Techopia Live: Driving more government innovation, women in tech

Techopia Live’s Wednesday line-up was full of guests fed up with the status quo.

Innogov founders Paul Harding and Phil Keast discussed the not-for-profit’s aim to better engage government departments with the private sector, and more specifically local startups.

“This city is very ripe for change. There’s a lot of momentum,” Harding told Techopia Live.

In a word, the organization wants to make government procurement more “agile.” This agility comes from setting up a partner network to include stakeholders in the process beyond just the department and providers in question. Academia, industry associations and public servants themselves should all be engaged, the founders told Techopia Live.

As to why there hasn’t yet been a successful movement of this kind in government, Keast says the potential movers and shakers in government  “do change in their spare time.” They’re running the government and focused on keeping service delivery high; there’s often little time for systematic overhaul in the day-to-day.

But this is a dangerous trend to abide, Keast says.

“If this continues, then the gap between technology innovation and government projects is just going to get wider and wider.”

Harding says they’ve already had some initial “wins,” and the key to Innogov’s success will be sharing successes as a formula for other government departments.

“It’s so important, if you’ve been a part of one of those wins, to communicate that and how you did it,” he said.

(Literally) driving women in tech

The second half of our show brought PageCloud brand ambassador Lauren Olson and Hacking Health Ottawa’s Haidee Thanda to discuss a recent event held at the former’s offices.

Driving Women in Tech (WinTech) parked its RV in Ottawa on Tuesday. The traveling event has made its way across the country from Vancouver, along the way sharing women’s stories of their struggles and successes in the tech field.

Olson told Techopia Live about a recent encounter that encapsulated the difficulties women face. Posting on LinkedIn about her excitement about the event drew out a stranger who commented on the event’s exclusionary nature towards men. (The event was, in fact, open and welcoming to male attendance and participation.)

“All that does is really solidify why it’s so important for us to have those dialogues,” Olson said.

She added that the event – which included a panel and a series of interactive activities – was one of the best PageCloud has ever hosted.

Thanda was pleased with the productive dialogues that came from the event. Attendees poured out advice for young women in the field, including how to be brave in a room of male colleagues and arming yourself with the right female mentors.

Olson added a call to action: the Driving Women in Tech team is hoping to reach Newfoundland with their event, but is low on funds. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the team take its positive message the east coast.