Exclusive: #BCTECHSummit 2019 adds two more speakers to a high-profile lineup

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      Innovation is at the core of British Columbia’s tech industry. Vancouver's ability to combine research from top institutions with entrepreneurial savvy, for example, has cemented the city's status as the 15th largest startup ecosystem in the world, and mind-blowing companies have similarly been spawned across the province. Home to businesses involved in everything from recreating the reactions that occur inside the sun, letting surgeons practice operations in virtual reality, and designing electric ships, the region is making a name for itself as a hotbed of technological creativity.

      The #BCTechSummit, as Western Canada’s largest innovation event, is set to showcase some of the most exciting local organizations. Tied together with the theme of the “reality revolution”, the conference aims to connect leaders in technology, industry execs, investors, government officials, researchers, and students to further the B.C. ecosystem and encourage international eyes to look westward.

      Some globally renowned business stars are already doing just that. Today releasing two more names of keynote speakers that will headline the event, the #BCTECHSummit has snagged some high-profile individuals for the March 11-13 conference who are keen to lend their voices to developing the local tech sector.

      The first is popular Dragon’s Den judge Manjit Minhas. Famed for breaking into the notoriously competitive and heavily male-dominated beer and spirits industry, she has since grown her company to become the tenth largest brewery in the world. The beer baroness currently produces over 90 unique brands, and is a sought-after speaker for her knowledge on how to grow a startup from scratch.

      Next to be announced is business tycoon and astronaut Anousheh Ansari. As well as being the first female private space explorer and first Muslim woman in space, she currently serves as the CEO of Prodea Systems—a leading Internet of Things (IoT) tech firm she co-founded 12 years ago—and XPrize, a non-profit competition that asks individuals to create tech that benefits humanity. Ansari is a member of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Council, and is a UNESCO Good Will Ambassador. Spotlighted in the STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, she co-created The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, which has a goal of investing $1 billion into female-founded companies by 2020.

      Minhas and Ansari will join former FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence operative, Eric O’Neill, brain researcher and inventor Tan Le, B.C. premier John Horgan, B.C.’s innovation commissioner Alan Winter, and president and CEO of Innovate BC Shirley Vickers, as speakers at the summit.

      This year’s event is forecast to have over 260 exhibitors, and organizers anticipate an audience of 7650 attendees from across all industries and sectors. Super Early Bird tickets to the March 11-13 event have sold out, but Early Bird tickets are now available for $699 at the #BCTECHSummit website.

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays