March 2023: Local Tech Stories That Caught My Eye

3 min read
March 30, 2023

Each month, I share my favourite local stories that showcase the incredible work being done by members of our B.C. tech and innovation community. The objective of these posts is to shine a brighter light on the innovation that’s taking place across this province.

Here are the stories from March that caught my eye.


The 2023 New Ventures BC Competition, Presented by Innovate BC, is Officially Underway

What Happened: Startups from across the province are encouraged to apply for one of North America’s biggest startup competitions.

Why We Should Care: Now in its 23rd year, the NVBC Competition is a breeding ground for the province’s most promising startups. Since inception, the competition has supported more than 3,400 BC tech companies that have collectively gone on to create over 8,600 full-time jobs and raise over $1.6B. 

Here are some recent Competition alumni that have made significant news over the last year:

Certn (Victoria) - 2017 Top Regional Startup

Mintlist (Vancouver) - 2021 Competition Winner

Cyberdontics (Nelson) - 2018 Runner Up

  • Raised $15M to bring their robotic root canals to market 

Fable (Vancouver) -- 2020 Third Place

Cuboh (Victoria) -- 2019 Third Place

Innovate BC is thrilled to support the New Ventures BC Competition once again and continue our partnership of over fifteen years. If you’re an innovator making an impact out of our region, I highly encourage you to take part in this great competition.

Applications close on April 11th. Interested startups can apply here.

Also, don't miss Innovate BC's upcoming discussion with the 2022 Competition winners on April 4th. Register here

More on this:

  • From 2022: Meet the Top 11 finalists in the 2022 NVBC Competition
  • From 2021: NVBC Competition Explainer Video


Locelle 🤝 Scotiabank

What Happened: Locelle and Scotiabank are teaming up to sponsor 5 BIPOC women with 3 months of mentorship.

Why We Should Care: The goal of the initiative is to provide support and guidance to BIPOC women -- who are underrepresented in the tech industry -- and help them advance their careers. Per the release, women hold just 26.7% of tech jobs and only 5% of the leadership jobs within the sector. Through this program, Locelle connects BIPOC women in BC to 1:1 mentorship, resources, and workshops to accelerate their career development and create a pipeline of diverse executives.

The Victoria-based company continues to trend upward, as Scotiabank is the latest in a line of partners and customers that includes Microsoft, Vanhack, and Terramera. Locelle boasts a powerhouse roster of mentors, offers monthly roundtables for its program participants, and has created a community where local women can make meaningful business connections.

Congrats to Humaira and the entire Locelle team on another impactful partnership.

More on this:

  • From 2022: Katy Perry, Shawshank and Encanto: 10 books, movies and songs that I love with Humaira Ahmed
  • From 2023: Locelle Celebrates Women Mentors


Female Business Leaders Take Centre Stage

What Happened: Female led businesses and organizations dominated headlines this month.

Why We Should Care: Every March, female business leaders take the spotlight. This year, we had thought leadership articles, events, and profile pieces that shined a light on our province’s growing community of women entrepreneurs.

Here are some of the female-focused stories that caught my eye this month.

Women’s Equity Lab

  • The Victoria-headquartered organization expanded to Atlantic Canada, Manitoba, and Silicon Valley
  • WEL is Canada’s first all-female angel fund network and invests in early-stage businesses
  • Some of the BC companies in their portfolio include Pocketed, Lucent Biosciences, and Open Ocean Robotics

Open Ocean Robotics

  • CEO, Julie Angus, was a guest on CBC Radio’s Superior Morning where she discussed rowing across the Atlantic Ocean
  • The months long adventure proved to be a formative experience for Angus and laid the groundwork for Open Ocean Robotics
  • Over the last few years, Open Ocean Robotics has raised capital, won awards, and become one of the country’s most promising cleantech companies

Natural Products Canada’s Game Changer List

  • More than two dozen BC-based companies made NPC’s Game Changer list, which recognizes the women behind Canada’s top natural and bio-based products
  • The companies on this list are creating a wide-range of products, including: alternative proteins (Save Da Sea), upcycled smoothies (Trendi), plant-based remedies (Maple Organics), nutritional gummies (Herbaland), and plant-based dog food (Virchew)

Sanctuary AI

  • The Vancouver-based AI company is testing a “humanoid” robot at a Mark’s store in Langley, B.C. The robot is focused on 110 retail-related tasks, including folding, tagging, and labeling
  • This first-of-its-kind deployment brings Sanctuary AI one step closer to delivering innovative labor solutions through human-like intelligence in general-purpose robots
  • Since its founding, Sanctuary AI has received more than C$100 million in funding from various partners, including Canadian Tire, Bell, and Export Development Canada

More on this:

  • From 2022: The Fight of the Female Founder
  • From 2022: Making space for more women in tech


Have a great April.

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