KAST Kootenay tech sector

Technology & Innovation in the Koots: Full STEAM Ahead!

KAST Kootenay tech sector

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.

#madeatMIDAS #metaltechalley

Youth entrepreneurs

#StartupDay: Youth Entrepreneur Program

Youth entrepreneursAre you a youth entrepreneur? Get your #StartupDay Agenda to see the Biggest Names in Canadian Entrepreneurship!

MitacsRECODE and the League of Innovators is designed to inspire and ignite the entrepreneurial passion of the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Be inspired to grow and innovate with cutting-edge insights from top entrepreneurs and policy leaders from Canada and the world; have a voice to government on the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada; and be plugged into national and global networks to find mentors, investors, customers, and support to grow your business.

Startup Canada Day on the Hill is the largest annual national entrepreneurship event convening entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, industry executives, government representatives, and media personalities to raise the bar for Canada as a globally competitive innovation nation.

Click to see the Canada Stage Agenda and the Scale-Up Stage Agenda.


#StartupDay: Youth Entrepreneur Program

Youth under 24 years of age get in for free. Use code YOUTH100 when you get your tickets online. ID is required at registration.

If you are an existing or aspiring youth entrepreneur, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

The Program:

7.30 – 8.30 AM: Pre-Show – Leveraging Your Entrepreneur Network

Meet the leaders of Canada’s entrepreneur community and learn how you can best leverage the ecosystem to scale.

8.00 – 9.00 AM: Opening Ceremonies – Main Stage 

Join in the celebration of the 5th Annual Startup Canada Day on the Hill with the CEO of Startup Canada, Victoria Lennox, and Hon. Mary Ng, the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion!
9.00 – 9.50 AM:  Youth Policy Hack-a-thon – Accelerating Youth Entrepreneurship
Hack the question: How can Canada become the leading country in the world in fostering youth entrepreneurship? Hon. Mary Ng, Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion

9.30 – 10.00 AM: Scale Up Keynotes
Tareq Hadhad, Founder and CEO, Peace by Chocolate
Sophie Boulanger, Co-Founder, and CEO of BonLook
Vicki Saunders, Co-Founder, and CEO of SheEO

10.00 – 11.00 AM: RECODE / Growth Fair / Mentor Genius Lounge

Check out the RECODE space in the Growth Fair (booth 28) to connect with other young innovators and Ottawa’s youth startup community;
Get your passport stamped by all 40 Growth Partners, to complete your Passport and to find partners to take your idea to the next level;
Then, #hustle over to the Mentor Genius Lounge in the Parliamentary to meet with mentors from across Canada.

11.00 AM: Lunch
Take some time to rest and recharge in the Canteen in Canada Hall 2 (Lunch for purchase). Lounge in the Growth Fair, Mentor Genius Lounge or RECODE (booth 28).

12.10 – 1.00 PMThe Naked Entrepreneur LIVE – Ryerson University
Host: Dr. Sean Wise, Host of the Naked Entrepreneur presented by Ryerson University

Awards Announcements Emceed by Renee Tavares, Entrepreneur and Ecosystem Builder

  • Recipients of the Evolocity Fund for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Recipients of the TruShield Entrepreneur Success Fund
  • Winner of the Start JLM Competition

1.00 – 2.00: Skills for the Future
Moderator: Jason Daley, Portfolio Entrepreneur and Investor

  • Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech and Board Director of Mitacs
  • Melissa Sariffodeen, Co-Founder and CEO, Canada Learning Code
  • Natasha Dhayagude, Founder and CEO, Chinova Bioworks
  • Cameron Ritchie, Founder and CEO, Homewurk
  • Sophia Leong, Executive Director of Telfer Executive EMBA

2.00 – 3:00 PM: Canadian Export Challenge Showdown
Host: Dr. Sean Wise, Host of the Naked Entrepreneur presented by Ryerson

  • Paul Gaspar, Director of Small Business at UPS
  • Nicole Verkindt, CEO of OMX
  • W. Brett Wilson, O.C., entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist
  • Justine Hendricks, Vice-President, Working Capital Solutions, Export Development Canada

4.30 – 5.00 PM: Scaling Up Canada – Closing Keynote and Fireside Discussion
Moderator: Rivers Corbett, Host of the Startup Canada Podcast
Keynote: Frank O’Dea, Order of Canada, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Fireside Discussion

  • Frank O’Dea, Order of Canada, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  • Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives and Women in Tech
  • Brenda Halloran, Startup Canada Chair of the Board
  • Paul Gaspar, Director of Small Business at UPS Canada
  • Sergio Escobar, Startup Canada Global Ambassador

Youth under 24 years of age get in for free. Use code YOUTH100 when you get your tickets online. ID is required at registration.


Distance Venture Acceleration Program Info Session

Distance Venture Acceleration Program Info Session | October 24, 2018

New Ventures online coaching

Thinking about focusing on your startup this Fall? Set yourself up for success by finding out how New Ventures BC can help!

Whether you have a venture idea and are ready to turn it into a business or already have a startup going and are looking for more traction, the Distance Venture Accerlation Program can support you in reaching your goals. The best part? Since it’s online, the program won’t interrupt your day job, and you can participate from anywhere in BC.

The info session will share how our program works, then leaves time for you to network and ask questions. We’ll have our mentors on hand as well so you can meet them and ensure that you see a great fit, before taking the leap to apply.

October 24, 2018 | 5:30-7:30pm

Info session format:

  • 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm: Program overview, information, and Q&A with our Executives in Residence (mentors) + past program participants
  • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Networking and chance to chat with program staff, mentors, and fellow attendees

Participate in the session:

Please join in on Facebook as it will be streaming on Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/newventuresbc/



#BCTECH Summit 2019

#BCTechSummit 2019 March 11-13, 2019

#BCTECH Summit 2019

#BCTechSummit 2019 is just around the corner, March 11-13, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Last year’s #BCTECH Summit 2018 broke records. Join us – the teams from KAST and MIDAS –  for the largest innovation conference in Western Canada.

Large corporations. Small companies and start-ups. Job-seekers and recruiters. Innovation leaders and media. They’re all here and looking to connect, build relationships and help the BC technology ecosystem take its place on the world stage.

Global Thought Leadership

Global thought leadership gained through keynote speakers, interactive sessions and deep dives covering innovation and its impact on the way we work, live and play. The #BCTECH Summit will bring together the world’s brightest entrepreneurs and creative minds to shape and challenge the future of business.

Largest Showcase of Innovation in B.C.

Get a glimpse of cutting-edge made-in-BC discoveries and inventions in our Marketplace, Technology Showcase, Startup Village and Ignite Research Pavilion. Collaborate with our emerging entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders and service builders.

Business Deals through B2B Matchmaking

This program connects large corporations, technology buyers, innovation scouts and government procurement specialists with B.C.-based technology solution providers.

Inspiring Youth 

There’s a career in tech waiting for our young people! Open to BC high school and post-secondary students.

Stay tuned for information about tickets (coming soon!) as well as featured speakers and other special events, including the annual #BCTECH Summit Koots meetup – more info to come!

Innovate BC – New Ventures Competition Top 10 Finalists Announced

Innovate BC – New Ventures Competition: Top 10 Finalists Announced!

Innovate BC – New Ventures Competition Top 10 Finalists Announced

The finalists’ list has been announced for this year’s Innovate BC – New Ventures Competition

As BC’s largest and longest-running venture competition, it promotes the growth of early-stage technology companies by providing mentorship, business seminars, networking events, and recognition. It attracts entrepreneurs from a wide range of tech industries including cleantech, ICT, software, bioenergy, agritech, and life sciences.

The winner is awarded $275,000 in cash and prizes.

Top 10 Finalists:

In alphabetical order

Careteam Technologies
CRM GeoTomography Technologies
Go99 Operations
iComply Investor Services
Skaha Remote Sensing
Volta Air Technologies
Voltific Technology

Congratulations to all finalists!

Now, in the fourth and final round, each team will pitch to a judging panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors.

If you’d like to see who’s taking home over $275,000 in cash and prizes – only at the awards! – get your tickets NOW for the 18th Annual Awards Ceremony.


  • Monday, Sept. 24, 2018
  • Science World, 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver
  • Doors open 6:00pm, awards: 6:45pm
  • Startup Week Social following the awards
  • Free for B.C. tech startups, $25 general admission.

Watch the awards live in the theatre, or watch the live stream in our viewing area outside the theatre. For the fourth year running, Innovate BC – New Ventures is delighted for the awards to mark the official kickoff for Vancouver Startup Week.

This event is expected to sell out, so be sure to get your tickets early!

Rio Tinto BC Works Challenge

Innovate BC Presents: The Rio Tinto Innovation Challenge

Rio Tinto BC Works Challenge

Innovate BC and Rio Tinto BC Works are excited to announce a challenge to BC tech innovators

Rio Tinto needs your innovation at their Northern BC smelter site. They need to efficiently measure stockpiles of stored raw and recyclable materials. This is a great opportunity for innovators to demonstrate technological expertise in a controlled setting with access to data and resources.

To learn more about the challenge and ask questions, join the Discovery Day webinar, hosted by Innovate BC and Rio Tinto. This online Discovery Day will give innovators the opportunity to learn more about the challenge and ask questions directly to the team.

For more information on this Challenge, including the Letter of Intent form for submission, click HERE.

Discovery Day: 1pm PST, September 5
Application Deadline: Before 10am PST, September 17


Rio Tinto BC Works Challenge