Innovation initiative supports BC businesses + students

New Ventures BC grants to businesses support hiring BC students

The Innovator Skills Initiative grant program is a valuable asset for businesses, says Jay Pozo, president of Okanagan software development company Mega Build Lab.

The Innovator Skills Initiative grant program is a valuable asset for businesses, says Jay Pozo, president of Okanagan software development company Mega Build Lab.

When the Okanagan’s Mega Build Lab was looking for technology support for a new project, they found it through New Ventures BC and a keen UBC-Okanagan student.

Working through the Innovator Skills Initiative grant program, administered by New Ventures BC, “we hired a student from UBCO who was very talented and willing to work with us,” says Jay Pozo, president of Mega Build Lab, a technology-driven software development company.

”We put him on one of our bigger projects and he wrote code for crucial parts of the project, as well as optimizing existing code. The benefit was the ability to accelerate our development time for our client, as well as reduce our cost. I would recommend the program to others for sure!”

The non-profit New Ventures BC works to recognize, encourage and develop entrepreneurship and innovation in B.C.’s start-up technology sector, explains Rachel Burns, New Ventures’ ISI Grant Program Manager.

Results of these initiatives have included thousands of new jobs, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, increased investment, technology commercialization and economic growth for B.C.

Through the Innovator Skills Initiative grant program, tech companies, startups, businesses and non-profit organizations receive up to $10,000 a year to hire BC post-secondary students.

Applications are open to all BC companies, with grants available for May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021.

Here’s how it works:

  • Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served, rolling basis. During the current COVID-19 concerns, staff are evaluating grants remotely and processing as usual. For companies facing hardship due to COVID-19 that can’t meet certain eligibility requirements, Burns encourages them to check in. “We are here to support you and will provide exceptions on a case-by-case basis,” she says.
  • The program provides flexibility regarding start times, end dates and payouts, and can include hiring a student who is working from home or remotely.
  • Businesses provide students with entrepreneurial and business training, and match grant funding.
  • Students must be enrolled or returning to an accredited BC- based post-secondary school and cannot be in co-op.
  • The grant can potentially be stacked with other funding and can be stacked with Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
  • To learn more, sign up for the next Innovator Skills Initiative grant program webinar info session.

Innovation on multiple fronts

In addition to the Innovator Skills Initiative grant program, New Ventures BC also offers a mentored Distance Venture Acceleration Program and hosts the annual New Ventures BC Competition, the largest and longest-running tech competition in BC, offering education, coaching and awarding $250,000 and prizes to BC startups.

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