Coast Capital Savings' Innovation Centre

  • 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.”