Digital Nomads & Tech Startups! You Can Do That Here In the Kootenays!

The region’s technology sector is growing. Digital nomads; knowledge and information technology workers; technology & innovation startups; are all seeing the region as the ideal location to pursue remote working, lucrative contracts as well as a welcoming and supportive environment to encourage tech startup success.

The combination of affordable housing and office space, high-speed broadband internet and the draw of world-class outdoor recreation makes the Kootenays, East and West, increasingly appealing for the expanding professional and educational opportunities in a variety of disciplines within technology and innovation.

Communities throughout the region are seeing the value and importance of including the technology sector into their long-term economic development plans as evidenced by the recent award in funding to Revelstoke City, with $100,00 in provincial funding to recruit a contractor to work on the city’s identified tech strategy goals.

“I think this is a great initiative that has the potential to further diversify the local economy,” director of community economic development Alan Mason said.

Internet and communications technology (ICT) companies are making major inroads in Kootenay communities with products including advanced collaborative decision-making software, thermal modelling software for the electronics sector, and the real estate sector’s multiple listing service.

Innovation initiatives such as the new Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) project in Trail.

An applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility focuses on the metallurgical sector that exists in the region surrounding the Teck Trail Operations smelter. MIDAS makes recent advances in manufacturing technology (including 3D Printing) accessible to West Kootenay companies, entrepreneurs and students.

“We can do things like using a 3-D scanner to scan an item and then we can print it on a 3-D printer and folks can use that as a prototype,” said MIDAS Program Director, Amber Hayes. “Or they can come to us with pictures and designs and input those and actually print them out in a hard copy version of what that design was, so everything from drones, planes, pieces for equipment, to you name it, you can pretty much design it and print it here.”

GIS technology is strong in the region, with advanced training and skilled graduates available through the Selkirk College Geospatial Research Centre.

Selkirk College offers a Digital Arts and New Media program covering graphic design, illustration, animation, visual and special effects, web design, and interactive application development. From this base, a regional cluster has emerged in filmmaking and motion graphics.

The Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST) has worked since 1998 to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as vital to the region’s economic diversity/ competitiveness. KAST offers business development services, including coaching, expertise, training, and development projects to stimulate the growth of applied science and technology entrepreneurship.

With the beautiful landscape, relaxed lifestyle, and exceptional high-speed Internet, the Kootenays are well positioned to take advantage of the Digital Nomad movement, where highly skilled and highly mobile technology professionals cycle through linked locales: collaborating, enhancing community vibrancy and deepening the technical talent pool to the benefit of more stationary technology companies and start-ups.

You can join the local Tech & Knowledge Workers group here.

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