BC's tech companies pivot, collaborate, and innovate to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. see more
Source: BC Business
Author: Raghwa Goptal
Across Canada, our approach to flattening the curve has been a communal effort between our governments, communities, and private sector. And these efforts have been enhanced and accelerated by our country’s world-renowned tech sector.
In B.C. specifically, we’re seeing our tech companies pivot, collaborate, and innovate to provide hands-on support to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The most prominent example is AbCellera, who secured a whopping $175M investment from the federal government to identify antibodies that could be used to create a treatment for COVID-19. The B.C.-based Digital Technology Supercluster has also stepped up to the plate, funding several local projects through their COVID-19 Program.
But as we expand our scope outside the Lower Mainland, it becomes clear that our province’s COVID-19 relief efforts have received a significant boost from all of our regional tech communities, most notably in Vancouver Island.
Victoria’s tech sector, which accounts for $5.22B in economic impact for the region, represents one of the country’s fastest growing tech hubs. Since this pandemic began to take hold in early March, some of the city’s top tech companies have quickly mobilized to provide direct support to hospitals, governments, and Canadians across the country.
StarFish Medical, Canada’s largest medical-device design company, is working with the Federal Government to manufacture 30,000 ventilators in an effort to curb expected medical device shortages across the country. Fellow Victoria medtech standout, Telmediq, is leveraging their extensive reach across North America to give healthcare systems complimentary access to their software to provide distance support for patients and families dealing with COVID-19. And not to be outdone, one of Victoria oldest tech firms, ImmunoPrecise Antibodies, is working with the World Health Organization to develop coronavirus vaccines.
Dan Gunn, the CEO of Innovate BC-funded VIATEC, notes that while some of the city’s biggest companies have tackled the pandemic head on, the entire Victoria tech sector has come together to share resources and experiences to help their peers navigate the changing landscape.
“While our community has been apart physically, we have never seen it come together more in spirit,” says Gunn. “A sense of community is always important but during a crisis the value of coming together is even more tangible and appreciated."
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.”
Starfish Medical will lead the first phase to provide a solution to the shortage of ventilators. see more
Source: CTV News Winnipeg Author: Rachel CrowSpreadingWings
WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg company’s ventilator design could be a critical part of the battle against COVID-19.
Cerebra Health Inc. announced Thursday the ‘Winnipeg Ventilator’ has been picked as the ventilator of choice by Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster. It was chosen by a national consortium of leading engineers and manufacturers as part of the federal government’s response to COVID-19.
StarFish Medical, Canada’s largest medical device design company, will lead the first phase of the project. The goal is to provide a solution to the shortage of ventilators.
“Canada needs a solution to bring ICU standard ventilators to the market fast, economically and at a scale to meet the needs of this crisis,” said Jay Myers, CEO of NGen Canada, in a statement. “The Winnipeg Ventilator has proven world-wide to meet those requirements as seen through its broad use and validation by the scientific community.”
Dr. Madgy Younes, Cerebra’s scientific founder, developed the original Winnipeg Ventilator. The design was licensed and used as the basis for commercial ventilators throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The units were also used during the 2003 SARS epidemic.
“The nature of respiratory distress in patients with COVID-19 requires different approaches to ventilatory support in different patients, and in the same patient at different times,” Younes said in a statement. “This means the ventilator must be able to deliver a range of ventilator modes and oxygen concentrations of up to 100%. While all standard commercial ICU ventilators meet these requirements, it is very difficult to manufacture such ventilators at the scale and speed required for the COVID-19 pandemic and they are very expensive.”
“Now is the time for Canadian companies to work together,” said Earl Gardiner, executive chairman of Cerebra, in a statement. “We’re proud to bring Dr. Younes’ innovation to meet this urgent need and to do so with the support of NGen and some of Canada’s leading medical device manufacturing companies. The project scope and timelines would not have been possible without NGen funding .”
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.
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. www.viatec.ca
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! www.mustardseed.ca
Marketing & Events Director
Scott Phillips was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Pacific) in the tech category see more
Prestigious entrepreneur honour for Starfish Medical founder
Starfish Medical might need to engineer a new mantelpiece for its Tennyson Place offices as the company landed a major award over the weekend when founder Scott Phillips was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Pacific) in the technology category.
The award, considered one of the world’s most prestigious business honours for entrepreneurs, comes on the heels of Phillips being named 2017 Technology Champion at this year’s Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council awards.
“We’ve been fortunate to win a few things, and I say we because this is a team thing, but this award in particular is recognized around the world and we are an international company so this is very helpful,” said Phillips. “I’m really honoured, to be honest. I mean, it was a large category as ‘technology’ is pretty broad … I’m delighted to be chosen.”
Phillips, who has received congratulations from clients and colleagues in 12 countries since the announcement, said the win is a validation for the decisions Starfish has made over the past several years.
“When I frame what we are doing, it’s usually in the context of the medical [industry]. But when you go through the exercise and apply for these awards, it forces you to think in pure business terms,” he said. “It gives me a good feeling to be recognized in more than just the tech expertise that we bring, but also in our business achievements.”
Starfish, which designs and develops medical devices, has had plenty of the achievements.
The 18-year-old, private company has reported 50 per cent growth in each of the past two years. In March, it announced the acquisition of Toronto medical-device designer Kangaroo Group to attract more business from the medical-technology hubs of the eastern U.S.
That expansion helped the company grow to 130 employees, with 25 in its office in Toronto.
“Financially, it’s a good story. We have tripled the company in the last four years and become the only national firm in our industry,” Philips said.
The acquisition of Kangaroo has paid off for Phillips, as the firm landed two new clients in Michigan whom he believes they would have missed without an eastern presence.
“We are making good headway there. … I’m confident we will see some interesting development in places like Boston, New Jersey and New York that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said.
Growth seems inevitable as Starfish plans to add to its sales force.
“Every year we say to ourselves: ‘Let’s put the brakes on a little.’ Then we grow 30 per cent,” Phillips said with a laugh. “Maybe this is the year we stabilize a bit, but in this business, you kind of respond to demand.”
The EY Entrepreneur of the Year program runs in about 145 cities in about 60 countries.
Rob McCurdy, chief executive of Pinnacle Renewable Energy, was named the overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the Pacific region.
As the Pacific region’s winner, McCurdy will compete with other winners from the Prairies, Ontario, Atlantic and Quebec regions for the national honour as Canada’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year. That winner will take on the world.
Scott Phillips named EY Technology Entrepreneur of the Year see more
Scott Phillips named EY Technology Entrepreneur of the Year
Some entrepreneurs seem to come into the world predisposed to doing business. Take Scott Phillips, president and CEO of StarFish Medical; while the closest most preteens come to setting up shop is operating the odd lemonade stand, Phillips launched his own framing business at the age of 12, on the Ping-Pong table of his family’s Tsawwassen home.
The precocious young Phillips managed to drum up some customers, and the cute little venture became an honest-to-God business that taught him important business skills. “I had to pay for everything myself, and do all my own invoicing and inventory management,” he says. “I actually did that all the way to the end of university.”
After graduating in 1989 with a B.Sc. in engineering physics at UBC—“the nerdiest thing you can study”—Phillips was determined to find a way to build something bigger. After four years of work at a lithium-battery startup and a couple of years of international travel, he began taking on engineering contracts, eventually settling in Victoria with his wife. In 1999, he was awarded a contract to build an ultrasound imager for eyes. “It was the first big thing that I’d taken responsibility for on that scale,” Phillips recalls. “I built a team and had to move out of the spare bedroom of our little apartment and get some shared office space. I remember the first day that we built our first unit and turned it on—this amazing picture came up.”
Phillips founded StarFish Medical that same year, with himself as the only staff member. It has since grown into Canada’s largest medical device designer and developer, with 130 employees and annual revenue that has tripled over the past four years, to $20 million. Its portfolio includes products ranging from a prosthetic heart-valve tester and a sleep-apnea treatment device to a mobile MRI machine that can move between surgical rooms. The biggest key to Phillips’s success? “Getting religion on systems,” he says. “In some ways our job is to put lightning in a bottle. We sell innovation. You can’t procedurize innovation, but there’s a lot you can procedurize around innovation to support it.”
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Pacific category award recipients:
Business-to-Business Products and Services
Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. | Richmond
Article | Vancouver
Aamir Baig, Fraser Hall, Andy Prochazka, Sam Prochazka
TIO Networks | Vancouver
Sandstorm Gold Ltd. | Vancouver
AvenEx Coating Technologies Inc. | Vancouver
Mining & Metals
Lucara Diamond Corp. | Vancouver
Western Wealth Capital | North Vancouver
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Clio | Burnaby
StarFish Medical | Victoria
Special citation: Social Entrepreneur
Lunapads International | Vancouver
Madeleine Shaw, Suzanne Siemens
About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/ca/EOY
The 2017 Pacific region independent judging panel consists of Charles Chang, President and Founder, Lyra Growth Partners; Ashley Cooper, President, Paladin Security; Cathy Thorpe, President, Nurse Next Door; Debi Hewson, President and CEO, Odlum Brown Ltd.; Shannon Rogers, President, Global Relay; Bill Tam, President, BC Tech Association; and Lisa Shields, CEO, FI.SPAN Services Inc.
This year's program national sponsors are TEC Canada, La Presse, RDI, The TMX Group, The Globe and Mail Inc., Merrill Corporation, Kira Talent, Air Canada, SheEO, The Printing House Limited, Hillberg & Berk and MediaOne Creative. Pacific regional sponsors are BCBusinessmagazine, Hunt Personnel/Temporarily Yours, Captivate Network, The University of British Columbia, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and Leone International Marketing
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.