BC innovation groups release report to prove why it’s Canada’s next supercluster

british columbia parliament

Since the Canadian federal government announced that it is accepting applications for its $950 million ‘supercluster’ initiative, Canada’s top tech players have been going the extra mile to show why their local hubs are worthy of a serious cash infusion.

Among the tech players racing for a chunk of the $950 million investment are research organizations and innovation groups from British Columbia. The BC Tech Association, the Research Universities’ Council of BC, Wavefront, and Santa Ono, chief advisor of the Innovation Network, just released a commission report to show why BC might have what it takes to become a global technology supercluster.

The report, British Columbia’s Digital Technology Supercluster, specifically highlights BC’s innovation strengths, capabilities, and milestones that could allow the province to become a technology supercluster.

The report notes that 150,000 people are employed in BC’s tech sector, and that the tech economy generated $26 billion in revenue, making it the fastest-growing tech sector in Canada. Large companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Sony, and Electronic Arts are attracted to the province. Additionally, the report highlights companies like D-Wave and 1QBit, which are advancing quantum computing research from the province, and Canadian “unicorns” like Hootsuite that call BC their home.

“The unique combination of BC’s digital technology strengths and leadership…offers the potential for a supercluster that can transform traditional industries and lead the world.”
– Bill Tam,
CEO, BC Tech Association
 

“BC is well-positioned to lead Canada’s next chapter of economic growth and global competitiveness,” said Bill Tam, CEO of the BC Tech Association. “The unique combination of BC’s digital technology strengths and leadership in the areas of natural resources, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, and creative entertainment offers the potential for a supercluster that can transform traditional industries and lead the world.”

Universities attract over $800 million a year in research funding. The report stresses that BC has the potential to create a “global supercluster” by applying its digital tech strengths across multiple industries, and that the province can transform traditional sectors such as transportation and natural resources, and encourage collaborations between innovation hubs and companies within BC and across Canada.

“Starting from the West Coast, BC can initiate and engage companies, innovators and hubs across the country, enabling a competitive advantage for the future of Canadian industries,” the report reads.

The report points to existing collaborations between companies and organizations such as Wavefront, which has created a nationally connected IoT network of companies; Boeing, which is using BC-based analytics centres to support manufacturing centres in Manitoba and Ontario; and BC Cancer and Life Sciences BC, which focus on genomic research collaboration with counterparts across Canada.

“The future holds great promise for Canada providing we make the kinds of investments that will pay large dividends,” said Ono. “BC’s digital technology supercluster combines complementary strengths in sectors in which we uniquely excel. With strategic investments and working with civil society, universities, governments at all levels and industry, this cluster will propel BC and Canada’s competitive advantages to rival the world’s top global innovation ecosystems.”

The federal government’s supercluster initiative is accepting applications until July 21. The initiative’s two-phase application process requires a Letter of Intent, followed by invite-only full application process that begins later this year.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.