Announcing #BCTECHSummit 2019 Keynote Speakers Eric O’Neill and Tan Le

#BCTECHSummit 2019 Keynote Speakers Announced: Eric O’Neill and Tan Le

Announcing #BCTECHSummit 2019 Keynote Speakers Eric O’Neill and Tan Le

Innovate BC and the B.C. government announced Eric O’Neill and Tan Le as keynote speakers for the 4thannual #BCTECHSummit, March 11-13, 2019 in Vancouver.

This year’s theme of the Reality Revolution invites speakers and delegates to explore and discover how we can use emerging technologies — from AI to robotics, quantum to cleantech, blockchain to AR/VR — to solve the biggest challenges facing B.C. and the world.

Eric O’Neill is an attorney, former FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence operative, cybersecurity expert, and was the inspiration for the film, Breach. In 2001, Eric helped capture the most notorious spy in United States history, Robert Phillip Hanssen. O’Neill is at the forefront of cybersecurity and will share insights into how people and organizations can take advantage of an era of big data and innovation while protecting themselves from the security vulnerabilities of a digitally, interconnected world.

Tan Le is an entrepreneur, inventor and CEO of Emotiv, a cutting-edge brain research company. Le has created technology that enabled a quadriplegic man to drive a Formula One car, using only his brain waves. For her achievements, Le has been recognized by Fast Company, Forbes and the World Economic Forum. Le will share her unique story, from refugee to tech and innovation leader, and she will demonstrate how advances in technology can fundamentally improve people’s lives here in B.C. and around the world.

“The #BCTECHSummit is an extraordinary event that will showcase the best of technology and innovation in our province and around the world,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “This year’s summit will show why B.C. is such an exciting place for cutting-edge tech and will give participants a unique opportunity to connect with innovators, thought-leaders and companies that are developing emerging technology here in B.C. and at a global level.”

Additional speakers will include John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia, Shirley Vickers, President & CEO of Innovate BC, and Dr. Alan Winter, B.C.’s Innovation Commissioner.

Early bird tickets to the #BCTECHSummit are currently available for $699. To purchase tickets, or for more information about the event, visit

Vancouver tech firms migrate to bucolic B.C. Interior

Vancouver Tech Companies Migrating to Kootenays

Vancouver Tech Firms Migrate to Kootenays

The Kootenays offer an attractive combination of affordability, lifestyle, and increasing opportunity making it a no-brainer for Millenials from the Lower Mainland who want to get ahead.

Smaller interior communities, particularly those gaining a reputation for a supportive startup culture like the Kootenays, are attracting qualified, experienced tech and knowledge workers.

“What we’ve started seeing was a little bit of an interesting migration, actually, of our team members moving to smaller communities,” said Greg Malpass, CEO and founder of technology company Traction on Demand who employs about 250 workers in Metro Vancouver.

This spring Traction on Demand will follow workers to B.C.’s interior, specifically the West Kootenay, in an effort to retain and attract employees feeling overwhelmed by the cost of living in the Lower Mainland.

A new office will open in Malpass’ hometown of Nelson, B.C., where an initial “pod” of 10 workers – half of whom will be hired locally – will be based.

The CEO’s vision is to partner with nearby Selkirk College and expand the remote office to a full “squad” of 25 workers.

“There are a few other small towns that we’re going to be activating quite quickly,” said Malpass, whose software firm helps companies implement marketing strategies using the Inc. customer relationship management service. “The goal is to build small towns into squads.”

Malpass said any business advantage lost through smaller economies of scale will be regained by keeping workers who no longer find Vancouver to be the right fit.

Kootenays communities a supportive environment for economic diversification through the technology sector.

Tech entrepreneur Brad Pommen, who moved to Nelson eight years ago from Alberta, said it won’t be difficult to recruit tech talent in the West Kootenays.

He founded the Nelson Tech Club shortly after his move, building it up to 500 members, of whom 20 to 50 meet every week to hear presenters discuss topics like artificial intelligence and find out who’s hiring locally.

“You’ve got this lifestyle and technology mix that makes Traction on Demand very [suitable],” said Pommen, the lab director at Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration & Studies (MIDAS), an applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility in neighbouring Trail, B.C.

Meanwhile, Nelson-based Pacific Insight Electronics Corp. announced in early October it was laying off part of its workforce, placing workers on the job hunt.

“There are a lot of talented people in that facility that would be directly [qualified] but there’s also a great pool from other regions that also might be shifting where they’re living now,” Pommen said.

Software company Thoughtexchange, an hour’s drive from Nelson in Rossland, B.C., launched in the city five years ago.

Its headcount has since ballooned from about a dozen to about 80 workers.

And the i4C Innovation Centre, an innovation hub and commercialization facility, has built up a team of about a dozen workers since opening last year near Trail’s airport.

“It was kind of quiet and slowly growing but in the last two, three years quite a few of us have startup companies that have grown into something,” said i4C Innovation CEO Pilar Portela, who oversees a 46,000-square-foot industrial internet of things lab and testing facility.

The Columbia Basin Trust invested millions in building a fibre optic network in the region, providing access to high-speed internet for companies and residents and making it more practical for tech companies to launch in the West Kootenays.

“If you understand how to do business using remote technologies … then you would be able to succeed anywhere,” Portela said.

She said lower overhead costs for tech startups and lower housing costs for workers have also been driving growth in the region.

“In the case of Traction on Demand, it is some of the pressures here in the Lower Mainland on housing and on childcare,” Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston told Business in Vancouver.

The average Multiple Listing Service price for a home in the Kootenay region sits at $319,000 compared with $1.05 million in Greater Vancouver, according to the BC Real Estate Association’s third-quarter forecast.

But Pommen noted that access to housing and commercial real estate can be hard to come by in Nelson’s core, where Traction on Demand plans to open.

Malpass said there are tentative plans to operate out of the local Royal Canadian Legion and support veterans through training and education.

As for overhead costs like salary, the CEO said he knows he can’t ask current employees to take a pay cut if they choose to relocate but the company may “slow” those particular workers’ wage growth for a period.

“I don’t know what’s going to come around the corner and surprise our business,” he said. “The most powerful part of our business is … in how our team will respond to things we don’t expect. If we can’t keep people on board for two or three years, we’ll lose that.”

Innovate BC Ignite Program

Innovate BC Ignite Program: Ignite Round 7

Innovate BC Ignite Program

Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens with ideas, insights, time — and money.

Innovate BC’s Ignite Program provides up to $300,000 to fund innovation projects in the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering.

Teams made up of industry and academia come together to solve real-life business problems in a 3-year time frame. From helping get clean drinking water into third world countries to diagnosing eye diseases faster than ever before, Ignite is bringing technology to life in BC.

Program Eligibility

Focus area: Proposals must involve the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering, and must outline the business problem you and your team is attacking.

Teams: Applicants must be a BC-based team comprised of two or more companies, organizations and academic researchers. All teams must include an academic member and an industry partner.

Matching funds: Projects must secure matching funds from industry or government sources at a ratio of 2:1 matching dollars to Ignite dollars.

Timing: Projects must plan to move a proposed innovation to market within a 3-year timeframe.

Key dates – Ignite Program Round 7:

  • Deadline to submit Letter of Intent (LOI) to Innovate BC: January 28, 2019
  • Deadline for invited applicants to submit a full proposal: April 8, 2019
  • Anticipated notice of decision: Late June 2019
  • Anticipated start of funding: July 2019

Your Application

Steps to apply:

  1. Read the Program Guidelines.
  2. Download an Application Form.
  3. Contact Innovate BC to discuss your project and apply via

View past winning Ignite projects here.


Inspirational Latin Award i4C

i4C Innovation Centre in Trail, BC Nominated for Inspirational Latin Award

Inspirational Latin Award i4C

i4C Innovation Centre has been nominated for the 2018 Inspirational Latin Awards in the Innovation and Sustainability Category.

An initiative conceived two years ago to promote rural economic diversification in collaboration with existing traditional industry, i4C Innovation Centre is one of the fastest growing companies in the area and has been nominated for an Inspirational Latin Award in the category of Innovation and Sustainability.

Incorporated in April of 2017, i4C Innovation opened their doors in late May 24 that same year. Even before i4C had officially launched, it had already met major milestones, including securing the 46,000 sq ft state-of-the-art building across the Trail airport through an alliance with the Columbia Basin Trust; was awarded a $1M fund in a joint collaboration with the regional economic development office, Lower Columbia Initiatives Corp.; and established the first links to Latin America.

The initial goals for the first two years were easily surpassed within just the first year in operation. Instead of five full-time jobs, eleven were created; 17 of the 20 indirect employment opportunities were fulfilled; and, rather than relocating three growth stage companies, nine relocated from Canada and the United States as well as Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. Even more impressive: blowing away the projected $1M VC fund in favour of $20M secured through an Alberta corporation to support i4C’s hub members.

ILA Nominee Pilar PortelaIn Latin America, i4C continues to evolve with representatives in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. Currently, it is negotiating a deal to open a large facility in Paraguay.

i4C Innovation Centre is one of the very few female-led and solely owned technology companies in Canada. Pilar Portela, an immigrant to Canada, has forged her way over the past 30 years proving that through dedication and collaboration, with the help of a clear business model, a sustainable and innovative organization can be achieved, even in a rural area such as Trail.

i4C Innovation proudly claims 75% of its employee roster as visible minorities, primarily Latin Americans, with over 5 languages spoken, including Spanish and Portuguese. 38% of the i4C employees are female, 13% have visible disabilities, 38% are over 50 years old and over 80% live rurally.

i4C Innovation is focused on growth and sustainability. Their technological advances in the Industry 4.0 era include the development of environmental, water and wastewater sensors, naturally air-cooled and controlled environments for their servers, and the development of analytics platforms aimed at solutions for complex industrial and municipal problems.

All these careful orchestrations allowed i4C to sell over $1.5M in the first year, allowing for a continued plan for additional growth in the year to follow as well as those to come.

Inspirational Latin Awards is a program of Latincouver. The Inspirational Latin Awards recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals from the Latin American community in British Columbia.

Digital Arts & New Media at Selkirk College

Digital Arts & New Media at Selkirk College

Digital Arts & New Media at Selkirk College

For people looking to explore and/or expand their skills, combining technology with creativity and artistry, the two-year Digital Arts & New Media program at Selkirk College is specifically geared to provide the skills necessary to gain a solid foundation in graphic arts, website development, video and sound production, animation and digital media.

A Solid New Media Foundation

This intensive program provides students with hands-on experience in:
  • Graphic Design
  • Digital Photography
  • Digital Video and Audio Editing
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Motion Graphics
  • 2d and 3d Animation
  • Web Design and Programming

Program graduates leave with the skills required for advanced production techniques, effective project management and the new media business environment.

Digital Arts & New Media at Selkirk College

Maximizing Employability

The program addresses rapid technological changes in the new media industry and encourages creative solutions in the production of original materials for the interactive education and training, advertising and marketing, and entertainment industries. Using skills acquired in this program, you will be able to maximize employability using a broad range of multimedia production skills.

Small class sizes allow excellent accessibility to instructors and equipment.

Many graduates of this program have gone on to become professionals in the multimedia field, while others have found this program useful as a stepping-stone towards further education in the digital arts.

Learn more!

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