Pictured here is the Kootenay contingent at the 2019 #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver. Photo submitted

OPINION: Kootenay tech sector is on the rise and everyone is noticing

Community comment by Raghwa Gopal

A person’s attention is a very valuable commodity. It’s rare to have it, you aren’t sure how long it will last, and once you’ve lost it, there’s a chance you’ll never get it back.

So, when a regional community — that’s home to just 3.1 per cent of the provincial population — is drawing the attention of entrepreneurs, journalists, and investors from across the province, there’s probably a bit more than meets the eye.

Over the last 18 months, the Kootenay tech sector has been on the rise. Trail’s Advanced Biocarbon 3-D teamed up with Selkirk College to secure a $300,000 Ignite award to accelerate the commercialization of their breakthrough biotech research project. Rossland’s Thoughtexchange raised $20 million through private equity and venture capital investment.

Traction on Demand, a Burnaby-based company that employs more than 500 people, decided to open up an office in Nelson. And at the most recent #BCTECHSummit, five top Kootenay tech companies had an opportunity to showcase their work in front of nearly 5,000 people.

Moving forward, the region’s strong natural resource sector provides a big opportunity for tech companies to move their innovation into industry. Mining and forestry companies make up some of the largest employers in the area and represent some of the most willing tech adopters in the entire province. Teck Resources is already using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) solutions to make their operations safer and more efficient, while Kalesnikoff recently invested $35 million into a new tech-oriented mass timber facility in South Slocan.

All industries are adopting tech at increasing rates, and many of these industry leaders have an established presence in the Kootenays. For local companies that are developing innovative solutions using IoT, VR/AR, blockchain, cleantech — you name it — an incredible opportunity exists to not only build a successful business in the Kootenays, but gain direct access to support, talent, and customers right in your own backyard.

As the president and CEO of Innovate BC — the crown agency that connects B.C. innovators to funding, resources, and support — I’ve experienced firsthand the wave of tech and innovation that’s sweeping across the Kootenays. We’re proud to be a primary funder of both the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) and the MIDAS Fab Lab. These institutions have been a strong catalyst for the region’s tech sector, providing funding, mentorship, and education to help entrepreneurs start companies, find customers, and attract investment. Nearly every company, including the sector’s biggest employers, have been influenced by the support of KAST and MIDAS.

Our provincial tech sector is growing year over year and there’s never been a bigger demand for innovative ideas, companies, and solutions than there is right now. It’s time for regional communities, like the Kootenays, to take centre stage and show the world the power, potential, and possibilities of B.C. innovation.

Raghwa Gopal is the CEO of Innovate BC.

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

Just Posted

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

Nelson ArtWalk seeking submissions

You have until April 17 to submit your application

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read