Accelerate Okanagan

  • 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.  www.digitalsupercluster.ca.  

     

    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
    VIATEC
    sevans@viatec.ca

     

    For media inquiries related to the Digital Technology Supercluster


    Kathleen Reid

    Switchboard Public Relations

    604-724-1242

    kreid@switchboardpr.com

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

    Source: accelerateokanagan.com
    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

    Source:  News.gov.bc.ca

    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: http://bctechsummit.ca 

    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: http://bcic.ca/

    Venture Acceleration Program: http://bcic.ca/for-entrepreneurs/vap/

    #BCTECH Strategy: http://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/

    LlamaZOO Interactive: http://www.llamazoo.com/

    AirSenze Solutions: https://www.airsenze.com/