B.C.’s – and Koot’s?! – Tech Sector Set For Growth in 2017

There is great news projected for 2017 as Technology and Innovation in BC continues to incubate, serving as a magnet for the movers, shakers, startups, investors and workers in the flourishing British Columbia technology industry.

In the 2016 British Columbia Technology Report Card, KPMG reported that B.C.’s tech sector is growing faster than those in the rest of Canada and our American neighbours to the south.

The impact of the BC Tech Sector:

  • the sector comprises over 9500 companies spanning a number of industries: Interactive and Digital Media (IDM), Cleantech, Lifesciences, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) as well as IT & Engineering services.
  • the sector generates over $15 billion dollars per year
  • more than 90,000 jobs are created for British Columbians in the technology sector

BC Government doubles down: #BCTECH Strategy to continue tech sector growth

This growth has been recently been supported by the #BCTECH Strategy, an initiative geared to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse knowledge-based economy. Developed in consultation with industry, the Province of British Columbia has placed greater post-secondary emphasis on technology and coding in the K-12 curriculum, as well as wider availability of learning and development programs such as government-funded incubators through government’s Crown agency, the BC Innovation Council, and coding academies.

In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second annual #BCTECH Summit in March. The largest technology conference in B.C., it will showcase the province’s vibrant technology industry. With made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities the Summit will offer companies the chance to network with potential partners and investors while learning about next-generation innovations and ideas.

According to Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, “2017 promises to be another year of growth for British Columbia’s tech sector. We have the talent and the right business conditions to open doors to new opportunities for tech companies – both big and small.”

Tech sector seeing support, growth and opportunity in the Kootenays

It might be perceived that the growth of tech and innovation is limited to the Lower Mainland. Not so.

Regions like the Okanagan, and right here in the Koots, are enjoying exciting growth and expansion of the sector as well.

Nelson, and similarly, Revelstoke, have evolved as regional hubs. Promoting the powerful combination of lifestyle – the exceptional outdoor recreation and reasonable cost of living – and superior infrastructure in the high speed fibre Internet, there’s endless appeal to potential innovators to bringing, or starting, their operations here.

Dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation as well as the development of science and technology throughout the Kootenays, the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST), is a non-profit organization that offers business-development services such as coaching, expertise, training, and development projects to stimulate the growth of applied science and technology entrepreneurship.

“You have to be very creative to live here, and oftentimes its the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed to make a living here,” business coaching coordinator for the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) Rose Hoeher said.

KAST operates out of the Retreat Guru space and, with the support of the BC Innovation Council, provides an Executive-in-Residence and Venture Acceleration program, providing startups and small companies with mentors and the ideas needed to develop faster and successfully.

Through their Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) centre and interviews of at least 40 local businesses, KAST plans to find new ways to train job seekers on these new technologies, while giving businesses a better idea of how new technologies can help grow their operations.

Amber Hayes, MIDAS project director, Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies, “We will be determining the technical skills and knowledge level our local industry requires. Research and future programing analysis will be completed via the new MIDAS Fab Lab team and regional partners Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation, Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute and Selkirk College. This initiative will support local business and employment, and elevates our community in its understanding and leveraging of technology to its benefit. We are excited to receive the Labour Market Partnership funding to survey our local industry and begin this valuable process.”

The project aligns with the #BCTECH Strategy, a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.

The City of Revelstoke recently received $100,000 in funding to implement its own technology strategy.

According to Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development, a few of goals the program expects to achieve are: promoting the capacity of broadband available in the city, support existing technology companies and help them grow and promote Revelstoke as a tech-friendly community.

Selkirk College is steadfast in their commitment to supporting and promoting technology & innovation throughout the region through their programming. Their Environment & Geomatics program is making news for significantly contributing to the career success of students. They have developed an effective combination of classroom education, outdoor learning and real-world, hand-on, experience.