Accelerate Okanagan

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Announcing the new online leadership series: Leading in a Changed World for executives and founders. see more

    Announcing the new online leadership series: Leading in a Changed World for executives and founders.

    VICTORIA, BC (September 14, 2020) - In partnership with Accelerate Okanagan and Western Economic Diversification Canada, VIATEC and Leadership Mentor Ian Chisolm from the Roy Group are introducing a highly interactive, four-part online series: Leading in a Changed World designed specifically for executive leadership teams and founders.

    Due to the vast changes in the last six months, business leaders have been steering the ship in uncharted waters, forced to implement rapid changes to stay afloat in “the new normal”. This leadership series beginning September 30th, will help them navigate the next phase of the journey.

    “These are unprecedented times for the modern workforce,” says Sarah Gulbrandsen, President & COO of RingPartner. “People are looking to their leaders for reassurance, guidance and honesty. Through this training, I hope to gain additional tools to better serve my team during this tricky time.”

    By the end of the four weeks, participants can expect to:

    • Understand the difference between simple, complicated, complex and chaotic systems, and learn the leadership approaches most effective within each
    • Discover what the uniqueness of our times means for you as a leader and how the people you work with respond to change
    • Learn how routine and new practices can lead to increased resilience even during uncertain circumstances
    • Strengthen your understanding of skills and approaches, like GROW model coaching, to build confidence and competence in others
    • Engage in leadership ‘drills’ to practice skills so they’re easily transferred to your work

    To help make this program as accessible as possible, VIATEC is subsidizing the cost by 50%.

    When we emerge from this crisis, the conversation will turn to those who stepped up: the leaders,” says Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “Our goal is to make the most of this time by not only filling any learning gaps, but using this as an opportunity to catapult our leaders’ development to the next level with practical, relevant skills. Although the tech community has been more robust than most during the COVID crisis, we know that some of the members who need this the most may be struggling.” 

    Roy Group Partner, Ian Chrisholm is a trusted advisor to the VIATEC community and has previously worked with VIATEC in the Leader’s Discipline. For graduates of the Leader’s Discipline, this series is a chance to apply learned skills to the unique challenges facing businesses today, and deepen their practice. For those new to Roy Group programs, it’s a practical introduction to skills that can be applied immediately.

    Click here to learn more and view the schedule for Leading in a Changed World.



    Tessa Bousfield
    Branding & Events Director

    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. VIATEC's mission is to cultivate the most cohesive tech community in the world by providing resources to tackle shared opportunities and challenges while boosting a sense of belonging and shaping our region. (Victoria's biggest industry is tech!). 


    Roy Group is a leadership development firm based out of Victoria, BC. Through in-person and virtual programs, Roy Group works with leaders who are compelled by the idea of inviting the practice of leadership from everyone in their organization. There are no experts — only practitioners of varying capability. Their philosophy is unique, and will change the way you and your organization view leadership.  


    Accelerate Okanagan is the tech accelerator that provides the necessary tools, disciplines and structure required for success, in an innovative not-for-profit, zero-equity-stake model that works better, in a place where people live better. 


    For more than 30 years, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has been working to diversify the western economy while improving the quality of life of western Canadians. They aim to be a leader in building a strong, competitive West by focusing on business development, innovation and community development. 


  • Sadie Evans posted an article
    VIATEC and partners to launch an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in tech see more

    VICTORIA, BC (December 12, 2019) - VIATEC is honoured to announce that it has, with partners, secured a $475,000 CAD investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster to pilot a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.

    The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will be a dedicated set of three accelerator cohorts created by women, for women, to increase the support for and the presence of women founders in the rapidly growing tech-sector. The program intends to strengthen the capacity of organizations elevating women entrepreneurs by ensuring they have the business support they need to start or grow a business. 

    This collaborative project including Accelerate Okanagan, UVic’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre, Purpose Five, and CDMN/Communitech, will see three cohorts of women entrepreneurs created; one in Kelowna and two in Victoria. If successful, this pilot project has the potential to evolve into a nation-wide offering. 

    "Typically, 10% or less of tech companies have a female founder. This pilot project is aimed directly at empowering women to build a program that works for them,” said VIATEC’s CEO, Dan Gunn. “It’s important that any program feels welcoming and supportive to entrepreneurs considering participating. It’s also vital that the participants feel a sense of belonging and identify with others in the program through shared perspectives. Most accelerator programs were developed by men and we’ve learned that those programs aren’t always the right fit for women entrepreneurs. We’re proud that we have been able to bring together this group of experienced partners with the funding needed to empower some of the trailblazing women in our communities to build a program that will better serve and support current and future women founders in tech.”

    The VIATEC cohort will be helmed by Shelley Voyer as Program Manager. Voyer, currently an Executive in Residence for VIATEC’s Accelerator Program, will take on the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. 

    Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the unique challenges women in business face - especially when launching and scaling their own company. I felt this first hand when I launched my tech start-up”, said Voyer. “While the rigours of growing a successful business aren’t unique to women, the support they need is. I’m thrilled to be a part of this essential initiative to provide an environment where women can thrive and ultimately strengthen our community for everyone.”

    "Tech has been the #1 industry in our region for over a decade and it’s well on its way to $10 billion in annual revenues,” continued Gunn. “However, there is plenty of evidence that women continue to be underrepresented in the sector and leadership roles in particular. In order for our companies and communities to reach their full potential, we need to take steps to engage, involve and empower more women which will both make our companies stronger and also help address the talent crunch. Supporting women to build an accelerator program that works for them is a step in that direction and I expect that not only will this assist women entrepreneurs, but it will help evolve accelerator models in general."

    The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program aligns with VIATEC’s values and current focus on developing new projects, programs, and partnerships aimed at supporting existing and future women leaders in the Greater Victoria tech sector. This project announcement comes on the heels of the VIATEC Foundation’s donation of $30,000 in funding towards the Gender Equity Fund and VIATEC’s sponsorship of HR Tech Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Tech Project.

    About VIATEC
    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Technology is Victoria's #1 industry with a $4.06 Billion Annual Revenue, a $5.22 Billion Economic Impact and over 16,775 employees across 995 high-tech companies - and growing!)


    About Digital Technology Supercluster

    The Digital Technology Supercluster consortium, led by Founding Members MDA, Microsoft, Telus and global leaders such as D-Wave Systems, LifeLabs, MDA, Teck Resources Limited, and TimberWest, and in collaboration with BC’s leading post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations including Accelerate Okanagan, British Columbia Institute of Technology, BC Tech Association, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), and other Members including Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, LlamaZOO, and Terramera. (a full list of Members can be found here) aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies and solve industry’s and society’s most challenging problems. The Supercluster co-invests in ambitious technology solutions to improve sustainability and competitiveness of our natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors and energize the economy. By leveraging the strengths and diversity of small and large companies, research organizations and government agencies, our approach aims to deliver an impact with the speed and magnitude that no single organization could achieve on its own. The Supercluster manages the investments provided by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the public and private organizations which constitute its membership.  


    About the Capacity Building Program

    The Capacity Building Program aims to develop a diverse pool of digital talent to ensure we have a workforce prepared for the jobs of tomorrow with a focus on improving the inclusion and participation of under-represented groups, including Indigenous Peoples and women.

    For media inquiries related to VIATEC

    Sadie Evans
    Marketing & Communications Manager


    For media inquiries related to the Digital Technology Supercluster

    Kathleen Reid

    Switchboard Public Relations


  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    The AO Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Brea Lake as the new CEO. see more

    Author: Joanna Schlosser

    The Accelerate Okanagan (AO) Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Brea Lake as the new CEO for the organization. Lake, who has been the Acting CEO for the past 9 months, will assume the full-time position effective immediately. 

    Lake has been supporting the growth of the Okanagan tech community for 5+ years through her work at AO. In her previous role as Director of Operations, she managed the team, ensured the successful implementation of entrepreneurial programs as well as strategic initiatives. Lake, an Okanagan College Alumni, has experience with local tech companies like Disney’s Interactive Studios where she was responsible for curriculum development, global training and policy documentation. 

    She is currently an Advisory Board Member for the Canadian Digital Media Network, an Executive Committee Member for the Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network, Director for the Okanagan College Foundation, and an Executive Board Member on the YMCA Okanagan.

    We had a some incredible candidates apply for this position but Brea stood out above the rest. We are fortunate to have someone with her vision, team leadership, and ability to build community lead our organization through this next stage of growth said Quinton Pullen, Board Chariman.

    After an exhaustive search that involved over 120 candidates, the AO Board of Directors was unanimous in appointing Lake in her new leadership role. 

    "There is no question that big things are happening in Okanagan tech," says Lake. “As a community, we’ve set some big goals and I am looking forward to leading our team and supporting the entire ecosystem in achieving them.” 

    Here is a look at AO’s new 5 year forecast: In the next 5 years Okanagan Tech will have an economic impact of $5 Billion, a level 5 Techstars Community Score, and a membership of 5X. In order to make these goals a reality, Lake and her team, in consultation with community partners and OKGNtech players, have identified three main areas of focus they believe will help us get there. 

    Engage the Willing—Through authentic relationship building, we engage the willing, mobilize the masses, and create a strong sense of belonging and a thriving community. 

    Unlock the Capital —Through collaboration and network building, we unlock the capital needed to support founders & companies of all types and at every stage of growth.

    Coach the Leaders—Through strong mentorship, we coach leaders who are inspired to drive innovation, propel the economy, and ultimately build successful anchor companies in our region. 

    “OKGNtech is a community of gritty, innovative entrepreneurs with audacious goals,” says Founder of Strawhouse and AO Board Director, Jason Kryski. “This shift in leadership combined with the aggressive growth strategy will support in realizing the Okanagan as an international leader in innovation”

    With over $2.7M in funding secured over the past six months for future growth and a strong team of community partners and supporters, AO is well positioned to support OKGNtech in achieving these goals. 

    Read more about AO’s latest funding announcements and the new strategic plan

    Learn more about the hiring process and meet the selection committee.

    Meet the AO teammentors, and Board of Directors. Explore the OKGNtech community. 

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    BCIC established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and VIATEC to assist small tech companies... see more


    Tech accelerators create 1,640 jobs

    An entrepreneurial program launched by the BC Innovation Council to help British Columbians transform their ideas into successful businesses is helping drive B.C.’s growing tech sector.

    Over the past five years, the Venture Acceleration Program has created 1,640 jobs, attracted $196 million in investment and generated more than $81.6 million in revenues provincewide.

    “B.C. boasts many innovative thinkers who are choosing our province as the place to start their technology companies,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services. “The Venture Acceleration Program helps harness those ideas and bring local innovation to market more quickly, growing our tech sector and creating jobs.”

    The program helps entrepreneurs bring ideas to market faster, like LlamaZOO’s revolutionary 3D veterinary training platform, EasyAnatomy.

    “Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program gave us a formula and process to make sure we did the right things to validate our product, from finding and defining the customers to segmenting the market,” said Kevin Oke, LlamaZOO Interactive co-founder and vice-president of sales. “It was really instrumental to our success.”

    The program also helps experienced tech developers hone their business skills and make new connections, such as AirSenze Solutions and FreshWorks Studio founders Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani who joined the program after immigrating to B.C.

    “We decided to stay in Victoria and start our own mobile app development company after completing our masters of business administration at the University of Victoria,” said Samarth Mod, AirSenze CEO and co-founder. “Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program at VIATEC provided us with mentorship, helped us get office space and network. Most importantly, by attending their fireside chats and other local tech meetups, we got to know the local tech community and learn from the experience of industry veterans.”

    The Venture Acceleration Program is delivered by a team of experienced professionals known as Executives in Residence, who act as mentors to help aspiring entrepreneurs bring new ideas to market more quickly, using a set of best practices for growing tech companies. Every entrepreneur in the program is assigned an Executive in Residence who becomes their primary advisor, often acting like an active member of their management team.

    “In just five years, program participants have successfully generated over $81 million in revenues through locally generated ideas, products and services,” said Carl Anderson, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council. “I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of our entrepreneurs provincewide, which I’ve witnessed first-hand when I was an Executive in Residence for BC Innovation Council’s Venture Acceleration Program.”

    The BC Innovation Council established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), to assist small tech companies, which make up the majority of B.C.’s tech sector, develop growth opportunities.

    “Programs like Venture Acceleration are incredibly important to B.C.’s growing small business sector because they allow entrepreneurs and start-ups to hone their skills and grow,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “With the majority of the high-tech industry made up of small businesses, it’s essential to have the right support to help them achieve their goals.” 

    The Venture Acceleration Program supports the #BCTECH Strategy by helping B.C. tech companies develop revenue growth opportunities.

    The #BCTECH Strategy is 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.

    In partnership with its Crown agency, the BC Innovation Council, the Province continues to drive tech through B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: 

    Quick Facts:

    • As of February 2017, the Venture Acceleration Program has trained more than 995 entrepreneurs from over 589 companies.
    • The program is supported by the BC Acceleration Network, which is made up of 14 partners in nine regions throughout B.C. including:
      • Accelerate Okanagan Technology Association (Kelowna)
      • Bioenterprise (provincewide)
      • Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association (Smithers)
      • entrepreneurship@UBC (Vancouver)
      • Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre (Surrey)
      • Innovation Central Society (Prince George)
      • Innovation Island Technology Association (Nanaimo)
      • Kamloops Innovation
      • Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (Rossland)
      • New Ventures BC (provincewide)
      • Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (Mission)
      • VentureLabs (Vancouver)
      • Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council
      • Wavefront (Vancouver)
    • 95% of B.C. tech firms are small businesses, with most employing fewer than four employees.

    Learn More:

    BC Innovation Council:

    Venture Acceleration Program:

    #BCTECH Strategy:

    LlamaZOO Interactive:

    AirSenze Solutions: