The B.C. government has announced a multi-year #BCTECH Strategy to bolster the vibrant technology sector in B.C. Following the announcement of the C$100-million B.C. Tech Fund in December 2015 aimed at advancing the first strategic pillar of access to capital, the final two pillars of deepening the B.C. talent pool and easier market access were announced at the sold out #BCTECH Summit on January 18, 2016. #BCTECH Summit brought together more than 2,800 business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and students focused on advancing the technology sector in B.C. The #BCTECH Summit also hosted a venture capital forum featuring presentations from B.C. technology companies representing a wide variety of technology driven sectors, including life sciences, pharmacology, clean technology, mobile services and digital media.
The new #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the B.C. Jobs Plan. The previously announced C$100-million B.C. Tech Fund is aimed at advancing the first strategic pillar of the #BCTECH Strategy by increasing access to capital for promising companies. The B.C. Tech Fund will help early stage technology companies realize their potential by addressing the Series A funding gap and revitalizing early stage venture capital in B.C. The capital will be deployed to support local investments, leverage capital from other jurisdictions, and help B.C. technology companies to grow and prosper. The increase in access to capital is complemented by the B.C. venture capital tax credits and competitive corporate tax rates in B.C.
The B.C. government’s infusion of capital in the technology sector aligns with the C$100-million cleantech fund — Evok Innovations — launched by the Canadian oil and gas sector to accelerate the development and commercialization of impactful clean technology solutions and address the most pressing environmental and economic challenges facing the oil and gas sector. The entrepreneur-led Evok Innovations provides early-stage companies with capital to accelerate the adoption of clean technologies by connecting portfolio companies directly with industry partners.
The second strategic pillar of #BCTECH focuses on strengthening the B.C. technology talent pool to ensure the success and competitiveness of the local technology sector. The government plans to increase the B.C. technology talent pool by primarily utilizing a bottom-up approach. The strategy hinges on revamping the curriculum for K-12 in math and sciences to establish the fundamental skills needed for careers in the technology industry, including the opportunity for each student to learn coding by the end of Grade 9. The early changes to the educational curriculum will be augmented by greater access to technology-related work experience programs for high school students, and an increase in funding to implement advance research laboratories for post-secondary students.
The third strategic pillar of increasing the access of technology companies to markets is an important forward-looking step towards sustainability. The government strategy is comprised of various steps, including taking steps to streamline, simplify and automate the government procurement process, increasing access to local and global markets, facilitating exports and improving collaboration and commercialization in the technology sector.