The Government of Canada has invested $2.95 million CAD in Innovate BC for two programs to help British Columbia (BC) tech startups cope with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
The federal funding, distributed by Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), comes from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) for Western Businesses. WD is one of the country’s six regional development agencies (RDAs). The new program will be delivered by Innovate BC, a provincial agency that supports BC tech startups and entrepreneurs by funding programs, sponsorships, and competitions.
“This investment is a vote of confidence in the future of BC’s technology sector.”
– Minister Mélanie Joly
The two funded programs include the new BC Technology Sector Resiliency Program, which aims to help BC tech entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses by focusing training and resources on helping them recover from COVID-19, as well as the existing Digital Economic Response (DER3) program, which provides one-to-one business and technical consultations for companies that want to improve their digital capacity.
“Innovative companies are the engines of our future growth, and this investment is a vote of confidence in the future of BC’s technology sector,” said Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development responsible for WD. “Our message is clear: we’ve been here for you with immediate measures, we’re here for you now as our economy reopens and we’ll get through this, together.”
The BC Technology Sector Resiliency Program will be developed and delivered by Innovate BC in partnership with the BC Acceleration Network (BCAN), BC’s network of business accelerators and incubators. The funding will help expand existing advisory services and resources across the province.
WD anticipates the new program will benefit up to 2,500 innovative companies and support as many as 1,000 jobs, focusing in particular on businesses owned or operated by women, youth or Indigenous people.
Innovate BC also plans to use some of the funding to work with BCAN and other organizations to expand the existing DER3 program. WD estimates this investment will help it provide support to over 900 businesses. Earlier this year, WD provided $100,000 to Nanaimo’s Innovation Technology Island to develop the DER3 program.
“This federal funding will enable Innovate BC and our network of provincial partners to provide direct support to local businesses that are dealing with the economic fallout of COVID-19,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “Through this program, B.C. businesses will get access to training, mentorship, and advisory services that will maintain jobs and ensure that companies across the province are set up for resiliency and success.”
The BC Tech Association, Launch Academy, and CDL-West will also help deliver the programs.
“The BC tech sector has highlighted its resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michelle Mungall, BC’s minister of jobs and economic development. “This funding allows Innovate BC to support more tech companies to accelerate their business, grow in the global market and create family-supporting jobs. This program will be critically important as we all work toward an economic recovery that benefits everyone.”
According to WD, BC’s tech sector accounts for seven percent of BC’s GDP and employs 5.2 per cent of the province’s workforce.
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