A $2.1-million investment by the governments of Canada and British Columbia, through the BC Innovation Council, will help Accelerate Okanagan increase the number of technology companies that start and grow in the region. The funding, which is spread over three years, was announced today at the official opening of Accelerate Okanagan, a technology-focused not-for-profit organization that is already benefiting more than 20 local firms through its start-up and growth strategy programs. “The Government of Canada is committed to paving the way for the success of emerging sectors in the Okanagan,” said Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna – Lake Country, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “Today’s investment will provide small and emerging businesses, which are pivotal for our economic success, with the tools they need to grow and create jobs in our region.”
Accelerate Okanagan programs support the growth and acceleration of local startups in the gaming, animation, mobile, web, life sciences and clean energy sectors.
“Our BC Jobs Plan pinpointed technology as one of the eight key sectors that has a competitive edge and has huge potential to bring dollars into our economy from our most important trading partners,” said Dr. Moira Stilwell, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Research and Innovation. “Through BCIC, we’re making sure that potential is realized across the province, especially in the Okanagan, where the industry is already showing increased strength thanks to the work of Accelerate Okanagan.”
The organization’s latest program, the Jump:Start Challenge, attracted applications from more than 40 companies, 15 of which were new startups. Many have since enrolled in Accelerate Okanagan’s entrepreneurial support programs. On November 3rd, the organization announced the five finalists that will have the opportunity to present their “investor-ready” pitch to select members of the investment community in Vancouver and the Okanagan.
“The funding will be used to deliver support programs to high-growth technology companies across the Okanagan. Accelerate Okanagan’s programs provide the key elements needed to ensure the success of technology companies,” said Accelerate Okanagan CEO Jason Neale. “This includes individualized needs assessments, hands-on coaching, mentorship, and access to world class expertise, as well as providing key connections provincially, nationally and internationally.”
The $2.1 million from the federal and provincial governments comes to Accelerate Okanagan through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement. Under the agreement, Canada and B.C. are contributing $25 million each, over four years, to strengthen economic activity and improve quality of life in western Canadian communities.