The Koots tech sector is drawing talent, inspiring entrepreneurs, and providing a welcome home for anyone looking to bring their idea, product, or service to market.
2018 has been a great year for the evolution of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) throughout the Kootenay region as well as the province of British Columbia as a whole.
Since the KPMG British Columbia Technology Report Card in 2016, where it was reported that B.C.’s tech sector is growing faster than not only those in the rest of Canada but also our American neighbours, the sector is still growing, full steam ahead!
The impact of the BC Tech Sector cannot be denied:
- it comprises over 9500 companies spanning a number of industries: Interactive and Digital Media (IDM), Cleantech, Lifesciences, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) as well as IT & Engineering services;
- it generates over $15 billion dollars per year;
- more than 90,000 jobs are created for British Columbians in the tech sector alone.
A marker of BC’s leadership in tech and innovation was federal funding awarded to the British Columbia-led Digital Technology Supercluster in the Government of Canada’s Innovation Supercluster Initiative. The initiative is estimated to create 50,000 jobs and inject $15 billion in GDP into BC’s economy over the next 10 years.
The West Kootenay specifically is, more and more, becoming a destination for tech and knowledge workers from around the country.
Initiatives such as Imagine Kootenay, promoting our much-coveted lifestyle and the growing number of opportunities available; and the exciting regional branding effort, Metal Tech Alley, developing multi-lateral, multi-dimensional partnerships to help clear the path for startups and businesses to succeed are welcome developments.
The Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) Fabrication Lab has become something of a crown jewel in the region when it comes to entrepreneur support and training in fabrication, manufacturing, and rapid prototyping. MIDAS allows for students, entrepreneurs, startups and businesses to access an MIT-certified digital fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab, which includes almost $450,000 in state-of-art equipment as well as valuable expertise and training to help bring innovative ideas to life.
Here at KAST, working with valued partners, have strived for the past 20 years to provide the resources and support to continue to encourage entrepreneurs to grow their startup and business ideas to reach their goals. Confirming to anyone curious about the potential of the region, that the infrastructure and support are in place for STEAM to grow and develop here.
Selkirk College with campuses in Castlegar, Trail, and Nelson, is steadfast in their commitment to supporting and promoting technology & innovation throughout the region through their programming. Their Environment & Geomatics program is making news for significantly contributing to the career success of students. They have developed an effective combination of classroom education, outdoor learning and real-world, hands-on, experience.
The college’s new Digital Arts and New Media program offers students a solid foundation in traditional and graphic arts, web site development, video and sound production, animation and digital media. It’s an innovative program designed to meet increased demand for skills in advanced production techniques, effective project management and the new media business environment.
Examples of other regional organizations and businesses shaking up West Kootenay innovation include:
- SMRT1 – founded by MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen, is shaking up conventional vending. Smrt1 is a Nelson-based company specializing in solutions that are a fusion of 3D interactive learning, social marketing and instant product sales.
- i4C Innovation Centre – a fundamental link between IIoT industry gaps and rapid commercialization of metals related products who will be concentrating on advanced acceleration and mid-level manufacturing of microelectronics for IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) products.
- Advanced BioCarbon 3D – awarded the 2018 BC Innovation BC Ignite Award of $300,000, developing a new type of 3D-printing filament from 100% biodegradable, engineering grade plastics and carbon fibre derived from lignin, which are the natural glue-like fibres found inside of wood.
- I/O Design & Engineering – design machinery and components for heavy industry; excelling at solving problems and developing cost-effective engineered solutions. Services include designing automated equipment to troubleshooting and redesigning existing mechanical equipment.