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Organization that empowers tech women wins Feast competition

Technovation Challenge, which encourages teenage girls to be passionate about science, won the MSNBC poll and earned a speaker spot at the Feast Conference.
A team of girls presents a cell phone application at Technovation Pitch Night in New York City in April 2012.
A team of girls presents a cell phone application at Technovation Pitch Night in New York City in April 2012.

Gender equality will be one main focus at this month’s Feast Conference in New York City.

Technovation Challenge won the week-long MSNBC poll that began last week, beating four other finalists for a spot to speak at the 2013 Feast Conference for the opportunity to call participants to action.

“We are ecstatic. We are beyond excited,” Deborah Berebichez, a global ambassador for Technovation Challenge, told MSNBC.

The organization hosts a competition twice a year for teenage girls who are interested in science, technology, and entrepreneurship. Participants spend three months developing cell phone applications that address problems in their under-served communities. Teams of five girls present their final products to a panel of judges at Technovation Pitch Night. The champion team receives $10,000 to introduce their application to the market.

The organization sent emails urging fans to vote from countries all over the world because the girls’ families and communities recognize the importance of the program and are endeared by its mission, Berebichez said.

“It has been amazing to see the response. People were voting from all over the world,” said Berebichez, who is originally from Mexico City.

The other four finalists–Borne Digital, Sucre Blue, No Right Brain Left Behind, and Given Goods Co.–have similar missions that focus on education, health, or giving back to communities.

Each innovator received one ticket to the three-day Feast Conference, which begins on Oct. 16 and promotes learning, health, and veterans.

Berebichez said her speech will include appearances from two New York-based participants who won the most recent challenge. This year, 570 girls competed from 24 states and 19 different countries. Her ultimate goal is for other countries to host Technovation Challenge in the future.

“Because we want to make this a global movement and we don’t have access to mentors, resources, as well as funding opportunities in other countries, we would love people to step up,” she said. “Our dream is to make this a movement where women can become scientists and entrepreneurs.”