Over the course of a whirlwind 10 days through 4 cities, Love's plan turned into a new direction... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
China trade trip illuminating for Victoria technology firm
Justin Love had a plan in mind when he decided to join the City of Victoria’s recent trade mission to China and Japan, but over the course of a whirlwind 10 days through four cities, that plan turned into a new direction for his business.
Love is the president of Limbic Media, which combines technology with art to create interactive installations such as its flagship product, Aurora.
Aurora, the company says, “creates light shows that are controlled by sounds from the surrounding environment.”
Love is now considering positioning the firm to take on the challenge of the Chinese market. “We intended to [deal with] manufacturing on the trip and now I’m pivoting to doing business development in China,” said Love,.
He noted that whatever notion he had of the visit to China before he arrived went out the window when he was actually there. “The opportunity and scale of projects there is incredible. I could see us doubling our business in the next couple of years.”
Love, who already had a manufacturing relationship with a Chinese firm before the trip, had intended to focus on that when he arrived, but he said he was open to all possibilities.
“I went without any preconceptions,” he said, though he admits he was taken aback at the pace of business. First meetings quickly gathered steam and instead of being meet-and-greet sessions they turned into concrete plans.
“We will be working on a project with one of the companies next month; things really happened quickly,” Love said, laying much of the credit at the feet of the City of Victoria and the B.C. trade office. “Something that might have taken a year or two happened in a week.”
That’s the general idea, said Lisa Helps, who was leading her second trip to China as Victoria mayor.
Helps said she enjoyed watching several Victoria tech firms showcase their products to an eager Chinese market and expects there could be a number of deals signed as a result of the trip.
Helps said her presence and support from the city may have helped move things along. “I think it allowed more business to be done.
“My take is this was overwhelmingly positive. It really exceeded expectations,” she said. Over the course of 10 days, they managed to take meetings in order to increase the export of local innovation in clean tech, manufacturing, education, film and tourism.
Helps said the mission also allowed the South Island Prosperity Project to enter into discussions with a municipal group in Shanghai that could offer lessons and guidance to Victoria in establishing itself as a “smart city.” The smart city concept seeks to use data and technology to improve living conditions.
Helps acknowledges that people are often skeptical of trade missions, but she said with the region pushing to develop more exporting companies that can target China, these kinds of trips pay off handsomely.
However, at one point she sang a different tune.
As a city councillor, she complained in 2012 that then-mayor Dean Fortin was leading a mission to China, and asked if Victoria taxpayers were on the hook for it and why the city wasn’t dealing with its own problems first.
Helps denies she has changed her tune. “I wasn’t saying no trade missions, I was just saying you have to have your own house in order before you go trotting around the globe,” she said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is leading a 19-member joint trade mission to China to “export innovation” see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Carla Wilson
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is leading a 19-member joint trade mission to China to “export innovation” in October.
In the past, Victoria mayors have gone to China with the objective of inviting investment to Victoria, Helps said at a Friday announcement.
“That’s been fine. But what we are seeing right now in Victoria is a very, very strong economy. Very, very strong educational institutions. A very, very strong tourist summer and another one to come if all goes well. And an explosion in the tech sector.”
The eight-day trip starting Oct. 14 is about “taking Victoria’s innovation and exporting it to the world,” Helps said.
“There are opportunities for Victoria companies to deepen relationships and export goods and services in Jiangsu and Shanghai and, in particular, clean tech, green tech and other tech and financial solutions,” she said.
The city is spending $22,206 for its participation on the trip. Helps will be accompanied by three city officials: Coun. Margaret Lucas, deputy city manager Jocelyn Jenkyns and Kerri Moore, manager of business development and strategic relations.
They will go to Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, Shanghai, and Suzhou, one of Victoria’s sister cities.
Other local private- and public-sector officials will be in China as well, some who head there every year. Tourism Victoria is taking a delegation, as it does annually, and the Alacrity Foundation of Victoria, the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Camosun College are also sending representatives. Participants stressed the importance of bringing the Victoria mayor on the trip, saying in China that mayors are highly regarded.
The Alacrity Foundation partners with Wesley Clover International group. It is opening an office in Shanghai this year as Alacrity makes investments in China and encourages investments in Greater Victoria technology firms.
Richard Egli, Alacrity managing director in Victoria, said they have already attracted $8 million in investment from China to tech companies in B.C. One Victoria company received about $2 million. Alacrity puts up funding and brings in other investors interested in technology in local markets, he said. It also works to commercialize Canadian technology in new markets.
Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun’s vice-president of partnerships, is aiming to attract more students from Xuzhou, where the organization has a relationship with the local university and high schools. Camosun has a “feeder program” to bring high school grads here. It is aiming to expand its network of high schools to about 100 a year, up from about 10 per year now.
Royal Roads is staging an annual global alumni summit in Nanjing. Helps will give a keynote address to 300 Royal Roads alumni from throughout Asia, as well as to regional political leaders.
This first annual capital mission was overwhelmingly successful. see more
VICTORIA, BC - March 31, 2016 — In February, the economic development “reverse mission” saw Mayor Lisa Helps and local representatives welcome Washington, California and Canadian-based companies, investors and ex patriots to the Capital City. Based on its success, the City of Victoria and community partners plan to make the “Capital Mission” an annual event. The next mission is scheduled to take place in spring 2017.
“This first annual capital mission was overwhelmingly successful. We wanted to attract investors and showcase Victoria as an innovative, creative and livable tech hub and tourist destination. We did this, and more,” said Mayor Helps. “The follow-up meetings and business generated speaks for itself. Our hosted guests will be back, and they’ll recommend Victoria to their networks.”
Twenty-five guests from Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto participated in the mission to Victoria. In an exit survey, 100% of attendees said they would refer this mission to others in their networks. During their visit to Victoria, a total of 295 contacts were made, 156 “face-to-face” business meetings were held, and 88 qualified business leads were generated. Since the mission’s “Discover Tectoria” event, 93 follow-up discussions have taken place.
“The City of Victoria has a vibrant and growing tech sector, and through the connections made with partners in neighbouring jurisdictions, we are providing access to new markets and job creation opportunities, which is exactly what the province is driving through the #BCTECH Strategy,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
The province’s #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC’s Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse knowledge-based economy. The 10-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity across the province. For more information: www.bctechstrategy.ca
Survey respondents noted in their comments that Victoria has talent, has a great civic environment to support startup culture, and that an event like this makes generating new business in Victoria much more attractive and easier.
“Having never been to Victoria before, I did not know what to expect. What I found was a jewel in Canada's start-up crown,” said Leonard Lanzi, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Venture Association. “Together with an enthusiastic city, a venture and angel capital network, a first class university, and lots of creative and innovative people, there is a recipe for a vibrant startup ecosystem! We in Los Angeles are happy to have a partner in creating the cross border innovation economy.”
Capitalizing on a successful trade mission to San Francisco last year, February’s “reverse mission” to Victoria involved the City, University of Victoria, VIATEC, Tourism Victoria, Downtown Victoria Business Association, Urban Development Institute and Capital Investment Network collaborating to support existing and new entrepreneurs, and inspire innovation in local markets.
"VIATEC was honoured to host our visiting guests at Fort Tectoria during the Capital Investment Network's pitch event. The timing of the mission coincided with Discover Tectoria which is our largest expo of local innovation and entrepreneurship, and I think immersing our guests in a room with 100 local tech companies and over 3500 other guests really revealed how dynamic our local economy is,” said Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “We look forward to building on our 25 year history of developing international relationships with investors and partners on behalf of our members and the entire local innovation sector, and seeing the plans for future Capital Missions is a key part of that strategy.”
Over the three-day mission, attendees met at Fort Tectoria to hear why Victoria is the place to live, work, play and invest. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, United States Consul General Lynne Platt and Tim Catlin, Vice-President of Engineering at Change.org, delivered remarks followed by dozens of start-ups pitching Victoria.
“Accelerated walkability” was a focus as visitors hit the streets checking out co-working spaces, and new and renewed developments. The Royal BC Museum served as a backdrop for a discussion with Seattle-based investor and author, John Maher, about angel investments and start-ups, and the mission capped off with a one-day exposition of over 70 Greater Victoria tech firms and research agencies at the Crystal Garden.
“San Francisco is a key source market of both leisure business and meetings and conference opportunities for Victoria. We are working to build more inbound business in the future,” said Paul Nursey, President and CEO of Tourism Victoria. “We applaud the City of Victoria and Mayor Helps for her leadership in driving deeper connections in San Francisco and the Bay area. Tourism Victoria will remain a committed partner for future endeavors because we see the return on investment.”
Victoria is a dynamic and thriving city, offering a high quality of life that a smaller city can provide. Creating Prosperity Through Economic Development is a key objective of the City of Victoria’s strategic plan for focus and investment over the next three years. Based on community input, the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development and Prosperity developed the Making Victoria: Unleashing Potential - Economic Action Plan. Approved by City Council in October 2015, the plan identifies six primary “engines" to drive Victoria’s businesses, generate jobs, raise household incomes, and increase well-being over the next four years.
In addition, a Business Hub has been established at City Hall to streamline and demystify business and development processes; make it easier to do business in Victoria; advise on how to reduce unnecessary red tape; connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need; and accelerate the development of a vibrant downtown.
- Greater Victoria's largest industry is high-tech, with an economic impact exceeding $4 billion annually. Many local firms rely on global connections to grow their business and create jobs. These companies directly employ 15,000 Tectorians.
- Tourism is Greater Victoria's second largest industry with $1.9 billion in economic impact and over
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For More Information:
Mayor Lisa Helps