tech industry

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Gunn estimates VIATEC fields 60 calls a year from small firms thinking of relocating to the city. see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    People come to Victoria for many reasons: temperate climate, west coast air and lifestyle, the small-town feel of the city and a spectrum of cultures that mix around the edges. But for young technology firms looking for a place to establish themselves and grow, or mature tech companies looking for an outpost, it’s not the craft beer, festival culture or green-tinged lifestyle that hooks them.

    It’s the talent.

    And Victoria appears to have plenty of it.

    Clayton Stark, who runs gaming studio Kixeye, said the chance to get truly great talent is one of the reasons the California-based company established its Victoria location in 2012.

    “Not all creative and technical people are created equal and because we have less competition for the A-players here it is within the realm of possibility that you could get an A-player,” Stark said.

    He noted top-flight engineers and developers in a place like Silicon Valley can cost a company millions of dollars. “The value of emerging talent in emerging markets like ours can be so much higher.”

    But landing that talent is tough when a company is competing with the likes of Google or Apple, which have immense resources.

    Change.org, the San Francisco-based site that provides a tool to help campaigns attract attention and support, saw the possibility to tap into Victoria’s wealth of engineering talent when it opened its office in August 2014.

    “They were looking to expand in Silicon Valley, but there’s a lot of competition for engineers,” said Chris Campbell, who runs Change’s Victoria office, made up almost entirely of engineers.

    “We said why not consider a Victoria office? We know a team of guys we could probably get to come as a group.”

    And they did. Last year Change started with six and it has grown steadily to 18, and could be 25 people by the end of the year.

    “Talent is what led to the office here for sure. We’ve had a lot of success in recruiting and management finds that very encouraging and is looking at doubling down its efforts to recruit in Victoria,” Campbell said. He added the lower overhead cost of office space compared with Silicon Valley and a competitive dollar don’t hurt, either.

    Some of the talent comes from the schools. The University of Victoria, Royal Roads and Camosun College combine to bring just under 40,000 students here at any given time. But some of the talent simply finds its way to the Island.

    Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATEC), said after 10 years of getting the light to shine on the Victoria tech scene, people in the big cities are starting to take notice.

    “We are starting to get some of that momentum,” he said.

    Gunn said technology has grown into to a $4-billion industry in Greater Victoria, employing more than 15,000 people directly,

    Gunn said he is now seeing people come to Victoria based on its lifestyle, climate and livability and worrying about what they’ll do once they’re settled. “They have chosen the life they want and then they’ll find the living,” he said. “A lot of people just move and then plug in to the city, and see what’s available or going on.”

    Lifestyle was a key consideration for Vecima Networks, which moved its headquarters, executives and research and development department to Victoria in 1997, while leaving its manufacturing division in Saskatchewan.

    “Our culture has always placed a high emphasis on work-life balance. Victoria offers excellent opportunities to our people in that regard and our strategy in locating here has been by and large very successful,” said chief executive Sumit Kumar. “Talent retention has been an area of strength for Vecima. We view being situated here as contributing greatly to leveraging that strength to build teams of highly engaged and productive people.”

    For Silkstart, a four-year-old Vancouver-based firm that develops websites for associations to improve their service to members, the move to Victoria 18 months ago was both for lifestyle and a chance to grow using the local talent.

    Shaun Jamieson, the firm’s chief executive, said after years working for Abebooks/Amazon, he wanted to build the company here. “It’s hard to find good people, but there are really good people that are here for a lifestyle reason. They want a place to raise kids or they are into the outdoors,” he said. “I felt I could build a good company here.”

    The company, which recently completed a round of financing for more than $500,000, will soon hire its eighth employee, and the plan is to grow here. “The lifestyle here is totally different than Vancouver,” said Jamieson, noting short commutes, cost of living and down-to-Earth people make all the difference.

    “There are people who want to move to Victoria and the only thing preventing them is getting a job, so if there is a tech shop that can hire a tonne of developers people will move here from Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver,” he said.

    Gunn said VIATEC has started actively attracting small firms.

    Gunn estimates VIATEC fields 60 calls a year from small firms thinking of relocating to the city.

  • VIATEC posted an article
    BC announces an investment of $100 million in the BCTECH Fund in first phase of #BCTECH Strategy. see more

    Source: Accelerate Okanagan
    Author: Heidi Mann

    The Province of British Columbia is creating a $100-million venture capital fund as it builds the foundation for a comprehensive technology strategy aimed at stimulating growth in the fast-moving sector, creating jobs and strengthening a diverse economy.

    Premier Christy Clark today announced the new BC Tech Fund as part of the first of three economy-building pillars in the B.C. government’s multi-year #BCTECH Strategy that will drive growth and job creation in the multi-billion dollar tech sector.

    “B.C.’s technology sector is consistently growing faster than the overall economy making this the perfect time to catch the wave and help smaller companies join in the ranks of economy builders,” said Premier Clark. “With this fund we’re creating a stronger foundation for B.C.’s technology sector, which is a major employer in communities across the province, to shine on the global stage while creating well-paying jobs back at home for British Columbians.”

    The BC Tech Fund will help promising tech companies in B.C.’s tech sector by creating an avenue for capital funding, enabling them to take the next step towards joining the ranks of other job-creating tech companies.

    The new fund will also help develop a sustainable venture capital system in the province, building on the success of the B.C. Renaissance Capital Fund (BCRCF), the province’s well developed Angel investment community, and responding to current funding needs.

    Capital is one of three pillars in the forthcoming #BCTECH Strategy. This first pillar, announced today, also includes continuing to support B.C.'s competitive tax system and research environment.

    The remaining two pillars, talent and markets, include actions to deepen the B.C. technology talent pool by developing and attracting the highest quality talent, and actions to make it easier to access new markets. The complete #BCTECH Strategy will be announced in January.

    The BC Tech Fund will be in operation in 2016 following an open procurement process to secure a private sector fund manager to administer it. The process for identifying a fund manager begins today with a posting for a Negotiated Request for Proposal (NRFP).

    B.C.’s technology sector, a key pillar of the BC Jobs Plan, is consistently growing faster than the economy overall. Its continued growth is integral to diversifying the Province’s economy, strengthening B.C.’s business landscape, and creating jobs in B.C. communities. The BC Jobs Plan builds on the strengths of B.C.'s key sectors and its educated and skilled workforce, keeping the province diverse, strong and growing.

    In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s first #BCTECH Summit, Jan. 18-19, 2016, where the #BCTECH Strategy will be released in full. The summit will showcase our tech industry and offer opportunities to connect to this growing sector. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca/

  • Silkstart Importer posted an article
    "This place has a very entrepreneurial attitude.” see more

    Source: Globe & Mail
    Author: Sean Silcoff

    Burgeoning tech companies are on the rise in Canada, attracting funding and IPO buzz in hubs across the country. The Globe & Mail's occasional series explores how each locale nurtures its entrepreneurs, the challenges they face and the rising stars we’re watching.

    Owen Matthews found the perfect way to convince his father, Ottawa tech pioneer Terry Matthews, to invest in a startup in his home base of Victoria: The company, Echosec Systems Ltd., can track social media postings by their geographic origin, so to demonstrate the power of the tool, the younger Mr. Matthews showed his father what had been posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in the vicinity of his house. What showed up during the demonstration eight months ago shocked the billionaire: 15 pictures, including one of his grand-daughter, on his property. The first thing the elder Mr. Matthews did was track down the posters to get them to remove the pictures. The next thing he did was invest. “I like this tool, it clearly has a lot of value,” he told his son, who noted that the technology is already used by military and law enforcement agencies.

    While Terry Matthews is known as one of Ottawa’s most prominent tech investors, he and his son have also poured money and time into Victoria, another government town with a surprisingly buoyant tech ecosystem. Victoria does not have any big tech companies, but it has enough small and medium-sized firms that the sector – not government or tourism – is the top employer in the metropolis of 344,000 people. The Victoria Advanced Technology Council says there are 900 technology companies employing 15,000 people in the area, generating $4-billion in economic impact. “Most people go to Vancouver and miss Victoria because it’s a cute government town,” Owen Matthews says. “But this place has a very entrepreneurial attitude.”

    Mayor Lisa Helps argues that Victoria’s climate, abundance of restaurants, local beer and coffee, rental units and pleasant lifestyle options (“work here ends at kayak o’clock”) make it a magnet for startups. “What works in our ecosystem that makes us unique is small companies that grow rapidly and punch away above their weight on the world market,” she says.

    It’s certainly helped by the Matthews family: Owen Matthews, 43, came to University of Victoria to study computer science and psychology and never left, starting a telecommunications software company in 1998 and selling it to Vancouver’s CounterPath Corp. in 2007 (the Matthews family owns close to 30 per cent of the stock).

    He’s since helped develop the local startup scene by convincing several government and industry bodies, along with his alma mater and father, to fund the creation of the non-profit Alacrity Foundation, dedicated to helping nascent entrepreneurs get on their feet.

    Owen Matthews argues that the first six to 12 months of an entrepreneurial enterprise is too early for serious investors to commit financing. So the foundation offers training, space, mentorship, access to industry players and expense money to help get B.C.-based business and engineering graduates on their feet as entrepreneurs. The idea is that if they flourish at Alacrity, there may be investors ready to jump in after a year.

    Sure enough, several companies that have graduated from the program have landed seed investments, from the Matthews family and others. They include telecommunications software startup Tutela, online marketing firm Pretio and Echosec.

    Karl Swannie, a former partner of local geospatial technology firm CloverPoint who heads Echosec, argues that “you have to be good in Victoria to survive. Your software has to be good enough to make it off the island. Because if you don’t do well, you die.”