2020 lead and title New Ventures BC Competition sponsor, Innovate BC supports tech companies and innovators across BC. Since 2008 Innovate BC has sponsored our annual New Ventures BC Competition. We interviewed CEO of Innovate BC Raghwa Gopal to learn more about how Innovate BC is supporting tech companies throughout COVID-19, why they sponsor the New Ventures BC Competition and how tech companies can access their support.

How does Innovate BC support tech companies across BC?

Innovate BC supports our province’s innovators by connecting them to the funding, resources, and support they need to build great companies here in British Columbia. We support companies of all sizes, across all sectors, and our work ensures that the benefits of B.C.’s thriving tech sector are felt by people in all regions of the province.

What extra steps has Innovate BC implemented since the COVID-19 pandemic to support tech in BC?

Innovate BC delivers and funds programs that support B.C. companies at various stages of growth. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, we’ve had to make some adjustments to these programs to ensure that we’re able to effectively support companies during this time of need.

An example is our student hiring grant programs, which offer funding for companies that are looking to hire B.C. students. We’ve told our network that if any of our grant program requirements are barriers to them hiring or retaining students during this crisis, that they should reach out to us so we can try to find a way to help them out.

We’ve also pushed back deadlines for various funding programs in an effort to remove as many barriers as possible and make our services more accessible during this time of uncertainty.

And lastly, one of our biggest strengths at Innovate BC is our province-wide network. Now more than ever, we’re leveraging this network to facilitate connections, curate resources, and provide support to those who need it.

Why has Innovate BC supported the annual New Ventures BC Competition for over a decade?

The New Ventures BC Competition is a breeding ground for the province’s top startups. Each year, this competition gives entrepreneurs across the province the opportunity to access funding, connect with mentors, and learn valuable skills to help them build companies in the communities they’re from.

Also, when you look back at some of the high-profile alumni — Aspect Biosystems, Lumen5, Augurex, and Saltworks, just to a name a few — it’s clear that they all used this competition as a launching pad to create new jobs, increase their revenue, and raise their profile. Simply put, Innovate BC is an extremely proud title sponsor of the New Ventures Competition.

A focus of Innovate BC is on supporting companies across the province. Any success stories to share?

Innovate BC funds nearly a dozen accelerators across the province, including six that are located outside the Lower Mainland. Just looking at the last few weeks since this pandemic began to take hold here in Canada, we’ve seen several of our regional tech communities step up to challenge and fight back against COVID-19.

In Victoria, we’re seeing companies like StarFish Medical and Telmediq develop timely and innovative solutions to help healthcare professionals across North America.

Over on Vancouver Island, we’ve seen Innovation Island Technology Association (IITA) partner with a local economic trust to launch the Digital Economy Response Program to support businesses that need to change their business model/expand their services to stay afloat during this pandemic.

And not to be outdone, organizations like KAST (Kootenays), Accelerate Okanagan (Kelowna), Kamloops Innovation (Kamloops), and Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern BC) are creating new programs, pivoting existing programs, and working with local startups to develop innovative solutions and products to combat this crisis.

What are Innovate BC future plans to keep supporting the BC tech community?

Innovate BC is proud to support innovators at all stages of growth, all across the province. A great example of this is the newly launched BC Fast Pilot Program, which helps B.C. tech companies pilot their innovations at an industry test site. The program is funded by both Innovate BC and IRAP and aims to increase tech adoption across various industries in British Columbia.

How can tech companies access Innovate BC’s support?

There are lots of ways to access Innovate BC support.

Firstly, I’d recommend taking a look around our website to see which programs are the best fit for your business.

Secondly, if you have any questions about our programs, there’s contact information on each program page or you can simply email us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If you don’t have any questions and you’d like to apply for one of our programs, you can do so through each program page.

Thirdly, if you’d like to learn more about B.C. tech success stories, funding opportunities, and upcoming events, I recommend subscribing to our newsletter, which goes out every other Thursday.


2020 New Ventures BC Competition Round 2 Finalists Announced