Looking Back on 2023: A Year in Review

6 min read
December 21, 2023

It was a notable and significant year for innovation in British Columbia. From the advancement of key industries through new avenues of technology and clean solutions, to taking on new and continuing challenges like the need to bolster and diversify our workforce. And across the past twelve months, Innovate BC worked to deliver impact-focussed programming that could support local innovators and companies, while establishing key partnerships to further critical initiatives and better understand and capitalize on opportunities emerging across our innovation ecosystem.

Join us for a look back on our accomplishments, impact, and initiatives from the past year.


014-InnovateBC2023Maggie Chan, Innovate BC’s Director, Tech Adoption at Bringing Your Innovation to Market in Prince George

2023 kicked-off with an announcement of new funding dedicated to enhancing support around intellectual property for startups across British Columbia, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Delivered by New Ventures BC and with Innovate BC serving as a prime collaborator, AccelerateIP from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will provide the tools Canadian startups need to better protect, strategically manage and leverage their IP. In tandem with AccelerateIP, InnovateBC is supporting other IP-focussed initiatives that are enhancing support for local innovators with IP Assist as well as the Province’s comprehensive new Intellectual Property Strategy.

Shortly after, Innovate BC and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) announced a combined total of $2 million in research and development funding to help 14 companies pilot their technologies and create new jobs across B.C. These companies include Axolotl Biosciences who are developing high-quality bioinks for 3D printing human tissue and Origen Air who are transforming interior spaces with genetically mastered air purification solutions to accelerate human potential and sustainability goals, among many more. We’re thrilled to help B.C. innovators attract their first customer and to see the success of this initiative which has generated jobs, reduced GHG emissions, created opportunities for First Nations communities, and contributed to the growth of B.C.’s innovation economy.

Later in January, our team travelled to Prince George to attend the 20th Annual BC Natural Resources Forum. Following the Forum, we hosted a separate event “Bringing your Innovation to Market” with our partners at Hubspace to inform local researchers and entrepreneurs about Innovate BC’s Tech Adoption programs. Key takeaways from the discussion included the importance of seeking out and leveraging strategic partnerships – especially early on – and staying aligned with your customers and the problem you’re trying to solve.

Closing out the winter with International Women’s Day, we profiled six women who are making their mark in British Columbia and across industries worldwide and inspiring the next generation of women in STEAM.



BC_230421_091L to R: Gerri Sinclair, B.C. Innovation Commissioner; Hon. Brenda Bailey, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation; Shaun Stevenson, President and CEO, Prince Rupert Port Authority; Jennifer Rice, MLA, North Coast; Angela Kirkham, Senior Director, Communications, DP World Canada, at the Port of Prince Rupert.

The spring started with an exciting announcement from the provincial government: B.C. is expanding the Integrated Marketplace initiative to the Port of Prince Rupert to reduce emissions and create economic opportunities through local innovation that will help create the greenest port in Canada.

The Province also announced they were investing an additional $5 million to the Innovator Skills Initiative, to be delivered by Innovate BC. The initiative provides tech companies with funding to hire and develop talent from under-represented communities.

More funding announcements followed with the call for applications for Innovate BC’s Ignite program, which awards up to $300,000 to fund B.C.-based research and development projects that are creating game-changing innovations in the areas of natural resources, engineering and applied sciences.



Innovate BC-43L to R: Innovate BC’s Jinny Wu, Director, Marketing + Communications; Maggie Chan, Director, Tech Adoption; Stacey Armstrong, Ecosystem Relations Manager; Michael Gleboff, Communications + Community Manager; Nicole Brzovic, Marketing + Events Manager; Harinder Singh, Tech Adoption Program Specialist; Supreet Kaur, IP Program Manager at Vancouver Startup Week.

Innovate BC was thrilled to once again be the Diamond Sponsor of Vancouver Startup Week. This year, VSW was back in-person for the first time since the pandemic. Innovate BC hosted two sessions at BCIT’s Tech Collider, adding valuable discussions as part of VSW’s 2023 programming. We took a deep dive into intellectual property and the growing priority of (and value in) diversifying the workplace.

Later this summer, the B.C. Government announced that entrepreneurs and companies will soon have access to new resources to help them grow and protect their ideas and products with the launch of B.C.’s Intellectual Property Strategy. They are providing $2.5 million to deliver the tools and resources to B.C. companies to safeguard their ideas and stay competitive in today’s global economy. This funding will leverage $12.5 million of federal funding going to AccelerateIP, an initiative led by New Ventures BC, to support more IP training and development for startups.



SXR02814LowResInnovate BC’s team at #IGNITE: Accelerating your Path to Commercialization on September 25, 2023.

It has been a busy and exciting fall, to say the least. It began with the launch of Capital Compass BC, a new online platform that provides a comprehensive and dynamic view of British Columbia’s capital and business landscape. The Capital Compass is the result of a partnership between Innovate BC, InBC Investment Corp. (InBC), PacifiCan, and New Ventures BC.

Innovate BC also hosted the first ever #IGNITE: Accelerating your Path to Commercialization. This one-day innovation and funding showcase featured inspiring speakers and sessions, networking and pitching, and the announcement of over $1M in funding through our Ignite program.

Shortly after, BC First Nations Business Development Association, Innovate BC and InBC Investment Corp. signed a new agreement to establish a working group to explore approaches to supporting First Nations innovation and technology in the province.

L to R: Angie Schick, Executive Director, New Ventures BC; Tomica Divic, Interim President + CEO, Innovate BC; Cory Sivell, Co-Founder + CEO, RetreatsAndVenues; Mike Tan, Co-Founder + Pre-Seed Investor, RetreatsAndVenues; Andrew Petter, Board Chair, Innovate BC.

And in October, RetreatsAndVenues, an innovative platform that’s revolutionizing the corporate retreat and offsite venue booking experience, won the top prize in the 2023 New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC. The North Vancouver startup outlasted 203 other startups en route to earning $110,000 and the title of the province’s top startup.

Innovate BC’s Integrated Marketplace also saw developments this fall, with the Government of Canada announcing $9.9 million in PacifiCan funding to Innovate BC to help establish and grow the Integrated Marketplace. This funding, through PacifiCan’s Regional Innovation Ecosystems program, is in addition to $11.5 million provided by the Government of B.C. and will support the program’s efforts to bolster demand-driven innovation across some of the province’s most significant industries – de-risking technology adoption for testbed partners such as YVR and the Port of Vancouver while creating exciting opportunities for B.C. solution providers.

Later, more funding was announced through Innovate BC’s new BC On-Farm Technology Adoption Program, which will provide up to $3 million over the next two years from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia.

P1010162Demizine Technologies Team, 2023 BC Fast Awardee.

And finally, we ended the year how we started it with the announcement of $2 million in BC Fast Pilot funding from Innovate BC and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). 13 cleantech projects received funding to demonstrate the impact of their product, measure the value of their solution, and encourage customer adoption. 

As we reflect on 2023, we look forward to working together with B.C. innovators, ecosystem partners including the BC Acceleration Network in the year ahead to drive a thriving, sustainable, and inclusive innovation economy. 

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