Money talks – and when you’re doling out $100 million, you’ve presumably got a lot to say. Following up from a recent announcement of a $100 million BC Tech Fund, BC Premier Christy Clark provided more details on the province’s overall innovation strategy at #BCTECH Summit. More than 2,800 business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, students and others attended the diverse conference that featured panels, a trade show, hiring fair, coding event and more.
“It’s not just about teaching code — the actual strategy is tech writ large.”
With this fund, the province is looking to tackle a number of priorities for BC: providing access to capital for promising companies, developing talent and delivering market access.
While many in the tech sector will be focused on the short-term benefits of a quick injection of large capital, the long-term benefits for the local tech sector are being seeded in local schools. More than 600,000 BC students will be getting basic skills in the K-12 curriculum, with coding academies, more work experience electives and partnerships between high school and post-secondary institutions.
Going back to the original announcement, we asked provincial government representatives: “Why $100 million? Why not $5 million? Or $5 billion?”
@bcic #BCTECHSummit I love BC tech pic.twitter.com/A8r2ePJJBS
— Zeeshan (@ZeeshanHayat) January 19, 2016
“Coming up with this number, we consulted with industry leaders and experts in the field because you actually don’t want a fund that’s too large, where it crowds out private investment,” said one provincial representative. “The fund will run for about 15 years and help grow other funds in BC. It will be an evergreen fund, with returns from investments going back into the fund for future investments.”
The educational component of the strategy is a big pillar, noted John Jacobson, Deputy Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services. “It’s not just about teaching code — the actual strategy is tech writ large. Certainly, our clean tech sector is one of the strongest in the world, for example. Part of the goal of including coding is creating that confidence in students who feel like they can control technology, rather than just be users of it at a young age.
“The strategy is an important step and the venture capital announcement will have significant impact,” says Bill Tam, president and CEO of the BC Technology Innovation Association. “Talent remains a critical priority and we are pleased to see that the government is committed to a data-led process that will see additional future investments.”