On Thursday night, The BC Tech Association’s Technology Impact Awards (TIAs) celebrated the province’s leading technology companies at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Winners included STEMCELL Technologies for Company of the Year, Victory Square founder Shafin Tejani for Person of the Year, and Dr. Alan Winter for the Bill Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award.
“The BC Tech industry has never been more vibrant and diverse,” said Bill Tam, President and CEO of the BC Tech Association and host of the gala. “Every year through the TIAs, we celebrate the technology up-and-comers and leaders that are transforming the BC tech ecosystem. The caliber of talent of the finalists and winners this year is outstanding and we congratulate each of them for their accomplishments.”
In his acceptance speech, Winter, who was president and CEO of Genome BC from 2001 until last year, gave a call to action to engineering and life sciences students and professionals to tackle this generation’s most challenging problems.
“I believe that since the Human Genome Project, to some extent biology is becoming a digital science. Our DNA is like our hard drive. Our molecular pathways are wiring diagrams and software apps. And like MIT, each engineering student and each [computer science] student here should take a course in biology,” Winter said.
“Many in my generation were motivated by Sputnik and the space race. However, today many young people are motivated by saving our planet, the environment, and the future of the human race, so let’s integrate life science and applications with technology and make a significant difference to BC and the world,” Winter said.
Tejani, the Person of the Year award recipient, was represented at the gala by Victory Square board member Howard Blank, who explained on Tejani’s behalf how important Canada and the idea of giving back is to recipient’s success.
Tejani’s parents escaped the military coup in Uganda in the 1970s, and “Canada opened up its door to him and his family, and gave him the opportunity to grow up with a stable government in a safe home, and access a good education and universal health care, and a chance to realize his dreams,” Blank said.
Blank went on to announce that over the next 30 days, in the spirit of philanthropy, Tejani pledges to match donations up to a total of $1 million to be distributed to four charities in BC: Variety BC, Variety BC’s Kids Can campaign to support children with special needs, Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Applied Science’s girls’ tech camp, and KidSafe.
For his part, STEMCELL’s founder and CEO Dr. Allen Eaves painted a vision of the future for the global biotech leader.
“We want to be the company that is going to help support our health care system, [and] get it out of the terrible mess it’s in by providing new and wonderful tools that we will sell to the rest of the world,” Eaves said.
This is the final TIA gala for Bill Tam as host and President and CEO of the BC Tech Association, and tributes about his contribution to British Columbia’s technology sector were numerous and heartfelt.
“We see that BC’s tech industry has never had more promise, and the BC Tech Association has never been more ready to deliver on that promise. So tonight, we say thank you to Bill Tam, the quiet, unassuming revolutionary of BC Tech, and look forward to the next chapter for us, and for him,” said Jill Tipping, Chair of the BC Tech Association.
For Tam, he said it had “been an honour and a pleasure to serve the BC Tech Community.”
The full list of Thursday night’s winners include:
Photos credit Kim Stallknecht