Victoria delegation to promote tech, tourism, schools in China

Source:  Times Colonist
Author: Carla Wilson

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is leading a 19-member joint trade mission to China to “export innovation” in October.

In the past, Victoria mayors have gone to China with the objective of inviting investment to Victoria, Helps said at a Friday announcement.

“That’s been fine. But what we are seeing right now in Victoria is a very, very strong economy. Very, very strong educational institutions. A very, very strong tourist summer and another one to come if all goes well. And an explosion in the tech sector.”

The eight-day trip starting Oct. 14 is about “taking Victoria’s innovation and exporting it to the world,” Helps said.

“There are opportunities for Victoria companies to deepen relationships and export goods and services in Jiangsu and Shanghai and, in particular, clean tech, green tech and other tech and financial solutions,” she said.

The city is spending $22,206 for its participation on the trip. Helps will be accompanied by three city officials: Coun. Margaret Lucas, deputy city manager Jocelyn Jenkyns and Kerri Moore, manager of business development and strategic relations.

They will go to Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, Shanghai, and Suzhou, one of Victoria’s sister cities.

Other local private- and public-sector officials will be in China as well, some who head there every year. Tourism Victoria is taking a delegation, as it does annually, and the Alacrity Foundation of Victoria, the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Camosun College are also sending representatives. Participants stressed the importance of bringing the Victoria mayor on the trip, saying in China that mayors are highly regarded.

The Alacrity Foundation partners with Wesley Clover International group. It is opening an office in Shanghai this year as Alacrity makes investments in China and encourages investments in Greater Victoria technology firms.

Richard Egli, Alacrity managing director in Victoria, said they have already attracted $8 million in investment from China to tech companies in B.C. One Victoria company received about $2 million. Alacrity puts up funding and brings in other investors interested in technology in local markets, he said. It also works to commercialize Canadian technology in new markets.

Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun’s vice-president of partnerships, is aiming to attract more students from Xuzhou, where the organization has a relationship with the local university and high schools. Camosun has a “feeder program” to bring high school grads here. It is aiming to expand its network of high schools to about 100 a year, up from about 10 per year now.

Royal Roads is staging an annual global alumni summit in Nanjing. Helps will give a keynote address to 300 Royal Roads alumni from throughout Asia, as well as to regional political leaders.