OPINION: Kootenay tech sector is on the rise and everyone is noticing

Community Comment by Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC

A person’s attention is a very valuable commodity. It’s rare to have it, you aren’t sure how long it will last, and once you’ve lost it, there’s a chance you’ll never get it back.

So, when a regional community — that’s home to just 3.1 per cent of the provincial population — is drawing the attention of entrepreneurs, journalists, and investors from across the province, there’s probably a bit more than meets the eye.

Over the last 18 months, the Kootenay tech sector has been on the rise. Trail’s Advanced Biocarbon 3-D teamed up with Selkirk College to secure a $300,000 Ignite award to accelerate the commercialization of their breakthrough biotech research project. Rossland’s Thoughtexchange raised $20 million through private equity and venture capital investment.

Traction on Demand, a Burnaby-based company that employs more than 500 people, decided to open up an office in Nelson. And at the most recent #BCTECHSummit, five top Kootenay tech companies had an opportunity to showcase their work in front of nearly 5,000 people.

Moving forward, the region’s strong natural resource sector provides a big opportunity for tech companies to move their innovation into industry. Mining and forestry companies make up some of the largest employers in the area and represent some of the most willing tech adopters in the entire province. Teck Resources is already using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) solutions to make their operations safer and more efficient, while Kalesnikoff recently invested $35 million into a new tech-oriented mass timber facility in South Slocan.

All industries are adopting tech at increasing rates, and many of these industry leaders have an established presence in the Kootenays. For local companies that are developing innovative solutions using IoT, VR/AR, blockchain, cleantech — you name it — an incredible opportunity exists to not only build a successful business in the Kootenays, but gain direct access to support, talent, and customers right in your own backyard.

As the president and CEO of Innovate BC — the crown agency that connects B.C. innovators to funding, resources, and support — I’ve experienced firsthand the wave of tech and innovation that’s sweeping across the Kootenays. We’re proud to be a primary funder of both the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) and the MIDAS Fab Lab. These institutions have been a strong catalyst for the region’s tech sector, providing funding, mentorship, and education to help entrepreneurs start companies, find customers, and attract investment. Nearly every company, including the sector’s biggest employers, have been influenced by the support of KAST and MIDAS.

Our provincial tech sector is growing year over year and there’s never been a bigger demand for innovative ideas, companies, and solutions than there is right now. It’s time for regional communities, like the Kootenays, to take centre stage and show the world the power, potential, and possibilities of B.C. innovation.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Community comes together to create outdoor classroom at Kootenay school

Brent Kennedy Elementary has a new learning space thanks to an inspired teacher Kalesnikoff Lumber

Up to 90 people forced to evacuate Sandman Inn in Castlegar on Monday night

A heating appliance in hotel started to burn dust and caused smoke alarm to go off

School District 20 reports COVID case in Rossland school

A case of COVID-19 was reported at Rossland Summit School on Monday

RDCK rescinds evacuation alert for properties near Talbott Creek fire

Cooler and wetter condition are expected to help crews fight fire in coming days

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read