Making the world better, one mobile app at a time

Launched in 2009 in California’s Silicon Valley and since 2014 in Montreal, this free event aims to develop skills in technology and entrepreneurship among young girls. “We want to eradicate the taboos surrounding menstruation, provide information and allow young girls to have access to hygienic protection,” says Divita, whose team from three countries (Canada, India and Nigeria) won a first prize in the Senior category.

This technological entrepreneurship competition for girls brought together virtually, on May 15, teams from the Montreal and Gatineau / Ottawa branches. These 24 projects, designed and presented by teams of two to five girls aged 10 to 18, offered innovative solutions to problems of importance to the community and even the planet – climate change, reducing our ecological footprint, food. healthy and accessible, etc. They also had to develop a business plan and pitch their project in front of four judges.

These projects are inspired by the 17 major sustainable development goals of the United Nations. “Already sensitized by the action of Greta Thunberg, these issues challenge them, just like the news with food waste or domestic violence”, explains the director of the Montreal branch of Technovation, Stéphanie Jecrois. “They are interested in these heavy subjects and want to help find a solution but also to raise awareness among other young people. “

With the arrival of Covid-19, the event had migrated rapidly to the Internet last year. This year, everything was done by Zoom, including the four months of preparation.

Even if it was not always easy, the teams did well, judges the head of mentors, Camille Sénécal. “In person, bonds and contact are created faster. During the online workshops, my advice to mentors was, “Keep up with the girls – some are more competitive, others are just curious to participate, especially the juniors. “

Volunteer mentors donate up to 50 hours to provide the foundation and propel ideas in the form of a mobile application, including the business plan.

Few technological issues and a lot of enthusiasm punctuated the presentations last month. The SparKL team, with its designers, Emma and Hyunwoo, stood out in particular, earning a crush from the jury for its “lit” presentation of their application, which deals with a delicate subject, the mental health of young people. Aimed at reducing depressive symptoms through daily challenges to stay active, UBored? is intended to be fun and inspiring. “The idea is to stay active and productive. When you complete a challenge – physical exercises or artistic expression – you can share it on social networks, which helps maintain the competitive spirit, ”explains Emma.

The four judges were Mona-Lisa Prosper, director of Futurpreneur Canada, Naysan Saran of Cann Forecast, Wemba Opota, National Technology Strategist at Microsoft Canada and Étienne Merineau, the founder of Heyday.ai.

Propelling girls into techno

Hosted by Cassie Rhéaume, one of the founders of Montreal Movement Girls and the Code and director at Lighthouse Labs Montreal, the event also aims to democratize techno. “The girls come out of it grown up and that arouses passions. Many are not at their first innovation, ”explains the host.

“It’s not work for them, they enjoy learning about the code and the programming language. The girls also meet many professionals, which allows them to discover a host of techno professions, ”adds Camille Sénécal.

“It’s a demanding program that requires real commitment from young girls. They must be able to demonstrate the validity of their project, from the solution they propose to the technical aspects, including feasibility, ”notes Stéphanie Jecrois.

The eight Canadian chapters, including the winners from Montreal-Gatineau-Ottawa, faced off against teams from the Americas to elect semi-finalists on June 12. Four of the teams here have qualified and will go to the world finals scheduled online August 12 and 13, in a bid to win the $ 10,000 scholarship and the honor of winning their idea for improvement. the world.

Image: Screenshot of UBored’s presentation video.