tackles the issue of quality care affordability. ConnectionPoint’s mission is to help causes, corporations, and community members work together to fund impactful projects. Best known for their FundRazr platform for nonprofits, ConnectionPoint has raised more than $250 million through 200,000-plus campaigns in over 100 countries.
- Vancouver’s ElectraMeccanica announced that it is moving its global corporate headquarters in Burnaby to an expanded 14,000-square-foot space that will allow the company’s engineering, accounting, finance, HR, logistics and operations departments to operate under a single roof for the first time. ElectraMeccanica’s flagship vehicle is a single-seat EV called the SOLO. Engineered for a single occupant, the SOLO has a range of 160 kilometers and a top speed of 120 km/h, making it safe for highways.
- Vancouver’s Sanctuary AI, a company focused on creating the world’s first human-like intelligence in general-purpose robots, announced the successful closing of an oversubscribed $75.5 million Series A funding. Investors include Bell, Evok Innovations, Export Development Canada, Magna, SE Health, Verizon Ventures, and Workday Ventures.
- Surrey’s Quantum Algorithms Institute (QAI), a not-for-profit organization that facilitates collaboration among industry, academia and government in British Columbia, has teamed up with Xanadu, the Toronto-based world leader in photonic quantum computing, to build a highly skilled future workforce that will drive economic growth in British Columbia and across the nation.
Tech-enabled support for Ukraine finds different forms
The Short: Vancouver-based Charitable Impact, one of Canada’s fastest-growing and most tech-enabled donor-advised funds, reported a nearly 6,000-percent increase in donations to Ukraine-supporting organizations such as the Canadian-Ukraine Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Canadian Red Cross.
The Long: Like bank accounts for giving, Charitable Impact’s free Impact Accounts enable people to donate first – over the phone, online, or through a first-of-its-kind app – then choose how they want to allocate those donations at a later time. This allows them the time and space to focus on their charitable interests, and to research causes using Charitable Impact’s extensive online resources. The Charitable Impact Team works hard to provide objective giving guidance, with this recent blog post including a full list of registered Canadian charities with missions or appeals specific to Ukraine.
As well as waiving its placement fees for all Ukrainian tech hires, VanHack has set up a Ukraine Talent Hub for employers to directly connect and hire Ukrainian developers, and promote and post open roles. The recruitment platform is also encouraging employers to donate to verified Ukrainian-based charities in lieu of the waived placement fees.
Over the past six years, VanHack has built a community of 700 Ukrainian tech professionals.
And as more countries are expediting visa processing for Ukrainian nationals, VanHack’s global mobility team is equipped to support Ukrainian tech talent by offering emergency immigration and relocation services for candidates, as well as additional financial and logistical assistance through its partners. VanHack has also set up additional tools and resources to connect employers with Ukrainian developers looking to get hired remotely or safely relocated while taking into careful consideration restrictions inhibiting global mobility for different groups.