MONTREAL — L’Oréal Canada concluded last May 28th the first Canadian edition of the Women in Digital program, in partnership with URelles, Campus InfoPresse and Caisse Desjardins des Technologies de l’information which focusses on encouraging and promoting women entrepreneurs in technology by providing funding opportunities and support.
The five L’Oréal Canada Women in Digital 2019 finalists were:
- Anouk Charles from Luana Games, a video game project to promote women of science;
- Julie Dufresne from Emploiretraite.ca/Retiredjob.ca, a web application that connects employers with experienced candidates and retirees;
- Isabel Galiana from Saccade Analytics, a revolutionary medical software company;
- Margaret Magdesian from Ananda Devices, who has developed microdevices to recreate the human nervous system on-a-chip;
- and Takara Small from VentureKids, a Toronto-based nonprofit that provides free coding classes and startup workshops to youth living in low-income and underserved communities.
All of them were invited to the L’Oréal Canada Women in Digital Awards Gala on May 28 in Montreal, at the Campus Infopresse, where they gave a pitch presentation to the grand jury. After deliberation, it is finally Isabel Galiana, CEO and co-founder of Saccade Analytics, a Montreal company that evaluates the functioning of the brain according to the movement of the eyes and the head in virtual reality, which caught their attention. Winner of the 2019 Award, Isabel will receive a $2,500 scholarship for a customized training program offered by Campus Infopresse; six months of business mentoring with the Caisse Desjardins des technologies de l’information and a $20,000 grant from L’Oréal Canada to finance her company.
The five finalists have each received a personalized coaching session to prepare for their live pitch presentations, as well as a six months of business mentoring program offered by Caisse Desjardins des technologies de l’information. Finally, they will also be mentored by members of the jury.
The Women in Digital program, launched in December 2018, included a nominations phase during which more than 125 women in tech applied; a pre-selection phase led by three experts: Anne Bougel, Labelium, Marie-Sophie Désormeau, Hox Académie and Robert Beredo, L’Oréal Canada; and a final judging phase, led by: Azadeh Attar of Pinterest Canada, Joana Berzowska of Concordia University, Samir Mounir of Caisse Desjardins des Information Technologies, Sandeep Rai of ModiFace and Frank Kollmar of L ‘Oréal Canada.
“We have decided to launch the Women in Digital program because we strongly believe that women’s advancement in this area is paramount,” said Frank Kollmar, president and CEO of L’Oréal Canada. “At L’Oréal, in the world, the population of digital teams today is 69 percent women. A dream would be to see this statistic replicate itself in the field of startups and digital entrepreneurship.”
“Women entrepreneurs don’t have access to the same funding as men,” said Chloé Freslon, founder of URelles. “This type of financial incentive is needed to rebalance things. I’m happy to know that some women will be able to grow their business thanks to this helping hand.”
The program arose out of the observation that women entrepreneurs are underrepresented in tech in Canada. A study conducted in November 2017 by Toronto organization #movethedial and co-drafted by PwC Canada and MaRS Discovery District found that among 900 Canadian technology firms, women hold only 5 percent of CEO positions and 13 percent of all executive team positions. Nearly half (53 percent) of the tech firms have no female executives. On average, women occupy 8 percent of the management positions, while 73 percent of the companies don’t have any women on their boards of directors (source: “Where’s The Dial Now?“ Movethedial.com).