Kootenay Association for Science and Technology's Tech Resiliency Program, one of the ways they provide free help to Kootenay businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo submitted.

KAST helps Kootenay businesses navigate into digital realms amid pandemic

Kootenay Association for Science and Technology provide one-on-one help for free

Since the onset of the pandemic, countless businesses have had to transition their operations into a more digital realm and the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) has helped many businesses in the area with that process, free of charge.

According to a press release, KAST partnering with the BC Tech Association enabled them to provide one-on-one support to non-tech businesses in the Kootenays for free.

They held their first Virtual Connection Day in May, 2020 and due to the high level of interest, they offered four more in July, September, October and January.

They then also partnered with Basin Business Advisors, Columbia Basin Trust and Community Futures Central Kootenay to further expand the region throughout the region. Businesses were able to apply to these Virtual Connection Days to get free one-on-one mentorship with a tech expert, to guide them through fields such as digital marketing, ecommerce, working remotely and cybersecurity.

Businesses were able to learn new tools they could employ to ensure they could navigate successfully through the COVID-19 pandemic from tech experts, many of whom have backgrounds as tech consultants or digital service providers.

For example, these experts provided insight on how to reach customers or maintain business revenue.

“This was the first step of many in KAST helping Kootenay businesses overcome challenges due to COVID-19,” said Sean Smillie, Executive Director of KAST. “Holding Virtual Connection Days with our partners is a great example of how we can work together as a community to build resilience, help local businesses with digital transformation and benefit the entire Kootenay economy. This is just one of many initiatives KAST has taken on to support both our non-tech and tech businesses locally.”

In September, 2020 KAST further developed their program by launching the Digital Economy: Rapid Response and Resiliency (DER3) Program, developed by Innovate BC and funded by Western Economic Diversification.

This program has helped 231 small to medium-sized businesses, from a wide range of sectors, to either enter or expand in the digital economy.

KAST said the DER3 program has helped Kootenay businesses shift their approaches to be more profitable, expand into new markets, tackle new opportunities and respond to the many complex challenges presented by COVID-19.

“It was important for KAST to pull together a team that could relate to, and fully understand, the unique challenges businesses in our region are facing,” Smillie said.

“Rural communities face very different challenges than major centres, especially when it comes to digital transformation. It was critical that our local Virtual Connection Day service providers and our DER3 and Tech Resiliency Program contractors could relate to the people they’re helping. Locals helping locals is the ecosystem we were after and we are thrilled it was successful.”

The Tech Resiliency Program was designed specifically for Kootenay tech startups and companies that were impacted by the pandemic. Again, theses businesses were able to get intimate coaching in the specific areas they most needed guidance with.

According to the release, businesses most sought help in five main areas: websites, digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), business strategy and back of office systems or bookkeeping.

You can learn more about KAST at www.kast.com



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

These two city-owned houses on Railway Avenue in the Railtown district will be sold. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson will sell two derelict houses in Railtown

Purchasers will be responsible for demolition and slope stability issues

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
A grant from the province will fund the installation of lighting and electrical in the stage at Cottonwood Park and the construction of a washroom. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson receives grant for washroom and electrical at Cottonwood Falls Park stage

Grant will also fund concession stand and parking improvements

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read