British Columbia’s tech sector is positioned for a major boost to its innovation ecosystem with the shortlisting of a local tech consortium for funding from the Canadian government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative, announced Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston.
“B.C. has the right conditions to attract technology innovation and investment,” said Ralston. “Our tech sector is poised to reach new heights. This supercluster funding would go a long way to helping create skilled jobs for British Columbians and strengthen our economy provincewide.”
Beginning in 2017-18, the federal government will invest up to $950 million over five years to support industry-led innovation superclusters throughout Canada to accelerate economic growth, boost productivity, and increase competiveness. It’s expected that each successful applicant will receive between $125 million and $250 million.
“By investing in individual innovation superclusters across Canada, we are helping them become engines of growth that will energize Canada’s economy,” said Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “This initiative is the first of its kind in Canada and will help create thousands of good, well-paying middle-class jobs.”
The British Columbia consortium is led by TELUS and Microsoft and supported by the BC Tech Association, the BC Business Council, Wavefront, Lifesciences BC and the Research University's Council of BC.
“The B.C.-based Canadian Digital Supercluster consortium positions B.C. and Canada as global leaders in digital technology by working collaboratively to leverage our collective strengths,” said Bill Tam, president and CEO of the BC Tech Association. “It capitalizes on the strong foundations of our tech sector in data collection, analytics and visualization to build competitive advantage and global leadership for Canadian companies.”
“We’re partnering with more than 50 B.C. organizations in the private, academic and not-for-profit sectors and collectively committing more than $300 million to make Canada an internationally recognized digital innovator,” said Josh Blair, executive vice-president, TELUS Health and TELUS Business Solutions West. “We look forward to advancing a comprehensive suite of initiatives that can deliver meaningful economic, employment and social benefits for communities across British Columbia and Canada for generations to come.”
“We are bullish on the B.C. tech scene and the opportunities it is creating for all British Columbians,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft Corporation. “Microsoft’s presence is growing in Vancouver and we look forward to working with cross-industry partners to build the ecosystem as part of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor.”
The B.C. Digital Technology Supercluster consortium is one of nine shortlisted consortia throughout Canada. The B.C. consortium was selected after the federal government received 50 proposals involving more than 1,000 firms and 350 other participants. It’s expected that up to five will be selected as Canada’s new superclusters.
- The technology sector directly employs more than 100,000 people. Wages for those jobs are 75% higher than B.C.’s average.
- Employment in the tech sector rose 2.9%, surpassing B.C.’s overall employment growth of 2.5% and national tech sector employment growth of 1.1%.
- B.C. has seen a 1.9% rise in the number of new technology companies in 2015, growing to over 9,900 businesses.
- The gross domestic product (GDP) of B.C.’s tech sector expanded 2.4% in 2015, contributing $14.1 billion to B.C.’s overall economic output.
- Superclusters are dense areas of business activity that attract large and small companies that collaborate with universities, colleges or not-for-profit organizations to turn ideas into solutions that can be taken to market.
For more information about the federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative, visit:
For more information about the BC Tech Association, visit: http://www.wearebctech.com
For more information about the consortium’s supercluster proposal, visit: http://ow.ly/lDE430fOBgM