Small- and medium-sized businesses in British Columbia’s technology sector have never experienced an economic crisis like the one brought on by COVID-19. Even seasoned entrepreneurs are struggling with uncertainty as they reassess budgets, redesign marketing strategies and prepare cash-flow projections. Over the past months, the Government of Canada has taken strong action to help these businesses keep employees, pay rent and get access to capital to cover costs. As our economy reopens, the federal government continues to make important investments to support BC’s technology sector.
Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), announced $2,950,000 in federal support to help businesses in B.C.'s technology sector address the impact of COVID-19. This funding will benefit up to 2,500 innovative companies and support as many as 1,000 jobs. Up to half of these businesses are either owned or operated by women, youth or Indigenous people. This funding flows from the $304 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for Western businesses, announced by Minister Joly on May 13, 2020.
Federal funding to help BC technology sector expand and support economic growth
As B.C.’s technology companies assess and address the impact of COVID-19, this funding will help support them through the new BC Technology Sector Resiliency Program, developed and delivered by Innovate BC in partnership with the BC Acceleration Network (BCAN,) its provincial network of business accelerators and incubators. This program will expand existing advisory services and resources across B.C. to support tech entrepreneurs starting and scaling up their businesses, with a focus on training, advice and resources dedicated to helping them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Innovate BC will also work with BCAN and other organizations to expand the innovative ''Digital Economic Response'' (DER3) program across regional communities in the Okanagan Valley, Thompson-Nicola, Vancouver Island, Northern BC and the Kootenays. Originally run by Nanaimo’s Innovation Island Technology Association, DER3 provides one-to-one business and technical expertise for companies hoping to improve their digital capacity. The WD funding will help build an integrated network to provide training, tools, and customized advice to over 900 businesses. This crucial support will help them transition into the digital economy or expand their digital footprint, giving them the tools they need to respond to physical restrictions and expand to new markets. WD provided $100,000 to Innovation Island Technology Association earlier this year to develop the DER3 program.
“Innovative companies are the engines of our future growth, and this investment is a vote of confidence in the future of B.C.’s technology sector. Our message is clear: we’ve been here for you with immediate measures, we’re here for you now as our economy reopens and we’ll get through this, together. We’re working with you to support good, local jobs and help B.C.’s tech sector come back strong.” - The Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“The B.C. tech sector has highlighted its resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding allows Innovate BC to support more tech companies to accelerate their business, grow in the global market and create family-supporting jobs. This program will be critically important as we all work toward an economic recovery that benefits everyone.” - Michelle Mungall, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness.
“This federal funding will enable Innovate BC and our network of provincial partners to provide direct support to local businesses that are dealing with the economic fallout of COVID-19. Through this program, B.C. businesses will get access to training, mentorship, and advisory services that will maintain jobs and ensure that companies across the province are set up for resiliency and success.” - Raghwa Gopal, President and CEO, Innovate BC
• The technology sector is key to a healthy, diverse business economy in British Columbia (B.C.), accounting for$15.7 billion in annual revenues (7 per cent of B.C.'s provincial GDP) and employment of 114,000 individuals, or 5.2 per cent of B.C.'s workforce.
• Innovate BC is a Crown Corporation of the Government of British Columbia. It funds entrepreneurial support programs in the province. Innovate BC focuses on supporting technology start-ups and entrepreneurs through programs, sponsorship, and competitions that facilitate technology commercialization.
• Innovate BC will engage with partners in the BC Acceleration Network including: Accelerate Okanagan, Foresight CAC, entrepreneurship@UBC, Innovation Central Society, Innovation Island Technology Association, Kamloops Innovation Centre, Kootenay Association of Science and Technology, New Ventures BC, VentureLabs, and Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.
• In addition, Innovate BC will deliver the program with: BC Tech Association, Launch Academy, and CDL-West