Dragon's Den-like B.C. tech contest taps local talent
January 21st 2013 at 04:05 PM
Firm's desalination process making a splash
By Sam Cooper, The Province January 17, 2013

A unique contest for tech startups in B.C. is getting credit for fostering innovation and catalyzing some major success stories.

The BCIC New Ventures Competition runs annually from April to September, giving entrants a chance to move through stages to meet a final jury that somewhat resembles the panel of venture capitalists in CBC's popular Dragon's Den series.

Entrants attend a nine-week seminar series and, as they advance through a four-round contest, receive coaching and mentorship.

Since starting in 2001, the contest has helped create 3,170 jobs and about $200 million in revenue from successful entrants, according to a new report from SFU's Beedie School of Business.

Compared to Dragon's Den's glammed-up version of a high-pressure pitch to powerful venture capitalists, the BCIC contest judges are far more "nice and constructive," BCIC program manager Angie Schick said with a laugh, in an interview.

Every year about 170 hopefuls enter the contest, and finalists get chances to tap B.C.'s venture-capital community. Schick points to successful finalists like the founders of Saltworks Technologies — which won the contest in 2008 — and top-10 finisher Jason Richards of Vineyard Networks, who just inked a $28-million deal to sell his "real time" network analytics technology to Procera Networks in San Diego.

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