Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston met with tech sector officials in Kelowna Friday.—Image: Black Press

Tech minister meets with industry representatives in Kelowna

Bruce Ralston wants to know what government can do to help tech sector grow

The growth of the Okanagan tech sector is top of mind among entrepreneurs in the region after a round-table meeting in Kelowna today with Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s minister of jobs, trade and technology.

The discussion focused on the factors affecting the growth of the technology sector in the Okanagan and included suggestions about what the industry and all levels of government can do to support growth for tech and tech-enabled companies at the startup and growth stage.

Organized by Accelerate Okanagan, the round-table took place at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation, the largest co-working space in the region, which can accommodate up to 500 local entrepreneurs, tech startups and students.

Participants in the event were companies operating in agri-tech, life sciences, digital and animation space, and included startups and growth-stage companies, companies that are selling locally and globally, and companies that have major partnerships with some of the top global brands.

The round-table coincides with the BC Innovation Council’s BC Growth Opportunities (#BCGO) tour stop in Kelowna, which is being attended by parliamentary secretary for technology Rick Glumac. The #BCGO Tour is taking place in six cities throughout B.C., and is intended to spark innovation and job growth in local economies in British Columbia.

#BCGO provides an opportunity for local businesses to collaborate with larger companies, government and entrepreneurs and aims to build a stronger network of tech companies throughout the province so they can showcase their innovations provincewide and build business where they live.

Glumac is also meeting with a group of graduates from the RevUP program, a shared funding initiative through the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program.

In 2015, the Okanagan Valley was home to more than 630 technology related businesses with a collective workforce of 7,600 employees.

Referred to as the Silicon Vineyard, the technology sector here accounts for annual revenues of $1.3 billion to the overall Okanagan economy and is made up of more than 9,900 companies that employ more than 100,000 people.

According to the government, B.C. tech jobs are surpassing B.C.’s overall employment growth and Canada’s tech sector employment growth.

Accelerate Okanagan offers a suite of programs and support services to local technology entrepreneurs and businesses, including its RevUP program for accelerating rapid growth stage companies.

The #BCGO Tour has made stops in Prince George, Nelson, Victoria, Surrey and Kelowna, and will wrap up in Kamloops on Nov. 3, 2017.

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