Each month, Kathleen Reid (Founder + Managing Director at Switchboard Public Relations) connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives that are informing the BC tech sector.
Following a two-month hiatus, she resumes CTD’s regular monthly schedule by shedding light on BC Tech’s New Economy Report, recent acquisitions by BC’s biggest tech companies, and an eventful few weeks for the life sciences sector.
Rethinking BC’s Economy
The short: The BC Tech Association (BC Tech) calls for a transformation in the way we think about the provincial economy with the publication of “A New Economic Narrative for British Columbia.”
The long: In late July, BC Tech released a report challenging the province’s outdated economic narratives. It emphasizes the risks that 20th-century thinking poses to 21st-century realities, especially as we begin to plan for the post-COVID economy.
Despite popular narratives suggesting that goods-producing sectors are the drivers of BC’s economy, the report highlights that in 2019, service-producing industries were responsible for over 75% of BC’s provincial GDP, 80% of its jobs, and over 50% of its exports.
“BC should not be allowing 20th-century thinking to guide 21st-century decisions,” said Jill Tipping, President and CEO of BC Tech. “Other jurisdictions around the world are recognizing the fundamental shifts taking place and are making changes to remain economically competitive. As we emerge from COVID, and start to think about economic recovery, we need to make an honest assessment of where our sustainable strengths lie, and how we can build a more inclusive, innovative and resilient economy in BC.”
This informative look at BC’s economy challenges us to rethink what we know, and consider the ways shifting narratives would allow BC’s economy to grow and strengthen moving forward.
BC’s Biggest Tech Companies go… Bigger
The short: Some of BC’s largest companies, including Hootsuite, Clio, and WELL Health, have further expanded their impact and reach with new acquisitions and investments.
The long: I am always excited to hear about companies evolving, learning and growing while still remaining true to their mission and vision. Our team is always inspired and motivated by innovators and change makers who are dedicated to creating positive impacts at home and around the world.
Most recently, Hootsuite, a social media management platform, announced that it has acquired Montreal’s Heyday, a conversational AI platform. This merger will enable brands to deliver personalized, high-quality customer experiences at scale.
Clio, a law practice management company, which recently achieved unicorn status, has acquired CalendarRules, an automated court rules-based calendaring service. With this acquisition, Clio seeks to continue helping law firms navigate the changing legal landscape.
WELL Heath, a company who is no stranger to acquisitions, has announced the creation of WELL Ventures. This venture will support and build strategic partnerships with innovative digital health companies, emphasizing WELL Health’s commitment to modernizing healthcare in Canada. The firm has also announced a $250,000 investment in Bright, a virtual B2B wellbeing program service provider.
With so much growth and exciting news, I am looking forward to seeing what’s in store for these companies in the coming months.
Life Sciences get Lively
The short: From the largest institutional life sciences venture capital fund ever raised in Canada, to the Federal Government’s life sciences strategy announcement, to BC-based Carl Hansen’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award win, it has been a busy time for the BC life sciences industry.
The long: As we are looking towards post-pandemic recovery, I am particularly excited about news from life sciences and biotech companies regarding their innovative, sector-strengthening solutions for the future.
Lumira has announced the closing of their largest fund to date. Lumira Ventures IV, a $276-million fund (55% larger than their prior fund), remains committed to “investing in companies at the forefront of biomedical innovation whose products have the potential to transform patient outcomes, improve healthcare access and reduce the cost of healthcare delivery,” said Gerry Brunk, co-founder and Managing Director of Lumira Ventures.
On the topic of strategic funding, on July 28 in Vancouver, the Government of Canada announced its biomanufacturing and life sciences strategy. As we begin post-pandemic recovery, this marks an important year for these sectors. The announced strategy focuses on building resiliency, and is driven by two objectives: growing a strong life sciences sector, and creating jobs for Canadians. The government will invest $2.2 billion over seven years from Budget 2021 to meet these objectives and to ensure preparedness for future pandemics.
Speaking of strengthening the life sciences sector, in early July the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2021 Pacific program announced its seven winners from a finalist list of 22. Among the impressive list is AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen. AbCellera, a biotechnology firm that researches and develops human antibodies to address pandemics and common diseases, is already actively working towards strengthening Canada’s future pandemic preparedness. They have recently announced their new GMP Manufacturing Facility for therapeutic antibodies, a testament to their commitment to strengthening the biotech sector.