Vancouver entrepreneurs use tech to tackle social issues

Thousands will gather at the BC Tech Summit in Vancouver this week to explore the latest ideas and innovations fuelling our economy. Among those are some of Vancouver’s own entrepreneurs using technology to solve pressing social issues.  

The highly regarded (and sold out!), BC Tech Summit, is the largest technology conference in British Columbia. The two-day event features speakers such as Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Technology Amrik Virk, and leaders from Microsoft, Tesla, IBM – to name a few. The caliber of this event is a clear signal of the importance the technology sector plays in our economy.

Vancouver offers world-class talent and few immigration headaches as well as great views in a convenient time zone. 
Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg 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.” Here in Vancouver, 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.

Vancouver's impact entrepreneurs are demonstrating that profitability is possible when taking social, environmental and cultural impact into account.
Ian McKay, CEO of The Vancouver Economic Commission

Vancouver is also earning a reputation for its impact entrepreneurs – those building purpose driven business 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 are diverse. 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. PeaceGeeks, one of the finalist for the Google Impact Challenge Canada, develops apps for peacebuilders, human rights defenders and humanitarian responders. At HRx Technology, we tackle bias and discrimination that many job seekers face by removing identifiable information during the job application process.

BC’s social venture labour market has grown by 35% with sector earnings exceeding $500 million dollars annually, reports UBC Sauder School of Business. Of that market Vancouver has the greatest number of impact businesses, which is a key differentiator from other startup hubs around the world.

With the BC Tech Summit, let’s celebrate our technology sector and our impact entrepreneurs who are growing our economy while making our city, province, country and the world a better place.

Wyle Baoween