Greetings! As the new minister responsible for supporting tech and innovation in the province, it’s a pleasure to have this first opportunity to check in with Innovation Island readers.
Getting up to speed quickly has been a priority for me and so far the time is passing very quickly. In the coming year, I look forward to visiting every region of the province to see B.C.’s thriving tech industry in action.
Innovation Island is a great resource for emerging entrepreneurs or businesses, delivering services like the BC Venture Acceleration Program (VAP) to central and north Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands. It is one of 13 regional partners and, since joining in 2013, has worked with 17 companies and trained 27 entrepreneurs, who in turn have created 30 jobs, generated $716,000 in new revenue and attracted over $1 million in investments. Well done.
Government support for research in the region was bolstered this past fall when Premier Christy Clark announced new BC Knowledge Development funding for B.C. institutions, including $496,928 to Vancouver Island University for two environmental research projects. The first involves recording and mapping First Nations’ knowledge about coastal estuaries. The second will result in a leading-edge mobile facility to measure air and water quality, with data accessible through Google Earth.
Growing our province’s LNG sector is a key part of the BC Jobs Plan – our strategy to ensure B.C.’s economy and citizens prosper for years to come. And technology – also key to the Jobs Plan – will advance us as leaders in safe and clean energy production and export.
Two Innovation Island VAP companies are doing exciting work in LNG-related technologies. ASAP Geomatix and its four employees in Campbell River use their aerial survey technology to improve oil and gas pipeline safety. In Nanaimo, Inuktun Services’ team of 52 designs and makes remotely controlled camera robotics to explore and inspect hazardous areas and confined spaces. One can imagine many opportunities for more technology companies to grow in and partner with the LNG sector. Vancouver-based energy company, Steelhead LNG, and Discovery LNG – a potential LNG project in Campbell River – both come to mind.
Keep an eye out for the updated B.C. Technology and Innovation Strategy. It will be the government’s road map for supporting our tech sector, including building on regional strengths to create new opportunities. Innovation and emerging technologies both have a major role in creating jobs in B.C. and strengthening our diverse economy.
Innovation Island has done a tremendous job at using community collaboration to support technology growth in the region. Executive director, Paris Gaudet, spearheaded the pairing with the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation to realize SquareOne last year. The former Minister, Andrew Wilkinson, joined Innovation Island and the Comox Valley Economic Development Society in January to celebrate their new partnership launch to deliver services and programs for tech entrepreneurs in the Valley.
Local entrepreneurs, I encourage you to connect with Innovation Island and their Executive in Residence, Graham Truax, so they can help you turn your ideas and businesses into profitable ventures. Thanks for making B.C. tech strong and vibrant.