Students toured Limbic Media, Robazzo, VIATEC and Bambora... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Island students get taste for tech at Doors Open to Technology event
More than 100 students from around the Island got a peek Tuesday into the region’s growing tech sector with the first regional Doors Open to Technology event in Victoria.
It was a chance for high school students to see what life at a tech firm is like and, according to organizers, an invaluable opportunity to dispel some of the myths about the sector.
“We were seeing a disconnect with some kids in high school,” said David Nichols, chief executive of Inventa, the company that organizes the Doors Open events.
Nichols said some students were discouraged from entering the industry because they believed there was no place for them unless they were “super smart” or devoted to coding.
“Meanwhile, the industry was telling us that there are so many different jobs in the industry,” he said, noting the event was all about showing them what’s possible and that a career in the industry is attainable.
“We are trying to highlight the immense opportunity there is for the growing tech industry and careers in that industry,” Nichols said, adding technology is actually part of almost every industry.
There is no question there is plenty of opportunity in tech locally. An economic impact study commissioned by the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council last year noted the tech sector boasts a $5.22-billion annual economic impact on the region, with combined annual revenue of its 955 companies of $4.06 billion, and employing 16,775 people directly.
The study also suggested there could be another 15,000 people working in the industry by 2030, but companies are at a loss when it comes to where they will find those people. Province-wide, the technology industry expects there will be over 83,400 tech-related job openings by 2027.
“The companies in B.C. see a real challenge in finding people,” said Nichols, who said the goal of the event is to light a spark in students to get them on the path early. “This gives them more understanding of what the opportunity is here.”
Students toured Limbic Media, Robazzo, VIATEC and Bambora, and watched presentations from companies such as Microsoft and B.C. Hydro, tech insiders and government representatives.
“B.C.’s tech sector holds incredible promise for young people looking to start a career, offering well-paid and engaging work,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.
“DOT helps students by giving them first-hand exposure to some of the innovative companies that are spurring economic growth on Vancouver Island and across the province.”
The DOT program, which was launched in 2016, has toured more than 600 students through the working spaces of tech firms in Victoria and Vancouver. They expect to run three events this school year.
Discover Tectoria panel says tackling unconscious bias, education part of building inclusive workplacesThanks to people like the panelists, and the rebellious youth, there's an extremely bright future... see more
Author: Wyatt Fossett
Discover Tectoria panel says tackling unconscious bias, education part of building inclusive workplaces
The ever-quiet sibling of the mainland metropolis that is Victoria, British Columbia continues to surprise and grow. With help from groups like the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council, the veil is lifted—if ever so slightly—a few times a year, and it truly exposes the veins of an astounding technological sector which just so happens to be the leading employment industry within British Columbia’s capital city.
The secret to Victoria’s innovation
There’s no shame here. Everyone is more than happy with their growth, and their success from the shadows of Vancouver. Maybe it’s key to their evolution. Perhaps it’s this climate, sans spotlight, that makes people in Victoria willing to try things a little more on the unconventional side.
Discover Tectoria is an annual event held by VIATEC in Victoria, filled with panels and a show floor that puts over 75 of the most innovative companies on Vancouver Island on display. Integral to the growth of their industry, the Discover Tectoria event works to promote the often unknown, or forgotten $4 billion tech sector. It’s a full day of expo floor that includes demos and plenty of local companies looking to hire — the free-to-attend event is big for those seeking work.
Want to keep tabs on your boat using smart-home-like technology? BRNKL has you covered. Maybe, for some reason, you’re looking to replace all of the lights in your abode with fixtures that react to noise, or dance while you sing? Limbic Media has just the thing for you. Perhaps you’re looking to engage children in the field of engineering? Well, there’s a group doing just that.
Victoria is even home to some of Canada’s most successful independent video game companies (see: KANO apps, Codename Entertainment, and Double Jump). With over 20,000 video game projects launched in Canada alone last year, it’s a sector of the tech industry that will not be going away anytime soon.
The VIATEC showcase
VIATEC does an outstanding job gathering some of the most interesting and prospering companies that call Victoria home and puts them on display to continue working towards promoting their tech sector.
Some of the standouts on this year’s Discover Tectoria show floor were:
A lot of people go about their creating alone. But whether it’s in robotics or gaming, collaboration is essential to the growth of our technological industry. The Victoria Makerspace is a member-operated space where imaginative technology developers can share time, tools, and work with their peers. It’s absolutely key that spaces like these exist, and it’s often difficult to get the word out; Victoria’s Makerspace is the best place to grow and collaborate with like-minded people.
What inspires young minds the most? Is it reward? Is it play? One of the most influential things to dreamers are heroes. FIRST Robotics BC promotes robotic sciences to children from kindergarten and throughout high school, creating heroes for young scientists in the form of their competitions and mentorship.
A flagship in the Victoria technology industry, Codename Entertainment cut their teeth on the gaming world with Facebook titles like EggBreaker and BushWhacker back in the day.
Recently, they’ve exploded with their clicker-based fantasy game Crusaders of the Lost Idols that came out on nearly every platform you can think of. On the shoulders of that big success, they were granted the enviable task of adapting a beloved role-playing intellectual property Dungeons and Dragons into something like Crusaders.
In a world where breaking news happens on Twitter, and our social media feeds are a far more viable source for what’s going on than most news outlets, a lot is lost in a sea of voices. Echosec wants to change the idea of smart news and uses billions of social media posts to collect data and report on the happenings of the world based on geofencing technology. The company is gathering interest from government and security firms, social coordinators, and news sites (ironically).
Targeted to women in technology, Loc’elle is a women-only social networking platform that enables like-minded women to easily connect in person or digitally. This is not just LinkedIn for women. Whether you’re looking for new friends, a mentor or running buddy, Loc’elle’s mission is to provide a safe platform for women to connect. The goal is to provide groups that are underserved and underrepresented with more ability to connect and support one another.
In addition to the trade show, a special stage and seating area on the upper level of the Crystal Room in the Victoria Conference Centre held panels all day. The talks—a collection of four or five experts and a moderator—ranged from cryptocurrency security, creative storytelling, local gaming takeover, all the way to “how do I land that gig.”
It was a vibrant theatre throughout the day, with a ton to take away with you for those that managed to catch a talk or two.
When discussing the future of the technology industry — a world with a high-demand for more talent — there’s a lot of weight on the industry to adapt in order to be more inclusive. Wrapping up the day of panels was, by far, the best of the bunch: Industry Enhanced by Inclusion. Unfortunately, it was also the one talk with the least amount of people in the audience.
Young people are key to breaking barriers in tech
It is essential in our changing social landscape to be on the inclusion end of a movement currently breaking down long-standing barriers faced by underrepresented groups in tech. True, major strides have been made. But it’s not enough.
Inclusion isn’t a concept solely related to mainstream, front page topics such as women in tech and how they’re treated, though that is very much a part of it. Rather, it’s a generalized term referring to all kinds of inclusion. Gender identity, disability, race, and other intersecting identities are at the forefront of the conversation. But what is the industry and the people within it to do in order to encourage inclusivity?
The final panel of the Discover Tectoria event included moderator Rebecca Kerstein (Rethink Thinking), and speakers Jeff Hopkins (Pacific School of Innovation & Inquiry), Bobbi Leach (RevenueWire), Nigel Livingston (UVic), and Dawn McCooey (Women’s Enterprise Centre). Two women who are developing the world of women entrepreneurs and the support systems in place for them, one disability researcher, and the founder of a revolutionary education system.
The panel kicked off with a simple introduction, followed by an intriguing question: “How is the diversity perspective changing, and what does it look like today?“ asked Kerstein.
It’s fundamental that we assess and speak to what the current climate is. If we’re not aware of where we are, it’s difficult (or impossible) to map out how we get to where we need to be.
“Social media has done a great service in giving those with disabilities—namely an inability to speak—a voice. Or anyone a voice, for that matter. Young people are the most sure-of-themselves generation yet,” Livingston says.
“There’s a new awareness and support for women in the tech industry, and it’s extremely positive. Though the pace is not enough.” adds McCooey. “At our current rate, some estimate it would take 400+ years to reach a state of equality.”
The conversation needs to shift to the dissolving of the systems already in place, because they’re problematic.
While there is a lot of conversation happening around supporting women in tech, Leach cautions against falling for hype. “We hear and see all of these stats and headlines like a recent one that read ‘women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies grew by 50 percent last year’ but it’s disingenuous. It did grow 50 percent, but that 50 percent increase only put the number up to  out of 500. Outlets are using catchy titles to breed complacency,” said Leach.
This is a major problem. Like Livingston points out, social media has done a fantastic job in allowing anyone a voice (see: Florida students fighting against NRA and Trump). Unfortunately, it’s also an easy tool to manipulate the public consciousness, and has spurred the growth of inaccurate representation of facts.
When you take the current social media tools into account, the conversation needs to shift to the dissolving of the systems already in place, because they’re problematic. “It’s a systemic unconscious bias,” says WEC founder McCooey (echoed by the rest of the panel) on the inherently non-inclusive, grandfathered structure of many industries. “The way we speak to one another, and the predetermined roles within offices, who succeeds and who fails, are pre-formatted. So much so that we ‘expect it’, due to the pattern in the industry’s history.”
Our best bet? Well, that comes down to how much power we give our youth. Millennials are a strong force and possess the drive and determination to shake up any structure already in place. They (as a collective) are the most progressive age of humans and have done valuable work to force the world onto an inclusive path.
“How do we ensure that our future is brighter, and we’re more inclusive?” asked Kerstein.
We’re always told that you can’t change the rules from the outside, and it was reflected here as the panel discusses ways we can adopt an change for the future. The key for older generations is to learn the ways of the new world. For those on the cusp, it’s important to nurture that world. For the youth of the world, it’s to continue understanding yourself, being free within that self, and remain inclusive of all types.
“Working with teenagers in an abnormal education environment like I do, it’s evident. People — and I don’t know if it’s exposure to social media or places like Reddit — are more comfortable with their own identity,” said Hopkins, as he’s on the front lines of a shift in the inclusive educational structure.
“Yes!” exclaimed moderator Kerstien. “It’s also important to jump in and educate when finding yourself face-to-face with an opportunity to dissolve others’ ignorance.”
“It’s very much about language, and our awareness of such a thing, that is the key to being inclusive,” added Leach.
The language in question is an overall term used here to describe a shift in the way we speak to one another, or speak for ourselves. “When it comes to identifiers, I always open with my own, and ask for their pronouns afterwards. It opens up a safe conversation, and as a member of an older generation, displays my desire to be inclusive right out of the gate,” said Hopkins, in response to an audience question of how he uses language to ask someone about pronouns.”
There are many other ways to ensure that the language we use is inclusive. “Women need to adapt away from passivity, in a sense, but it has always supported a more comfortable environment, so it’s still very much a work in progress,” said McCooey on how we should present our at-work selves. The common use of aggressive language to achieve goals, or put into action one’s climb up the “ladder,” is something that has to die. Inherently, this language brews a lack of inclusion.
“We can be more thoughtful. We can ask more questions. We can try to help each other, or ensure that others are more comfortable in any environment,” said Leach.
It is only a revolution, on the brink of toppling an entirely predetermined path, that is going to be the foundation of a tech industry (or any industry) that will progress through the inclusion of all people.
The problem is a poison that many don’t even know they are perpetuating. This systemic bias is something that caters to an already privileged group. A lot of the world is missing out on some of the most qualified personnel out there, all because of an archaic structure or uninviting workplace. There is turmoil now, but thanks to people like the panelists here — and the rebellious youth — there’s an extremely bright future.
Main takeaways from Friday’s exhibition of Victoria’s emerging and established companies. see more
Five Takeaways from Discover Tectoria 2018
VIATEC’s 2018 Discover Tectoria event was a friendly and engaging introduction for Limbic Media’s new marketing team. Having seen Victoria’s vibrant tech sector with fresh eyes, here are our main takeaways from Friday’s exhibition of Victoria’s emerging and established companies.
1. Interactivity is king
Nestled in Discover Tectoria’s Creativity Hub, most foot traffic seemed to flock to booths with elements of interactivity. Limbic Media’s Aurora tent invited visitors of all ages into a meditative, darkened space to make music and translate their creativity into a visual experience. Next door, FIRST Robotics BC opened up a floor space for people to engage with robotic vehicles. The most intriguing sound over the event’s wall of voices came from Monkey C Interactive. With little instruction, the interactive Registroid forced people to explore sounds and become their own artist. Also present in the Creativity Hub was Studio Robazzo, helping bring forward the role of technology in art, emphasizing how tech and art are really one and the same. Discover Tectoria succeeds in creating more avenues for audiences of all ages to participate in the creative process.
2. Tech is a kid-centric industry
Even though Discover Tectoria provides ample opportunity to network whether you’re an investor, an existing tech company, or looking for a new career, Discover Tectoria builds on elements of interactivity by involving kids and their role in tech. Outside the Creativity Hub, Discover Tectoria focused on edutainment in The Combustion Chamber by showcasing technologies and experiments for families through presentations and audience involvement, and Engineering for Kids took a more of an industry-specific approach to kick-starting young interest in tech. Discover Tectoria is a venue that recognizes the importance of getting young minds churning early, and highlighting tech that all ages can relate to.
3. Victoria’s tech industry is becoming ever more visible
Discover Tectoria is widening the industry’s audience not only for kids, but for all walks of life. Even just four years ago, the influence of the tech industry in Victoria’s economy wasn’t necessarily all that obvious. Unless you were looking for it, the number of vibrant technology companies gracing downtown office space wasn’t visible—but in a short time, the sector has emerged as the city’s top industry, and events like Discover Tectoria are making that fact widely known to the public. The average tech conference bustles with entrepreneurs, startups, press and VCs. Discover Tectoria stands out by making the public of all ages its primary audience. It encourages people to participate and discover what goes on in our city behind the long-standing face of tourism and government.
4. We need to start thinking of Victoria more as a city and less as a town
Victoria is a tight community, and its tech community is even tighter-this is part of what makes Victoria so appealing. However, it also puts us in danger of staying in a “tourist town” mentality by telling the same old Victorian story over and over. Because of rapid growth in recent years, both in population, real-estate, and industries like tech, Victoria is going through growing pains and developing new identities. We are no longer the flowery city of the newly-wed and nearly dead. Discover Tectoria makes it clear that the tech industry is helping change the face of our narrative, putting us on the map globally as a city on the forefront of technology and culture.
5. Victoria’s various sectors need to strengthen their partnerships
Speaking of tourism and the growth of Victoria’s industries, an audience member posed a pertinent question during the Innovation Theatre talk on Creative Storytelling: What are some examples of how the tech and hospitality industries have collaborated in Victoria?
Although there have been a number of initiatives bridging tech and tourism in Victoria in the last couple years, the ensuing pause said a lot about the visibility of that collaboration, especially between tourism and Victoria’s authentic cultural and arts scene. According to the speakers, Victoria’s various industries often feel like they’re in still competing in spite of newly formed partnerships. Discover Tectoria provided a public forum that clearly has open arms to outside industries, given the opportunity to join forces. The overall message was simple: ”Come talk to us. We have lots of ideas and we can make them happen.”
Whether or not last Friday’s exhibition was your first Discover Tectoria, the event had something new for everyone—from toddlers interacting with tech edutainment, to investors checking out emerging local companies, to Limbic’s marketing team getting familiarized with our city’s vibrant tech community. Victoria is a unique climate of rapidly growing industries, and Viatec’s event was an inviting summary of the potential 2018 has to bring for our city’s tech sector.
Over the course of a whirlwind 10 days through 4 cities, Love's plan turned into a new direction... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
China trade trip illuminating for Victoria technology firm
Justin Love had a plan in mind when he decided to join the City of Victoria’s recent trade mission to China and Japan, but over the course of a whirlwind 10 days through four cities, that plan turned into a new direction for his business.
Love is the president of Limbic Media, which combines technology with art to create interactive installations such as its flagship product, Aurora.
Aurora, the company says, “creates light shows that are controlled by sounds from the surrounding environment.”
Love is now considering positioning the firm to take on the challenge of the Chinese market. “We intended to [deal with] manufacturing on the trip and now I’m pivoting to doing business development in China,” said Love,.
He noted that whatever notion he had of the visit to China before he arrived went out the window when he was actually there. “The opportunity and scale of projects there is incredible. I could see us doubling our business in the next couple of years.”
Love, who already had a manufacturing relationship with a Chinese firm before the trip, had intended to focus on that when he arrived, but he said he was open to all possibilities.
“I went without any preconceptions,” he said, though he admits he was taken aback at the pace of business. First meetings quickly gathered steam and instead of being meet-and-greet sessions they turned into concrete plans.
“We will be working on a project with one of the companies next month; things really happened quickly,” Love said, laying much of the credit at the feet of the City of Victoria and the B.C. trade office. “Something that might have taken a year or two happened in a week.”
That’s the general idea, said Lisa Helps, who was leading her second trip to China as Victoria mayor.
Helps said she enjoyed watching several Victoria tech firms showcase their products to an eager Chinese market and expects there could be a number of deals signed as a result of the trip.
Helps said her presence and support from the city may have helped move things along. “I think it allowed more business to be done.
“My take is this was overwhelmingly positive. It really exceeded expectations,” she said. Over the course of 10 days, they managed to take meetings in order to increase the export of local innovation in clean tech, manufacturing, education, film and tourism.
Helps said the mission also allowed the South Island Prosperity Project to enter into discussions with a municipal group in Shanghai that could offer lessons and guidance to Victoria in establishing itself as a “smart city.” The smart city concept seeks to use data and technology to improve living conditions.
Helps acknowledges that people are often skeptical of trade missions, but she said with the region pushing to develop more exporting companies that can target China, these kinds of trips pay off handsomely.
However, at one point she sang a different tune.
As a city councillor, she complained in 2012 that then-mayor Dean Fortin was leading a mission to China, and asked if Victoria taxpayers were on the hook for it and why the city wasn’t dealing with its own problems first.
Helps denies she has changed her tune. “I wasn’t saying no trade missions, I was just saying you have to have your own house in order before you go trotting around the globe,” she said.
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.”
Visit bsideoftheticket.ca/the-innovati... for the full blog post! see more
On the B-Side: The Innovation Tree
The Innovation Tree was lit on September 27th after VIATEC, the DVBA, City of Victoria and the Government Street Merchants came together to make it happen. It’s lit with Aurora lights from Limbic Media which are sound reactive! Really!
Limbic Media is leveraging tech in new and novel ways. see more
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - Technology has forever changed our ability to connect and share online with anyone, anytime and anywhere in the world. Limbic Media is leveraging tech in new and novel ways. The Victoria-based startup uses digital media to transform our social experiences and behaviours offline—and in public.
By installing interactive media control technologies in community spaces, Limbic is enabling us to interact directly with public art installations through sound, gestures and mobile devices. This creates a new type of connection that invites social participation and brings people together.
Watch the latest #BCTECH Story below to learn more.