One of the many highly interesting events taking place as part of the ‘Finland 100 at Singapore Innovation Week’ official programme is the Women in Tech Conference (Asia). Women In Tech is run by a Finn; entrepreneur/business kickstarter Jenni Risku. The initiative, which is held in association with SWITCH week (Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology), was launched in 2016 and will now be taken to the next level in this pivotal centenary year of Finland. A big delegation representing 100 Finnish organizations will participate in a great line-up of events during Switch (18 – 22 September 2017).
The Women in Tech Asia (WiT) event, taking place on 20 September at Marina Bay Sands Expo, brings together Asia’s leading female innovators to celebrate women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). It is open for anyone to attend.
Born from a ground up and volunteer movement inside South East Asia’s tech scene, WiT’s agenda in 2017 brings the hottest topics and coolest ideas in technology. It all takes place during one full day under the themes Inspirational Founders, Monetizing Innovations, Asia’s next billion users (presenting trends & technologies that are highly applicable to emerging markets), and (Fin) tech for impact. It includes keynote sessions, panels, innovation lab workshops and dialogue sessions.
In the dialogues sessions “Monetizing Innovations” are topics such as ‘Roadmap from ideation to commercialisation’. The “Tech for Impact” part includes such diverse topics as ‘How earth observation data and spacetech develop agriculture in emerging markets’, ‘Creating Your First AI application’, and ‘The Health of the Oceans’.
Sunita Kaur, MD Asia for Spotify, meanwhile, will hold a keynote session called ‘It’s all about mobile, mobile, mobile’ about Asia’s mobile first, emerging markets.
From the programme Jenni highlights a couple of inspirational figures who are the doers and makers within tech: Reshmi Rajendran, Nuclear Scientist & Director of Health and Life Sciences for Budding Innovations; and Bidushi Bhattacharya, ex-NASA Rocket Scientist & CEO/Founder of Astropreneurs HUB – SEA’s 1st space technology incubator.
“Reshmi uses her science background knowledge to advice and take these people who have innovations within science and advice how to commercialise their innovations and research. Bidushi now runs Southeast Asia’s first space tech incubator in Singapore. She wants to commercialise the opportunities for space here in Asia. Annabelle Kwok started her company SmartCow as 24 years old and builds Hardware for Artificial Intelligence. These women are super smart,” comments Jenni.
WiT is not arranged due to any lack of women within tech – on the contrary. “We’re not doing the conference because women would need any extra careful hand and handholding in terms of setting up tech companies or starting tech careers – that’s already happening. It’s more about us showcasing these people that are out there for the audience and through media,” Jenni tells ScandAsia.
“I feel it is a responsibility for us at WiT to pave the way to showcase these role models. Especially for those studying in Stem [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] or in the early stages of their careers, we want to showcase examples on stage that have made it and that you can also relate to. We need more female Steve Jobs and Bill Gates speakers out there so that – already when you are in school – you can get these kinds of role models and get to see the career paths that one actually has, because eventually this is where the world is going – towards tech!”
And males are by no means excluded. “We had 30 per cent men attending last year and we hope it will be 40 per cent this year. We also have a lot of speakers who are men. We don’t want to build silos for men and women, I think it’s more about creating an option for women in tech to meet other women in tech – that has proven globally to help them in their career to push through – as well looking to offer a lot of mentorship and focused content on site.”
“One thing I have come to realise, and that I want to emphasize to other young women entrepreneurs or women that are looking to climb up in the ladder, is that there is a lot of camaraderie, with women in tech and women entrepreneurs networks and a lot of internships available for you, and a lot of tools and support for you that helps you to succeed”
Being part of the Finland 100 Years programme in Singapore she thinks is great. “I am first of all very happy that there’s so much going on here. The 100 years anniversary is for every Finnish person a warm feeling, like a unique thing that we are here to celebrate. So of course it’s very nice that we are presenting so much also here in Singapore. I think it’s very important. And we’re really proud to be part of the Suomi Finland Singapore 100 events.”