An artist's impression of the planned new Okanagan Innovation Centre at the corner of Ellis Street and Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna.

Innovation centre planned for downtown Kelowna

The new, six-storey Okanagan Centre for Innovation would serve as an "incubator" for high-tech startups.

Plans are in the works to build a six-storey building at the corner of Ellis Street and Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna to become an “incubator” for new technology companies here.

The proposed Okanagan Centre for Innovation would be a 9,848-square-metre facility, slated for city-owned land beside the main downtown branch of the Okanagan Regional Library. The site is currently a grass lawn.

According to the plans, which are to be announced later this afternoon, the state-of-the-art building will house everything from two-person start-ups to large technology and innovation firms.  Publicly-supported space and services will also be available for early-stage companies, non-profits, community groups, and social enterprises.

While the building would be built by a developer on the the 2,025-square-metre site,  it will be be a joint venture of Okanagan College, Accelerate Okanagan, the Economic Development Commission, the city and the non-profit Kelowna Innovation Society.

The city is negotiating a long-term lease for the property.

Conceived by a group of entrepreneurs, community and civic leaders, and inspired in part by the purposeful design and development investments  Pixar’s, Apple’s and Google’s campuses, the partnership seeks to solve the challenge of diversifying from resource and manufacturing-based economies to knowledge-based economies, says a website that has been set up for the project.

The site says the project’s goal is to “build Canada’s most innovative, creative and entrepreneurial technology community.”

Construction is slated to begin in this summer, with occupancy expected by the fall 2015.

Currently, zoning on the land would allow the building and it’s proposed six-storey height, say city officials.

One of the features of the building is that it would be connected to the library next door on the main and first floors.

The building, designed by local firm Meiklejohn  Architects Inc., is described as a  contemporary, state-of-the-art facility designed to respect the environment and its neighbours and to honour the Okanagan’s natural beauty and landscape.  A rooftop patio with trees and a walking path will enhance the location’s views and create increased opportunities for tenants & the public to enjoy time outdoors.

The project will seek to adhere as much as possible to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles, and will include extensive windows, and a large central atrium to increase natural light and reduce energy use.

An open house on the project will be May 28 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Downtown Library and more information can be found at the website

Meanwhile, the city plans to expand the parkade on the other side of the library building this year, in anticipation of construction of a new tower kitty-corner to the site of the Centre for Innovation building to house the operations of Interior Health.