COVID-19

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    With new health and safety office protocols, VIATEC offers a free guide and checklists see more

    VICTORIA, BC (May 21, 2020) - Over the coming weeks and months, employees will begin returning to offices as part of BC’s Restart Plan and things will be different. Orders from Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Bonnie Henry and guidance by the BC Centre of Disease Control, represent the minimum standard that employers and businesses must meet, to comply with obligations to ensure worker health and safety. 

    To help their members and all business offices meet and exceed the minimum standards, VIATEC has created a handbook to assist in determining what is required by authorities. It also includes a checklist complete with examples to help reopen an office, so that employees can return to the workplace feeling safe and healthy.

    VIATEC’s goal is to provide specific actions to help its members ensure they understand what is required based on the resources included in this document, and provide a practical guide for next steps.

    VIATEC’s Back to the Office Handbook includes: 

    • Guide for creating your own “COVID-19 Safety Plan” (required)
    • Master Re-Entry Plan Checklist
    • Deep Clean Checklist and more.

    “We’re optimistic that equipped with the right approach and procedures, we can ensure the coming months are full of encouraging milestones,” says Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “We are pleased to do what we can to help our community navigate through the re-entry process and we hope that by compiling a step-by-step approach combined with examples and checklists, offices will save time and have a clear way forward. At times like these, it is more important than ever that communities come together.”


    Visit the resources page to download the Free VIATEC Back to the Office Handbook 

     

    MEDIA CONTACT: 

    Paula Parker
    Community Manager
    pparker@viatec.ca
    Cell: 604-440-2686
     

    ABOUT VIATEC:

    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!).

    We work closely with our members to offer a variety of events, programs and services. In addition, VIATEC serves as the front door of the local tech sector and as its spokesperson. To better support local innovators, we acquired our own building (Fort Tectoria) where we offer flexible and affordable office space to emerging local companies along with a gathering/event space for local entrepreneurs.

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Apply for funding through the Regional Relief and Recover Fund RRRF see more

    (May 13, 2020) Message from: Western Economic Diversification Canada

     

    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for businesses and their employees. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy and our communities. As a source of local employment and pride, they play a key role in our national well-being. 

    Today, the Government of Canada announced that western Canadian businesses can now apply for the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD).

    Businesses are encouraged to visit the WD website to learn about eligibility criteria and determine which funding stream is right for them.

    All applicants are encouraged to consult the Program Guidelines prior to submitting an application, and to contact WD should you have additional questions.  Inquiries via email are encouraged and can be sent to wd.bc-cb.deo@canada.ca:

    A high volume of applications is anticipated.  WD is accepting applications on an ongoing basis and will review them on a first-come, first served basis.

    For more information about additional support offered by WD and the Government of Canada, please visit the WD COVID-19 response page.

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Develop a health and safety working at home policy see more

    Source: worksafebc.com. May 11, 2020

     

    Returning to Safe Operation

    Employers preparing to resume operations will need to have a safety plan that assesses the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their workplace, and develops measure to reduce these risks. You are not required to submit your plans for approval by WorkSafeBC but you may be asked to provide them during WorkSafeBC inspection. 

    You will need to develop a health and safety working at home policy which includes at minimum, the topics below:

    • Hazard and risk assessment of the at-home workplace
    • Procedures for working safely at home, including ergonomics
    • Evacuation from the home in an emergency and emergency contacts
    • Education and training
    • Worker’s duty to follow safe work procedures
    • Reporting workplace injuries
    • Check-in procedures

     

    Visit worksafebc.com for:

    •Working from home: A guide to keeping your workers healthy and safe

    •Setting up, organizing, and working comfortably in your home workspace

     

    What Employers Should Do

    a. Determine who should be at the workplace.

    b. Create policies that are in line with the recommendations and emergency measures laid out by the provincial health officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control.

    c. Consider engineering controls (e.g. plexiglass barriers).

    d.  Implement physical distancing measures

    • Reconfigure how the workplace is set up
    • Stop in-person meetings and revise shift schedules
    • Change work processes and practices

    e. Enhance cleaning and hygiene measures:

    • Provide supplies
    • Put up reminders for personal hygiene practices
    • Remove shared items
    • Disinfect high -contact areas and items

    f. Train, supervise, and document.

    g. Ensure staff can raise safety concerns.

    h. Work with joint occupational health and safety committee (JOHSC) members or worker representatives to:

    • Identify and find solutions to workplace health and safety issues.
    • Includes concerns about exposure to COVID-19.
    • Joint committees must continue to meet regularly as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation

    i. Limit essential work travel and ban non - essential travel. For instances where work travel is required, consider practices to encourage physical distancing between workers.

    j. Follow other preventative measures related to cleaning and hygiene

     

    What Workers Should Do:

    • Know when not to come to work.
    • Follow preventative measures while at work.
    • Comply with the employer’s instructions around minimizing exposure.
    • Practice physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and personal hygiene.
    • Report hazards and refuse unsafe work.
    • Take steps to minimize exposure to COVID -19 while away from work.

    Visit worksafebc.com

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Complimentary coaching offer for tech leaders. see more

    April 27, 2020 Author: Paula Parker, Community Manager

     

    VIATEC is very pleased to share complimentary coaching with our members...

    During the COVID-19 outbreak, leaders face increased challenges both as individuals making tough decisions and within team management. Morale, engagement and communication have all been impacted with the transition to remote work. 

    To help support members during this time, we’ve partnered with H2H Coaching to provide you a safe space in which to equip you mentally and emotionally to not only survive, but thrive during this crisis. 

    Starting now until May 30th, you can set up a complimentary 30 minute coaching session with Jesse Galvon Reid, Executive Coach | Emotional Intelligence Assessor at H2H Coaching. 

    I had the pleasure to talk with Jesse for a Q&A session to learn more about her and give you an idea about what you can expect.

     

    Q: Who are you and what do you do?

    I am a recovering perfectionist who is a self proclaimed knowledge seeker and happens to connect well with the logical academic type. I am also a genuine and authentically caring person who is passionate about helping people find the best in themselves. Most people find me pretty easy to talk to and can use humor to disarm and charm most. I am also the president of Autism Victoria and believe in building caring supportive communities. These kids are near and dear to my heart and always amaze me.

     

    Q: How did you first get involved in the tech community?

    When I met some leaders in tech I became fascinated with the fast paced world of tech startups. I saw and understood the unique challenges they face, coupled with the type of people who are attracted to this world - lots of logical straightforward people here. It was an easy transition to begin working with passionate leaders in the tech startup community to help transition them from entrepreneurs to CEOs. 

     

    Q: How do you help leaders in tech specifically? 

    The gap I help fill is moving leaders to shift from focusing on just “left-brain” analytical and execution skills that helped them excel at being an entrepreneur to becoming more practiced and aware at right-brain capabilities like leadership presence, communication, political savvy, and emotional intelligence - the soft skills.

    Very early I became very interested in human behaviors, potential and leadership styles and have been studying it for over a decade now. Through my career over the past 6 years I have added on other certifications that include emotional intelligence and the neuroscience of change. Blending theory and science has enabled me to bring human development and potential to the forefront of my practice. Helping leaders in education, technology and health care define, enhance and engage with their roles in a more fulfilling way personally and professionally.

    Some of these leaders have young and inexperienced teams and transitioning to a leadership role utilizes different skills.

     

    Q: What types of problems have people been coming to you with since the COVID-19 crisis began? 

    Clearly there is an impact all around the world and the human side of business is being impacted the hardest. Humans like to be comfortable and change is not usually welcome, even the good kind. So walking my client through their new reality has been a big conversation. The emotional and physical challenges working from home have been topics. The connection with people has been disrupted and managing teams has a new monkey wrench to deal with. So I have been working with them to get grounded and figure out what comes next from themselves and their staff. We cover approach, management style and expectations vs reality a lot in our conversations.

    Company culture is dependent on contribution, communication and synergy. During a time of disruption such as this, things tend to get put on the back burner and the laughter and social part of the connection are lost. That can make teams feel disconnected. So I work with the leadership team to help ensure everyone feels like they are contributing in a meaningful way. 

    Communication is key, not just reading email after email or chats on slack, that can lose a lot of engagement and interpersonal trust. 

    Because there is so much uncertainty and hurdles for the executives and leadership team to navigate right now just having someone as a trusted sounding board can make it a little less stressful. It's often busy and lonely at the top.

     

    Q: How do you go about helping them (walk me through your process?)

    What are they trying to achieve - define the gaps - what are the stops that prevent them from getting there?

    To keep things simple, my clients use me as a "sounding board", to be an attentive, intelligent, non-judgemental and supportive voice. Leaders are often faced with having to “be strong” and not “show weakness”. They are reluctant to share their real thoughts and opinions with staff, peers, their boards and even their spouses, and speaking to a trusted and objective professional can be most useful, especially given the uncertain times we’re faced with right now.

     

    Q: Why is coaching an effective tool?

    It's a collaborative effort. Coaching isn’t counseling, nor is it consulting. I don’t tell my clients the answers or focus on past problems. We have real conversations about their current state and I enable them to find the answers that they need for their business and personal well-being. When people come to their own conclusions, it creates new awareness and creates accountability to themselves and their team.

    My role is to help them stay accountable to their goals, while ensuring they show up as the leader their teams need to succeed.

     

    Q: Who typically benefits the most from coaching?

    1. Someone who is open to grow, sees value in feedback and learning more about how they operate in their world. Leadership reflects top down. As the driver of the vision and purpose of an organization, if you are off, it can throw the organization off.
    2. Anyone confronted by sudden change, growth, leadership development.

     

    Q: If you could give some practical advice to a business leader or tech professional facing uncertainty during this crisis, what would it be?

    Get support. 

    Whether it’s with myself or another professional. Our current state is uncharted territory for everyone. The best thing a leader can do right now is make sure they are getting the proper support, so they can show up for their team.

    Tools like empathy and compassion, for yourself and others also assume positive intent.

    Everyone is trying their best right now. Accept the new reality, it might not be ideal and it's not forever.

    Acknowledge the emotions. They are just messages and there is a reason you feel them. They will continue to come up and rule if you don’t at least acknowledge them, and start to take the power away from the negative ones. 

    Get a routine going. It helps with some grounding and normality. 

    Finally, look at what you can and can't control. Gain some perspective and see what options and opportunities are available.

     

    Q: How can someone learn more about you and your work?

    It’s going to take a community to get through this. What I am offering right now for any VIATEC leader is a 30 minute laser forced coaching session to figure out your next steps. For my fellow VIATEC leaders, I’m offering this for free until May 31st.

     

    CONTACT

    For those interested or if you have any questions, please email Jesse directly at jesse@h2hcoaching.co or connect on LinkedIn 

     

     

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Delivery of rental assistance for businesses see more

    Source: News Release April 24, 2020

     

              What: 

    • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
    • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.

      Who:
       
    • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
    • This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
    • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will administer and deliver the CECRA, a collaboration between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.
    • Provinces and territories have agreed to cost share total costs and facilitate implementation of the program. They will cost share up to 25 per cent of costs, subject to terms of agreements with the federal government.

      When:
       
    • It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.
    • Further details on CECRA will be shared in the near future once final terms and conditions are available. The federal government and provincial and territorial governments urge property owners to provide flexibility to tenants facing hardship in this uncertain time.

      Notes:
       
    • Under a rent forgiveness agreement, which includes a moratorium on eviction, the mortgaged commercial property owner would reduce the small business tenant’s monthly rent by at least 75 per cent. The tenant would be responsible for covering 25 per cent, the property owner 25 per cent, while the federal government and provinces would share the remaining 50 per cent. The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the mortgage lender.

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Starfish Medical's progress on designing ventilators in the fight against COVID-19 see more

    Source: CTV News Author: Robert Buffam

    SAANICH -- A team of engineers in Saanich has been working at a feverish pace designing ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.

    Kenneth MacCallum is an electrical engineer with Starfish Medical. He is one of 30 engineers at the Saanich-based company working tirelessly to create the life-saving devices.

    “It’s a super tight timeline, and yeah every week that we might be late is a week of people who would have needed this thing,” he told CTV News. The family-owned, island-based company has already developed a prototype device based on a ventilator designed decades ago in Winnipeg. Now, its team is racing to fulfill the Prime Minister’s announcement two weeks ago that the company would be one of four Canadian businesses responsible for creating 30,000 ventilators. Starfish Medical says it is responsible for 7,500 of those ventilators.

    Hundreds of the ventilators will built at Starfish Medical’s Saanich headquarters. Most, however, will be built by a different company in Ontario using Starfish’s designs.

    Scott Phillips is Starfish Medical’s founder and CEO. He says the company’s task is even more daunting because the COVID-19 pandemic has most staff members working remotely.

    “This is crazy that we’re doing a program of this magnitude this quickly with everyone working from home,” said Phillips. “So, we’re learning a lot but it’s working amazingly well.”

    Continue Reading Original Article

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Over 300 organizations have submitted a project proposals to help fight the pandemic. see more

    Source: borndigital.com

    April 21, 2020

    Need to Know

    • Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has announced it is committing $60 million towards the fight against COVID-19.
    • The Supercluster consists of a network of over 500 organizations across Canada.
    • Projects include using AI to find an existing medication that could treat the virus and e-grocery shopping solutions to support vulnerable communities.

    Analysis

    Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has announced it will be investing $60 million into delivering solutions to health and safety problems caused by COVID-19. 

    The Supercluster, a network of over 500 organizations in a wide range of sectors, have joined together to submit over 300 ideas and proposals to address COVID-19 issues.

    “Canadian businesses are answering the call to pull together and drive hard with solutions that will help us through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are deeply grateful to the hundreds of organizations that are answering this call, showing the world what a united ‘Team Canada’ can do,” said Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster. “Through innovation, Canadians will create and deliver leading technologies to overcome issues created by COVID-19 and to position us well to rebuild our economy in the future.”

    The Supercluster is currently moving forward with four projects that will contribute to the health and safety of Canadians amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Continue Reading Original Article

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Free Virtual CFO advice during COVID19 see more

    Virtual CFO Solutions is a licensed CPA firm providing cloud-based part-time CFO and Controller services to tech and creative startups that are looking to grow. We are located in Victoria, BC but provide remote services to companies nationwide, as well as internationally.

    We understand that during these times of growing uncertainty amidst the COVID19 crisis, taking a close look at your finances might seem daunting.  However, organization of your financials and focus on cash flow is more important than ever right now. To help get you started with this, we will be offering free virtual 1 hour consultations!

    These consultations include, but are not limited to:

    • Advice on cash flow planning 
    • Seeking out financial resources that are currently available to your company
    • Finding ways to cut costs that are specific to your business
    • Recommendations on financial apps and tools

    Interested in taking us up on our offer? Contact us to book your consultation: https://www.virtualcfo.ca/contact-us/

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    If your company hasn't qualified for funding yet, register now for IRAP see more

    April 20, 2020 NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program 
    See April 22 addendum below.

     

    Starting on April 22, 2020 at 4 am PDT small and medium-sized Canadian businesses unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Business Credit Availability Program can apply for financial assistance.

     

    IMPORTANT: We advise you to register immediately if you plan to seek support through this program/evelope prior to the April 22 opening. 

     

    Need to know:

    • There is now an additional $250 million in funding to this program to help innovative companies. Funding will help a wide range of companies, not just current IRAP clients.
    • The IAP is designed to support firms that DID NOT qualify for other federal subsidies (e.g. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP(If you’re eligible for the wage subsidy, you will not get access to this IRAP funding; no double-dipping)
    • IAP support is NOT additional IRAP project funding, and is not intended to support current or future projects. There will not be any additional IRAP project funding from this program.
    • You should register immediately on the NRC website. You then have more info emailed to you when the program opens on April 22. Registration requires your name, email, province and postal code. 
    • The number of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQPs) on the payroll will be the key metric in determining how much support a company will get.

     

    Nice to know:

    • The goal is to flow money to eligible companies within 4 weeks.
    • The application form will be super-streamlined to enable fast-processing 
    • NRC-IRAP will focus on reaching the tech companies that have fallen through the cracks vis-a-vis the measures that have been announced to date, such as the wage subsidy (e.g. pre-revenue startups) 
    • NRC-IRAP will lean on the Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) in determining which companies will be helped.

     

    Some background:

    The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is a Canadian government funding program designed to accelerate the research and development projects of Canadian innovators. Businesses who are developing and implementing process improvements are the primary targets to receive research funding contributions through IRAP, however, large-scale technology adoption projects that lead to new capabilities are also considered.

    IRAP is administered and managed by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). NRC-IRAP funding contributions are funded through the Government of Canada; this means that applicants from across the country can apply to receive funding support. If performing a technology-driven research and development project in Canada, IRAP funding contributions should always be considered during the planning process.

     

    April 22 Addendum:

    Note: applications for the IRAP funding go live Today here. They will be open only until April 29. 

     

    President of the National Research Council, Iain Stewart, provided an overview of the new $250 million Innovative Assistance Program (IAP). This program is designed to assist early stage and scaling companies that cannot access other federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
     
    Program Summary

    • IAP will service amounts of money matching the high end of the CEWS program. For each employee, the program will provide $847 a week for 12 weeks, totalling $10,164 per employee.
    • All members of staff as of March 1st who will receive a T4/T4A at the end of the year are eligible to be supported by this program.
    • If an employee is laid off then called back, they will be supported by this program if they were on payroll as of March 1st.
    • Additional hires after March 1st will not be supported.
    • IAP will only support people named on the payroll, not backfill hires
    • Payment structure:  First payment of 80% for a 12 week period in May to confirm that people are still on payroll. Second payment in June to get the last 20%.
    • Targeting to make payments the week of May 11th.

    Application Overview

    • IAP is a complement to CEWS: you must attest that you have attempted to use CEWS and been denied.
      • CEWS will have a tool to see quickly if companies are eligible to receive funding. Anyone who wants IAP should use this tool first, then use that for the attestation (no formal CEWS rejection is required).
      • If you are eligible for CEWS now, you will not be eligible for IAP later. IAP is a one-time thing.
    • The total envelope of support cannot exceed total payroll.
    • In order to be eligible for IAP you must meet the IRAP company eligibility definition:
      • Incorporated and profit driven Canadian small and medium-sized businesses
      • 500 or fewer full-time employees
      • Commitment to the development and sales of technology driven and innovative services, products, or processes in Canada
    • You will be required to answer 8 merit-based questions, which will act as a ‘paper’ interview of the company. Acceptance will take into account the quality of tech and the position in the innovation space.
    • The website will go live on April 22nd at 7:00 am and close a week later on April 29th.

    Additional Notes

    • There will be no matching fund requirements, this is a minimum payment philosophy equivalent to CEWS.
    • IAP is independent from the classic IRAP programs. Companies can apply to both IRAP programs if eligible. However, all federal funding will impact the company's SR&ED claims. The NRC recommends that companies use accountants to determine which programs to apply to.
    • Money in tranches - the NRC is are working on placing budget earlier in fiscal year, will run out of money
    • The NRC is trying to push out as much of the $300M under classic IRAP given the downturn of the economy. The $250M under IAP will be paid out on a monthly basis now.
    • There will be no special consideration for medtech or any other special sectors.
    • Products manufactured in Canada will not get priority treatment.
    • Companies of 1 or 2 people will be eligible for support.
    • Highly-qualified person - individual contributing in a significant way to the innovation that is building the business - technical employees as well as sales and marketing.

     

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Can you help provide students with high-powered computers during COVID19? see more

    A high school Drafting & Design teacher at Mt. Douglas Secondary recently reached out to see if our community can help. During COVID 19, his students must use home tech resources to continue with course work. In some cases, students do not have access to higher powered computers needed for CAD program design work and The School District is only authorizing loans of Chromebooks.

    If you or someone you know is in a position to help, please see the computer requirements below:

     

    CAD System requirements (Minimum)

    Operating Systems:
    macOS 10.15 (Catalina)
    macOS 10.14 (Mojave)
    macOS 10.13 (High Sierra)
    macOS 10.12 (Sierra)
    Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

    Windows 10 64-bit
    Windows 8.1 64-bit
    Windows 8 64-bit
    Windows 7 SP1 64-bit

    Processor:
    64-bit Intel Core i5 (or AMD equivalent) or better

    RAM:
    4GB or more

    Graphics Card:
    OpenGL 2.1 compatible graphics card with 1GB of VRAM or more
    Some integrated graphics cards such as Intel Iris graphics are acceptable for simple models/drawings, but a dedicated graphics card is preferable.

    Display Resolution:
    1440 x 900 or higher

    Hard Disk:
    10GB free disk space is required for the installation. 30GB or more is required for a full installation with all libraries.


    Please Contact:
    Graham McLaren
    gmclaren@sd61.bc.ca
    778-977-1463 (mobile)
     

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    A COVID19 service support portal for BC businesses see more

    April 16, 2020 BC Gov News Release

    To help B.C. businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. government, through the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness and the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, have partnered with Small Business BC (SBBC) to launch a new B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service.

    SBBC is British Columbia’s premier resource centre for small business information and services, including business planning, financing, registration and any other issues related to starting and growing a business in B.C.

    The service was announced this morning (April 16) and will serve as a one-stop resource to answer pressing questions about support available to businesses from the provincial and federal governments, industry, and community partners during this time.

    As part of the support service, a dedicated website – https://covid.smallbusinessbc.ca – will feature announcements from industry and community partners, as well as a variety of important resources, including webinars and practical tools. Advisors can be reached by phone toll-free at 1-833-254-4357, by email covid@smallbusinessbc.ca and live chat.

    Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Support will be available in several languages and a call-back feature will be in place to help manage high call volumes.

    SBBC will also continue to provide usual services, like access to expert business advisors, educational services, and free easy-to-use resources in the context of COVID-19. 

    Finally, a summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/employment-business-and-economic-development/business-management/small-business/covid-19_small_business_supports.pdf

     

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Dan Gunn, CEO VIATEC sees silver linings during a crisis. see more

    Source: Times Colonist Author: Dan Gunn, CEO VIATEC

    A commentary by the CEO of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council. 

     

    Every morning, I watch our prime minister update the nation on Canada’s COVID-19 response. “Save lives by staying apart,” he pleads. That’s the least we can do.

    He goes on to say: “Everything we face will be directly linked to how people behave today.”

    I think we all know that this applies at the national level as well as at the street level of our neighbourhoods and community.

    Physical distancing is imperative to getting through this and it has its side-effects.

    Like many of you, my grandparents, great aunts and uncles endured monumental shared suffering due to the Great Depression and world wars. As I grew up, they went out of their way to help me understand how hard those days were and how it shaped them.

    Nothing brings people together like an external threat. We are all making sacrifices and it can be tough, but I can’t help but see some silver linings. The bonding power of shared suffering leads to a greater sense of unity. While we are physically apart, we are more together as a species, a nation and as a community.

    I’ve never been closer to my friends, neighbours and family. I’m having long conversations with my neighbours, I’m on the phone with my parents every few days and I’m logging many hours of video conferencing with friends, colleagues and peers every day. Compassion and empathy seem to be at an all-time high.

    As with the generations before us, this moment right now is shaping us. I spend a lot of time pondering what influence these weeks and months will have on nations, societies and our communities going forward. We are all doing things quite differently today and it will be fascinating to see what changes will stick and what needles will move.

    How much more will we work remotely in the years and decades to come? How often and far will people travel? How supportive of the concept of Universal Basic Income will we be? Will the short-term environmental benefits change our future behaviour?

    We love imagining a better future in my line of work, but help is needed now.

    I work with local tech companies. Switching to working remotely is likely easier for our sector than any other. We are already using video conferencing, chat channels and other platforms and have the right hardware to get connected quickly. We are fortunate to be built to adapt how we work, but I don’t think any organization was built to endure this type of uncertainty.

    While some companies are enjoying an increase in demand for their tools and products, most are still trying to figure things out. Sales and business developments have been turned on their heads, orders are being cancelled or slowed, our governments announce new supports daily and tech leaders are trying to assess how many staff they can hold onto and for how long.

    This uncertainty is challenging for our sector, but much tougher for many.

    At VIATEC, we are inspired by the Rapid Relief Fund that the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and Times Colonist kicked off, and we are proud of those tech leaders that came to the table to offer hundreds of thousands of matching dollars to encourage donations.

    Thanks to the generous support of our members, the VIATEC Foundation had a busy year, contributing $300,000 to the Food Rescue Project in partnership with the Victoria Foundation, and another $130,000 in support for the Mustard Seed Food Bank, the Gender Equity Fund, the Greater Victoria Public Library, Junior Achievement of British Columbia and the Independent Media Producers Network Society.

    We have $10,000 left in our fund, and today, we are committing it all to the Rapid Relief Fund. Soon, we will set out on another campaign to replenish the fund.

    The VIATEC Awards is our biggest fundraising event each year. We recently had to reschedule to Dec. 10 and you better believe that we plan to leverage what we expect will be a very memorable night as a platform to enable and encourage the tech community to do what it can to help those in the community that need it most.

    In the meantime, VIATEC, as owner of Fort Tectoria, has waived the rent for the 25 startups that call our building home. We are deferring all membership renewals for at least three months, and we’ve made our online job board free during the crisis to help connect people with jobs.

    It is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but, for a small not-for-profit like ours, it is consequential and difficult — and the least we can do.

    My elders imprinted on me what it was like to go through the hardest of times. I’m certain we will all be telling tales of this one to our future generations and, when we do, I hope we all can point to how we gave.

    While we are apart, let’s come together. Give if you can.

     

    HOW TO DONATE

    Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

    • Online: RapidReliefFund.ca

    • Phone: 250-381-5532

    • Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation, 200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2

    The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation, and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.

    Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    A list of funding opportunities that specifically benefit from partnerships with UVic. see more

    To support research that directly tackles the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple funding opportunities for University research have been announced. Below is a list of funding opportunities that specifically benefit from partnerships.   

    During these extraordinary times, the University of Victoria is adapting and changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The majority of our staff and researchers are working remotely and online instruction has replaced in-person interactions. With these critical measures in place to flatten the curve, the University is now focused on actively supporting measures to address this pandemic. UVic is directly supporting our frontline health care workers by donating and manufacturing PPE and will continue to support selected high priority research.

    The University will continue to work with our valuable research partners to provide a strong and concerted research effort. We invite you to share these opportunities with those who may benefit from this information. Together, we can work to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19 and find solutions in digital technologies, public health, statistical modelling and advanced diagnostics.

    This is not an exhaustive list of funding opportunities, as new programs are being announced on a rolling basis. Please visit https://www.uvic.ca/research/conduct/index.php for an updated list of funding options for supporting University research. 

    Please note that as part of the University-wide response to limit the spread of COVID-19 many physical research labs at the university have extremely limited access. Exemptions are available for projects that are deemed to be critical research and where adherence to social distancing has been integrated into the research work plan.

     

    To learn more about any of these opportunities and help connecting with researchers at the University, please contact any of our Industry Liaison Officers.

    Engineering, Computer Science: Chris Flores, engr.ilo@uvic.ca

    Engineering, Science: Aislinn Sirk, uvicilo@uvic.ca

    Biomedical, Health and Life Science: Lindsay Frehlick, sciencepartnerships@uvic.ca

     

    COVID-19 partnership funding opportunities:

    NSERC Alliance Covid-19 Grants

    Deadline: before June 1, 2020
    Notes: Up to 1 year and $50,000 for University research

    Companies and not-for profits can submit research requests here

     

    Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster Call for COVID-19 Solutions

    Deadline: ongoing intake

    Notes: Please contact Chris Flores, Industry Liaison Offer (engr.ilo@uvic.ca) for more details.

     

    Mitacs Accelerate Internships Covid-19 Grants

    Deadline: ongoing intake

    Notes: Funding ratio is 3:1 instead of standard 2:1 Company provides $3750 for $15K Accelerate.
    This program was not yet listed on Mitacs website at time of email. Please contact Nolan Beise for details  nbeise@mitacs.ca

     

    Michael Smith COVID-19 Research Proposals

    Deadline: ongoing intake

    Notes: Focus on evaluation of BC’s response to the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

     

    Other opportunities:

    Pandemic Response Challenge program by NRC:

    Deadline: ongoing intake

    Notes: Funding available for universities, companies and teams.  Focus is currently on Rapid detection and diagnosis; Therapeutics and vaccine development; and Digital health with more opportunities to be posted

     

    Innovative Solutions Canada
    Government of Canada has the following requests with plans for more asks in the following days:

    Made in Canada filtration material for the manufacture of N95 respirators and surgical masks

    Point of Care and Home Diagnostic Kit for COVID-19

    Low-cost sensor system for COVID-19 patient monitoring 

     

    Facilities at UVic for external users [research exemption required]

    The CAMTEC - Facility for Biosample Preparation (FBS)  is a biosafety level 2 (BSL2)-certified lab space at the University of Victoria.  The main infrastructure consists of two BSL2 rooms, a biosafety cabinet/tissue culture hood, a PCR thermocycler, a fume hood, and multiple incubators for cell growth. The facility is designed to host external users.

    Please contact Lab Manager Rebecca Hof for details :  rhof@uvic.ca 

     

    Funding Agencies

    Funding is rapidly changing and the following agencies may have additional opportunities:

     

    Social Science and Humanities Research Council

    Canadian Institute of Health Research

    National Science and Engineering Research Council

    Mitacs

    Innovate BC

    Genome BC

    Genome Canada

  • Paula Parker posted an article
    Recent announcement will increase program eligibility for tech businesses impacted by COVID-19. see more

    VICTORIA, BC (April 8, 2020) This morning Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced additional new measures to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. These changes are significant for the tech community, which includes Canada’s most promising and fastest growing companies. VIATEC was among the advocates supporting this initiative, knowing that without these changes, such companies would have been at a serious disadvantage and unable to maintain operations. 

    The initial structure of the wage subsidy program was well meaning but required companies to demonstrate a 30% reduction in revenue for the same month last year. This excluded Canada’s fastest growing companies that had increased revenue and staff size significantly in the last 12 months. 

    It’s not unusual to see young companies grow 100% year over year but the initial requirements of the wage subsidy program meant that those companies that were rapidly expanding before the COVID 19 Crisis would not qualify. Without changes, some of Canada’s fastest growing companies would find themselves left without the support available to other businesses, which would have been catastrophic to Canada’s innovation sector.

     

    What it means for businesses:

    1. Calculations now allow companies to show the required 30% reduction in revenue by comparing the months of January and February of this year, rather than last year at the same time.

    This is especially helpful for growing companies like startups that are already much bigger than 12 months ago, but have suffered a big dip in revenue just recently. 

    2. Companies only need to show a 15% reduction in March, as the crisis had not fully taken hold until mid-month. 

    This was the biggest ongoing concern among startup and tech advocates like us, so we are very pleased with this revised eligibility.

     

    These measures are more in alignment with the unique financial dynamics of businesses within our tech sector and we sincerely hope they help protect jobs and allow tech leaders to pay their workers and bills during these difficult times. VIATEC is encouraged by the responsiveness of the government and would like to thank those within our tech community who came forward to inform our advocacy by filling out our survey, emailing us, or contacting the government directly. 

    Visit Canada.ca for more information on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or our COVID-19 Resources page for a complete list of programs. 

    MEDIA CONTACT: 

    Paula Parker
    Community Manager
    pparker@viatec.ca
    Cell: 604-440-2686
     

    ABOUT VIATEC:

    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!).

    We work closely with our members to offer a variety of events, programs and services. In addition, VIATEC serves as the front door of the local tech sector and as its spokesperson. To better support local innovators, we acquired our own building (Fort Tectoria) where we offer flexible and affordable office space to emerging local companies along with a gathering/event space for local entrepreneurs.

     

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Working with the federal government and other companies to design, develop and produce ventilators see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Cindy E. Harnett

    Victoria’s StarFish Medical is on the front lines of an effort to manufacture 30,000 ventilators in Canada to meet an expected shortage of the life-saving medical equipment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    StarFish, Canada’s largest medical-device design company, is working with the federal government and other companies to design, develop and produce ventilators.

    The company, which is working on one of four initiatives to produce ventilators, will be responsible for the delivery of at least 7,500 of the 30,000 to be manufactured, said founder and CEO Scott Phillips.

    Phillips said the company is responsible for the program up to the delivery. The other design partners will be chosen by and managed by StarFish, while the majority of the manufacturing will likely be done in Ontario and Manitoba.

    “We’re in the advanced prototype stage, moving quickly toward clinical [and regulatory] testing,” he said. “We’ll be moving aggressively toward manufacturing at the same time as we’re doing clinical and regulatory.

    “We would love to have units available in a couple of months.”

    Mechanical ventilation, or breathing machines, are used in severe cases of COVID-19, which can compromise breathing. B.C. is using the machines early and aggressively to try to prevent more severe cases, in which mucus and fluid build up in a patient’s lung, requiring intubation, an invasive procedure where tubing is run through the trachea and nasal passages and can cause other complications and increase risk of transmission.

    The province has between 1,400 and 1,500 ventilators, including new and refurbished ones added over the last week, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday.

    “We would naturally expect a share of additional ventilators that were purchased, but right now, our goal is to ensure, by being 100 per cent committed to the measures that have been adopted by Dr. [Bonnie] Henry, that our current stock of ventilators will be sufficient,” Dix said.

    Henry, the provincial health officer, said she hopes the ventilators won’t be needed if residents keep physically distancing themselves from all but household contacts in an effort to flatten the rate of new COVID-19 cases.

    “If we keep doing what we’re doing, we may not need them,” Henry said Tuesday. “But we may need them with another wave in the future, so all of this is us working together across the country.”

    StarFish got a call three weeks ago from Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster, a group of businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profits aimed at building up next-generation manufacturing capabilities, to say it had been chosen to design a ventilator model that can be constructed quickly and reliably in Canada.

    The design builds on technology developed by Dr. Magdy Younes of Winnipeg, a world-renowned respiratory specialist and innovator.

    The so-called original Winnipeg Ventilator was licensed and used as the basis for commercial ventilators throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including during the 2003 SARS epidemic.

    “Since then we’ve been racing to take an old design, which worked very, very well, and bring it up to date and make it manufacturable,” Phillips said. The newer commercial design that existed as a prototype wasn’t available to the Canadian firm.

    “Now we’re rapidly turning that into a very targeted product just for the COVID-19 crisis that can be produced efficiently and quickly and cost effectively.”

    Asked in his daily briefing about the number of ventilators to be produced, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government needs to be ready for every circumstance.

    “The opportunity to make sure that we have ventilators available if we need them is going to be extremely important,” Trudeau said. “So, we have told these companies across the country who have put up their hands to go ahead and get building ventilators as quickly as possible and as many as possible in case we need them in Canada.

    “We certainly hope that we won’t be needing all those ventilators, but we also know that there are countries around the world where they are not able to tool up local production to create more ventilators.”

    Any extra ventilators can be shared with countries that are facing more difficult circumstances, since the global supply is already stretched thin, Trudeau said.

    Last month, the federal government announced $2 billion in funding to support testing and purchasing of ventilators and protective personal equipment in Canada.

    Nearly 5,000 Canadian companies have offered their expertise and services to the federal government’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to produce medical equipment and protective gear for health-care workers.

    “This is exactly the kind of innovative, collaborative thinking we need to respond to this rapidly evolving pandemic,” Trudeau said. “By increasing our support for secure Canadian sources of needed materials and equipment, we will be able to help our health-care workers protect themselves, treat patients and slow the spread of this virus.”

    Ventilators being made by other firms include those targeted for the military or use in ambulances.

    Phillips compared making the ventilators to the building of Spitfires in the Second World War, meaning they are not built to last forever but to address a particular and immediate need.

    “I think it’s very heartening that so many companies are willing to step up and devote their resources to this problem,” he said. “Honestly, a year from now, we’ll have lots of ventilators; we’re solving a problem right now in Canada. And if this helps some companies re-tool to develop other capacity, that would be wonderful.”