As an Engineering student at the University of British Columbia, Carol Lee was worried about the health of her grandparents in Taiwan.
So she started a project that produced wireless sensing technology, and today, ReFleX Wireless has developed a number of products, including their Sleep Angles sensor, which monitors how a body lies during sleep. The company’s finger sensor reads blood pressure and heart rate while the data can be viewed on a smart phone or computer.
Reflex Wireless is one of 140 startups, whose growth has been supported by the BC Venture Acceleration Program, a structured venture growth program launched by the BC Innovation Council (BCIC). Launched in 2012, the program announced Wednesday that it has achieved some impressive numbers.
143 companies have been involved with the program and 396 jobs have been created, while $4.4 million in revenue has been generated. As well, over $25 million in investment has been attracted and 24 Executives in Residence (EIRs) have provided one-on-one coaching to each company. Those companies have also benefitted from 75 vlunteer mentors
“These positive job creation and investment results highlight the great work BCIC has done over the past year to strengthen BC’s economy,” said Minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services Andrew Wilkinson. “Government will continue to support BCIC in its role in helping BC’s startup tech companies develop and commercialize their ideas, in turn creating jobs for families and spurring economic development across the province.”
The BC Venture Acceleration Program was designed “as an intense apprenticeship in technology entrepreneurship providing highly structured coaching and mentoring guidance” by serial entrepreneurs and experienced executives. Its main purpose is to help companies achieve product-market fit and a sustainable business model, “with customer acquisition as the principal goal very early in the startup’s lifecycle.”
The BCIC is the organization that supports the Venture Acceleration Program with funding and resources. It is a crown organization of the government of British Columbia, and delivers programs and initiatives that promote startup growth and speed to market, “resulting in jobs, revenue and economic development.”
“We are pleased to see the Venture Acceleration Program is truly accelerating the growth of tech startups across the province,” said the BC Acceleration Network’s Dean Prelazzi. “We are helping innovations and ideas become viable businesses, and helping to build the BC economy.”
Lee and her startup were just one of 140 startups created thus far, and the BCIC wrote in a release that there are several other success stories. For example, Mike Tan and Taylor Conroy are working to give every child access to education. Their company, Change Heroes, provides an online fundraising platform that enables individuals to engage their network to raise money to build a school in the developing world. Change Heroes is on track to generate $10 million in donations. The company recently won Startup World Vancouver, which included a prize worth $80,000.
Meanwhile, Bradley Roulston started a tech business in the remote town of Nelson with a friend, and offered his product, Time.ly, for free. It’s an innovative calendar software program that was launched in March 2012. Since then, the calendar has been installed on over 70,000 websites, indexing more than 3.5 million events. The company now employs 8 people.