Nevin Thompson

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    In workspaces tucked away on second floors of commercial buildings or in industrial warehouses... see more

    Source: Douglas Magazine
    Author: Nevin Thompson

    An Inside Look at Victoria’s Gaming Companies

    In workspaces tucked away on second floors of commercial buildings or in industrial warehouses, Victoria’s gaming companies are punching above their weight in a multi-billion dollar market.

    “In Canada there are more people per capita working on video games than in any other country in the world,” says Eric Jordan, CEO of Victoria video game company Codename Entertainment. “They’re part of an industry worth $100 billion in North America alone that continues to grow.”

    Victoria is also a player in that global video game industry, with a vibrant tech sector employing at least 15,000 people and steadily transforming the city from tucked-away, renovated offices above Fort Street, Bastion Square and Chinatown, or in industrial parks and home studios. There, you’ll find at least 20 video game companies employing about 250 people who are creating games that are popular with millions of people all over the world.

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  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    A portion of Victoria's Airport has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station" see more

    “Tectoria Innovation Station” to launch at the Victoria International Airport

    Ribbon cutting to take place February 20, 2017 at 11am

    VICTORIA, BC (February 15, 2017) -  A portion of Victoria International Airport’s Arrival Rotunda has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station,” a new interactive exhibit heralding Greater Victoria’s long history of innovation and entrepreneurship and the thriving tech sector that developed as a result.

    The installation features a mad scientist's laboratory complete with transparent video screens and detailed historical accounts of our region’s innovations all surrounded by intricate pipes, gauges and switches to catch the attention of passersby and draw them in for a closer look. It was developed specifically to give the local technology sector added awareness, airport guests an added experience, and potential talent and investors a place to go for more information, whYYJ.ca.

    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council) and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA), have spent the last 10 years informally exploring ways to work together to spread the word about our top local industry, technology. ”When we heard that the Victoria Airport Authority had a potential area that we could utilize to build an intriguing interactive exhibit we jumped at the chance,” Dan Gunn, VIATEC CEO explained. “We quickly started developing concepts on something that would be out of the ordinary and soon after opened discussions with potential funding partners.

    “Technology plays such an integral role in our local economy,” says Geoff Dickson, VAA President and CEO. “We’re pleased to partner with VIATEC and showcase this interactive display. It’s a great way for us to support Victoria’s technology sector and to provide our passengers and the public with a unique experience and opportunity to learn about the positive contributions it makes to the region.”

    The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and South Island Prosperity Project (Prosperity Project) were intrigued and agreed to dedicate some of the funding they had received from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to the project.

    ”It takes a village to raise an economy and we are very grateful to the Victoria Airport Authority and our funding partners for making this possible,” acclaimed Dan Gunn. “With 1.85 million visitors walking through the gates at one of the world’s greatest airports, we are fortunate to be offered the opportunity to build a presence at the primary gateway to our community. Tourism is our best draw and once people are hooked on our island lifestyle many of them want to stay. We believe this exhibit will give the ones that want to move here, the info they need to understand how they might find a job or, better yet, invest in or create a new company here.”

    "We're proud to be part of the team that brought this project to life,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, Executive Director of the Prosperity Project. “The Tectoria Innovation Station is a way to raise the profile of our local entrepreneurial culture, and it will help the Prosperity Project connect with new companies and established entrepreneurs through the whYYJ.ca website."

    “The Tectoria Innovation Station is one of several joint projects that the Greater Victoria Chamber has undertaken over the past three years to support trade and investment,” said Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and stakeholders throughout the region, we have been able to bring the right people together to see outcomes, like this one, that will resonate within our community and economy for years.”

    The unveiling will take place on February 20, 2017 at 11am in the Arrivals Rotunda of the Victoria International Airport. Following a few announcements and a ribbon cutting, media and the public are encouraged to take the first steps through the installation.

     

    ABOUT THE DESIGN

    With the vision statement that, “Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology has shaped Victoria’s present, past and inspires our potential going forward.”  VIATEC sought out local designer and fabricator, Russell Papp, to bring a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” theme to fruition. Russell is well known for projects around town including the Phillip’s Beer Wagons and some of Tourism Victoria’s exhibits last October.

    Airport visitors will get to peer into portals containing Holografyx Showcase video displays, press buttons and gears, and flip through drafting table designs containing bits of Victoria’s rich, innovative history. From aviation, to shipbuilding, ocean sciences and education. The first video features short overviews of AXYS Technologies, FTS and Viking Air. The drafting table features are opening with historical overviews of key elements of our economy, and VIATEC is encouraging locals to submit suggested additions and corrections, so that the exhibit is ever-changing and improving. A feedback form on the whYYJ.ca web site will make it easy for people to provide suggested edits and updates.

    EDITOR'S NOTE

    Your readers, listeners and viewers are welcome to learn even more about how to connect with, join or learn more about the local tech scene by attending Discover Tectoria on February 24, 2017 from 11am to 6pm at the Crystal Garden. www.discovertectoria.com

    MEDIA CONTACT:

    Tessa Bousfield
    Marketing & Events Director, VIATEC
    e: tbousfield@viatec.ca, c: 250-896-7668

     

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined see more

    Source: Quartz
    Author: Nevin Thompson

    Brexit and Trump could be good news for Canada’s tech scene

    By 2019, it’s estimated there will be 182,000 job openings in Canada’s tech sector—and no Canadians to fill them. Better-known for maple syrup, snow-capped mountains, and head-of-state heartthrob Justin Trudeau, Canada is also home to a vibrant tech sector that is crying out for workers. And Donald Trump’s unlikely presidency may already be helping Canadian tech firms fill those spots.

    On the night of Nov. 8, as many Americans realized that Trump was going to be elected president of the United States of America, a flood of hundreds of thousands of visitors crashed Canada’s immigration website. People were presumably looking for ways to relocate to Canada and escape whatever Trump has in store for the four years ahead.

    But in fact, Americans accounted for just half of the surge in visits to the immigration website—visitors from other parts of the world made up the other half. But why?

    Options for foreign workers looking to emigrate are narrowing. June’s Brexit decision in Britain was based in on a desire to tighten the UK’s border and restrict its flow of immigrants. Indeed, the future of the European Union, the world’s largest trade zone, is in question as anti-immigrant, right-wing parties in the Netherlands and in France seem poised for victory in 2017. In the US, on top of vowing to build a wall with Mexico and deport immigrants, Trump has promised to clamp down on the H-1B visas that bring 85,000 skilled international workersinto America each year.

    Meanwhile, across Canada, 71,000 tech companies are responsible for over 7% of Canada’s economic output and 5.6% of Canada’s total employment: Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined. Canada, with its reputation for tolerance and openness to diversity and immigration, has been called one of the world’s last “safe harbors.” Add an almost unlimited demand for skilled workers across the country, and it’s easy to see why Canada could become the next hub for the globe-trotting workforce.

    “Donald Trump has definitely been a topic of conversation here in Seattle,” says Dan Gunn, chief executive officer of VIATEC, a Canada-based community organization and 16,000 square-foot technology accelerator. In the days following the US election, Gunn was spending time in Seattle for Startup Week. “There are questions about what Trump means for tech and for tech workers in the States. Highly skilled workers from around the world, particularly visible or religious minorities who had their sights set on moving to the US, might look to Canada for opportunities instead.”

    As head of VIATEC, Gunn helped build a thriving technology sector in Victoria—a small Canadian city of about 350,000 people located on an island just to the north of Seattle. Once known mainly as a sleepy government town and destination for retirees and tourists, Victoria is now home to a thriving tech scene that has attracted everyone from global giants like Amazon and Schneider Electric to game developers such as Kixeye and a Change.org satellite office.

    Just like the rest of the Canadian technology sector, Victoria—nicknamed “Tectoria”—has plenty of job openings. “Canada is growing, a thriving innovation sector, and advanced technology has become the number-one industry in Victoria,” Gunn says. “Nearly 900 companies employ over 23,000 people here. And they’re always hiring.”

    Across Canada, the need for workers is currently so great that a number of employers and industry organizations have banded together with the Canadian government to launch Go North Canada. The initiative is an attempt first and foremost to lure some of the more than 350,000 Canadians who work in Silicon Valley (as well as Canadians in other parts of the US) back home.

    “Canadian companies are currently looking to fill three different kinds, of roles: technical talent, experienced sales and marketing talent, and people in leadership roles who have experience scaling up companies,” says Heather Galt, vice president for human resources at Communitech, an Ontario technology-startup hub, who is helping promote the Go North Campaign across Canada. Galt says that Canada can often offer a better quality of life compared to working in the US: It has better schools, lower commute times, and a stunning natural environment.

    The Trudeau government has also announced a new strategy to make it easier for companies to recruit foreign tech talent. Compared to the H-1B visa process in the US, which can take about six months to set up, it normally takes nine months or more for foreign tech workers to receive a Canadian work visa.

    “Dealing with red tape is the number-one obstacle to bringing foreign talent to Canada,” says Noah Warder. Warder leads operations at Sendwithus, a Victoria-based startup that builds tools for email marketing. “It’s much easier to bring Canadians north of the border,” he says.

    While it’s still too early to determine whether or not Justin Trudeau’s new immigration strategy will make it easier to recruit foreign workers, the prospect of Canada’s attractive tech scene—not to mention its equally attractive outdoor wonderland—should give many foreign workers something to dream about.

    You can follow Nevin on Twitter at @Nevin_Thompson. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.