Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson today announced a bold new vision to reinvigorate the Robson Square district as a centre of innovation where technology meets talent, including an investment to increase the number of grads by 250 per year at the University of British Columbia.
“Robson Square has immense potential, but today it is underutilized,” said Wilkinson. “Our vision is to revitalize the Robson Square district as a place where legacy meets opportunity, and where B.C. technology, post-secondary education, and culture come together.”
Designed by legendary B.C. architect Arthur Erickson, Robson Square is a provincially owned landmark and public space that has been has been a public meeting place for decades, particularly during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
The 250-graduate increase at the University of British Columbia will support the expansion of engineering, computer science and life sciences programming and is part of the #BCTECH Strategy commitment to increase the number of tech grads throughout B.C. by 1000 per year.
Looking to reanimate its Robson Square Campus and attract thousands of new students and professionals, UBC is focussed on creating a vibrant digital and data science hub that will include e-classrooms, cutting-edge programming, advanced simulations and visualization research, and technology development. To support these activities and grow beyond the current 32,000 visitors it receives each year, Robson Square could become the future home of these key innovation centres:
- UBC Centre for Digital Innovation,
- Talent Generator,
- UBC’s Centre for Digital Medicine,
- BC’s Innovation Impact Hub, or
- B.C.’s new Innovation Network.
To achieve this vision, the Province will initiate an innovative, creative, and transparent engagement process to seek the input of British Columbians on the future of the Robson Square district. The Province will work closely with the City of Vancouver and stakeholders – including the judiciary and Vancouver Art Gallery and others – to honour and protect the legacy of Robson Square and revitalize it as a catalyst for technology, education, and culture. Special emphasis will be put on the involvement of young architects in shaping the revitalization of Robson Square.
Robson Square’s innovation hub will be connected by transit to innovation clusters across Metro Vancouver: the new St. Paul’s Hospital and new Emily Carr campus in False Creek Flats, the life sciences cluster at Vancouver General Hospital, Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, and Innovation Boulevard in Surrey.
Santa Ono, president of the University of British Columbia and chief advisor of the Innovation Network –
“Talent is what drives innovation, and Robson Square is an ideal space for the enormous talent in B.C.’s post-secondary education, technology, life science, and financial sectors to converge and fuel the innovation economy.”
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft Corporation –
"It’s an important time for the Robson Square community, and Microsoft is excited to be part of it. This is another step in transforming the heart of Vancouver into an even more dynamic innovation and cultural hub and fostering greater opportunity for all in the Cascadia Corridor region.”
Bill Tam, president and CEO, BC Technology Association –
“This announcement builds on the provincial commitment to growing a top technology ecosystem in B.C. and providing for collaboration environments that create serendipitous connections among students, tech companies and industry leaders to build a stronger tech community.”
Derek Lew, chair of the BC Innovation Council –
“A reinvigorated Robson Square district will allow for new innovative partnerships that will keep us on the forefront of a global technology sector. his bold project is aligned with the BC Innovation Council’s vision for a B.C. tech sector that intersects with education and new commercialization opportunities.”
Kirsten Sutton, vice president and managing director, SAP Labs Canada –
“I am encouraged by the provincial government’s strong focus on innovation. B.C.’s technology sector is incredibly collaborative, and we are grateful for the Province’s vision to create a space where the best and brightest talent in our province and around the world can come together.”
Don Mattrick, co-chair, Premier’s Technology Council –
“We are seeing amazing growth and opportunity in British Columbia’s technology sector. This aspirational project responds to the bold vision represented in the #BCTECH Strategy and will lay the foundation for new advances in the tech sector any beyond.”
- Robson Square was designed by renowned B.C. architect Arthur Erickson. Construction was completed in 1983.
- B.C.’s tech sector employment eclipsed 100,000 for the first time in 2015, rising 2.9% to 101,780.
- In 2015, the technology sector added $14.1 billion to B.C.’s GDP; contributing more than 11% of Canada’s tech total.
- The Province will invest an additional $2.6 billion over three years in post-secondary infrastructure across the province, including $193.9 million in Metro Vancouver.
- The B.C. government will invest $246 million over three years as part of a total $2-billion investment from all three levels of government to modernize the transit system in Metro Vancouver.
Learn more about the Province’s vision to reinvigorate the Robson Square district: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/RobsonSquare_Backgrounder.pdf
#BCTECH Strategy One-Year Renewal and Update: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/10/2017/03/Renewed_BCTechStrategy.pdf
Premier’s Technology Council: www.premierstechnologycouncil.ca
Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition: http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/BusinessIndustry/HighTechnology.aspx
BC Jobs Plan Update: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/economy/progress-reports/
To find out more about Balanced Budget 2017, visit: bcbudget.ca
Bill AndersonDirector of Communications
Government Communications and Public Engagement