• Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    The event features tech companies of all stripes and stages, from start-up experimental technology.. see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    Tectoria showcase opens tech sector to community

    Crystal Garden will be brimming with life, both actual and virtual, on Friday as Victoria’s technology sector pulls back the curtains for what has become its annual open house, Discover Tectoria.

    The one-day event organized by the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council will welcome up to 4,000 people of all ages into the showcase that has become a recruiting tool as much as it is about showing off the tech sector.

    “It used to be, back in 2003, that no one believed there was a technology sector in Victoria, so we had this thing that was an opportunity to see it all in one place,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of VIATEC. “But as the sector has grown and demand for people has increased - It’s morphed into a career-profiling, day-in-the-life kind of thing.”

    The event features tech companies of all stripes and stages, from start-up experimental technology firms to established gaming and engineering outfits.

    Almost all of them are growing and in need of people and investment to expand.

    Victoria's tech sector has set a new goal for itself — to have its constituent firms more than double their existing combined revenue to $10 billion by 2030. Currently, it collectively has just over $4 billion in annual revenues from its 904 companies and employs about 20,000 people.

    “There are big career elements at Discover Tectoria. Companies are hiring, picking up co-op students for work terms and even listing what kinds of things you should be taking in school if you want to work in their space,” said Gunn, noting the event is deliberately held on professional development days in the school district to encourage students to explore what’s possible.

    “Most students don’t know what a tech career looks like because you don’t see that on TV, but this is a chance to meet people face-to-face see what they make and find out how they got there.”

    It’s also a chance for anyone interested in the sector — be it someone considering a career change, just curious, media or policy makers wanting to understand the sector. “There are lots of people who have been hearing about the tech sector in Victoria don’t see it first hand because we don’t sell a lot of product here, so it’s an opportunity for the curious, no matter what age or stage of career to come out and get a better sense of it all,” he said.

    Discover Tectoria has 76 company booths on two floors, trade show, panel discussions, science demonstrations, virtual reality exhibits, a jam hut and samples from Victoria Beer Week. There is also start-up alley for new firms finding their feet, research projects from the University of Victoria, and interactive experiences to try. The showcase is open to all 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Crystal Garden. There is no admission charge.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    VIATEC puts their FREE tech expo on at the Crystal Garden Feb 23, 2018 from 11am to 6pm see more


    VIATEC puts their FREE tech expo on at the Crystal Garden Feb 23, 2018 from 11am to 6pm

    Victoria, BC (February 22, 2018) - Discover Tectoria is the Island's BIGGEST Tech Expo and it’s taking over the Crystal Garden from 11am to 6pm on February 23rd. This year’s showcase features 76 booths over two floors, a great lineup of panel discussions, science demos for kids, VR experiences, a “Jam Hut”, samples from Victoria Beer Week, the Spirit of Tomorrow car and more. The expo, organized by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council), will feature a:

    • Main floor Tradeshow
      (local companies demonstrating products, hiring talent and co-op students)

    • The Creativity Hub, sponsored by BC Public Service Agency
      (A collection of interactive tech displays, showcasing our city's most excellent creativity)

    • Startup Alley, sponsored by Work BC
      (get a sneak peek at the future of Tectoria)

    • The UVic Research District
      (see some amazing projects post-secondary students have put together)

    • The Innovation Theatre, sponsored by TD Canada Trust
      (a line-up of great talks and panel discussions - schedule TBA soon!)

    • The Combustion Chamber
      (Science Venture LIVE demos for the kids!)

    • Partner Row, sponsored by Royal Roads University
      (a group of incredibly useful organizations that serve businesses and the community).

    VIATEC is once again 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.

    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 thousands of attendees.

    “We created this event in 2003 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. We are aiming to draw out 4,000 attendees, many of which will make up the leaders and vital team members of our community in the immediate and near future. There’s no better way to inspire our future tech workers than filling a space with all the opportunities, creative minds and unworldly inventions.”

    Simultaneously, VIATEC, the City of Victoria, the Capital Investment Network and NACO are hosting the Western Regional Angel Summit for a contingent of visiting angel and VC investors which kicked off on February 21 and runs until the February 23. Invitees are experiencing 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. The trip will finish with a visit to Discover Tectoria.

    For the full Program and Exhibitor Map, click here.

    [Exhibitor Directory 2018]

    [2017 Video Recap]

    [2017 Photo Gallery]


    Dan Gunn



    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 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.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    It opened in January on the top floor of the stunning 55,000 square-foot Songhees Wellness Centre see more

    Source: Globe and Mail
    Author: Mark Rendell

    Indigenous entrepreneurs collaborate at B.C.'s Songhees Innovation Centre

    Founder hopes the centre will become a model for entrepreneur-driven economic development in First Nations communities

    For Ojibwa technology entrepreneur Jeff Ward, finding a reasonably-priced space to work and collaborate with fellow Indigenous programmers hasn't been easy. Office space in Victoria, where his digital communications and software company Animikii Indigenous Technology is based, can be expensive for startups. There are few dedicated spaces in the city, or in the entire province for that matter, for tech-focused First Nations entrepreneurs.

    That problem spurred Mr. Ward two years ago to approach the Esquimalt-based Songhees Nation with a plan for an innovation space on the band's urban reserve just outside of downtown Victoria. The result is the Songhees Innovation Centre, which opened in January on the top floor of the stunning 55,000 square-foot Songhees Wellness Centre overlooking Esquimalt harbour.

    "We have a growing demographic of young talented Indigenous students that are graduating through some amazing technology and business programs," Mr. Ward said. "Wouldn't it be cool if there was [a place for them to work] in an Indigenous community led by an Indigenous community?"

    The centre is modelled on the kind of co-working spaces increasingly popular among digital startups and freelancers. Several anchor tenants, including Animikii, have year-long leases on permanent desks in the open-concept space; other desks are available for businesses or freelancers to rent on a monthly or even daily basis.

    "We think a lot will happen if just two people are sitting side by side and working on something and chatting," Mr. Ward said. "They find out they know similar people, they can connect people up to other people, or find out they can joint venture on something."

    The broader hope is that the innovation centre will become a model for entrepreneur-driven economic development in First Nations communities, particularly in urban reserve settings. Indigenous employees of companies based on reserve are eligible to receive income tax breaks – a boon for Indigenous companies competing to attract tech-savvy talent, Mr. Ward said. Being based within a First Nations community can also open up opportunities to secure contracts with band governments.

    "As our governments are getting more and more sophisticated, we need these [technology] tools. But there's a lot of mainstream tools that just don't fit," said Christina Clarke, executive director of Songhees Nation. "If we get Indigenous people coming up with solutions for some of the issues that we have, then we can create a virtuous loop of keeping some revenues in the community."

    Ms. Clarke also sees the innovation centre as a way for Songhees Nation to achieve some of its own economic development goals. Band members get a discounted rate to use the space, and Ms. Clarke hopes that members who graduate from the Wellness Centre's various education programs will become tenants of the co-working space.

    "If they're taking an entrepreneurship program and they come up and see all kinds of entrepreneurs working, it's much more real to them, especially to see Indigenous companies up and working successfully," Ms. Clarke said.

    From the start, the innovation centre has been supported by a number of local economic development organizations, such as the South Island Prosperity Project and the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC).

    "I think that Victoria is ready for truly engaging with First Nations in a way they historically haven't been," Ms. Clarke said. "But [there isn't] really a forum for it to happen, they don't quite yet know how to reach out … So we're hoping this becomes a touchpoint for facilitating that communication, without us having to go there and get lost in it."

    Emilie de Rosenroll, chief executive officer of the South Island Prosperity Project, echoed this, adding that increased ties between First Nations communities and the wider Victoria business community will benefit everyone.

    "Helping more Indigenous businesspeople thrive in the tech world makes particular sense, she said.

    The tech sector, after all, "is actually the largest sector now in Greater Victoria, so we're no longer all about tea and flowers."

    Tenants are only just beginning to move into the centre, but the collaborative nature of the space has already begun to work its magic, Mr. Ward said. Before the centre even opened, he was developing plans with fellow tenant Lawrence Lewis, whose company OneFeather designs voting registration software for First Nations governments.

    "When he came to check out the space and explore the opportunity, within 15 minutes we had four ideas to collaborate on projects or cost share in the development of apps," Mr. Ward said. "It just so turns out that he uses the same coding language to develop apps as we do, so just by being in the same space, there will be a lot learning back and forth."

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    It seems Victoria has its entrepreneurial wings at last... see more

    Source: Douglas Magazine
    Author: Pamela Roth

    Victoria Is a City of Entrepreneurs

    With angel investors arriving en masse this spring, and startups, popups and meetups infusing our lingo, it seems Victoria has its entrepreneurial wings at last. But don’t expect a copycat of Silicon Valley. This city has its own vibrant attitude...

    [Click to read more]

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “To find skilled and experienced talent has been difficult and it’s probably the biggest thing... see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    Greater Victoria struggles to fill jobs

    Greater Victoria is facing an employment “crisis” and it will take a multi-pronged attack to deal with it, according to a human resources consultant.

    Statistics Canada reported the country had an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent — a 40-year low — in December and that Victoria now has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.4 per cent.

    Frank Bourree, principal of Chemistry Consulting in Victoria, said inaction is not an option as businesses scramble to attract workers.

    “This can only be solved through immigration, workforce housing and better transportation and daycare, or it’s only going to get worse, because I don’t see the economy going south anytime soon,” said Bourree.

    His firm oversees Work B.C.’s employment centres.

    “It is a crisis. We have been tracking this for the last six years and our caseloads have been dropping dramatically, and they took a real dip last year.”

    Bourree said a booming economy that has raised most sectors and a shift in demographics as Baby Boomers continue to leave the workforce has played a role in exacerbating the problem of finding workers.

    “And in each of the sectors, we are not getting migration from other provinces anymore because they are doing well,” Bourree said. He noted that potential workers are also put off by the cost of housing in Victoria, as well as barriers such as lack of childcare spaces and overburdened transportation infrastructure. “Here, the workforce is in the West Shore and the work is downtown.”

    The biggest issue, however, is that immigration has not kept pace with the shrinking workforce, said Bourree, noting some effort has been made to open the gates. “It’s now easier to bring skilled workers, but harder to bring in two-year temporary foreign workers and to be honest, that’s what we need.”

    Victoria’s 3.4 per cent unemployment rate represents a slight change from the 3.3 per cent recorded in November, and is well off the 5.0 noted in December 2016. According Statistics Canada, the total number of people employed in Victoria increased to 193,300 in December, up from 186,600 in December 2016, while the Greater Victoria labour force grew to 200,100 from 196,500 the year before.

    While the unemployment rate is very low, it’s still well off the lowest Victoria has seen. In May 2008, the rate hit 2.8 per cent.

    “I would say [the lack of skilled workers] isn’t a 2017 or 2018 problem, but it’s been an ongoing challenge for the growing tech companies in Victoria,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council. “To find skilled and experienced talent has been difficult and it’s probably the biggest thing holding back growth.”

    Gunn said while the city — and tech sector in particular — has never focused as much attention on the problem as now, it still has to compete with a strong national economy that demands workers.

    Locally, the tech sector has seen steady demand for workers. The VIATEC job board has posted more than 1,100 jobs over the last year and has consistently had about 100 jobs on its board each month. “When the economy was overheating in 2007, we saw between 140 and 170 jobs, and we don’t want to see that again, so we have to keep working to attract more people,” Gunn said.

    Statistics Canada’s survey found that the biggest gains over the last year were seen in retail and wholesale trade, which boasted 26,500 jobs in December, up from 24,000 the year previous. The finance, insurance and real estate sector added 2,300 new positions and the accommodation and food-services sector added 3,500 positions.

    Those gains were offset by a decline in the business, building and support-services sector, shedding 4,600 positions since December 2016, and information, culture and recreation sector, losing 2,000 positions.

    Canada’s low unemployment rate was due to 13 straight months of job creation, but it has economists warning it could push the Bank of Canada to raise its key overnight interest rate by 25 basis points later this month to 1.25 per cent.

    Statistics Canada reported the largest employment gains in December were observed in Quebec and Alberta, with the former adding 27,000 jobs for a 4.9 per cent unemployment rate and the latter generating 26,000 jobs for a rate of 6.9 per cent.

    B.C. closed out the year with an employment growth rate of 3.4 per cent, with 83,000 additional jobs, with almost all of the gains in full-time jobs.

    In the 12 months to December, the unemployment rate in B.C. fell by 1.2 percentage points to 4.6 per cent, the lowest among all provinces.

    Job-creation numbers follow Canadian economic signals that have been positive for some time, said TD Economics senior economist Brian DePratto.

    “If you go back and look at the economic growth figures Canada was putting out late last year, early this year, we saw very, very robust growth across effectively all sectors of the economy,” he said. “I think to some extent we’re seeing catch-up activity from the output of the economy on the employment side.”

    Matthew Stewart, director of national forecast for the Conference Board of Canada, said he is concerned about a tight labour market going forward but added business should be pleased with wage increases shown by the statistics. “Slower, more sustainable job growth is in store for the year ahead,” he said in a statement.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    "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.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “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.”

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    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!

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    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.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    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:

    1. Jim Balcom, Redlen Technologies Inc (re-elected)

    2. Robert Bowness, BC Pension Corp (newly elected)

    3. Robert Cooper, PlusROI Online Marketing Inc (re-elected)

    4. Scott Dewis, RaceRocks 3D Inc (returning)

    5. Colin How, How Creative (returning)

    6. Bobbi Leach, RevenueWire Inc. (re-elected)

    7. Mark Longo, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP (returning)

    8. Justin Love, Limbic Media (newly elected)

    9. Owen Matthews, Wesley Clover (returning)

    10. Masoud Nassaji, DoubleJump (newly elected)

    11. Rasool Rayani, Heart Pharmacy (returning)

    12. Christina Seargeant, Workday (re-elected)

    13. Nicole Smith, Flytographer (returning)

    14. 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:

    Dan Gunn, CEO

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “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.”

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Experience Tectoria has a record amount of Investors coming to learn about our entrepreneurs see more


    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 for more information.


    Dan Gunn

    Thank you to our Sponsors: Roy Group and RBC Commercial Financial Services.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.” see more

    Source: Capital Magazine
    Author: Andrew

    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.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    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: 

    Quick Facts:

    • 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.

    Learn More:

    BC Innovation Council:

    Venture Acceleration Program:

    #BCTECH Strategy:

    LlamaZOO Interactive:

    AirSenze Solutions:

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    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.”