LaunchVic to bring international Tech Inclusion Conference to Australia for first time


LaunchVic chief Kate Cornick. Source: Supplied.

Victoria’s government-backed startup advocacy and development agency LaunchVic has announced it will be bringing the Tech Inclusion Conference to Australia for the first time, to be held in Melbourne in February next year.

The Tech Inclusion conference is hosted by the diversity-focused, US-based startup advocacy group Change Catalyst, which has been running the events since 2015. The conference involves startup programs to help “underrepresented founders and teams in EdTech, FinTech, PeopleTech, HealthTech and Frontier Tech to build world-changing businesses”, along with keynote speakers and workshops.

The Melbourne structure for the conference will consist of a one-day event on February 13 next year, followed by two days of “inclusive startups” workshops, focusing on promoting empathy-driven leadership, educating founders on supporting underrepresented team members, and working through biases. The workshops will be free for startups, but entrance to the conference will cost $99.

“We are excited to convene the Victorian startup community to help drive diversity and inclusion together — so the wealth of diversity in this region is reflected in the makers, products and technologies of today and tomorrow,” Change Catalyst founder and chief executive Melinda Briana said in a statement.

LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick has previously said promoting diversity and inclusion is a “core focus” for the agency. In a statement, Cornick said the introduction of Tech Inclusion to Australia would further drive LaunchVic’s strategy in the area.

“We are delighted to bring undoubtedly one of best and most qualified group of experts on the subject to Victoria to stimulate a positive debate in our local startup community,” Cornick said.

A swathe of funding for international accelerators and conferences has flowed out of LaunchVic this year, after a decision was made not to bring StartCon to Melbourne, and to reallocate LaunchVic funds after money was pulled from the 500 Melbourne project in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against 500 Startups founder Dave McClure.

That money has lead to the Victorian government pledging to provide funding to diversity-focused conferences to the state in 2017. However, out of the three — Girls in Tech Catalyst, Above All Human and Pause Fest — only Pause Fest took place this year, with the others postponed or missing in action, reports InnovationAus.

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