Girls between the ages of 10 and 18 from Montreal and Ottawa have spent the last five months learning how to develop their own startups and to code mobile apps to address world problems. The issues of focus were inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals and include topics such as fighting food waste, helping young people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, teaching students how to manage their finances, and information about COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, this year’s activities take place online.
The program is run by Technovation Montreal, a non-profit whose goal is to reduce the gender gap in science and technology. It encourages young girls to develop entrepreneurial leadership with a view to pursuing careers in the sector. It is part of a global non-profit called Technovation that offers interactive learning programs in more than 100 countries to teach people how to use cutting-edge technologies to solve real-world problems.
Teams of girls from across Canada have been preparing for a world competition which will be held online on August 12 and 13, 2021. They are vying for a chance to pitch their innovative ideas live to a panel of judges and the chance to win scholarships for further education in science, technology, engineering and math. Only 12 finalist will be selected to participate in this final event.
In the meantime, 24 teams from Montreal and Ottawa will present their innovations to a panel of experts on May 15, 2021 as part of a Canada-wide competition in June to determine who will make it to the finals. Only 12 teams from around the world will be chosen.
Even if they don’t win, participants benefit from the program. Organizers say 70 per cent of them subsequently express more interest in technology and leadership, 58 per cent enroll in more computer science courses and some go on to start their own businesses.