The KAST team is so excited to be celebrating such an incredible milestone! 20 years since the inception of the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology, the KAST journey has been truly a zig-zag of adventures, embracing new and creative ideas to help foster a new culture embracing innovation and encouraging a culture of startups and entrepreneurship.
20 years ago KAST registered as a non-profit society serving the West Kootenay-Boundary region and representing a broad range of interests in local industry, business, education and government.
KAST: 20 years committed to the spirit of West Kootenay innovation
In the mid-nineties, the Science Council of BC (SCBC) – what is now BCIC – launched several regional Innovation Councils beyond the lower mainland and Victoria to Nanaimo, Prince George, the East and West Kootenay. These councils, under the guidance of the SCBC were tasked with encouraging and promoting science through specific programs, training and events.
The councils quickly proved to be successful in raising the profile of science and, soon to follow, technology, throughout the regions they represented.
In 1998 the regional councils initiated a degree of independence from SCBC to allow for more autonomy and ownership of the programming, activities, and deliverables as per each council’s specific regional needs. It was at this juncture that KAST was launched as a non-profit.
The first couple of years were spent setting up the structure with a large step forward the result of transitioning from a working board to one of governance, allowing for more effective management of resources, programming and deliverables.
The second crucial step in establishing KAST as an authority in the science & technology needs in the region, was ensuring that both business and industry were represented on the board. With local CEOs of small business as well as industry representation combined with increased engagement with regional economic development organizations (Community Futures, Columbia Basin Trust), we were able to better identify not only the challenges facing entrepreneurs, business and education but effective solutions as well.
According to Bruce Hardy who was a member of the KAST board for eight of those early years (six of which he sat as Chair), “KAST created the environment, network and infrastructure that has helped many local startups find success here in the West Kootenay.”
Since the beginning we have worked hard to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as activities vital to maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the region. In that spirit we continue to organize and support a variety of efforts, events and initiatives that help to stimulate the growth of science and technology throughout the communities in our service area.
Our mission to promote and advance science and technology in the region is partially achieved through one of KAST’s primary goals, namely acting as a catalyst for advancing technological development to revitalize and diversify the West Kootenay-Boundary regional economy. We are so proud of our expanding role as important resource for promoting science and technology in the region.
We look to provide and support programming that underpins this vision with outstanding projects like the MIDAS FabLab serving as huge encouragement and inspiration as to what is possible in the region: fusing science, technology, innovation, and imagination for both industry and public participants.
As a community-based organization, we value:
- Being a visible and approachable member of our regional community
- Creating connections to solutions
- Positive partnerships and relationships that advance science, technology and innovation
- Our local talent and learning from others
- Education and learning
- Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship
- Effective action
KAST receives its core funding from the BC Innovation Council. In addition, every effort is made to leverage funding through partnerships, sponsorships and contracts with government and other organizations. We are proud of the skilled and talented staff that work tirelessly to implement the KAST vision and are governed by stellar representation by both the private and public sector in our diverse and inspiring Board of Directors.
In celebration of our 20 years supporting innovation throughout the region, this post launches a little stroll down memory lane, taking stops along the way to revisit highlights in this journey of two remarkable and innovative decades.