• Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    A total of $45,224.40 in cash and 3,246 lbs of food has been collected for the Mustard Seed. see more

    Tech community continues support of local food bank with a $51k donation

    VICTORIA, BC - December 10, 2018 - A total of $45,224.40 in cash and 3,246 lbs of food has been collected for the Mustard Seed as a direct result from the 2018 VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge! The weight in food is a new record, more than doubling last year’s weight and is equal to $6,492 ($2 per pound). This brings the total 2018 value to $51,716.40!

    It is our honour to continue to play a role in encouraging and directing the generous members of our community,” said VIATEC CEO, Dan Gunn. “The participants got creative with their fundraising this year; There were wine raffles, bake sales, pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs, office parties, plenty of interoffice competition and even a push-up competition between two companies. They’ve been digging deep, having fun and making a difference as part of the VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge for over a decade and it’s because of them that many families will have food on the table this holiday season, and throughout the year. All the credit goes to our members and donors and we look forward to aiding them for many more decades to come.”

    Since its inception in 2002, $2,201,714.40 worth of food and cash has been donated to the Mustard Seed through companies participating in the VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge. With this year’s amount, the challenge has raised a total of $2,253,420.80!

    The weight in food is a new record, more than doubling last year’s weight and is equal to $6,492 ($2 per pound)


    This year’s top contributors:

    Greatest Per-Employee Contributor

    • 1st place: Aviary Technologies ($727 cash & food per employee)

    • 2nd place: RevenueWire ($309.10 cash & food per employee)

    • 3rd place: AES Engineering ($219.60 cash & food per employee)

    Greatest Overall Contributor

    • 1st place: RevenueWire ($12,364 cash & food)

    • 2nd place: Starfish Medical ($7,090 cash & food)

    • 3rd place: AES Engineering ($5,490 cash & food)

    A plaque presentation took place on December 7th at VIATEC and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Sweater Weather Get Together event, bringing out over 300 attendees.

    2018 Participants:


    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!)

    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.


    About the VIATEC Foundation:

    A fund, held with the Victoria Foundation, that provides a simple way for VIATEC members to give back. Launched in June of 2017 (Raising $177,242 on its first day), the VIATEC Foundation is a result of seeing the philanthropic efforts of VIATEC Members being made privately or members lacking a direction for their goals. Because it is an industry that thrives on competition and challenges, VIATEC saw an opportunity to offer people a way to direct their generosity and show the Victoria community what’s possible.


    About the Mustard Seed Street Church:
    The Mustard Seed Street Church has been essential in fighting hunger and restoring faith to a large portion of people living in poverty, as well as the working poor, in Greater Victoria since 1975. The Mustard Seed’s operations are nearly 100 percent community funded and include Vancouver Island’s largest Food Bank, a Family Center, Hospitality programs, and addictions recovery at Hope Farm Healing Centre as well as more traditional Church services.

    The Mustard Seed Street Church positively impacts, on average 5,000 individuals per month, with more than 50 volunteers keeping things running everyday.  With your help, lives are transformed on a daily basis!


    Tessa Bousfield
    Marketing & Events Director
    Cell: 250-896-7668



  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Each TTC internet installation will cost $6000, and the goal is to complete 12 installations by 2019 see more


    Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan seek donations to provide Internet to Teacher Training Colleges

    For more than twenty years, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), has worked to improve the quality of teaching in Afghan schools. The organization has trained over 9000 in-service teachers across Afghanistan, created a digital library of local language learning materials, equipped over 200 schools with science labs and libraries. Now it is looking at helping Afghanistan’s 40+ Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs), where pre-service teachers are prepared for the classroom. None of the colleges have internet access, an essential tool in today’s world.

    To support TTCs to gain Internet connectivity, CW4WAfghan has an agreement with the colleges and the Ministry of Education to cover the initial costs of Internet installation and Internet service for a period of 12 months, with the Ministry of Education taking over the costs of monthly service in the next year’s budget, and thereafter. 

    Each TTC internet installation will cost $6000, and the goal is to complete 12 installations by 2019. Victoria’s technology companies can help meet this target. To learn more about this project please contact Jill Leslie, Victoria Chapter of CW4WAfghan, 250-391-3908, or donate directly:

    More Information:
    With Internet access, current and future educators in Afghanistan can develop their subject knowledge, discover new approaches and methods to teaching, design better lesson plans, find materials to use in the classroom, and access education research. Access to such information online will help teachers be more effective educators, meaning Afghan children will have better learning outcomes. (One online source is the local language collection of educational materials, the Darakht-e Danesh ('knowledge tree') digital library (, created by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.)

    In Afghanistan, much progress has been made in improving children's access to education. There are more schools, more teacher colleges, and more female teachers than ever before in the country's history. But the quality of public education remains very low in many areas, especially outside of cities. Sometimes children are not learning to read and write at all, despite spending years in school. Teachers are often isolated from the resources they need to help them be better teachers. 

    Changing this will require harnessing the power of technology, increasing access to information and to educational sources online. TTCs are mostly co-ed, but there are more female than male students. By facilitating access to the Internet in the computer labs at TTCs specifically for female students the project will improve internet access and computer skills for women and girls throughout Afghanistan.

    It's hard to imagine our lives without the Internet. The means to satiate our curiosity is now so accessible, we take it for granted. But this is not the case in many parts of Afghanistan, where teachers -- arguably those who need access to knowledge resources more than anyone else -- are not yet benefiting from the information revolution. 

  • VIATEC posted an article
    VIATEC Foundation grant recipients include the Mustard Seed, Food Rescue and Robotic Butler programs see more

    The VIATEC Foundation Announces its first Grant Recipients


    VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – June 5, 2018 - The VIATEC Foundation, which launched with a flourish at the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council Awards in 2017, has made its first donations to causes in the region.  “We were overwhelmed by the initial outpouring of support from Victoria’s tech community, translating into over $166,000 in initial pledges.  In the ensuing months, we have recruited an amazing team to the VIATEC Foundation Committee and developed a framework for giving that will support our community in areas of need that are important to Victoria’s technology ecosystem”, commented Mark Longo, Chair of the VIATEC foundation committee and long-standing member of the VIATEC Board of Directors.

    Cheques totalling $40,000 have been made out to The Mustard Seed Street Church, the Food Rescue Project and the University of Victoria-based James, the Robotic Butler Program.  “The Foundation Committee looked at a broad range of needs in the community, we looked for projects that were innovative and, in this first year, fit with themes that resonate with our membership,” said VIATEC Board Chair and foundation committee member Rasool Rayani.

    The newly minted foundation, which in its first year is working in partnership with the Victoria Foundation, was established by VIATEC to connect Victoria’s technology sector to the broader community.  The foundation offers a mechanism for the tech sector to harness its collective charitable efforts to maximize the impact of the sector’s donations.

    Longo said they expect the foundation to attain charitable entity status within two years, but for the time being will carry out activities using the back office and charitable status of the Victoria Foundation. “The Victoria Foundation has been an excellent partner to us in launching our fund.  They have the infrastructure in place to manage the permanent component of our fund and to process donations and charitable receipts seamlessly,” remarked Longo.  “It is such a pleasure for the Victoria Foundation to be working with a vibrant organization of the stature of VIATEC. Their sound grant decisions are based on community needs,” said Sandra Richardson, chief executive of the Victoria Foundation.

    The first round of grants includes $10,000 for the Mustard Seed food bank, $15,000 for the Food Rescue Project and $15,000 for James, the Robotic Butler. 

    “VIATEC has a long history of supporting the Mustard Seed food bank and last year (VIATEC chief executive) Dan Gunn took on a challenge to do stair climbing in support of additional fundraising. To amplify that effort the foundation chose to offer matching support for the money raised,” said Rayani.  Gunn raised nearly $5,000 for the Mustard Seed, and the foundation more than doubled that amount with an additional donation of $10,000.

    The Mustard Seed will also benefit from the $15,000 grant ear-marked for the Food Rescue Project as it operates that program’s food security distribution centre.  “The Mustard Seed Street Church is incredibly grateful for the continued support of VIATEC. This donation will go toward the completion of the commercial processing kitchen at the Food Security Distribution Centre and we couldn’t be happier,” said Derek Pace, interim executive director of the Mustard Seed Street Church.

    “As a member of the Food Share Network we have had the incredible opportunity to be the operational lead on the Food Rescue Project. This fresh, healthy, rescued food is then redistributed to individuals and families in need, through 43 agencies to an estimated 35,000 people.”

    But Pace noted that even their efforts result in some waste with as much as eight per cent of the rescued food going to animal feed or into the waste stream.

    “This kitchen project will give us the opportunity to take still useable food and turn it into delicious, ready-made meals,” he said, adding it will go a long way in their goal of reducing waste by half.

    Rayani said the support of the Food Rescue Project was a natural fit for the new foundation.

    “This program supports the entire region and assists the homeless, lower income households and students,” he said.

    The Food Rescue Project is the flagship of the Food Share Network, which helps 35,000 people annually who experience food insecurity.

    The program diverts high quality food, which may otherwise end up as waste, to those in need.

    Food Share Network co-ordinator Brenda Bolton said adding a commercial kitchen that will be available to non-profit agencies in the region makes a huge difference.

    “We anticipate a further reduction in food entering the waste stream and are excited about access to a commercial kitchen, employment and training programs for low-income individuals and the products that will be developed using fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said. “The Food Rescue Project is feeding 35,000 people through the collection of over one million pounds of high-quality fruit, vegetables and dairy products.”

    Bolton said the need continues to grow.  “In 2016, an estimated 20,000 residents used food banks and meal programs to get enough food,” she said, adding nearly 30 per cent of those accessing emergency food resources are children.

    The VIATEC Foundation held a donor appreciation event at the food security distribution centre on June 4th and donors witnessed first-hand the amazing potential of the centre to reduce food insecurity in the local community.

    The University of Victoria-based James, the Robotic Butler Program, is also addressing a significant and growing need.

    The program, housed at UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, is developing robotic technology to increase the independence and quality of life of disabled users and offer assistance to caregivers and healthcare professionals working with disabled people.

    Program lead Nigel Livingston, a professor at the School of Public Health and Social Policy, said the grant will have a significant impact on the program.

    “First, in accelerating our research. It is also very significant and important to us that VIATEC has recognized the potential of our work. Having this type of recognition is important to other potential supporters,” he said. “Currently almost one in seven Canadians live with a disability.”

    The program has already developed a sophisticated prototype of a mobile platform that can either move autonomously or be controlled by a user.

    The platform can accommodate a suite of interchangeable modules that perform specific tasks like opening doors, pushing buttons, positioning trays and carrying groceries.

    “The grant of $15,000 toward James the Butler Project supports professor Nigel Livingston’s cutting-edge work. It demonstrates the use of new research and technology playing a strong role in healthcare regarding people with physical disabilities,” said Richardson. “It enables people to focus on their abilities rather than disabilities.”

    Donations can be made to the VIATEC Foundation Fund at or by sending a cheque payable to the Victoria Foundation—with the memo line of “VIATEC Foundation Fund”—to Victoria Foundation, #200 - 703 Broughton Street, Victoria BC, V8W 1E2.



  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Vivitro and StarFish Medical salute their employees’ community efforts during the season of giving! see more


    Vivitro Employees Embrace the Community Spirit of the Season

    VICTORIA, British Columbia, November 30, 2016 – ViVitro Labs, a global leader in cardiovascular device testing, and StarFish Medical, Canada’s largest medical device design, development, and contract manufacturing company, salute their employees’ community efforts during the season of giving.  This November and December employees are raising awareness and funds for BC Children’s Hospital and Mustard Seed Food Bank.  ViVitro and StarFish match employee donations and cover all sponsorship fees to encourage participation.

    Victoria Festival of Trees 
    Each year ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical sponsor a tree in the Festival of Trees fundraising campaign for BC Children’s Hospital. The festival knits together the incredibly generous community of Victoria in what has become, over the last two decades, a cherished holiday tradition and the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season in the city.

    This year the ViVitro Labs/StarFish Medical tree’s theme is: “We look deeper to help make holidays healthy for everyone!”  The tree features an LED X-ray branch outline and ornaments that include hand crafted “x-ray” images for traditional holiday gifts.  A custom booklet shares the significance of both companies’ work and the tree’s design. Judges awarded the concept and execution top marks in all categories at the November 16 Opening Gala.

    The tree is on display through January 3, 2017 at the Empress Hotel. 85 beautiful trees were decorated, and over 550 guests attended the Kick-Off Celebration and $106,400 was raised through tree registrations.

    Fundraising continues online via the Festival of Trees Online Voting System.  Fundraising tool for online vote collection. Visitors can make a donation and vote for the ViVitro Labs/StarFish Medical tree on the Victoria Festival of Trees StarFish Medical Webpage

    2016 VIATEC Food Bank Challenge for Mustard Seed 
    Hayley Young manages ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical participation in the 2016 VIATEC Food Bank Challenge for Mustard Seed.  Organized by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), this annual food bank drive challenges companies in Victoria to compete in an effort to raise as much food and donations as possible for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

    ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical fundraising events include a Chilli/Curry cook-off, 50/50 raffle, and Social Committee lunch. The 2016 Chilli/Curry cook off fundraiser was held November 17, and raised $590.00.  1st prize went to Debbie Gould, 2nd prize went to Savannah Hari, and 3rd prize went to Michael May.  The 50/50 stubs raised $535.

    The Mustard Seed provides support to 7000 people each month. Since its inception in 2002, $1,981,296.84 worth of food and cash has been donated to the Mustard Seed through companies participating in the VIATEC Food Bank Challenge. The 2016 challenge runs from November 7th to December 2nd. Donations are accepted online.


    About ViVitro Labs
    ViVitro Labs Inc. offers industry-leading cardiovascular test equipment and related laboratory testing and consulting services. Hundreds of organizations in over 40 countries for over 30 years have trusted ViVitro expertise, accuracy, and quality for their heart valve, LVAD, TAH, stent, and graft testing. ViVitro Laboratory Services holds ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation based on ISO 5840. ViVitro products are manufactured by StarFish Medical. ViVitro’s A2LA Scope of Accreditation includes the physical and mechanical testing of heart valve substitutes.

    For more information please contact:
    Mike Camplin
    250.388.3531 x210

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    A prank that got radio air time Friday morning may have inadvertently helped the Food Bank Challenge see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    December 5, 2015: Victoria, BC - A prank that got radio air time Friday morning may have inadvertently helped the local high-tech sector’s annual food bank challenge.

    An impostor claiming to be Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council chief executive Dan Gunn called into Gregor Craigie’s On the Island show on CBC and, after talking about the challenge, went on a foul-mouthed rant.

    “It definitely wasn’t me,” said the real Dan Gunn. He said publicity that surrounded the stunt — Gunn received a slew of emails, texts and tweets after people heard the show — resulted in a number of tech companies coming up with more donations for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

    Gunn said as long as it helps feed the less fortunate he’s all for it. “I tweeted out earlier that if we raised $250,000 I would read a transcript of what the impostor said at the next VIATEC awards,” said Gunn with a laugh.

    Using the hashtag #therealdangunn, Gunn pointed out that since the prank aired, Rasool Rayani and Heart Pharmacies pledged $3,000 and 100 pounds of food, Latitude Geographics stepped up with a $2,000 donation and start-up AOT Technologies pulled together $500.

    It wasn’t clear if Gunn would have to go through with his pledge to get a tattoo of the VIATEC insignia if the challenge raised in excess of $100,000 for the Mustard Seed food bank. Late Friday, the total came in at $60,000.