Women in tech face even more isolation than simply being a minority in the industry. As tech grows and the gender gap persists, many womxn and those identifying outside the cisgender male experience are entering roles as diverse as marketing, operations, and people. This means women could be the only woman in their company and the only woman they know in their role in a tech company. Three women in the growing Ann Arbor tech scene set out to build bridges for womxn in tech: Alison Todak, Kristina Oberly, and Rachel Phillips are all key players in the Ann Arbor tech scene with experience that ranges from community building to HR and marketing in tech startups. They founded Shine & Rise in 2019 to address the isolation of women in the tech industry. Even after a pandemic forced operations virtual, the organization is growing and expanding beyond Ann Arbor. Now, Shine & Rise is taking an active role in helping organizations diversify tech from the inside out.
For this month’s Great Lakes region tech events roundup, we are highlighting more online events available to you remotely for safety, as well as including some in-person events you might want to consider. Many groups have reported that they will be keeping remote live streams to some events after the pandemic, but others will not. It’s a great time to check out groups farther from home. This month, we’re including tech events from Chicago as well as our usual focus surrounding Southeast Michigan.
Traverse City’s 20Fathoms just announced its new HealthSpark Accelerator for digital and telehealth startups, to be held virtually starting April 12, 2021, running through June 30. Preference is given to Michigan companies, but the cohort is not restricted to Michigan only so the virtual format means this could be a great opportunity for a startup from any location. “HealthSpark is a 12-week high-intensity program,” 20Fathoms Executive Director Lauren Bigelow tells Cronicle. “We have pulled experts from across the country who are both leaders and practitioners,” she says, so that startup founders gain experience and can network with leaders in their space who know what it is to build a digital or telehealth startup on the ground.
What’s going on lately with all the pitch groups and networking events that have gone virtual? This month, we’re seeing tech groups focus on planning through the end of the coronavirus pandemic to look forward to how work and life will function in the future. Also, we’re seeing a lot of conferences and pitch groups focused on agtech and health and wellness as well as COVID response technology and data analysis. Plus, some regular hackathons are still happening that you won’t want to miss out of Detroit.
Ann Arbor’s premier tech hiring event, Tech Homecoming, happens Tuesday, November 27, from 3-7 pm. This year it’s virtual, so you can attend from anywhere, even if you’re not in town for the holidays.
Tech on the Edge is an Ann Arbor a2tech360 event that highlights biotech companies working on new technologies for applications from sustainable energy to medical technologies. This year during a2tech360’s tech week, the event highlighted companies from the edge of Ann Arbor’s tech scene including Ecovia Renewables, which is working on eco-friendly super-absorbent materials. Like many other companies involved in this year’s Tech on the Edge, Ecovia is hiring. Stabilux Biosciences also is looking for formulation chemists, people with biology background and more. Many of these companies are looking for scientists of various kinds, CTOs and CFOs, and management, all in the life sciences and biotech.
Susan Wagner of KLA Corporation spoke up front at this year’s TechTalk out of Ann Arbor on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Inclusion gives companies the diversity of thought and experience to be as creative and innovative as possible. “We should work together to life one another up. It does not mean that just because others succeed we will fail… all boats rise together,” she said. “KLA is a global company. COVID’s impact can vary,” Wagner said. “The semiconductor industry is playing a crucial role to enable work from home. Many things are changing, some for good,” she said. “Electronics are more important than ever to keep us connected.”
“If we choose, the impact economy can give new meaning to the term Roaring Twenties,” says John Denniston, a former Silicon Valley VC and founder of Shared-X, an agritech startup that works to raise global farmers out of poverty through sustainable technology and community programs. “There is a movement afoot,” Denniston says behind the scenes at Ann Arbor’s annual tech trend prediction conference 2030: What The Future Holds, “to redefine the purpose of business so it’s not just about profit. There’s this fascinating economic phenomenon going on right now where consumers, investors, and workers are all forcing companies to be about more than just profit.” It’s unusual to have all three forces pushing in the same direction at once, Denniston says, and he attributes this to global issues and the trend among younger generations to seek purpose in their work and to expect companies to be a part of global solutions.
For the last year, Traverse City Michigan startup incubator 20Fathoms has been running a program called tccodes, to mentor professionals moving into software development careers. Tomorrow, Program Manager Keith Kelly says, they’re kicking off phase 2 of the program, tccyber, with an event called CyberSecurity As a Career, to support people entering the growing cybersecurity industry.
This month we’ve got an entire week of Ann Arbor a2tech360 events, the return of the Ann Arbor Biotech A2 BioSocial, and a number of pitch and networking events from Detroit to Traverse City operating remotely. Also, Michigan Ross School of Business is hosting an event about getting into tech careers and tech groups as…