#BCTECH Summit Week: Noteworthy Announcements for BC’s Tech Sector

Date: March 15, 2017
Category: BC Tech Blog, The Voice
BCTECH Summit 2017

This week’s #BCTECH Summit commenced with several noteworthy announcements for the BC tech sector. The government has moved a long way towards the things we believe will be important to growing our sector, ensuring a strong pipeline of talent and bolstering the provincial economy.  Many of the announcements in the government’s update to the #BCTECH Strategy are aligned with recommendations outlined in BC Tech Association’s 4 Point-Plan for Growth and will be essential as we continue to build momentum to take BC to top 10 global tech ecosystem in the coming years. 

1. The BC Government releases an update to its #BCTECH Strategy at the #BCTECH Summit.

The BC Government this week unveiled a renewal to their #BCTECH strategy, reinforcing the three pillars of capital, talent and markets.  The strategy included several significant investments, particularly in the areas of investing in home-grown talent and ensuring streamlined pathways for attracting global talent. Their plans include:

  • Investing $100 million in post-secondary capacity.  The government will increase the number of tech grads by 1000 per year by 2022 by expanding the number of full-time student spaces at post-secondary institutions. 
  • Doubling Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning.  The province will double the number of placements in the BC Tech Co-op grant program and the Innovator Skills Initiatives as well as further invest in MITACs to expand work integrated experiential learning opportunities.
  • Enhancing access to government projects.  The province will begin a pilot of a new Startup in Residence (STIR) program for startups and small tech companies to co-develop solutions with government; and create an Innovation Ideas Fund to encourage government purchase of new innovative tech products.
  • Supporting AR and VR development.  As a follow on to the recent 2017 BC Budget, the province announced plans to expand eligibility of the Interactive and Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to include applications in business and other industries.  
  • Increasing the number of skilled immigrants with tech skills. A target for 1400-1800 more people will be met through a tech specific pilot under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This expansion will be complementary to the Canada’s Global Skills Strategy.
For our cleantech sector, the BC Government and the Government of Canada also announced a joint investment of $40 million to support the development of pre-commercial clean energy projects and technologies. The $20-million provincial contribution comes from the Province’s Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund. The federal contribution will be provided through the SD Tech Fund, managed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).  

2. 2017 Startup Genome Report ranks Vancouver’s tech ecosystem #1 in Canada and #15 in the world.  

Vancouver has developed a reputation as an attractive and competitive global destination for world-class tech companies to start and grow. Our improving performance as a vibrant tech startup ecosystem is reinforced by the 2017 Startup Genome Report released yesterday by Startup Genome. In this latest report, Vancouver moved up by 3 places from its #18 position in 2015 to become #15 globally.  

The report is a comprehensive look at 55 cities analyzed based on their performance on key factors driving startup success including startup experience, funding, talent, market reach, global connectedness and founders experience.  Vancouver scored well in the areas of global reach, startup experience and talent.  

These globally-recognized rankings will help to position Vancouver and British Columbia in the battle for global talent and investment and will further fortify the attractiveness of Vancouver as a place to start and grow tech companies.  The results were a culmination of a community effort that saw nearly 200 companies participate in the study.  Thank you to everyone who was part of this important undertaking.  

3. The BC New Democrat Party unveils their Tech Strategy to support the sector.

Earlier this week, the BC NDP also signaled their continued support of the tech sector in announcing NDP’s Tech Strategy.  The key pillars in their proposed plan are consistent with the priorities of the tech sector supporting access to talent, capital and expanded markets, with a focus on IT and government procurement. The announcement was an important development for the tech sector in ensuring enduring support from all political parties which will underwrite the much-needed consistency of approach and enduring investments to further grow our sector.  

In assessing the update to #BCTECH Strategy and the announcements over the past week, it’s clear that we must continue to make solid progress in investing in the tech sector.  There remains much work in supporting the implementation of these policies and addressing the talent and growth needs of companies.  Over the next few months, we will be working with our tech community to share the details of the programs.  

To provide your feedback or participate in BC Tech Association’s policy and advocacy efforts, please email us at policy@bctechassociation.org.