Techstars launches pilot project to build roadmap for scaling Okanagan’s tech ecosystem

accelerate okanagan
One of the Kelowna groups lobbying for an RDA office is Accelerate Okanagan, business accelerator for tech companies in the startup or growing phases. (Source: Accelerate Okanagan)

Techstars is launching a community pilot in Okanagan to foster the growth of the local startup community.

Between August 28 to October 7, Techstars entrepreneur-in-residence Chris Heivly — co-founder of MapQuest and The Startup Factory – will spend time in the region to kickstart the four-phase community pilot, which is being carried out in partnership with Accelerate Okanagan.

team accelerate okanagan
The Accelerate Okanagan team

Heivly will meet with community members in Kelowna, Vernon, and Penticton, and later work with the Techstars team to develop a community assessment. Accelerate Okanagan will receive the findings, and work with Techstars to develop a three, six, and 12-month roadmap for the region to become a stronger ecosystem. The last phase of the project includes ongoing implementation from community members.

“The Okanagan is fighting way above its playing weight. They have a robust and mature startup ecosystem compared to the size of the overall population,” says Heivly. “I have been to the Okanagan a number of times over a year and a half period but this will be a deeper dive and a chance to really connect with what makes this community, the people.”

The Okanagan was selected as the only Canadian region to participate in the community pilot project. Some goals outlined by the organizations include forming a foundational vision for community members to rally around; increasing engagement between academia, investors, and tech companies; and situating the Okanagan as a leader in community development.

“We are confident that Chris Heivly’s insight will be valuable to us as our tech community continues
to grow,” said Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “The fact that we were chosen out of 20
applicants as one of five pilot locations is a testament to the vibrancy of our tech community.”

Related: Techstars Toronto announces managing director, ability to grant Startup Visas

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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