Coast Capital Savings' Innovation Centre

  • 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 Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) 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
    Simon is now headed off to Palo Alto for a co-op term at Tesla in September! see more

    Source: CTV News Vancouver Island

    UVic student lands internship with Tesla

    Simon Park, a Mechanical Engineering and Business School student at UVic (And one of the recent winners of the "PitchIT" competition run by the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre), was featured on CTV News on August 14th sharing the newest version of his technology Caboost (He was also featured back in March). 

    Caboost is a new way to give cyclists a boost when it comes to grueling climbs up hills. It's a small trailer-mounted electrically motorized wheel that attaches to the back of a bike, to give the rider an on-demand boost.

    Simon is now headed off to Palo Alto for a co-op term at Tesla in September! Watch the news feature below:

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    "There are going to be some incredible new ventures coming out of the city." see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    University’s Innovation Centre adds to thriving tech sector

    Greater Victoria’s burgeoning high-tech sector may want to brace itself — it’s about to get even bigger.

    That’s the warning from Jerome Etwaroo, associate director of the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre at the University of Victoria, who said his campus program has been brimming with life since it was relaunched last year.

    “Watch out Victoria. There are going to be some incredible new ventures coming out of the city. We can see the early signs here that something great is going to happen,” said Etwaroo. He noted the program has nearly tripled the number of ventures through its doors that its predecessor saw in its first few years of existence.

    That mirrors the explosion of the local tech sector, which has set a goal of having combined revenues of $10 billion annually by 2030. Currently, technology revenue from Greater Victoria’s 880 tech firms is estimated by the industry’s umbrella group, VIATEC, to be in excess of $4 billion a year.

    The new version of the Innovation Centre, which replaced the three-year-old ICE project in 2016, has a new mandate and focus and a broader appeal than its predecessor, and that seems to have translated into more interest on campus and beyond.

    ICE was initiated in 2012 by the Gustavson School of Business, and expanded the following year across campus. The idea was to provide tools, expertise and space on campus to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas.

    Since its start, ICE helped launch about nine companies and brought 21 companies from ideas to the stage where they were ready for investment.

    Since it was relaunched in partnership with Coast Capital Savings last year — with a financial commitment of $450,000 over three years — the Innovation Centre has met with 75 ventures and helped about 20 to get to the marketplace.

    “Over the last year, we have seen close to 75 companies. When we started last year that was our three-year goal,” said Etwaroo.

    The difference has been the partnership with the credit union.

    With funding from Coast Capital, the centre has offered seed money for prototypes, supported business-plan competitions to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas alongside community mentors and created learning opportunities with co-op terms for students working on their own business ideas.

    Etwaroo said at the same time the Innovation Centre moved out from under the business school and into a more central role in order to appeal more broadly to the entire campus, and in so doing create partnerships between departments and faculties.

    The centre takes no stake in the companies it incubates. “We have support across campus from every faculty,” he said, noting there has been a cultural shift toward eliminating silos and fostering collaborative efforts. “We have more examples of engineers wanting to work with business students and business students working with engineers. We are finding some real community building on campus.”

    Tyler West, program co-ordinator for the centre, said they have seen a bit of everything come through their doors on campus.

    “We have entrepreneurs from every faculty — we have a girl making traditional Chinese dumplings all the way through to some very high-tech projects,” she said.

    They are dealing with companies of all stripes, including Pani Energy, which is working on renewable energy generation and storage systems for sustainable energy development; a mobile application developer called Antidose that is developing software to help people receive first aid in situations of opioid overdose; and an on-demand cleaning service called BnBreeze that bills itself as the Uber of cleaning services.

    Etwaroo said as the program has grown in popularity, so has community support. “A big change in the last year is the number of people who have put up their hands willing to help,” he said. Organizations such as VIATEC and other business veterans have been willing to work with the early stage companies.

    The Innovation Centre now has volunteer executives in residence and a large community of mentors willing to help.

    Etwaroo said early signs suggest a deluge of great ideas are about to hit. “We think the business case for the [Innovation Centre] speaks for itself,” he said. “The indication is the impact has been a positive one and it’s reaching a lot of entrepreneurs and providing them support.”

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my! see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Michael Reid

    Around Town: Geeking out at Discover Tectoria

    There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my!

    It wasn’t just super-cool technological crowd-pleasers like these that made Discover Tectoria, the high-tech showcase that packed them into Crystal Garden on Friday, such a blast.

    As one visitor remarked, almost as impressive as the high-tech doodads was that there were so many We’re Hiring signs displayed by dozens of local technology companies that participated.

    While this family-friendly event did to some extent have the feel of a hiring fair, it was a predominantly educational and entertaining showcase for the region’s thriving tech sector.

    “What is Tectoria, anyway?” was one question overheard from those not already in the know about the catchy moniker created by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council) in 2011.

    To quote its playful slogan, Tectoria, the umbrella title for the capital region’s tech sector, is “home to 100 killer whales and 1,500 killer apps.”

    To describe the products and opportunites on view as mind-blowing would be putting it mildly, whether you were marvelling over the fun and games or the scientific applications.

    Popular draws included Victoria Hand Project’s low-cost 3D-printed prostheses, used in developing countries where amputees have limited access to prosthetic care.

    Another eye-catcher was Tango, the revolutionary glove designed to overcome the communications barrier between deaf and hearing individuals by using a glove equipped with sensors and a microcontroller.

    A user’s hand gestures correspond to phrases or letters that, via Bluetooth, appear on a smartphone screen in a text format that can be output as a digitized voice.

    Kamel Hamdan, Alaa Dawod and Abdul-Rahman Saleh head the development team for the University of Victoria project, working in association with Coast Capital Savings’ Innovation Centre.

    Other highlights included LimbicMedia’s interactive blinking-light installation; VRX Ventures’ massive racing simulator; and the Holografx station’s Instagram photo booth.

    “We’re creating a new prototype, our biggest screen at 49 inches,” said Anamaria Medina, a Colombia-raised electrical engineer who works at the Esquimalt-based company.

    The tech firm develops innovative holographic tools used to showcase products, services and company logos, she said.

    “We did the Instagram photo booth because this is what teenagers do now,” she said, pointing to giant hashtags and other social media tools.

    Matthew McCormack said he joined a capacity crowd for an afternoon seminar on Victoria’s video game sector in the Innovation Theatre to learn about employment opportunities.

    “I want to know how to get into the video game arts. What’s the best route to get my first job, to skip over working at the grocery store and get right to where I want to be working?” the Claremont student said.

    McCormack, an avid gamer who plays Rainbow Six, a first-person shooter, and the futuristic vehicular soccer game Rocket League, learned being a fan isn’t necessarily enough.

    “It’s a highly competitive industry. We don’t just hire you if you’re really into games,” said Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment, with a smile.

    “You’ve got to be really good at art, or marketing, or businesss or programming, depending on what we’re hiring you for.”

    Jordan offered the crowd some pointers, including VIATEC’s Student Video Game Work Experience Program, which gives students a chance to work in a gaming studio.

    Moderator James Hursthouse of DigiBC got a few laughs when he asked if “there is something in the water here” to explain why so many tech types come to Victoria.

    “I think it’s where people want to live,” said Magda Rajkowski of Kano Apps. “It’s beautiful here, and there’s a lot of creativity.”

    Even before you entered Victoria Conference Centre, it was hard to miss UVic Centre for Aerospace Research’s sleek carbon fibre-and-fibreglass drone parked outside.

    “This is our workhorse, an aircraft designed to carry payloads, conduct research for companies or collaborators who want to test equipment,” explained operations manager Eldad Alber.

    One software developer, for example, asked the team to design wings that would be flexible based on their software designed for such a purpose.

    “Hopefully we’ll get more students interested in aerospace,” said Alber. “A master’s program for aeronautics is going to be available soon, so it would be nice to see more exposure and people applying for it.”