Co-founder of Club Penquin and former Disney Interactive executive Laine Merrefield (left ) explains plans for the new Okanagan Centre for Innovation to local MLA Norm Letnick (centre) and B.C. Premier and local MLA Christy Clark at the construction site in downtown Kelowna Friday. Clark joined a number of dignitaries for a ceremonial grand-breaking for the project.

Construction begins on Okanagan Innovation Centre

Premier Christy Clark on hand Friday to highlight government investment in technology centre.

  • Oct. 31, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Premier Christy Clark was joined by local technology entrepreneurs today in Kelowna to mark the beginning of construction on the Okanagan Centre for Innovation.

“Whether they are already a big player like Club Penguin, or a promising start-up like Bananatag, successful entrepreneurs are crucial to a strong economy,” said Clark. “That’s why we are investing in this project – so local innovators get a head start in growing their business, creating jobs, and solidifying Kelowna as a leader in technological development and investment.”

With the site fenced and excavated, shovels have officially hit the ground. The foundation for the six-storey, 9,850 square-metre (106,000 square-foot) centre is scheduled to be laid in mid-November and construction completed by early 2016, creating about 500 construction jobs in the process.

The centre will provide low-cost, flexible space for local students, entrepreneurs and technology startups, who will also gain benefits from the convenience of being housed in one space to network, share ideas and pass on experience.

“Kelowna has a diverse and thriving tech community, which has set the stage for this development,” said Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Andrew Wilkinson. “The new Okanagan Centre for Innovation will allow Kelowna to build on that success by providingentrepreneurs with the skills, guidance and workspace they need to prosper.”

The project is the result of a collaborative group with a shared vision, including community members, private industry partners and academic leaders from Okanagan College, University of British Columbia, Accelerate Okanagan, and the Central Okanagan Development Commission.

They all have a common goal of seeing Kelowna’s entrepreneurs advance as national and international leaders in technology.

The centre is being built on city-owned land valued at more than $2 million and under long-term lease from the City of Kelowna. The city will also receive ownership of a portion of the building that will be leased back to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation to provide non-profit space.

“I believe we’ll look back on the start of this project as one of the sparks that made Kelowna a hotspot for technology development in Canada and around the world,” said Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray. “Great partnerships among levels of government, centres of learning and business development groups will continue to expand our sustainable, knowledge-based economy.”

The provincial government will own 1,860 square metres (20,000 square feet) of space in the building, which will provide low-cost, flexible space for start-ups at a venture stage.

“This is an exciting day for our technology, innovation and entrepreneurial community,” said Jeff Keen, with  the Okanagan Centre for Innovation. “This new centre will firmly establish the Okanagan as a great place to start and grow a tech company, and will have a positive effect in the region and throughout B.C. The municipal and provincial governments should be applauded for making investments in intelligent economic development initiatives like this.”

This investment supports the BC Jobs Plan by helping deliver on government’s commitment to fostering innovation and growth in British Columbia’s technology sector.

Just Posted

East Shuswap Road wildfire’s fire line being controlled

Firefighters saved an eagle’s nest and eaglets while controlling fire lines

RCMP ask public to help locate missing West Kelowna teen

Madison Loutitt was last seen July 12

Thieves on the loose in Lake Country

The RCMP is looking for thieves who stole from vehicles and a liquor store

Indie film lovers unite in Kelowna

The third annual IndieFest starts today

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Your reviews: John Fogerty rocks the South Okanagan

Photos and reviews from fans in Penticton at John Fogerty’s concert in the SOEC

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read