20th Anniversary of KAST

20 Day Giveaway – KAST’s 20th Anniversary Contest!

20th Anniversary of KASTIn honour of 20th Anniversary, the folks here at KAST thought what better way to celebrate than to give away some great innovative stuff!

To help us celebrate and to enter the giveaway, we ask that you simply like the KAST Facebook page and enter your email (daily!) for the chance to win some great swag.   The perfect opportunity for anyone interested in trying the facilities here at the MIDAS Fab Lab because on the block is a great grand prize pack, which includes a 1 month membership at MIDAS, along with 2 FREE MIDAS courses of your choosing.

There’s other great stuff, too, and all the prizes are completely transferrable so be sure to consider the creative innovator or maker in your family, home, or office and make it happen!

The contest opens today and runs for 20 days, don’t delay!

So, help us celebrate 20 years supporting science, tech, business, startups and all things innovation in the Koots and be sure to visit KAST on Facebook, like us, leave your info, and increase your chances to win!

Thanks to all and good luck!









Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments to spark economic growth, job creation

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments to spark economic growth, job creation

Premier announces tech & innovation investments to spark economic growth &  job creation

To help spark B.C. innovation, economic growth and new jobs, the provincial government is investing in tech-based research and advanced training opportunities in all parts of the province, Premier John Horgan announced today at the #BCTECH Summit.

“B.C. succeeds when British Columbians succeed — and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

The Province announced that it is investing over $102.6 million in funding for 75 post-secondary research projects in B.C., through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop B.C.’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced supercomputing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, the B.C. government will invest $12 million in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years. The funding will support priority areas such as science, tech, engineering and mathematics programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To further develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

“B.C.’s success comes from the ideas, innovation and inspiration of people who call this province home,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “From a two-person startup, to large established tech firms and traditional resource industries, innovation can deliver a wealth of benefits to people, companies and our provincial economy. It is about creating good jobs for people in every corner of the province.”

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to B.C., government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot. That means priority processing for people in tech occupations, such as biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers.

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of B.C.’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The B.C. government will unveil a provincewide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make B.C. a great place to live and work.

The Province of British Columbia is hosting the third-annual #BCTECH Summit on May 14-16, 2018, in partnership with Innovate BC, the Province’s Crown agency. Innovate BC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of B.C. industry.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, “As part of our tech-expansion, we’re adding 2,900 more tech spaces, launching a graduate student scholarship fund and providing awards for women pursuing a science or tech-based profession. We’re breaking down barriers to good-paying jobs for people in the booming tech sector by making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.”

Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, “Having access to reliable, high-speed internet is the foundation for the growing digital economy, and essential for the expansion of technology and innovation in every corner of our province. It is important that this growing sector be fostered everywhere in B.C. That is why we are investing in connectivity for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, because we believe that everyone — no matter where they live — should have the tools they need to be part of this important industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy, supporting over 106,000 good-paying jobs. It is home to more than 10,200 businesses.
  • Over 83,400 tech-related jobs openings are expected by 2027 — jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, information system analysts and software designers.
  • In January 2018, the B.C. government announced 2,900 tech-related spaces that will produce 1,000 additional tech-grads a year by 2023, to improve access to training and education. This includes the first full civil and environmental engineering program in the North at the University of Northern British Columbia, and the first full software engineering program in the Interior at Thompson River University. To support these new spaces, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training plans to increase investment up to $42 million a year in ongoing funding.
  • In April 2018, the B.C. government partnered with the Government of Canada to provide B.C. biotechnology company STEMCELL Technologies with $45 million to create up to 2,170 B.C. jobs by 2031, and build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burnaby.
  • Also in April 2018, the Province, together with the federal government and the Alacrity Foundation, provided the Cleantech Scale-Up program with over $787,000 to help promising clean tech companies throughout B.C. get investment-ready and sell to new markets.
  • In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.
wavefront strategy session Castlegar

Wavefront Strategy Session: Technology & Your Local Economy

wavefront strategy session Castlegar

KAST stakeholders recently participated in a great opportunity to utilize the Wavefront tools to connect and brainstorm issues pertaining to the direction of local tech and economic development.

Launching the two-hour session was a brief discussion: ‘Technology and Your Local Economy’; followed by a brainstorming session to compile a variety of problem statements. The problem statements identify the challenges facing technology as an economic driver, and were narrowed down by a group vote.

To help address the issues decided upon, Wavefront facilitates a ‘How Might We….’ out of the most popular statements, generating helpful goal-oriented problem statements. These statements are then passed on to the Board to aid in strategy planning.

KAST and wavefront strategy session

Once sessions have been completed throughout the province, the key questions will be summarized and delivered from Wavefront.  The intention driving the sessions is to identify the issues by region, helping to identify the specific challenges, so that key stakeholders are better prepared to work together to solve them.

Wavefront, transforming business through mobile and IoT innovation, is designed to help businesses and organizations scale for sustainability, better reach global markets, while enabling acceleration in commercial impact.  The vision behind the Wavefront platform, as Canada’s centre of commercialization for mobile and IoT technologies, is to build a globally relevant, nationally connected ecosystem that delivers digital capacity, competitiveness and prosperity for Canadians.






Mentors Inspire Youth to be Entrepreneurial

Mentoring and Inspiring Entrepreneurial Spirit in Youth

Mentors Inspire Youth to be Entrepreneurial

Business professionals give back to their community by investing their time in young learners.

The Columbia Basin Trust has partnered with JA British Columbia (JABC) to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in local youth and inspire community mentors through Be Entrepreneurial. The program is facilitated by local business people who bring their expertise into the classroom at the invitation of a host teacher.

JABC Mentor Jennifer Barclay steps away from her regular duties as a workshop facilitator for Kootenay Career Development Society to deliver the interactive curriculum on self-employment, financial literacy and work readiness, most recently to Stanley Humphries Secondary students.

“I’d love to see more business people doing this because it gives kids the opportunity to connect with people in their community who are making a difference, building things, and introducing new products and ideas. I want this generation to get excited about where they live and about the opportunities that exist here for them, and this program is a great platform for that,” said Jennifer. “It’s very heartening that there is a program like this that supports kids in rural communities.”

The curriculum, presented in a group setting, draws on collaboration and innovation. Jen appreciated the students’ ability to tap into ideas enthusiastically, without hesitation or creative restriction. Her own passion had her formerly running Fattoria Local Foods, which followed the principles of the 100 Mile Diet and sold humanely raised meat, sourced from farms in the nearby Creston Valley, to the community of Nelson.

“I had a lot to share because my business wasn’t successful in the end – you can learn just as much from that, if not more,” she said. “I didn’t succeed because I didn’t identify my weaknesses: working alone, being organized and the financials. It’s just as important to be able to identify your weaknesses as it is your strengths, so that you can enlist help.”

She was pleased to participate in a program that gives students an understanding of the important role planning plays in starting a business by identifying and examining entrepreneurial concepts, including product, service, competitive advantage and target market.

Coaching students to develop and pitch their own business is guided by the program materials and in-depth training but personalized by the mentor, who shares real life stories in an engaging and memorable way.

Getting real and connecting with youth was refreshing and inspiring for Jen, who has a relaxed disposition she attributes to her varied background. Jen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, which she draws on in her current role with KCDS in Castlegar. There she conducts employment workshops that focus on resume and cover letter building, job searching and interview prep, the Myers Briggs’ personality test, and, her personal favourite, one that tackles the importance of self-esteem.

“Being unemployed can be so hard on people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Ironically, it’s a time when you’re expected to go out and sell yourself,” she adds. By imparting their knowledge, volunteers like Jen give students the confidence they need to find success in both business and life by challenging students to examine their strengths and consider their futures within their community.

“I have friends from Castlegar and Nelson with kids who graduate and leave for university; they get out of dodge as soon as they can, which I understand and I support,” said Jennifer. “But I also like the idea of inspiring youth to invest in their community.”

Be Entrepreneurial is one of JABC’s free programs, available thanks to generous donations from supporters like the Trust.

JABC is a member of JA Canada and part of JA Worldwide (JA), the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about business. Since 1955, British Columbia schools have partnered with JA to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in an ever-changing global economy. In the 2016-17 school year, over 38,000 BC students benefited from JABC programs delivered free of charge by volunteers from local business communities.

To volunteer to deliver a JABC program in your community, visit jabc.ca/volunteers. To request the Be Entrepreneurial Program for your school, check out jabc.ca/teachers.




Selkirk College adds Tech Programs - Computer Programming

Selkirk College Adds Tech Programs

Selkirk College adds Tech Programs - Computer Programming

Selkirk College Vice President of Education Neil Coburn sits in a Selkirk College computer lab. With the announced Provincial Government start-up funding, the college is getting ready to launch two new tech programs that will equip learners with the education and skills required for one of the fastest growing sectors of British Columbia’s economy.

With technology and innovation firmly taking hold in the West Kootenay – Boundary it should come as no surprise that our local college should be sitting up to take notice and begin providing the necessary support for what is becoming a strong economic driver, for the province and the region.

With the help of $100,000 from the Provincial Government, Selkirk College is developing two new programs aimed at providing opportunities in the expanding and evolving local tech sector.

In an effort to provide for the growing need for technology professionals the contribution from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training will allow the College to develop a program for aspiring web developers as well as a program for those interested in digital design and fabrication.

These skills are in increasing demand and to offer the education and training locally allows students to graduate with the necessary knowledge and skills to access the market here at home as well, either in existing industry and business or as entrepreneurs.

“Manufacturing is the fourth largest industry in British Columbia and with new technology, it’s fast changing,” says Neil Coburn, Selkirk College’s Vice President of Education. “Our region currently lags behind in this sector of the economy and much of that has to do with the availability of relevant knowledge and skills. Both of these programs will help provide the right education to ensure we have the people who can fill what are typically high paying jobs or use their entrepreneurial savvy to build their own business.”

While both programs are currently in the planning stages, the funding from Victoria will enable the college to move forward with the next crucial steps.

“To obtain good-paying, 21st Century jobs, people need access to affordable and relevant education and training opportunities,” says Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “Funding two new tech programs at Selkirk College will open the doors to opportunities in the tech sectors for more students in our region.”

The proposed Web Application Development Program is a 10-month certificate program with the first intake expected September, 2017. The program will produce graduates with strong coding skills, a solid understanding of business practices, and the skills to communicate clearly and concisely about business technologies. Learners will emerge from the program with the ability to present, implement and maintain emerging web-based technologies in ways that help organizations meet the demands of the ever-changing technical landscape.

The Digital Fabrication & Design Program, a partnership with the MIDAS Fab Lab to develop and launch for September 2019, is a proposed two-year program with multiple delivery formats. The program will teach applied technical skills to prepare students for a wide variety of digital fabrication careers. With instruction delivered in modules, students will receive the full spectrum of digital fabrication implementations and opportunities such as digital design, 3D printing, CNC (computer numerical control) machining and emerging technologies like robotics.

“Selkirk College has been an active supporter of the MIDAS fabrication lab in Trail which is a provincial leader in this type of technology,” says Coburn, who started his career at Selkirk College as a mathematics and computer programming instructor. “Some of the brightest and most innovative businesses in the region are working with MIDAS and we are partnering closely with them to further develop this program.”









Nelson Tech meetup

5 Reasons to Get Yourself to a Tech Meetup!

Nelson Tech meetup

As rewarding as we find our careers in Information Technology, it’s an industry that can often mean long, irregular hours; days spent sitting (or, to protect our increasingly compressed discs, standing!) in front of computer screen; and to top it all off, it often means many solitary hours with little to no social interaction.  Whether you work from home or office.

A Tech Meetup group can often be the antidote to the isolation in which tech and knowledge workers spend their days. It’s an opportunity to emerge from the vacuum and see who else is out there doing diverse and inspiring things in the industry in your community.

But with the long hours is it really worth spending yet more time ‘on’ at the end of the busy workday to attend a Meetup group?


Tech Meetups offer any number of opportunities, personal and professional, to connect with like-minded professionals, or anyone else interested in IT.  And, they’re FREE!  They are often held at an office space, a co-work space, or even a casual pub environment and can consist of presentations, discussions, break-outs as well as simply socializing.

If we want to avoid getting caught up in our own little workaday bubble, a professional vacuum, your local Tech Meetup is a great opportunity to keep up with the advancements in technology, gain new insights and knowledge about your market, and engage in some personal and professional development. A Meetup lets you express your passion for what you do, or a particular technology, making these events a great place to learn and network with other passionate individuals within your local technology community.

If you’re still a Meetup sceptic, thinking ‘I don’t know anyone’, ‘I don’t know enough about the topic’ and ‘what will getting involved in a local meet-up do for me?’, wondering what exactly you can gain from a local technical Meetup, here are five great reasons to get you out the door for some fun as you connect with your IT peers:

Expand your learning- No two Meetups are the same!  There are events where the wonderful organizers often arrange relevant speakers or information on pertinent topics to kick things off.  There are others where the gathering is simple and unstructured.  In either case, you can be sure to leave the Meetup having learned something new.  Each exchange is an opportunity for expanding your knowledge, discovering new things and some much needed inspiration.

Connect with new people & businesses – A Tech Meetup is a fantastic way to network and make valuable new connections.  In fact, a good Meetup is designed towards that end.  It’s a safe, non-threatening place to put yourself out there, meet potential collaborators, recruiters, or workers in the tech space.  It’s a welcoming environment, where attendees make the effort to return as often as they’re able, and where you’ll likely make some new friends.

Share experiences, successes and challenges – As stated earlier, tech and knowledge workers can often spend much of their time in isolation, enjoying victories and successes as well as sucking up the challenges and failures, alone. A Meetup is a great way to share insights gained from your experiences, offer and receive advice, or perhaps simply commiserate with others who have been there themselves.

Promote your brand – A Meetup is a terrific way to promote your business, product or service!  They can be your secret weapon to building your business and can open up opportunities for learning, collaboration, and growth.  If you choose to present you’ll be well positioned to confirm your credibility and authority in your field and market as well.

Free snacks & beer (sometimes wine, too!) –  This may not necessarily standard, but it’s often the case.  Consider it a tasty bonus to top off all the other benefits you’ll enjoy in attending!

Maybe free snacks and beer might not be enough to get you out after a busy day, but the other reasons should make it an easy sell.  Tech Meetups are typically held monthly and it really is ideal if you can attend as many as possible to give you a chance to get to know others in your community and gain valuable knowledge!

For those of you in the West Koots, the chance to Meetup is coming up soon!  Join us for the Nelson Tech Meetup, Tuesday, April 24th at 6:30 pm at the incomparable Torchlight Brewing Co.