Clean technology companies, Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities in rural British Columbia will get help turning business ideas into reality thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada.
Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr announced on behalf of the federal government, $473,000 in funding to support Accelerate Okanagan to scale up its programming while expanding its services to target new communities.
“Innovation and technology have the potential to drive our economy and create well-paying jobs for all Canadians,” said Fuhr. “By expanding their services across British Columbia, Accelerate Okanagan is helping more people—especially those who live in rural and Indigenous communities—to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into economic success stories.”
Accelerate Okanagan’s mission is to give new and growing technology-driven businesses the mentorships and connections they need to thrive through programs like Startup Basics and RevUp. With this funding, Accelerate Okanagan will expand the two programs, while adding a focus on clean technology and Indigenous entrepreneurs. The funding will also help Accelerate Okanagan extend the programs to Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Prince George.
“I strongly believe that mentorship programs are key to the successful growth of any company and critical in creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through this initiative, our mentorship programs will now have greater reach and impact and this will ensure we continue to build a strong future for Canada’s economy,” said Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan.
At the announcement Thursday morning in Kelowna, Gopal said the Okanagan is the fastest growing tech region in the country with 15 per cent growth year-over-year in each of the last two years.
He said as of the end of 2015, there were 630 tech companies in the Valley, 7,600 people were employed in the sector and it had an annual economic impact on the Okanagan economy of $1.3 billion.
The funding announced by Fuhr will also support an increased emphasis on clean technology at Metabridge 2018—an annual retreat that connects Canadian technology companies with their peers in California’s “Silicon Valley.” By attracting clean technology entrepreneurs to this event, more local companies will benefit from exposure to global entrepreneurs and venture capital.
And Fuhr said its not just the industry that is taking notice of what is happening with the tech sector in the Okanagan. He said the federal government is also paying attention—and that makes it easier for him when he lobbies for funding from Ottawa for his riding.
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