Victoria’s booming tech sector is applauding the province for establishing a new trade and invest... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Techies hail new Seattle trade office
Greater Victoria’s booming tech sector is applauding the province for establishing a new trade and investment office in Seattle.
Saying it will improve access to capital, especially for higher-risk start-up ventures, Victoria’s tech sector sees the move as a step toward its goal of having its companies more than double their existing combined revenues to $10 billion by 2030.
“As we aspire to grow our tech companies by almost 300 per cent, the most natural market for us to pursue has always been the United States,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council. “Something that close and easy to reach for customers, strategic partners and investors is a terrific opportunity.”
Gunn said the Seattle office just makes sense, as combined with the existing office in San Francisco it covers off the two closest and most important markets for Island tech firms.
The Seattle trade and investment office opened this week and expands the province’s trade network in the U.S.. There are currently offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.
The goal is to attract investment to B.C. and connect B.C. companies with venture capitalists, potential workers and partners in the U.S.
“I’ve always seen Seattle as the key focus for B.C. aerospace. It’s the world’s largest aerospace hub and only 45 minutes away,” said Scott Dewis, chief executive at Race Rocks 3D. “[Seattle-based] Boeing has a large presence in Western Canada generating
$3 billion in the Canadian economy. Seattle also has a large tech industry and many big corporate headquarters.”
Clayton Stark, chief technology officer at Kixeye, said establishing offices in Seattle and the Silicon Valley is the right move to help tech grow in B.C.
“I have to believe that any moves like this are likely to be net positive, at least for some segments of the industry, most likely those folks early in their ventures who are struggling to make connections and gain access to experienced mentors and investors,” said Stark. “There isn't enough risk-tolerant investment available locally and it’s no secret we have to look south of the border to gain access to more sophisticated players.”
The province, with a tech sector that recorded just over $26 billion in revenues in 2015, intends to open a new office in the Silicon Valley this fall.
“Having a new presence in the Seattle market is key to continuing to grow the British Columbia brand and to build on the Cascadia Innovation Corridor,” said Will Fox, managing director of B.C.’s U.S. Trade and Investment Office.
The Seattle office will be run by director Troy DeFrank, who spent the last six years as a trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle.
“As a British Columbian who has worked on both sides of the border, there has always been a natural, progressive and rewarding relationship between the two regions,” said Edoardo De Martin, director of Microsoft Vancouver.
“This is an opportunity to formalize it and bring together the tremendous talent and ingenuity we have in B.C. and Washington state.”
The addition of a new trade and investment office is only one piece of the puzzle to improving the lot for tech companies in B.C., said Stark, who added that Ottawa has a big role to play.
“I always come back to the federal government’s real opportunity to drive technology in Canada forward, which is to remove the punitive tax laws that prevent Canadian companies from accessing scientific research and experimental development grants if they have in excess of 50 per cent of their funding coming from outside of Canada,” he said. “This outdated system continues to penalize Canadians for taking U.S. funding, even when that funding is used to put Canadians to work in our primary industry.”
As a result, Stark said his enthusiasm for accessing American capital is tempered significantly.
“Being U.S.-funded creates a material operating disadvantage relative to those companies who are able to secure Canadian investment,” he said. “This really needs to get fixed in order to maximize the value of these trade department initiatives.”
B.C. also has trade and investment representatives in Japan, South Korea, India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Europe.
The annual three-day summit brings together international venture capitalists and established techno see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Venture capitalists get closeup look at work of Greater Victoria tech firms
Greater Victoria’s high-tech industry will be throwing open its doors to a record number of international visitors this week as the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council kicks off Experience Tectoria Wednesday night.
The annual three-day summit brings together international venture capitalists and established technology firms to see first-hand what has shaped and supported the sector, which the industry group said generates $4 billion annually in combined revenues.
“We started this in 2012 and the whole idea was to make sure really important people around the world got a look and understanding of what we’re doing in the city,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of VIATEC.
This year, they are bringing 46 visitors to the city to tour through established and start-up firms.
“It’s a record number and rather than have them locked in a room and facing pitches [from new companies] we wanted to give them a complete sense of the vibrancy and opportunity here,” Gunn said.
The event is designed to focus on the more established and successful firms in Victoria and to make sure local tech leadership feels the full benefit of the summit.
It include tours of local tech firms with hosts who have grown companies in the city. Greater Victoria tech leaders will have a chance to take part in an executive training seminar designed to give them the tools they will need to expand their companies.
Gunn said that seminar is part of preparing companies for the push to grow the sector to its goal of having its constituent firms more than double their existing combined revenue to $10 billion by 2030.
Greater Victoria’s tech sector has about 880 businesses and employs more than 15,000 directly. It also counts another 3,000 consultants and 5,000 others who work in tech jobs within larger firms and government. VIATEC’s membership has more than doubled to 560 members over the last two years.
Gunn said as the sector has grown the message it sends during events such as Experience Tectoria has evolved.
“We used to talk a lot about start-ups and investing in those, but what we realized is we haven’t been conveying the long history of success and impact of the local tech industry,” he said. “So this year we are focusing more of our time to introduce the [venture capitalists] to some of our more established and most successful companies.
“It will give them a sense of what’s possible and why it happened here and that way it’s easier for them to see how they might participate or how a small company might grow into something of consequence here.”
Also a part of this year’s summit are a screening of the film She Started It, which followed young women over two years as they tried to build new companies; a series of origin stories from local entrepreneurs; and a F**k-up Night, where people share stories of failed projects.
VIATEC runs Experience Tectoria at this time of year to use the Rifflandia Festival as a backdrop, and another example of the vibrancy of the city.
The incoming Trump presidency is causing concern among those in Victoria’s tech sector. see more
Incoming Trump presidency causes concern for Victoria’s tech sector
Source: CHEK News
The incoming Trump presidency is causing concern among those in Victoria’s tech sector.
Leif Baradoy, one of the co-founders of tech startup Giftbit, says 95 per cent of his company’s business is done south of the border. The company has one office in Seattle and one employee in the U.S.
“I frequently travel to the U.S. to close business deals and to meet customers, so if the way that I have to enter the U.S. changes, that could inconvenience me,” Baradoy says.
In 2015, the province’s tech sector employed more than 100,000 people and added more than $14 billion to the B.C. economy.
Experts say protectionist policies could be harmful to the tech industry by making it more difficult for Canadian companies to do business there, possibly enticing some to set up shop in the U.S. instead.
But there could be benefits, as well. Economists say a change in American culture could entice more people to visit and move to Canada. Tourism, for example, could see a bump. The University of Victoria is already seeing an increase in interest from international students. The island could also benefit from an influx of people looking to work in a better environment.
“To the extent that the U.S. is seen as a less open, less embracing of change environment, Canada is seen as place where you want to come and enjoy,” says Saul Klein, a business professor at the University of Victoria.
Victoria's booming tech sector is poised to put its mark on restaurants in the city. see more
Victoria's booming tech sector is poised to put its mark on real estate, retail and restaurants in the city.
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