"The PNW is getting less attention than it deserves, especially considering the great things that... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
B.C., Pacific Northwest tech sectors start network
In a bid to bring B.C. and the Pacific Northwest together to help grow the region’s technology sectors, a broad section of organizations in the province, Washington and Oregon have launched the Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network.
Nearly 50 groups, including tech organizations, universities and investors, have signed on to the network, which will try to match startups with funding, among other initiatives.
“B.C.’s tech sector is firing on all cylinders, with businesses and researchers increasingly looking to work together on a larger scale,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s minister of jobs, trade and technology. “[This] will help B.C.’s homegrown talent connect with partners across the Pacific Northwest region to boost our economy and create new jobs here in B.C.”
In its early stages, the network will focus on information technology, life sciences and clean-tech sectors.
Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, said signing on was a no-brainer.
“Of course we wanted to be part of that,” he said. “There’s obviously an opportunity for people close to each other to support each other.”
Gunn said the network might go a long way toward elevating the region and putting it on the map.
“One thing the Pacific Northwest lacks is having the same weight that maybe some other regions have, at least in terms of how it’s perceived,” Gunn said. “The Pacific Northwest is getting less attention than it deserves, especially considering the great things that are happening there.
“[The network] could start to address that, or at least play a role in addressing that.”
There are 17 founding members from B.C., including VIATEC, along with 19 from Washington state and 12 from Oregon.
“Our companies are much better prepared for these swings and much more savvy in the strategies to.." see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Not all B.C. manufacturers taking advantage of low loonie, but some are making hay
The Canadian dollar’s relative weakness to the U.S. greenback should have B.C. manufacturers in a stronger position than they currently are, according to the chairman of the B.C. Alliance for Manufacturing.
Marcus Ewert-Johns said that while the manufacturing sector in B.C. is doing fairly well, it would be doing much better had it taken advantage of opportunities to trim costs, invest in operations and improve productivity when it had the chance.
“The last time the Canadian dollar went low [the high 60-cent range to low 70-cent range], companies should have made capital investments — and most didn’t,” Ewert-Johns said.
If they had improved their productivity, such companies would have been able to take advantage of the current climate, where the loonie is trading at below 80 cents US, he said.
“Manufacturing in B.C. could be doing so much better if productivity was strengthened and a larger skilled labour force was available.”
Currently, the Canadian dollar is trading at a price near 78.50 cents US. While the loonie has been rising against the greenback, this still puts B.C. manufacturers in an advantageous position.
“If B.C’s guys are doing what they should be doing, when the Canadian dollar goes down, they do well,” Ewert-Johns said. “Most manufacturers are in a niche space, where they are doing something unique, and that means they have a global market as an opportunity so they are exporting.
“If they are doing sales in U.S. dollars and their costs are Canadian, then it’s an advantage for them.”
Victoria’s Sherwood Industries has been taking advantage of that opportunity for 28 years.
The company, which manufactures pellet, wood and gas stoves and fireplaces, employs about 200 people at its 100,000-square-foot facility in the Keating industrial area in Saanichton.
Sherwood is reporting a 23 per cent increase in sales, and has improved its bottom line as the vast majority of its sales are international and in American dollars. Fifty-eight per cent of all sales are in the U.S.
Sherwood president Cherbel Yousief said the company has invested more than $4 million in recent years to improve its equipment and productivity.
“We invested heavily and in the [economic] downturn. We slammed on the brakes and did some changes to the business model,” he said, noting those moves translated into a leaner company with more capital to invest. “We have never lagged behind other manufacturers. We invested heavily in automation. … We have always been on the cutting edge of productivity.”
The result has been a company able to react quickly to changes in the marketplace, vice-president Stuart O’Connor said.
“We have expanded our business and now we’re more efficient,” he said.
O’Connor said they have focused heavily on expanding their gas business, which showed the greatest growth potential, and spent research-and-development money on new models to grab more of that market share.
O’Connor said the company’s new production equipment also enables it to work on smaller batches — 18-20 units instead of hundreds at a time. That turns product out faster, cuts down on dead inventory and frees up cash.
“Business models change and companies don’t want to have inventory lying around,” Yousief said.
Victoria’s tech sector is also making short-term hay out of the relatively weak loonie.
Scott Phillips, founder of Starfish Medical, which designs and develops medical devices for the global market, said its profitability is buoyed by the weak dollar.
“But in the long term, if more talent drains to the U.S., it’s bad for the tech industry overall,” Phillips said. “So we wouldn’t welcome further weakening.”
Phillips said the volatility of the Canadian dollar has made planning difficult.
“For purposes of planning and investment, we are assuming an 80-cent dollar. But we have to build scenarios for other rates into our planning,” he said.
Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, said dealing with currency fluctuations is just part of being a Canadian company.
“Our local tech sector is heavily export-focused, so they have had to learn how to manage their operations to mitigate and leverage currency swings as much as possible,” he said. “Sometimes it provides an advantage and sometimes it is a hindrance, depending on your company’s particular markets and business segments.
“One thing is for sure,” Gunn said. “Our companies are much better prepared for these swings and much more savvy in the strategies to deal with them than they were a few decades ago.”
Back on September 15th, six local entrepreneurs shared their "origin stories" with attendees see more
Owen Matthews shares his story at Experience Tectoria [Video]
Back on September 15th, six local entrepreneurs shared their "origin stories" with Experience Tectoria attendees in the beautiful Fort Commons courtyard. Below is the full talk from Owen Matthews of Alacrity Canada - it's a fantastic listen!
The board will continue to work on the goal of growing the sector into a $10 billion entity by 2030 see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Rayani to lead region’s tech council board
The Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council will have a new face at the head of its board table as Rasool Rayani steps in as chairman for the year.
Rayani replaces Colin How, who will act as past chairman for 2017-18. Also elected to the board’s executive are Bobbi Leach as vice-chair, Robert Bowness as chair of the finance committee, Mark Longo as chair of the foundation committee and Brianna Wettlaufer as chair of the governance committee.
VIATEC chief executive Dan Gunn said the board will continue to work on the goal of growing the sector into a $10 billion entity by 2030, based on combined annual revenues of all the region’s companies. That would more than double existing combined revenue.
The tech sector in Victoria has grown to include 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 doubled to 560 members over the past two years.
“We are blown away by the level of interest and calibre of the candidates for this year’s board election,” said Gunn. “While I did not envy them in the tough choices they had to make, the members did a great job electing a board that closely reflects the broader membership and the VIATEC team is looking forward to working with them.”
Also on the board are Jim Balcom, Robert Cooper, Scott Dewis, Justin Love, Owen Matthews, Masoud Nassaji, Christina Seargeant and Nicole Smith.
VIATEC thanks everyone who ran and congratulates those who were newly elected and re-elected. see more
VIATEC’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors elected
The AGM held on September 28th saw highly qualified candidates and a great recap on a successful year at VIATEC
VICTORIA, BC (September 29, 2017) - The Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday evening at Fort Tectoria with 62 in attendance. There were 11 candidates for the 7 seats available on the board.
VIATEC thanks everyone who ran and congratulates those who were newly elected and re-elected.
The 2017-2018 VIATEC Board of Directors are:
Jim Balcom, Redlen Technologies Inc (re-elected)
Robert Bowness, BC Pension Corp (newly elected)
Robert Cooper, PlusROI Online Marketing Inc (re-elected)
Scott Dewis, RaceRocks 3D Inc (returning)
Colin How, How Creative (returning)
Bobbi Leach, RevenueWire Inc. (re-elected)
Mark Longo, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP (returning)
Justin Love, Limbic Media (newly elected)
Owen Matthews, Wesley Clover (returning)
Masoud Nassaji, DoubleJump (newly elected)
Rasool Rayani, Heart Pharmacy (returning)
Christina Seargeant, Workday (re-elected)
Nicole Smith, Flytographer (returning)
Brianna Wettlaufer, Stocksy United (returning)
The following positions were also assigned and voted for by the board:
Rasool Rayani, Board Chair
Bobbi Leach, Vice Chair
Robert Bowness, Chair of the Finance Committee
Mark Longo, Chair of the Foundation Committee
Brianna Wettlaufer, Chair of the Governance Committee
“We are blown away by the level of interest and calibre of the candidates for this year’s board election,” said Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “While I did not envy them in the tough choices they had to make, the members did a great job electing a board that closely reflects the broader membership and the VIATEC team is looking forward to working with them.”
Full bios of each board member can be found here: https://www.viatec.ca/board
Dan Gunn, CEO
“I don’t think there’s any harm in raising your hand, but we’ll see what Amazon’s reaction is.” see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Langford to battle big US cities for Amazon's second HQ
The City of Langford plans to compete with cities such as Denver, Chicago and Atlanta in a bid to house retail giant Amazon’s second headquarters.
Amazon has said it plans to invest $5 billion in a second headquarters in North America. It will eventually house 50,000 employees.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said Friday that the municipality’s affordable housing options, business-friendly attitude and proximity to quality universities and colleges make it a viable place for one of the biggest tech companies in the world to set down roots.
“I know there’s a lot of competition, but we just need to make sure we give it our best shot because it would help our community in the long run.”
Young said 120 acres of land near the Leigh Road interchange — which he would rename Amazon Way — could accommodate the headquarters, which would have an initial footprint of 500,000 square feet and eventually expand up to eight million square feet over the next decade. He said the land is already zoned for commercial use.
“A company this size will generate income and jobs for a very long time and it will be beneficial for the whole Vancouver Island region,” Young said.
“When you look at the region, you’ve got Camosun College, Royal Roads, you’ve got good access to the labour pool and the talent that’s required.”
One Victoria tech expert thinks the bid is a long shot.
The 50,000 employees Amazon would need to work in the second headquarters is more than double the current high-tech workforce in Greater Victoria, said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.
“So it would take a heck of a lot of work to attract that many people and house them and find a way for them to plug into the community,” Gunn said. “We’d never say no to the opportunity, so if Amazon is interested, they should by all means give us a call. But I think that’s more than we can provide at this time.”
Young acknowledged that Langford doesn’t meet all of Amazon’s criteria, which includes a metropolitan area with more than one million people and the ability to attract and retain strong tech talent.
The company also wants the headquarters to be within 45 minutes of an international airport, close to major roads and highways and have access to mass transit.
Amazon’s existing headquarters is a sprawling 33-building campus in Seattle.
Gunn said even if the Amazon pitch doesn’t fly, it sends a message that Langford is actively courting tech companies.
“I think there’s great opportunity for Langford to expand its tech footprint, because right now it’s quite small,” he said.
Young said he has a team of business owners and municipal staff who are working on submitting the bid by Oct. 19.
“The tech industry is best served by innovators that are bold and brash and ambitious, so you don’t know if you don’t try,” Gunn said.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in raising your hand, but we’ll see what Amazon’s reaction is.”
Experience Tectoria has a record amount of Investors coming to learn about our entrepreneurs see more
INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS TAKE IN “TECTORIA” SEPT 13-16, 2017
VIATEC’s annual event, Experience Tectoria, has a record amount of Investors coming to learn about the people and ingredients that make technology our #1 industry.
Victoria, BC (September 12, 2017) - Experience Tectoria, a gathering of the local tech community with international investors, kicks off its fifth year this Wednesday evening with a film screening of “She Started It” at Fort Tectoria.
The investor summit brings technology executives from across North America (and even Norway) to Victoria, where they will meet with local technology-leaders, tour Canada’s Smartest City, and join local Tectorians for discussions, demonstrations, networking and incredible entertainment. There are 45 participating investors this year, proving growing interest in Victoria’s tech industry.
VIATEC chooses this time of year for Experience Tectoria in order to take full advantage of the coinciding Rifflandia Music Festival which transforms the city and highlights its innovative self. This year, Experience Tectoria will feature public events in addition to private events to give Investors more one-on-one time with local companies.
Local media are encouraged to attend the following events to get coverage:
“She Started It” Film Screening (Trailer & public tickets here)
When: September 13th, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Where: Fort Tectoria (777 Fort St.)
What: She Started It follows five young women over two years as they pitch VCs, build teams, bring products to market, fail and start again. The film takes viewers on a global roller coaster ride from San Francisco to Vietnam.
Sponsored by: Discovery Foundation, Purpose Five, iWIST and Stream of Consciousness
A Coaching Approach to Leadership (Sold out to public)
When: September 14th, 8am-4pm (Doors at 7:30am)
Where: Fort Common (804 Broughton St.)
What: An intensive day-long introduction to the experience of being coached as a leader, coaching others and creating a culture where individuals support and challenge each other to tackle what is in front of them.
Presented by: Roy Group
F*ckUp Night VOL.6 (Sold out to public)
When: September 14th, 5:30pm-7:30pm (Presentation at 6pm)
Where: Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad St.)
What: F*ckUp Nights is a global movement where stories of failed businesses and projects are told, questioned and celebrated. It started in 2012 in Mexico City and we've brought it to Victoria. 3 "f*ckuppers" will have 6 minutes each to tell their story.
Speakers: Andrew McLeod, Chris Turchansky, Mike Wilson
Sponsored by: Roy Group
Origin Stories (Registration closed)
When: September 15th, 8am-9am (Doors at 7:30am)
Where: Fort Common (804 Broughton St.)
What: A series of 5 minute Origin Stories from local entrepreneurs.
Speakers: Alacrity Foundation, "The Neverblue effect", Paretologic, RaceRocks 3D, Stocksy United, Workday (previously Mediacore).
Hut Strut (Private event - media welcome)
When: September 15th, 9am-11:45am
Starting from: Fort Common (804 Broughton St.)
What: Dig deeper into some of Victoria’s tech companies by visiting their home bases on foot and seeing what innovations they’re working on.
Note: As this is a walking tour, you must meet the group at Fort Common and follow them to 4 locations downtown.
Media: please confirm your attendance through the media contact below.
“We launched Experience Tectoria back in 2012 as a way to attract out of town investors, partners and opinion shapers so they can experience first hand the vibrancy of our local tech scene and better appreciate our thriving community,” explains Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “It has led to direct investments in local firms, the discovery of new partners and lending a hand in transforming what key influencers think of our region.”
“This is a banner year with more investor interest than ever before and we developed a program that will expose them to 42 local companies and hosts via bus tours, origin story presentations, walking office tours and other talks,” continues Gunn. “Showing them this much activity in combination with dedicated local tech leaders as hosts and Rifflandia as our back drop always leaves an impression and we look forward to opening more doors for our members and our community.”
Visit www.experiencetectoria.ca for more information.
“Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.” see more
Source: Capital Magazine
Author: Andrew Duffy
Victoria’s tech industry breathes life into downtown
Victoria’s downtown core, which has been much maligned over the years as a dead zone where retail went to die, is very much alive and thriving these days — and it owes a portion of its renaissance to the region’s soaring technology sector.
The high-tech sector, which boasts annual revenues in excess of $4 billion and is considered the city’s most valuable industry, has found a solid fit in the city’s downtown, filling in upper-floor and hard-to-rent offices. And the city seems to have responded in kind, flourishing with new retail offerings, cafes, pubs, restaurants, services and a host of new residential buildings.
While no one in the tech sector is about to claim full responsibility for the life breathed into the downtown, it’s hard to avoid linking the fortunes of the two.
“Tech has been a huge economic boon to downtown,” said Marc Foucher of Colliers International Victoria. “There are 380 tech firms operating in downtown Victoria alone and they are employing people who walk out for coffee every morning, eat lunch downtown, shop after work, go to yoga.
“I’m not at all surprised that retail is coming back downtown. There are more shops, more vacant retail fronts are being leased up and following on that are the number of condos and rental buildings going up in Victoria. Tech is not responsible for all of it, but it plays a role.”
According to Colliers’ most recent retail market overview, tech, tourism and increased downtown residential building have resulted in the retail vacancy rate dropping to 5.45 per cent at the end of last year compared to 8.53 per cent at the end of 2015.
And Colliers’ last office-tenant demand profile study in 2015 showed that of all lease deals done in the region, tech and digital media accounted for 49 per cent, with government deals accounting for just 23 per cent.
In the downtown core, tech accounted for 90,000 square feet of space leased in 2015 while government leasing accounted for 111,000 square feet.
Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, known as VIATEC, said tech companies have been downtown a long time, but they are just now starting to make their presence felt by the sheer weight of their numbers.
“The difference is the success they are having now and the size they are now,” said Gunn, noting there were more than 300 firms in the core five years ago. “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.”
He believes the establishment of VIATEC at the highly visible Fort Tectoria (777 Fort St.) and shared-space tech buildings such as The Summit (838 Fort St.), 844 Courtenay St., 955 View St. and SpaceStation (517 Fort St.) have provided natural hubs where tech workers can get together and experience a sense of community.
“We wanted a retail street-level presence so people could identify and see the evidence of the tech sector,” said Gunn of VIATEC’s return to the downtown core in 2014. “Until then, tech had been largely invisible.”
There’s no missing them now, and Gunn said that will continue as young companies who want to succeed have learned they need to be in desirable locations, close to amenities and on transit routes to attract and retain talent.
“Having a good place to go for lunch or a beer, the amenities for day-to-day life are key considerations,” he said. “Downtown cores are appealing to tech companies and staff because of all they have to offer.”
Tobyn Sowden, chief executive at software developer Redbrick, said they have always been a downtown company, starting in Market Square and now occupying a large open-floor space on a second floor on Store Street.
“We were attracted to this building because we knew we could really customize it to meet our needs, and we worked with some amazing local designers and contractors to do just that,” said Sowden. “We are adamant about helping to promote a great work-life balance, and with so many of our team members walking, cycling and sometimes even running to work, being centrally located downtown is extremely important to us.”
Sowden said the company feeds off the new energy downtown and the downtown seems to be doing the same in reaction to the influx of tech companies.
“The amenities around us have multiplied and expanded since we opened up shop in 2011, and though we have a weakness for the amazing coffee shops and pubs nearby, we can't take full credit for their growth,” he said. “That said, I don’t think we can live without them; at the very least, our productivity would suffer without all of the coffee and lunch options at our doorstep.”
Catherine Holt, chief executive of the Greater Victoria Chamber, said the tech sector has played a big role in creating the new vibe downtown. However, she is quick to point out it’s not the only factor.
“Visitors and new downtown residents is what is re-invigorating downtown and absolutely the tech sector is a big part of that,” she said, noting the tech sector may not sell a lot of product or service here, but its workers do spend a lot of money in the city.
BCIC established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and VIATEC to assist small tech companies... see more
Tech accelerators create 1,640 jobs
An entrepreneurial program launched by the BC Innovation Council to help British Columbians transform their ideas into successful businesses is helping drive B.C.’s growing tech sector.
Over the past five years, the Venture Acceleration Program has created 1,640 jobs, attracted $196 million in investment and generated more than $81.6 million in revenues provincewide.
“B.C. boasts many innovative thinkers who are choosing our province as the place to start their technology companies,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services. “The Venture Acceleration Program helps harness those ideas and bring local innovation to market more quickly, growing our tech sector and creating jobs.”
The program helps entrepreneurs bring ideas to market faster, like LlamaZOO’s revolutionary 3D veterinary training platform, EasyAnatomy.
“Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program gave us a formula and process to make sure we did the right things to validate our product, from finding and defining the customers to segmenting the market,” said Kevin Oke, LlamaZOO Interactive co-founder and vice-president of sales. “It was really instrumental to our success.”
The program also helps experienced tech developers hone their business skills and make new connections, such as AirSenze Solutions and FreshWorks Studio founders Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani who joined the program after immigrating to B.C.
“We decided to stay in Victoria and start our own mobile app development company after completing our masters of business administration at the University of Victoria,” said Samarth Mod, AirSenze CEO and co-founder. “Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program at VIATEC provided us with mentorship, helped us get office space and network. Most importantly, by attending their fireside chats and other local tech meetups, we got to know the local tech community and learn from the experience of industry veterans.”
The Venture Acceleration Program is delivered by a team of experienced professionals known as Executives in Residence, who act as mentors to help aspiring entrepreneurs bring new ideas to market more quickly, using a set of best practices for growing tech companies. Every entrepreneur in the program is assigned an Executive in Residence who becomes their primary advisor, often acting like an active member of their management team.
“In just five years, program participants have successfully generated over $81 million in revenues through locally generated ideas, products and services,” said Carl Anderson, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council. “I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of our entrepreneurs provincewide, which I’ve witnessed first-hand when I was an Executive in Residence for BC Innovation Council’s Venture Acceleration Program.”
The BC Innovation Council established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), to assist small tech companies, which make up the majority of B.C.’s tech sector, develop growth opportunities.
“Programs like Venture Acceleration are incredibly important to B.C.’s growing small business sector because they allow entrepreneurs and start-ups to hone their skills and grow,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “With the majority of the high-tech industry made up of small businesses, it’s essential to have the right support to help them achieve their goals.”
The Venture Acceleration Program supports the #BCTECH Strategy by helping B.C. tech companies develop revenue growth opportunities.
The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-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 throughout the province.
In partnership with its Crown agency, the BC Innovation Council, the Province continues to drive tech through B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca
- As of February 2017, the Venture Acceleration Program has trained more than 995 entrepreneurs from over 589 companies.
- The program is supported by the BC Acceleration Network, which is made up of 14 partners in nine regions throughout B.C. including:
- Accelerate Okanagan Technology Association (Kelowna)
- Bioenterprise (provincewide)
- Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association (Smithers)
- entrepreneurship@UBC (Vancouver)
- Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre (Surrey)
- Innovation Central Society (Prince George)
- Innovation Island Technology Association (Nanaimo)
- Kamloops Innovation
- Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (Rossland)
- New Ventures BC (provincewide)
- Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (Mission)
- VentureLabs (Vancouver)
- Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council
- Wavefront (Vancouver)
- 95% of B.C. tech firms are small businesses, with most employing fewer than four employees.
BC Innovation Council: http://bcic.ca/
Venture Acceleration Program: http://bcic.ca/for-entrepreneurs/vap/
#BCTECH Strategy: http://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
LlamaZOO Interactive: http://www.llamazoo.com/
AirSenze Solutions: https://www.airsenze.com/
There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my! see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Michael Reid
Around Town: Geeking out at Discover Tectoria
There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my!
It wasn’t just super-cool technological crowd-pleasers like these that made Discover Tectoria, the high-tech showcase that packed them into Crystal Garden on Friday, such a blast.
As one visitor remarked, almost as impressive as the high-tech doodads was that there were so many We’re Hiring signs displayed by dozens of local technology companies that participated.
While this family-friendly event did to some extent have the feel of a hiring fair, it was a predominantly educational and entertaining showcase for the region’s thriving tech sector.
“What is Tectoria, anyway?” was one question overheard from those not already in the know about the catchy moniker created by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council) in 2011.
To quote its playful slogan, Tectoria, the umbrella title for the capital region’s tech sector, is “home to 100 killer whales and 1,500 killer apps.”
To describe the products and opportunites on view as mind-blowing would be putting it mildly, whether you were marvelling over the fun and games or the scientific applications.
Popular draws included Victoria Hand Project’s low-cost 3D-printed prostheses, used in developing countries where amputees have limited access to prosthetic care.
Another eye-catcher was Tango, the revolutionary glove designed to overcome the communications barrier between deaf and hearing individuals by using a glove equipped with sensors and a microcontroller.
A user’s hand gestures correspond to phrases or letters that, via Bluetooth, appear on a smartphone screen in a text format that can be output as a digitized voice.
Kamel Hamdan, Alaa Dawod and Abdul-Rahman Saleh head the development team for the University of Victoria project, working in association with Coast Capital Savings’ Innovation Centre.
Other highlights included LimbicMedia’s interactive blinking-light installation; VRX Ventures’ massive racing simulator; and the Holografx station’s Instagram photo booth.
“We’re creating a new prototype, our biggest screen at 49 inches,” said Anamaria Medina, a Colombia-raised electrical engineer who works at the Esquimalt-based company.
The tech firm develops innovative holographic tools used to showcase products, services and company logos, she said.
“We did the Instagram photo booth because this is what teenagers do now,” she said, pointing to giant hashtags and other social media tools.
Matthew McCormack said he joined a capacity crowd for an afternoon seminar on Victoria’s video game sector in the Innovation Theatre to learn about employment opportunities.
“I want to know how to get into the video game arts. What’s the best route to get my first job, to skip over working at the grocery store and get right to where I want to be working?” the Claremont student said.
McCormack, an avid gamer who plays Rainbow Six, a first-person shooter, and the futuristic vehicular soccer game Rocket League, learned being a fan isn’t necessarily enough.
“It’s a highly competitive industry. We don’t just hire you if you’re really into games,” said Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment, with a smile.
“You’ve got to be really good at art, or marketing, or businesss or programming, depending on what we’re hiring you for.”
Jordan offered the crowd some pointers, including VIATEC’s Student Video Game Work Experience Program, which gives students a chance to work in a gaming studio.
Moderator James Hursthouse of DigiBC got a few laughs when he asked if “there is something in the water here” to explain why so many tech types come to Victoria.
“I think it’s where people want to live,” said Magda Rajkowski of Kano Apps. “It’s beautiful here, and there’s a lot of creativity.”
Even before you entered Victoria Conference Centre, it was hard to miss UVic Centre for Aerospace Research’s sleek carbon fibre-and-fibreglass drone parked outside.
“This is our workhorse, an aircraft designed to carry payloads, conduct research for companies or collaborators who want to test equipment,” explained operations manager Eldad Alber.
One software developer, for example, asked the team to design wings that would be flexible based on their software designed for such a purpose.
“Hopefully we’ll get more students interested in aerospace,” said Alber. “A master’s program for aeronautics is going to be available soon, so it would be nice to see more exposure and people applying for it.”
Discover Tectoria is the Island's BIGGEST Tech Expo and it’s taking over the Crystal Garden 02/24 see more
Discover Tectoria to show off local tech with one-day expo
VIATEC puts their FREE tech expo on at the Crystal Garden Feb 24, 2017 from 11am to 6pm
Victoria, BC (February 22, 2017) - Discover Tectoria is the Island's BIGGEST Tech Expo and it’s taking over the Crystal Garden from 11am to 6pm on February 24th with tech companies, gadgets, inventions, drones and more. The expo, organized by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council), will feature a:
Main floor Tradeshow
(local tech companies demonstrating products, hiring staff, or co-ops)
Video Game Lounge
(local companies allow you to test drive their inventions)
WorkBC Startup Alley
(get a sneak peek at the future of Tectoria)
UVic Research District
(see some amazing projects post-secondary students have put together)
Benevity Combustion Chamber
(Science Venture demos for the kids!)
VIATEC is taking full advantage of the tri-district Pro-D Day scheduled on the same day and is encouraging parents to bring their kids to enjoy a full day of exploration. Post secondary exams will also be wrapped up, so it’s a great event for students to make connections.
Youth get a glimpse into a future working in tech, post-secondary students and job seekers get to meet potential employers, local and visiting investors can check out some up-and-coming businesses, and tech companies get to showcase their products and services to over 3500 attendees.
“We created this event to showcase the innovation taking place right here in Victoria,” explains Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “Discover Tectoria gives our local tech companies a platform where they can be seen and heard by investors, media, job seekers and youth. There’s no better way to inspire our future tech workers than filling a space with over 3500 people, robot battles, drones, creative minds and limitless imaginations.”
Simultaneously, VIATEC, the City of Victoria and the Capital Investment Network are hosting the Capital Mission II for a contingent of visiting angel and VC investors from February 22 to 24. Invitees will experience first-hand the city’s highly sought after quality of life, including how easy it is to travel to and from Victoria, the vibrancy of our innovative business community and the depth of our local deal flow. It all kicks off tonight at Fort Tectoria with the Welcome Night. The trip will finish with a visit to Discover Tectoria.
Media are encouraged to attend Discover Tectoria and also get in on multiple tech story ideas for the future. The event is the ideal place for media outlets to capture the vibrancy and diversity of the local tech scene all in one room. Please contact VIATEC below if you would like to attend and if you need help arranging interviews or photo-ops.
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 (Victoria's biggest industry).
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 recently 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
A portion of Victoria's Airport has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station" see more
“Tectoria Innovation Station” to launch at the Victoria International Airport
Ribbon cutting to take place February 20, 2017 at 11am
VICTORIA, BC (February 15, 2017) - A portion of Victoria International Airport’s Arrival Rotunda has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station,” a new interactive exhibit heralding Greater Victoria’s long history of innovation and entrepreneurship and the thriving tech sector that developed as a result.
The installation features a mad scientist's laboratory complete with transparent video screens and detailed historical accounts of our region’s innovations all surrounded by intricate pipes, gauges and switches to catch the attention of passersby and draw them in for a closer look. It was developed specifically to give the local technology sector added awareness, airport guests an added experience, and potential talent and investors a place to go for more information, whYYJ.ca.
VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council) and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA), have spent the last 10 years informally exploring ways to work together to spread the word about our top local industry, technology. ”When we heard that the Victoria Airport Authority had a potential area that we could utilize to build an intriguing interactive exhibit we jumped at the chance,” Dan Gunn, VIATEC CEO explained. “We quickly started developing concepts on something that would be out of the ordinary and soon after opened discussions with potential funding partners.”
“Technology plays such an integral role in our local economy,” says Geoff Dickson, VAA President and CEO. “We’re pleased to partner with VIATEC and showcase this interactive display. It’s a great way for us to support Victoria’s technology sector and to provide our passengers and the public with a unique experience and opportunity to learn about the positive contributions it makes to the region.”
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and South Island Prosperity Project (Prosperity Project) were intrigued and agreed to dedicate some of the funding they had received from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to the project.
”It takes a village to raise an economy and we are very grateful to the Victoria Airport Authority and our funding partners for making this possible,” acclaimed Dan Gunn. “With 1.85 million visitors walking through the gates at one of the world’s greatest airports, we are fortunate to be offered the opportunity to build a presence at the primary gateway to our community. Tourism is our best draw and once people are hooked on our island lifestyle many of them want to stay. We believe this exhibit will give the ones that want to move here, the info they need to understand how they might find a job or, better yet, invest in or create a new company here.”
"We're proud to be part of the team that brought this project to life,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, Executive Director of the Prosperity Project. “The Tectoria Innovation Station is a way to raise the profile of our local entrepreneurial culture, and it will help the Prosperity Project connect with new companies and established entrepreneurs through the whYYJ.ca website."
“The Tectoria Innovation Station is one of several joint projects that the Greater Victoria Chamber has undertaken over the past three years to support trade and investment,” said Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and stakeholders throughout the region, we have been able to bring the right people together to see outcomes, like this one, that will resonate within our community and economy for years.”
The unveiling will take place on February 20, 2017 at 11am in the Arrivals Rotunda of the Victoria International Airport. Following a few announcements and a ribbon cutting, media and the public are encouraged to take the first steps through the installation.
ABOUT THE DESIGN
With the vision statement that, “Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology has shaped Victoria’s present, past and inspires our potential going forward.” VIATEC sought out local designer and fabricator, Russell Papp, to bring a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” theme to fruition. Russell is well known for projects around town including the Phillip’s Beer Wagons and some of Tourism Victoria’s exhibits last October.
Airport visitors will get to peer into portals containing Holografyx Showcase video displays, press buttons and gears, and flip through drafting table designs containing bits of Victoria’s rich, innovative history. From aviation, to shipbuilding, ocean sciences and education. The first video features short overviews of AXYS Technologies, FTS and Viking Air. The drafting table features are opening with historical overviews of key elements of our economy, and VIATEC is encouraging locals to submit suggested additions and corrections, so that the exhibit is ever-changing and improving. A feedback form on the whYYJ.ca web site will make it easy for people to provide suggested edits and updates.
Your readers, listeners and viewers are welcome to learn even more about how to connect with, join or learn more about the local tech scene by attending Discover Tectoria on February 24, 2017 from 11am to 6pm at the Crystal Garden. www.discovertectoria.com
Marketing & Events Director, VIATEC
e: firstname.lastname@example.org, c: 250-896-7668
The challenge raised $82,274 in cash and food [so far, with more detailed results to come] see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
State of the heart: tech sector gives big
It’s a massive industry that makes a deep economic impact on the region, and for most of the year it quietly goes about employing more than 20,000 people.
Yet at this time of year, when the need is greatest and the weather cold, the region’s $4-billion technology sector roars into action with the annual Victoria Innovation Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council Food Bank Challenge.
The event, in its [14th year], has raised more than $2 million for the Mustard Seed Food Bank since its inception.
“I think it’s important the technology sector does what it can for the community, and this is one of the most visible ways we have to show that,” said VIATEC chief executive Dan Gunn. “The interesting thing about this is very few tech firms have customers in Victoria, so they don’t do marketing charity work. All their philanthropy is hidden because they don’t need their logo on it.”
But Gunn said the companies, in a collegial and tight-knit tech community, are ultra-competitive.
“And when you pit them against each other, it brings [the best] out of them,” he said, noting the challenge has grown to include 34 local tech firms.
This year, the challenge raised $82,274 in cash and food [so far, with more detailed results to come.]
The vast majority, $68,256, was raised in cash, cheques and online donations, while about 5,367 pounds of food was collected.
Gunn said the sector has decided to push the cash side of the challenge, especially at this time of year.
“It’s a great time to ask people to give because people are more generous of spirit, but that’s a challenge for the food bank,” he said. “Because they get all this food at once, they may have a slow month [in terms of donations] later.
“We focus on cash, so they will have funds to distribute throughout year and to target things they don’t have in stock.”
The Mustard Seed also has better buying power, with its dollar able to get up to three times more than a regular shopper could.
The competing tech companies were also vying for titles, as well as bragging rights.
This year’s biggest money raiser was Carmanah Technologies, which donated $21,377, and the greatest food contribution came from Beanstream, which collected 1,502 pounds of food.
To raise money and food, all 34 companies held fundraisers over the past four weeks, including a Flytographer Christmas sweater fun run, Starfish Medical’s annual chili cook-off, Ringpartner’s wine night and Carmanah’s ping-pong tournament.
Last year, VIATEC’s challenge raised $74,000 and 1,000 pounds of food during its Christmas drive, while a food drive in February of last year raised another $47,000 for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
The annual challenge has become a huge event for VIATEC, and it has spurred the organization to establish a foundation.
“It’s something we expect to launch in the new year so we can do things like this throughout the year,” Gunn said.
This week’s highlight is on Christina Seargeant. see more
Haro Ventures Mini Series: An Interview with Christina Seargeant
For the month of December, Haro Ventures is launching a mini series highlighting and celebrating awesome female leaders / movers and shakers in our tech community. We will be publishing one interview weekly to share insights into the roles, goals, and vision of these individuals in order to help us all grow a better understanding of who's shaping our community.
Between working as HR business partner with Workday and volunteering with Ladies Learning Code, VIATEC, and networking community PeopleOps, Christina is a quintessential (and busy!) member of our tech community. We were thrilled to sit down with Christina to learn about what she does with Workday, her childhood role models, what keeps her inspired, what mistake she’s most learned from, and her vision of diversity in our community.
- What is your role at Workday and how did you come into that position? / Your involvement with Ladies Learning Code?
I’m an HR business partner at Workday, supporting everyone from the frontline employees to the VPs of Workday Canada. We have an offices and teams that comprise 150 employees all over Canada in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. I’m meant to be the first point of contact for all things HR related and position myself as a champion for Canadian benefits and the different programs we offer in Canada.
I came into the role because Workday offered me the position during its acquisition of MediaCore in August 2015. I was the director of people operations at MediaCore, which meant I oversaw anything to do with people and general business operations including facilities, legal and some finance.
I got involved with Ladies Learning Code (LLC) just before the chapter launched in Victoria. I met Erin Athene at Discover Tectoria where she told me about the organization being based in Toronto with chapters popping up all across the country. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to help out. She needed to raise $1000 to get things started and kick off the first workshop. MediaCore wasn’t in a financial position to offer the funds but we wanted to help in other ways. When Erin started a Tilt campaign to rally the funds through the community, within just a few hours Dan Gunn of VIATeC said he would match any fundraised money up to $5000 dollars. I instantly called Erin and suggested we needed to change our goal from $1000 to $10,000 knowing how these funds would help us do great things for our chapter. In the end, we raised $11,000 and became the poster child chapter for LLC when it comes to harnessing community support. The companies we spoke with along the way were so interested in supporting us and loved what we were doing.
After that I took on the role of chapter lead with Erin. She manages our sponsorship, fundraising and community partners while I lead the workshops and logistics and make sure we have a programming pipeline for the year. We work with a number of other amazing ladies that have helped us make our Victoria chapter what it is today.
- What’s the most satisfying part of your role there?
The most satisfying part of working with LLC is definitely being able to support people who are otherwise unfamiliar with technology or don’t feel confident they could do well in that field. To see their confidence increase from the moment they walk through the door in the morning to when they leave the workshops at the end of the day is really empowering. We help people realize their goals, whether they’re looking for a new role in their current workspace or re-entering the workforce.
I’m personally passionate about helping people pursue their careers in technology, which is largely why my role at Workday is so satisfying to me as well. I love helping people take on challenges when it comes to career or the workplace, and I work with a number of managers that are really supportive and want to see good things for their employees. I especially enjoy recruitment because I get to be a part of helping to build a strong team, and the team we’ve created so far is so great.
- What did you want to be when you were a kid? Who were your childhood role models?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a photographer. I actually pursued this dream and started a freelance photography business when I was 16 and which I still own and operate to this day. The reason why I don’t do photography full time, however, is because I don’t want my passion and hobby to turn into the source of pressure it might be if I relied on it to make a living. For me, it’s important to keep photography as a hobby business that’s there for me when I feel the need for a creative outlet. Im passionate about what I do as a career as well, but in a very different way.
As an only child, I played a lot of video games as a kid and would relish in that escapism it provided. As I look back now I think a lot of those characters I played as then could be considered my role models. They commanded their presence, their powers, chased demons, and created magic. They definitely had an ensemble of traits I aspire towards.
- What or who inspires you the most?
I think what I draw most of my inspiration from is our tech community. I think we have a number of really fantastic people here who are really passionate about making our industry as vibrant as it can be and I’m personally really interested in helping this community grow and flourish as much as I can.
In 2013, I founded a networking group in Victoria called PeopleOps. It stemmed from my interest in finding other people who are in HR roles in startups to learn from and grow with. I didn’t have a full grasp on what our community really entailed back then, so the amount of interest I received was really overwhelming. Lots of people responded saying “I’m figuring this out for the first time too”. We’re now at 65 members and run a vibrant and active Slack channel where we discuss the professional and developmental events we run on a monthly basis. We see people in HR grow and push themselves professionally while helping their respective teams grow and be successful. They want to be better to help their companies. Their passion is very inspiring and it inspires me to give back.
Much in the same way, LLC is a vibrant community of women who want to grow and learn and be a part of the community as both learners and mentors.
The passion both these groups show is very inspiring and reminds me to give it back.
- With F@#% Up Nights becoming a popular community event, we’re witnessing a positive trend of being open about your failures and mistakes. What mistake have you made that you wouldn’t go back in time to change if you had the chance? What did you learn from it/them?
What comes to mind for me isn’t a mistake, but something pivotal I experienced that yielded several learning opportunities: the work surrounding MediaCore’s acquisition. While overall I consider the acquisition a success, it wasn’t easy and there were many bumps along the way.
It was the case of a startup company being purchased by a public company in San Francisco that has many accolades and strong revenue and is a solid contender in the market place. As far as acquiring companies are concerned, it probably couldn’t have got much better. The whole process of being acquired and of exiting, however, proved to be quite difficult and taught me a lot.
It taught me about communication, how people deal with change, about self-balance, about advocating for employees, advocating for the company being sold and the company doing the buying. I learned that the due diligence process is extremely important, and about many intricacies that come with selling a company.
While I wouldn’t go back in time to change anything, I’ll definitely use the knowledge I gained to benefit me and the company I’m with the next time I’m involved in a similar process.
I look forward to the day when we do it all again.
- Do you see a positive trend of expanding the diversity in tech in Victoria?
I think there’s a lot of opportunity for us to create a more diverse tech community in Victoria. Things can always be better, and we could always be trending up. It can tend to be a matter of whether or not a community has the champions that are willing to put in the effort to make that happen, and I think that we do here in Victoria. More than ever, people are willing to have the conversation about what their companies need in order to attract diverse talent and engage them in a meaningful way. Change like that isn’t derived from one meeting to decide on strategy, but has to be a continuous conversation and continuous community goal.
Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined see more
Author: Nevin Thompson
Brexit and Trump could be good news for Canada’s tech scene
By 2019, it’s estimated there will be 182,000 job openings in Canada’s tech sector—and no Canadians to fill them. Better-known for maple syrup, snow-capped mountains, and head-of-state heartthrob Justin Trudeau, Canada is also home to a vibrant tech sector that is crying out for workers. And Donald Trump’s unlikely presidency may already be helping Canadian tech firms fill those spots.
On the night of Nov. 8, as many Americans realized that Trump was going to be elected president of the United States of America, a flood of hundreds of thousands of visitors crashed Canada’s immigration website. People were presumably looking for ways to relocate to Canada and escape whatever Trump has in store for the four years ahead.
But in fact, Americans accounted for just half of the surge in visits to the immigration website—visitors from other parts of the world made up the other half. But why?
Options for foreign workers looking to emigrate are narrowing. June’s Brexit decision in Britain was based in on a desire to tighten the UK’s border and restrict its flow of immigrants. Indeed, the future of the European Union, the world’s largest trade zone, is in question as anti-immigrant, right-wing parties in the Netherlands and in France seem poised for victory in 2017. In the US, on top of vowing to build a wall with Mexico and deport immigrants, Trump has promised to clamp down on the H-1B visas that bring 85,000 skilled international workersinto America each year.
Meanwhile, across Canada, 71,000 tech companies are responsible for over 7% of Canada’s economic output and 5.6% of Canada’s total employment: Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined. Canada, with its reputation for tolerance and openness to diversity and immigration, has been called one of the world’s last “safe harbors.” Add an almost unlimited demand for skilled workers across the country, and it’s easy to see why Canada could become the next hub for the globe-trotting workforce.
“Donald Trump has definitely been a topic of conversation here in Seattle,” says Dan Gunn, chief executive officer of VIATEC, a Canada-based community organization and 16,000 square-foot technology accelerator. In the days following the US election, Gunn was spending time in Seattle for Startup Week. “There are questions about what Trump means for tech and for tech workers in the States. Highly skilled workers from around the world, particularly visible or religious minorities who had their sights set on moving to the US, might look to Canada for opportunities instead.”
As head of VIATEC, Gunn helped build a thriving technology sector in Victoria—a small Canadian city of about 350,000 people located on an island just to the north of Seattle. Once known mainly as a sleepy government town and destination for retirees and tourists, Victoria is now home to a thriving tech scene that has attracted everyone from global giants like Amazon and Schneider Electric to game developers such as Kixeye and a Change.org satellite office.
Just like the rest of the Canadian technology sector, Victoria—nicknamed “Tectoria”—has plenty of job openings. “Canada is growing, a thriving innovation sector, and advanced technology has become the number-one industry in Victoria,” Gunn says. “Nearly 900 companies employ over 23,000 people here. And they’re always hiring.”
Across Canada, the need for workers is currently so great that a number of employers and industry organizations have banded together with the Canadian government to launch Go North Canada. The initiative is an attempt first and foremost to lure some of the more than 350,000 Canadians who work in Silicon Valley (as well as Canadians in other parts of the US) back home.
“Canadian companies are currently looking to fill three different kinds, of roles: technical talent, experienced sales and marketing talent, and people in leadership roles who have experience scaling up companies,” says Heather Galt, vice president for human resources at Communitech, an Ontario technology-startup hub, who is helping promote the Go North Campaign across Canada. Galt says that Canada can often offer a better quality of life compared to working in the US: It has better schools, lower commute times, and a stunning natural environment.
The Trudeau government has also announced a new strategy to make it easier for companies to recruit foreign tech talent. Compared to the H-1B visa process in the US, which can take about six months to set up, it normally takes nine months or more for foreign tech workers to receive a Canadian work visa.
“Dealing with red tape is the number-one obstacle to bringing foreign talent to Canada,” says Noah Warder. Warder leads operations at Sendwithus, a Victoria-based startup that builds tools for email marketing. “It’s much easier to bring Canadians north of the border,” he says.
While it’s still too early to determine whether or not Justin Trudeau’s new immigration strategy will make it easier to recruit foreign workers, the prospect of Canada’s attractive tech scene—not to mention its equally attractive outdoor wonderland—should give many foreign workers something to dream about.