Trudeau government opens wallet for B.C. tech initiatives ahead of election

What happened: Ottawa has ramped up funding announcements for B.C. tech initiatives since late August

Why it matters: Funding will be used to facilitate training and support services for individuals and companies

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Tech initiatives throughout the province look to be benefitting from a federal government gearing up for an October election.

With the dropping of the writ expected any day now, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced Sept. 5 $695,000 in federal money for Science World’s efforts to train students and educators in coding skills.

A day earlier the minister announced $3-million in funding for Simon Fraser University’s VentureLabs business accelerator.

And a week before that came an announcement from Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Minister Jonathan Wilkinson that Ottawa would provide the BC Tech Association $2.25 million to keep its Hub facility in Vancouver operating into 2020 and continue offering programming aimed at growing small- and medium-sized tech companies.

As for the $3 million going to SFU VentureLabs, money there will be used to establish what it’s calling a “scale-up and soft-landing centre” at the accelerator.

In addition to providing its existing services, such as working space and mentorship opportunities, to early stage companies in B.C., the new centre would be able to accommodate more startups from out of town.

Virginia Balcom, SFU VentureLabs’ acting executive director, said membership in the Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC) includes offering visiting companies a place to work, meet with customers and access to entrepreneurs-in-residence.

“This new funding will allow us to significantly expand our network of reciprocal partnerships for soft-landing, opening up new markets for our companies and helping new ventures from across Canada, and around the world,” she said in an email to Business in Vancouver.

“We'll be working with community members and partners to deliver this scale-up and soft-landing program, working together to help Canadian innovators create and scale new ventures.”

The $695,000 for Science World’s Tech 2.0 program aims to provide digital skills training to 30,000 students and nearly 1,200 teachers across the province.


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