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.
With record-breaking heat waves and wildfires in the province, and the calling of a federal election on September 20, it comes as no surprise that BC’s recent narratives have been future-focused and rooted in sustainability and innovation.
For this Connecting The Dots, Kathleen sheds light on the forward looking actions being taken at the federal, provincial and local levels during August.
The Short: Following the announcement of $20 million in funding for 10 BC companies – seven of which are tech-oriented – top Canadian tech and business leaders penned an open letter to Canada’s federal political parties calling on them to “drive sustainable economic growth and ensure that Canadians reap the benefits of our innovation.”
The long: The Government of Canada announced it will be investing $20 million in 10 BC companies across the clean technology, digital economy, health sciences, and value-added agriculture sectors. This funding will help to create over 300 new jobs for middle-class Canadians. The feds also announced plans for a $553.1-million Regional Development Agency for BC that has three core goals: working more closely with businesses, innovators, and communities; promoting connections and investments to foster economic growth; and helping organizations navigate federal programs and policies.
The announcement of a federal election has left many thinking about Canada’s future. An open letter released on August 24 — and signed by more than 200 Canadian tech and business leaders — was written and addressed to the heads of Canada’s federal political parties. The letter emphasized the importance of national support and diligent planning for the future in order to create and sustain economic growth for years to come. It stated that “we must be working to position every aspect of our economy towards a low-carbon future.”
The Short: Exciting announcements included support from the Government of BC for post-secondary research projects, and funding for three New Ventures BC alumni. Our team is looking forward to seeing what will emerge from this funding and how it will impact BC’s tech sector.
The long:. The provincial government announced it will be investing nearly $25 million to support 34 post-secondary research projects that will drive innovation and economic growth. The projects will help create jobs, protect biodiversity and the environment, and help keep British Columbians healthy and safe.
New Ventures BC also announced funding that will help drive innovation and growth among three of its alumni. Founded in 2000, the provincial, non-profit organization provides early-stage tech venture founders with the media recognition and business skills and contacts they need to succeed. The first NVBC alum to announce funding this past month was Fable, which raised $3.4 million to fuel international expansion. The second, Medimap, raised $3.5 million to make walk-in wait time technology more widespread. Finally, Creator signed an LOI for a follow-on investment of $1 million. The funds will be used to help grow and develop the company’s platform.
Impressively, since 2000, the New Ventures BC Competition has seen a 79 percent survival rate among its ventures, with 930 full-time jobs created and $92 million raised in financing. On that note, the 21st Annual New Ventures BC Competition winners will be announced on October 4, 2021.
The short: We saw further emphasis on sustainability and innovation this month with a statement from the Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors, who said innovation in BC is needed in all areas. In addition, local chain ag-tech company CubicFarms received a visit from Minster Kahlon.
The long: Sav Dhaliwal, the Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors, stated that the innovation desperately needed to meet our net-zero targets and prevent further climate deterioration could also grow B.C.’s economy. “We need to develop innovative approaches to make existing zero emission technologies less expensive, easier to use, and more readily available in the market while also developing new zero emissions technologies.” He further stated that “…there are concrete actions that can spur innovation, increase the province’s competitiveness, and reduce emissions.”
One Langley-based company that has developed tech to support a sustainable future is CubicFarm Systems. North Delta’s Minster Kahlon was in Vancouver during late August to participate in a tour at the company’s facility. The tour featured the company’s patented “V-shape” tech that enables farmers to grow produce locally and sustainably at any time of year. The company’s goal is to transform the agriculture industry to enable local food and animal feed independence, and support food security worldwide.