Bruce Claggett (Managing Director at Switchboard Public Relations) connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives that are informing the B.C. tech sector.
This month, Bruce hones in on the players that are creating positive change in B.C. There is a sense of optimism in the industry that we want to shine a light on. Even in times of challenge and hardship there are opportunities. When we’re looking at tech right now, we can’t help but feel hopeful about 2022 and beyond.
Extreme Weather Underscores Tech’s Role in Fighting Climate Change
The Short: From record breaking droughts and wildfires to severe flooding, B.C. has had no shortage of unforeseen and damaging weather conditions due to climate change this year. The instability and volatility of what seems to be our new reality has been met with new ideas, innovative solutions and overwhelming support from B.C.’s tech sector.
The Long: Whether it’s the actions of today or the ideas of tomorrow, companies such as Hootsuite, Moment Energy and Geazon are actively working toward a future that is cleaner and greener. The three companies were certainly in the early holiday spirit as they embraced giving, receiving and of course, spending.
Giving: The reach of the devastation caused by November’s flooding is widespread, and has affected people, animals and livestock, businesses, and critical infrastructure. Vancouver-based Hootsuite stepped up and brought together Vancouver companies, including those in the tech sector, and individuals, to donate close to a million dollars to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal. This comes at a time when businesses head into 2022 knowing climate change will dominate the news headlines. A lack of action is no longer an option and no matter what your political stripe might be, political leaders won’t be the only ones shining a light on the human impacts of extreme weather events.
Receiving: Speaking of environmental considerations, Vancouver clean energy startup Moment Energy announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Vancouver’s Version One Ventures. Moment Energy creates sustainable energy storage systems by repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries. It plans to use this funding to continue serving the off-grid market, and further commercialize its energy storage solution to expand into on-grid commercial and industrial applications. “We believe that clean energy is a fundamental right for everyone around the world, and we are working hard to make this a reality.”
Spending: Some green for green. Victoria’s Geazone Eco-Courier announced it is launching North America’s first hydrogen-powered courier fleet with the purchase of 40 new Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Geazone Eco-Courier is a zero emissions courier company that provides sustainable delivery services, third party logistics and freight services to businesses across Vancouver Island and Vancouver.
“Geazone Eco-Courier is a great example of a local company that is working to adopt cleaner vehicles which not only aligns with our hydrogen strategy and CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, but helps other businesses and communities reach their own climate change targets by ensuring their couriers are behind the wheel of zero-emissions vehicles.”
BC Tech Triumphs at the Technology Impact Awards
The Short: Good intentions matter – bright minds make it a reality. There is no lack of B.C. innovators working to create solutions for today’s challenges. The BC Tech Association’s (BC Tech) 28th annual Technology Impact Awards (TIA) took place in mid-November and celebrated the extraordinary accomplishments of B.C.’s innovators and change makers. With categories ranging from Company of the Year to Diversity and Inclusion, 44 TIAs finalists across 11 categories were honoured at this year’s event.
The Long: “We’re back!” And TIA attendees had a lot to celebrate at Science World as everyone was pumped to be part of an event that not only celebrates B.C.’s thriving tech ecosystem, but also allowed them to take part in something that didn’t include sweatpants.
BC Tech President Jill Tipping said it best: “It was wonderful to come together as a community and experience the excitement and energy that erupts when hundreds of passionate people share their stories and successes.” Notable wins of the night include AbCellera’s award for Anchor Company of the Year and Klue’s Tech Culture of the Year Award.
During the show, BC Tech also announced a new “Gamechanger – Climate Solutions” award for the 2022 TIAs in partnership with Vancity. “The Technology Impact Awards are a great opportunity to highlight innovation in B.C.’s tech sector that helps solve problems and creates new opportunities for people and business across our province,” Minster Heyman remarked. “Finding technology solutions to the climate crisis is increasingly the focus of businesses and governments around the world.”
“The past year has shown that when faced with an obstacle, B.C.’s tech sector rises to the challenge and comes out stronger.” said Riaz Meghji, TIAs co-host and Human Connection Expert & Author of Every Conversation Counts. The Switchboard Team left the event feeling optimistic and excited for what’s to come in 2022, noting the event certainly lived up to its two themes, innovation and inspiration.
Tomorrow’s headliners take centre stage at entrepreneurship@UBC’s Venture Showcase
The Short: After celebrating the B.C. tech sector’s finest at the 2021 TIAs, we couldn’t help but feel excited about the talent and potential in our province. And who doesn’t like to hold out hope for 2022 and beyond? Early stage ideas featured at entreprenuership@UBC’s (e@UBC) Venture Showcase in late November offered us the means to feel inspired by up and coming ventures – the type that may someday be honoured as Company of the Year – Anchor.
The Long: e@UBC’s second annual Venture Showcase celebrated B.C.’s thriving venture community with rising stars defending and promoting their ideas. e@UBC provides venture creation support that enables UBC innovations to flourish beyond the whiteboards of academia to adoption in the real world. Since its inception, the program has contributed to the vibrant economic and social landscape of B.C. by supporting 584 B.C. ventures, generating more than $119 million in revenue and creating more than 1,050 jobs. One of the ways e@UBC supports such ventures is by closing the innovation gap. In the pre-incorporation phase when discoveries are not yet market validated, they often face regulatory hurdles that address existing problems using antiquated solutions. This is the gap between fundamental research and investable ventures where innovation backs up against a lack of funding that e@UBC seeks to fill.
From Ones-to-Watch and Sneak-a-Peek to HATCH Ready-to-Raise, the Showcase featured innovators at three distinct stages all ready to take their ideas to the next level. We’re especially curious about UVX and its ceiling device designed to reduce infections in seniors’ homes and RecognAIse Technologies’ patent-pending inspection tool that uses AI to spot problems with aging infrastructure such as power lines.