STIiR is helping local startups do business with BC, while improving services to residents see more
B.C. startups' ideas and expertise to improve government services
Victoria, BC (September 14, 2017) - The British Columbia government's Startup in Residence (STIR) program, the first of its kind in Canada, is helping local startups do business with the Province, while improving services to British Columbians.
STIR is a pilot project that has made the B.C. government a reference customer for five B.C. technology companies to test and co-develop solutions to public-sector challenges. The cutting-edge program combines innovation from tech companies with public-sector expertise, to co-develop and launch solutions during a 16-week residency that will culminate in the improvement of services delivered to British Columbians.
From providing social workers with real-time available housing options for children in need, to helping school districts analyze complex data to better understand trends and patterns that affect educational outcomes, each company is tackling a specific tech challenge identified by the Province. The first cohort of participating companies and the challenges they are solving include the following:
* Arkit is working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) to modernize the way people access information about land-use planning throughout British Columbia.
* Big Bang Analytics and the Ministry of Education are helping school districts to access and analyze information more easily.
* Design + Environment and AppScoop are teaming up with FLNR to deliver digital literacy training to public servants in an interactive and memorable way.
* Latero Labs and the Ministry of Children and Family Development are creating a tool to help social workers match children in care with the best available housing options in real time.
* Purpose Five is teaming with government's Digital Experience Division to create a tool that will intuitively track all government services and guide internal decision-making on how to best deliver them.
Modelled after a successful program in San Francisco, the pilot promotes innovative procurement in the public sector, while helping companies demonstrate their products and gain customer validation. Participating companies are gaining insight into working with government, developing their own intellectual property, and have the chance to sign multi-year contracts for future licence fees or maintenance work.
STIR project company bios, full challenge descriptions and product vision statements are included in the attached backgrounder.
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology -
"Through the STIR program, we're working with companies that hire locally, and are contributing to the flourishing tech industry here in B.C. STIR is helping to ensure that we provide the best services to the people of British Columbia by becoming more efficient and allocating resources where they are needed most."
Rick Glumac, Parliamentary Secretary for Technology -
"STIR is levelling the playing field to help smaller B.C. companies succeed and grow. It provides a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with B.C.'s tech sector to create made-in-B.C. solutions that support a stronger, faster and more cost-effective digital government to better serve the people of B.C."
Dan Gunn, CEO, Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) -
"Although many VIATEC members are already doing business worldwide, getting the chance to collaborate with one of B.C.'s largest local customers offers up-and-coming companies an incredible learning opportunity. Two members participating in STIR are getting the chance to make a difference right here in B.C., and can then take that experience to approach other government clients around the globe."
* The technology sector directly employs more than 100,000 people, and wages for those jobs are 75% higher than B.C.'s average.
* Employment in the tech sector rose 2.9%, surpassing B.C.'s overall employment growth of 2.5% and national tech sector employment growth of 1.1%.
* B.C. has seen a 1.9% rise in the number of new technology companies in 2015, growing to over 9,900 businesses.
* The gross domestic product (GDP) of B.C.'s tech sector expanded 2.4% in 2015, contributing $14.1 billion to B.C.'s overall economic output.
B.C. Startup in Residence program: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/business/business-government/startup-in-residence
Big Bang Analytics: http://www.bigbanganalytics.ca
Design + Environment: http://design-environment.com
Latero Labs: http://laterolabs.com
Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council: https://www.viatec.ca
Government Communications and Public Engagement Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Startup in Residence companies and projects
PROJECT 1 - Making it easier for citizens, academics and B.C. companies to support complex resource management decisions with detailed geospatial data
About: Established in 2011, Arkit is a Vancouver-based software provider on a mission to change how people work, communicate and share through the use of mapping technology. For many companies, managing field projects with information scattered across spreadsheets and complex systems is a challenge. Arkit solves this by combining field project management and collaboration into an intuitive, map-based software that everyone can access, contribute to and share.
Challenge statement: The Natural Resource Transformation Secretariat is looking for a way to allow spatial datasets containing detailed resource management information to be geographically viewed, queried and reported.
Product vision statement: For stewardship staff and the public who need to quickly and efficiently understand land use objectives for a defined geographic area.
PROJECT 2 - Helping school districts access and analyze information more easily
Company: Big Bang Analytics Inc. (BBA)
About: BBA was launched in Victoria in January 2017, with a single goal: help owners of big data not only access their data, but help them use it to make better-informed business decisions. All three principals look forward to growing their business based on the STIR project and offering solutions across multiple markets based on business intelligence needs.
Challenge statement: The Ministry of Education is looking for a way to provide secure data to school districts throughout B.C. as a report or raw data extract, with capacity to both extract and undertake analysis within the tool.
Product vision statement: For school district administrators who need to understand trends and patterns that impact educational outcomes.
PROJECT 3 - Teaming up to deliver digital literacy training to public servants in an interactive and memorable way
Company: Design + Environment (DE) and AppScoop
About: The BC STIR Digital Literacy Platform is a collaborative partnership for DE and App-Scoop. DE is the project and design lead and App-Scoop is the development lead.
DE is a design and environmental consultancy and technology company on a mission to "solve problems using design and environmental science" on projects ranging from environmental analysis for climate-change adaptation through to integrated cross-media design for a science centre. DE has its headquarters in Vancouver and has offices in Montreal and Vienna.
App-Scoop is a Vancouver-based development and consulting firm focused on delivering polished mobile and web solutions. The team includes highly experienced and specialized software developers who have succe ssfully delivered complex projects ranging from startup ideas to enterprise software.
Challenge statement: Natural resource-sector ministries are seeking a creative solution to help establish a common understanding of "digital literacy." The new solution would deliver a multi-media platform to create an interactive end-user experience, enabling users to self-select their curriculum and track learning outcomes on a variety of topics such as Agile and UCX.
Product vision statement: For B.C. public servants who want to understand how to apply emerging digital concepts to improve services for citizens.
PROJECT 4 - Creating a tool to help social workers match children in care with the best available housing options in real time
Company: Latero Labs Inc.
About: Latero Labs is an app/web development firm focused on creating robust technology platforms. It provides technical strategy and implementation for complex business problems. Its focus is on building software based on principles of user-centred design, high adaptability and easy maintenance.
Challenge statement: The Ministry of Children and Family Development is looking for a way to provide resource workers with real-time availability of contracted residential resources, such as beds and associated services, to ensure that when children and youth need to be in the care of the ministry, they are matched quickly and efficiently with the most appropriate resource available to meet their needs.
Product vision statement: The Placement Mapper is for social workers and service providers who need to find a safe, contracted residential home for children in care.
PROJECT 5 - Creating a tool that intuitively tracks all government services and guide internal decision-making on how to best deliver them
Company: Purpose Five
About: Purpose Five is a Victoria-based technology startup that builds innovative software, superior websites and digital marketing campaigns to accelerate online revenue growth and capture user engagement. It is committed to gender balance and promoting women to lead roles on its executive and technical teams, and is passionate about building technology that communicates well to a diverse world, using its expertise in accessibility, behavioural design and inclusive design.
Challenge statement: As a part of the work to develop a personalized digital service strategy, the Government Digital Experience Division is looking for a technology solution to provide reliable data on what services exist, how they are accessed, how they interrelate, who runs them, who they are for and how much they are used.
Product vision statement: For service providers and program owners who need to better understand the services in order to improve service outcomes for citizens. The management tool will track data from all government services, and present that information in an accessible manner that will help inform decisions on how to best deliver government programs.
Government Communications and Public Engagement Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect
We are searching Canada for the Top 15 high growth Start-ups of 2017, to join the Metabridge program see more
Metabridge applications closing April 3rd
We are searching Canada for the Top 15 high growth Start-ups of 2017, to join the Metabridge program and gain access to mentorship and capital. [Click here to apply!]
We Look For The Following Criteria:
- Product/service solves a problem or market need
- Generally available (no private beta)
- Demonstrated traction – users or revenue (or both)
- Demonstrated commitment - investment (generally late seed/early series A)
- Amazing founders & team members
Each Company Founder Will Receive:
- Year round visibility, promotion & recognition as part of the Start-up cohort.
- On-boarding and targeted introductions to mentors and investors.
- 2 VIP passes to Metabridge Live tech retreat in Kelowna this June with a personalized schedule to meet with mega entrepreneurs, global tech executives and investors. Includes 1:1 meetings, activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences over 48 hours. Each company will be showcased in a highly curated setting.
Hear from some of our Metabridge Alum on why to apply before April 3.
SkookumScript is the revolutionary programming language and tool suite that turbocharges video games see more
Seven tech start-ups to show their stuff at Economic Summit Showcase
Innovation Island in partnership with the BC Innovation Council and the Island Coastal Economic Trust is presenting a 2-hour showcase featuring 7 Island-based tech start-up companies - 8:30-10:30am, Wednesday, October 26 in advance of the official opening of the 10th annual Economic Summit in Nanaimo.
Cloudhead Games - an award winning company crafting compelling transportive virtual reality experiences for gaming and tech enthusiasts is creating the first ever, built for VR fantasy exploration game franchise, The Gallery.
For landlords who want quality tenants, Honest Renter provides two key tenant screening services. First, get credit reports at a fraction of the price of anywhere else in Canada. Second, use an online personality test to cover all the things that cost a landlord money, time, headaches.
SkookumScript is the revolutionary programming language and tool suite that turbocharges video game development. Simple, powerful and easy to learn, SkookumScript allows the live creation of compelling and sophisticated gameplay with just a few lines of code. SkookumScript transforms team composition, workflow, and the very thought process of game development. SkookumScript is the scripting solution for every genre of game, on every platform, everywhere.
In 2012 Lawrence Lewis (of the We Wai Kai Nation) launched a mobile technologies start-up: OneFeather. OneFeather is already shifting the way First Nation communities engage, collaborate, and make important decisions governing their Nation futures using the modern and ubiquitous mobile smart phone, including for the first time in Canada mobile voting for elections and referendums.
Since 1993, Resonance Software has been delivering innovative workforce management solutions to some of the world's largest manufacturing companies.WorkSight software manages the convergence of functions within human resources, operations, finance and information technology. WorkSight modules include timekeeping, employee scheduling and leave management. The considerable practice variation between companies and facilities demands specialization to deliver solutions that are effective and practical.
For data-driven businesses that want to extend their monitoring capability to mobile devices, SasInform is an integrated mobile client and hosted server solution that provides a secure, low-maintenance way to acquire, aggregate, and display key IoT and OPC data. Unlike other data aggregators,* SasInform is ready to deploy with no coding required and includes mobile applications that send alarm notifications to iOS and Android devices.
For businesses who need to coordinate access to online accounts and passwords across staff and contractors, Kitestrings is a password manager for teams. Unlike single user password managers with clunky sharing features, Kitestrings is built from the ground up to securely help business owners, IT and HR departments, and office managers keep control of their sensitive password information.
There’s a ton to dive into here. A past that will tell a thousand stories, and during all of my... see more
Author: Wyatt Fossett
It’s early afternoon, and many entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts are moderately rested and ready for a long night of great music and amazing people at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, BC — the culmination of three long days of demos, pitches, and pub nights at Experience Tectoria. But first, the entrepreneurs are gathering for an event to conclude the entirety of the experience: a roundtable discussion about Victoria’s vibrant tech sector.
Experience Tectoria serves to explore and highlight some of Victoria’s brightest and most promising tech startups. VIATEC—an accelerator program—is the product of an amazingly underrated technology scene that lives on Vancouver Island. The Experience event provides an opportunity for investors and media to congregate around a demo night, funding pitches, loads of food, and plenty of mingling.
Overall, the event is about selling the Victoria lifestyle to a group of talented people that the city would benefit from.
When you walk through the streets of downtown Victoria, on a blustery day—one that started with a thick fog, and a curtain of rain —there’s a strong presence of history, and the quieter streets, in an otherwise bustling tourist town, feel welcoming. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, dates back to 1862, and today (mostly due to vertical building regulations, and being surrounded by water) has a small population of roughly 80,000.
There’s a ton to dive into here. A past that will tell a thousand stories, and during all of my wandering, I was listening. Before the arrival of the Europeans in the 1700s, Vancouver Island was a thriving community of Coast Saalish People. Fort Victoria played a major role in the Great War, and the city has always been one of the first lines of defence for the Canadian Navy. But it’s now a peaceful and highly artistic city.
On the corner of Pandora and Wharf is the Swan’s Hotel, right near the bridge to the West Bank of Victoria. She’s old, and classic. Gathering in the penthouse suite—a three story dream with a full rooftop deck currently owned by the University of Victoria—are the who’s who of the tech world and their counterparts in investment.
Sean Silcoff from the Globe and Mail led the roundtable discussion that probed both visitors and locals alike about what makes Victoria a great place to be, an ideal city to start, or a top-tier location to move to.
Two consistent themes cropped up in a constant show of pride by Victorians, which perked up those in the room looking to invest in the companies there.
What makes Victoria so successful?
Living in the shadows
People often don’t realize that Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and not the little sister of Vancouver as its perceived. One of the things that has helped Victoria grow, succeed, and make exits with their companies is this shadow. According to the Victoria Angel Micro VC Fund Analysis, exits in the past five years total $217 million, including companies like Mediacore, Go2mobi, EDOC, and Procura
A list arose during the discussion. One that included names like Santa Cruz, California; Boulder, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and even Canadian destinations like Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. There is one thing that all of these blossoming cities have in common: above everything else, they live in the shadow of a more “popular” town. And maybe it’s this sense of being ignored that make it a more fruitful atmosphere.
In a “sister-town”, rent is cheaper, most of them have large postsecondary schools, and the general population of the world isn’t paying any attention in their direction. As creators, it’s far easier to attempt the unpredictable when people aren’t looking at your activities through a microscope.
A step ahead in gender equality
The report also stated that the wage gap between men and women was at 18 percent, meaning that women earn just 82 percent of what men do in identical roles.
According to an internal compensation study from Viatec however, Victoria boasts a rapidly rising percentage of around 30 percent female representation in technology roles (this study is only available for purchase through VIATEC). Impressively still, more than half of startup management or senior roles are held by women, in what can only be described as those in the room “as the way it should be” — though the room, which was mostly filled with men, didn’t reflect the diversity that they were eager to brag about.
Taking a look back at the history of the Tech Awards in Victoria, four of the past five winners in the Executive of the Year category were women, and five out of the past six companies that won the pinnacle Company of the Year award have female CEOs.
On top of progression made in diversity, the wage gap is also monumentally only at three percent. Victoria has an immense stash of talent, and those in hiring roles seem to have the right mindset when it comes to hiring the best available candidate without bias.
But inside the room was a ten-to-one margin of men, and a twenty-to-one margin of people of colour. Victoria is ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity, but after these conversations and pats on the shoulder in celebration, it’s ironic that I was in a position to ask the coordinators of the event how they think they can make rooms like this more diverse.
Youth in revolt
There’s a tendency to view millennials as a nuisance, or the death of an established balance within business. But this isn’t something that is bred in Victoria’s culture. As old as the city may be, great schools like the University of Victoria provide strong and hungry youth. That’s exactly who’s responsible for shaking up a lot of this rusted system. And it shows in Victoria when startups likeBlastworks, Codename Entertainment, Flytographer, and Tellwell Talent are standing at an impressively young age pitching for investments, or winning big awards like the VIATEC Technology Awards.
Seats needs butts
“How do you get more people to come to Victoria, invest in Victoria, or stay in Victoria?” asked Silcoff.
The consensus was that people just have to come. Once. It’s hard to be put-off by a city that shows so much life, and art, and beauty. Just getting them to put their boots on the cobblestone streets of the second-highest rated creative city in Canada, according to Martin Prosperity Institute director Richard Florida.
In tandem with the beauty of British Columbia is the consistent government support. With a recently announced $100 million dollar venture capital fund, and near industry leading tax credits, there are financial benefits to living and working out of stunning BC.
A shrinking wage gap
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a report stating that Victoria, BC is the best place in Canada to work as a woman. Citing comparisons of income and unemployment, relative to the male population, Victoria scored first overall, and took the top rank in Economic Security, and Leadership.
Victoria’s wage gap between men and women was the smallest of the 25 major cities in the study that included Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary, at just three percent. Among promising statistics in employment is the fact that Victoria was the only city in the study where women outnumbered men as elected officials, including holding five of nine seats on city council.
Given the fantastic statistics that support a strong atmosphere for women, there’s no doubt they can draw in more as the years go by.
Big names and golden tenants
A few people brought up the idea that most places known for their technology industry have one thing that put them on the map: a household name. As of right now, the downfall to the young entrepreneurs in Victoria is a lack of staying power. More than the majority of exits by these small, young tech startups have happened well before they needed to, and many times the culprit is wanting to move on and do something else.
Victoria needs a Google, Salesforce, Slack, or Shopify. A name and a logo in the skyline that instills a solid foundation of business. A company that puts Victoria on the map permanently. One flagship resident can work wonders for the popularity and relevance of your town.
Once that happens, it will no longer be a city that needs to convince you to show up, but rather a place that is begged to accept more tenants.
Victoria is a place I can confidently say is one of the most underrated tech cities in Canada (maybe even North America) and will soon be a go-to technology destination. Every burgeoning metropolis is seeking growth, and the good ones never slow down. So while Victoria has a lot of work to do, they’re in an amazing spot. By improving on their successes and solving their shortcomings, Victoria might just take over Canada’s tech community.
Experience Tectoria 2016 was an investor summit that brought local entrepreneurs and visiting... see more
Experience Tectoria 2016 was an investor summit that brought local entrepreneurs and visiting investors together from Sept 15-17, while participating in some very unique events that showcased our local talent and everything else it has to offer! Below is a video created by Gradio Media, capturing the entire event.
Talent, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are energizing the technology ecosystem across Canada. see more
Kelowna B.C May 5th, 2016 - Talent, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are energizing the technology ecosystem across Canada. According to independent technology analyst Carmi Levy, “All of the ingredients are there for Canada to be a tech powerhouse.” Unfortunately, many promising startups lack the funding needed to drive their companies forward. Non-profit organization Metabridge is changing that by connecting technology startups to Silicon Valley investors.
On June 9th - 10th, fifteen of the best and brightest technology startups will congregate at an exclusive lakeside retreat in Kelowna, where they will be given the opportunity to meet with VCs and serial entrepreneurs from leading companies such as Google, AngelList and Omers Ventures. Investment opportunities, strategic partnerships and mentorship from leading tech entrepreneurs help the startups take their business to the next level, and it’s building Canada’s technology sector into the country’s fastest growing industry.
The competition is stiff, but the rewards have been huge for previous winners encouraging more tech startups to apply said Executive Director, Sehra Bremner, "We had an overwhelming response to Metabridge this year. 109 companies applied, which is more than ever before. We are really pleased with the strength of all the companies that took the time to apply”.
This year Metabridge has expanded its reach to establish Canada as a leader in supporting tech industries. The fifteen participants are based in cities across Canada and also include a start-up from Kenya. "Although we had startups apply from across Canada and other countries, this is the first time an international startup has made it to the final 15. We are excited to host our national tech retreat in Kelowna and to showcase these amazing companies and entrepreneurs by facilitating meaningful connections for them," said Steve Wandler, Metabridge Founder.
The Metabridge 2016 Top 15 Startup companies are:
Open Channel (Ontario)
RentMoola (British Columbia)
RingPartner Inc. (Victoria, BC)
SilkStart (Victoria, BC)
TalentClick (British Columbia)
Metabridge 2016 Sponsors: Accelerate Okanagan, BCIC, IBM, GoodSIR, Vanedge Capital, Gowling WLG, DIRTT, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commision, iNovia Capital, CDMN, City of Kelowna, Lawson Lundell, Silicon Valley Bank, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, FreshGrade, Kitsch Wines, Interior Savings, and IHE School.
Executive Director | Metabridge
firstname.lastname@example.org | 250.864.3239
Giftbit accepted into Founders' Co-op family see more
Giftbit is a Victoria, BC company that helps large-scale issuers of digital gift credits (think brands like Starbucks, Amazon and eBay) and volume buyers of those credits (pretty much any digital brand that uses gift credits as a promotional incentive in their online marketing campaigns) work together to effortlessly transact, distribute and manage those campaigns. The team came to Seattle last fall to participate in Founders' Co-op "Techstars Seattle" class of 2015, one of two Canadian companies that joined them for that class. (They have two more Canadian teams in this year’s class of nine companies, one from Ottawa and one from Toronto, and are loving the easy cross-border flow of talent and ideas between Seattle and our neighbor to the north).
Founders' Co-op knew they wanted to invest almost from the moment Giftbit arrived in program, but they also knew they’d need a bigger raise than they had the capacity to lead. In addition to promoting their regional and cross-border startup ecosystem, another part of Founders' Co-op's mission is to develop entrepreneurial opportunities that attract capital from great investors outside the Pacific Northwest. Not only does this help them fund more strong companies here, it also introduces new investors to the Cascadia market and increases the overall availability of risk capital in our ecosystem. They introduced the Giftbit team to some of their favorite seed-stage funds in Silicon Valley — firms that had shown an appetite to invest in this region even at the earliest stages.
One of these firms — Freestyle — had already raised their hand by leading the Seed round for TrueFacet, a Techstars Seattle 2014 company also backed by Founders’ Co-op and Maveron. Freestyle partner Jenny Lefcourt is a friend (and fellow Stanford GSB ’99 dropout), and she dug deep on the Giftbit team and opportunity before deciding to lead the round and join the company’s board.
Founders' Co-op is thrilled to back another Canadian startup and Techstars Seattle graduate, and doubly thrilled to be doing so alongside a great, founder-led Bay Area seed fund with a demonstrated appetite to invest in the Pacific Northwest. Congrats to Jenny and the Freestyle team on another great raise, and to Leif, Peter and the Giftbit team on lining up such a great investor syndicate.
Victoria's biggest industry wants to get bigger – and it is inviting international investors. see more
Victoria, BC - February 19, 2016 - Victoria's biggest industry wants to get bigger – and it is inviting international investors to purchase a piece of the pie.
CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO PLAY VIDEO
Fill out the application form to be considered to present at upcoming investment dinner events. see more
Open Angel Canada seeking applications from tech startups for Feb 16 Pitch event
Apply to Present
Fill out the application form to be considered to present at upcoming investment dinner events. These happen roughly three times per year, with 30 - 40 active investors attending.
IDEAL PRESENTING COMPANIES
- Early stage digital / tech company
- First or second funding round
- Traction (pre-product is probably too early, pre-launch is OK for strong teams)
- Raising up to $1M
Information collected is held in confidence.