• Dom Ohl posted an article
    Innovation commission to support B.C. commercialization, jobs and economy see more


    Innovation commission to support B.C. commercialization, jobs and economy

    Technology entrepreneurs and businesses throughout British Columbia will be better able to access provincial funding and support through Innovate BC, the Province’s new innovation commission.

    The British Columbia Innovation Council Amendment Act, introduced in the legislature today, proposes to expand the mandate of the BC Innovation Council. The Crown agency will be renamed Innovate BC.

    “Innovation is the lifeblood of a successful economy, and your government is working to ensure the benefits of our tech and innovation sector are felt by people in all regions of our province,” said Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston. “By making Innovate BC a single point of contact for entrepreneurs and businesses across B.C., we will ensure people get the help they need to create good jobs and benefit from the opportunities of the emerging economy.”

    The innovation commission is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party caucus, to provide a single point of contact for tech businesses throughout the province looking to build capacity, reach global markets, attract new investment and access startup capital. Recognizing its potential to support B.C. tech, the provincial government has adopted the concept as part of its efforts to help B.C. innovators thrive.

    Innovate BC will be B.C.’s primary agency to promote company growth, resulting in jobs, increased revenue and economic development, and ensuring that all regions of the province benefit from the opportunities of the emerging economy.

    “Innovate BC will help entrepreneurs seize the exciting opportunities of the 21st-century economy,” said B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. “This key B.C. Green platform commitment was developed through consultation with tech sector leaders. Their creativity and ambition are deeply inspiring, and I am delighted to support them as they drive B.C.’s economy. In addition to supporting the thriving tech sector in our cities, Innovate BC’s provincewide mandate will help link tech with our resource centres so that communities across the province can benefit from these exciting opportunities.”

    The Crown agency will also provide tech entrepreneurs provincewide with tools, resources and expert guidance, and support Indigenous entrepreneurship by working with the First Nations Technology Council.

    Innovate BC will absorb all the programs and services currently delivered by the BC Innovation Council, in addition to expanding its mandate. These changes will ensure that B.C. is more competitive nationally and globally, and can attract additional investment to scale up the provincial tech ecosystem.

    Innovate BC will make recommendations to government on how to best create science, technology and innovation policy that promotes the commercialization of B.C. technologies.

    “With this expanded mandate, we are excited to continue to power our province’s economic engine through the exchange of innovation into traditional and emerging industries,” said BC Innovation Council president and CEO Shirley Vickers. “Across B.C., we’ll serve as a single point of contact for both tech companies and enterprise that need programs and funding that support company growth and competitiveness.”

    Innovate BC’s board of directors will have regional representation when it is announced this spring. In collaboration with the board, the B.C. government will work with industry stakeholders to review programs that support the tech and innovation sector provincewide. BC Innovation Council staff will be absorbed by Innovate BC.

    Quick Facts:

    • In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.
    • The commissioner will strengthen national and cross-border relationships and help leverage federal funding programs in support of B.C.’s tech and innovation sector to benefit B.C. innovators and employers.
    • Innovate BC and the innovation commissioner are separate entities, but they will work together closely to ensure alignment of efforts.
    • The Government of British Columbia and the State of Washington have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Cascadia Innovation Corridor to grow cross-border innovation.
    • The BC Innovation Council was established in 2004.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    VIATEC has entered into a partnership with and see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    Victoria technology companies will now be fishing in a much bigger pond for technical talent thanks to a deal the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council signed with Western Canada’s largest job marketplace.

    VIATEC has entered into a partnership with and to have its popular job board included among the listings on the 15-year-old Vancouver-based employment board.

    “This is a great chance for us to take the 100 or so job postings we have at any time to make sure a broader audience nearby that is able to work in Canada, understands the Pacific Northwest and knows where the Island is and what Victoria has to offer might consider it,” said VIATEC executive director Dan Gunn.

    Victoria tech companies have paid to list their jobs on the VIATEC job board, which has 96 postings for positions ranging from engineers to information officers.

    But they won’t be paying anything extra to advertise openings to an audience across the Lower Mainland and beyond.

    “They don’t pay more, but that posting goes a lot further,” said Gunn. He added there could be fertile ground in places such as Vancouver, where the cost of living is constantly increasing and it’s becoming difficult to retain talent.

    “The reality is Victoria is growing fast as a tech community and, like any city, recruiting talent is our No. 1 challenge. But we have a lot of advantages over places like San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver — livability, lifestyle and affordability,” he said.

    Gunn said they would be keeping an eye on the process, which starts this month, because the success of the VIATEC job board depends on the quality of applicants.

    Gunn may have done some work attracting new talent and companies to the city during a recent speaking tour courtesy of Startup Canada.

    The three-year-old organization, a network of entrepreneurs pushing the start-up culture, has been meeting with groups of entrepreneurs across the country. They’re looking for guidance and advice on how to grow their businesses.

    During his sessions, Gunn has been talking about the tech-community model Victoria has established. “We think it’s quite effective in showing how you build community and support entrepreneurs,” he said.

    “Not only do we get to show them what works here. We get to show how it’s worked in Victoria, they get to see how big and vibrant the tech sector has become in Victoria.”

    An economic impact study commissioned by VIATEC and released last year showed the sector has 900 companies, directly employs 15,000, plus another 3,000 consultants and advisers. Another 5,000 people work in technology for companies outside the high-tech sphere.

    Gunn said the aftermath of his talks have him fielding questions and talking with people who are either considering relocating to Victoria or wanting to enact the growth template in their own communities.

    He suggested the secret to Victoria’s success is having learned to overlap the innovation and entrepreneurial culture with the arts and creative culture.

    “The blending is the character of Victoria and it’s allowing us to excel beyond what you see in other cities,” he said. “Victoria works because of its combination of restaurants and beer and coffee and music and culture mixing with innovators, disruptors and creators. It is the magic formula.”

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Greater Victoria has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 3.8%, a level last seen in 2008 see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Carla Wilson

    Greater Victoria leads Canada with lowest unemployment rate

    Greater Victoria has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 3.8 per cent, a level last seen here in 2008.

    The number of people working full-time in the capital region moved to 143,400 in March, up from 137,900 in the same month in 2016, Statistics Canada said on Friday. Part-time employment climbed to 46,200 from 41,500 over the same period.

    Employers are turning out in force at job fairs in the hopes of hiring workers in sectors ranging from hospitality and technology to construction. The Canadian Coast Guard recently announced a hiring blitz and is using social media to attract staff while a tourism job fair attracted a healthy crowd last weekend at Ogden Point ahead of what is expected to be a record season for visitors.

    Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate tightened up from 4.4 per cent in February, Statistics Canada said in its monthly labour report.

    Quebec City is in second place nationally at 4.1 per cent, with a third-place tie between Vancouver and Brantford, Ont., at 4.7 per cent.

    With an election approaching on May 9, B.C. is holding onto its status as the province with the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. That’s despite the fact it moved to 5.4 per cent in March from 5.1 per cent in February.

    “B.C.’s labour market maintained a positive trend through March, but showed mild signs of deceleration with slower employment growth and a slight uplift in the unemployment rate,” said Brian Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union.

    Total provincial employment rose by 0.2 per cent from February. The medium trend forecast “still points to a strong pace of hiring in B.C.,” Yu said.

    Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate was last at 3.8 per cent at the end of 2008 when the global financial crisis exploded. The region’s rate had been even lower, at 2.8 per cent, in May of that year, but it began climbing as the recession set in.

    Another bright spot in Greater Victoria was the increase in youth (15 to 24 years) employment as numbers rose to 31,100 last month, from 26,200 the year before.

    Employment in the age 25-to-54 group climbed to 119,000 from 112,900 year-over-year.

    There was a slight drop in the 55-year-old plus category with 38,700 working last month, down from 40,300 a year ago.

    Phil Venoit, president of the Vancouver Island and District office of B.C. Building Trades, said the construction sector is becoming stronger all the time. “Things are starting to ramp up around the city, so it is positive,” he said, pointing to major office and multi-family projects that are going up. He is looking forward to the jobs created by the upcoming $765-million sewage treatment plant.

    Employment in the capital region’s construction sector rose to 15,600 in March, from 12,100 the same month a year ago — an increase of 28 per cent, a Statistics Canada official said.

    Building permits in Greater Victoria in February fell by 37.2 per cent to $77.8 million from 124.7 million in Feb. 2016. However, those figures reflect only what happens in one month, not the overall construction activity underway in a particular region.

    Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing experienced a 33 per cent leap in jobs year-over-year to 10,400 from 7,800. Public administration jobs climbed by 26 per cent to 20,800 from 16,500. Business, building and other support services also saw a 26 per cent boost, to 9,600 last month from 7,400.

    There were few job categories with major losses. Education dropped by 17 per cent to 12,800 in March, down from 15,400 the same month in 2016.

    Greater Victoria’s technology sector has been performing well, although job numbers slipped somewhat year-over-year to 18,100 from 19,600.

    The nation’s labour market stayed hot last month, pumping out another 19,400 net jobs — and the vast majority of the new work was full-time, Statistics Canada said.


    A quick look at March employment (previous month in parentheses):

    Unemployment rate 6.7% (6.6)

    Employment rate 61.5% (61.4)

    Labour force participation rate 65.9% (65.8)

    Number unemployed 1,313,700 (1,286,100)

    Number working 18,308,000 (18,288,600)

    Youth (15-24) unemployment 12.8% (12.4)

    Men (25 plus) unemployment 6.0% (5.9)

    Women (25 plus) unemployment 5.4% (5.2)


    Newfoundland 14.9% (14.2)

    Prince Edward Island 10.1 (10.0)

    Nova Scotia 8.6 (8.1)

    New Brunswick 8.4 (8.9)

    Quebec 6.4 (6.4)

    Ontario 6.4 (6.2)

    Manitoba 5.5 (5.8)

    Saskatchewan 6.0 (6.0)

    Alberta 8.4 (8.3)

    British Columbia 5.4 (5.1)


    St. John’s, N.L. 8.9% (9.1)

    Halifax 6.5 (6.1)

    Moncton, N.B. 8.0 (8.2)

    Saint John, N.B. 6.7 (7.9)

    Quebec 4.1 (4.3)

    Trois-Rivieres, Que. 6.6 (6.6)

    Montreal 6.6 (6.7)

    Ottawa 5.0 (5.1)

    Kingston, Ont. 6.1 (6.1)

    Oshawa, Ont. 6.0 (5.7)

    Toronto 7.1 (7.1)

    Hamilton, Ont. 5.9 (5.9)

    Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. 5.6 (5.5)

    Brantford, Ont. 4.7 (4.2)

    London, Ont. 6.0 (6.2)

    Windsor, Ont. 5.2 (5.1)

    Barrie, Ont. 6.8 (7.2)

    Sudbury, Ont. 7.4 (7.9)

    Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.8 (6.0)

    Winnipeg 6.5 (6.7)

    Regina 4.8 (5.2)

    Saskatoon 7.5 (7.0)

    Calgary 9.3 (9.4)

    Edmonton 8.4 (8.3)

    Kelowna 6.4 (7.4)

    Abbotsford 6.3 (6.1)

    Vancouver 4.7 (4.7)

    Victoria 3.8 (4.4)