Carl Anderson, president and CEO of the BC Innovation Council, speaks at BC Growth Opportunities Tour forum in Kelowna on Friday. Photo Credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

High tech tour talks Kelowna, innovation, disruption

Kelowna forum looks to enhance corporate product/service growth

Matching technological innovation with business opportunity.

That was the focus of the B.C. Growth Opportunities Tour, sponsored by the BC Innovation Council (BCIC), that made a stop in Kelowna on Friday as part of a five-stop swing across the province.

Entrepreneurial high-tech firms were invited to meet with business and government leaders who made pitches for what they need in technology development to enhance their products and services.

Carl Anderson, president and CEO of the BCIC, said a similar tour in the spring generated 600 connections, which has evolved into six deals being signed and another 30 in the negotiating process.

“This is a unique opportunity for companies and local innovators to come together, to help companies to be more productive, efficient and competitive on a global scale,” Anderson said.

He identified Kelowna as provincial high-tech hub, but noted that similar sectors across the province are all showing signs of growth, which bodes well for high-tech innovation and product development expansion.

“The fact is tech impacts all industries,” Anderson said.

Rick Glumac, parliamentary secretary the BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade & Technology, said the new NDP government is all in for encouraging technology growth in B.C., citing the new position of creative innovation commissioner has been confirmed in the recent provincial budget.

Glumac said the commissioner’s role will be to work closely with the federal government and other countries to make connections that can benefit B.C. companies and identify potential barriers to industry growth that should be removed.

Glumac said he is no stranger to the impact of tech growth in his own work career, having started out in computer animation, which led him to work of the Dreamworks studio on films such as the Shrek franchise and Madagascar.

He returned to Canada to work with various tech companies in the Lower Mainland.

“I have seen some amazing things take place in Kelowna and B.C. in general with development of our high-tech industry,” Glumac said.

It is estimated in the Okanagan Valley that the high-tech industry boasts some 630 companies which employ some 7,600 workers.

Company representatives making pitches for technology innovation ideas at the Kelowna event included a sustainable low energy home builder (Nido Design), denture company (Perfit Dental), audio, acoustic and health care product developer (Points West), B.C. Construction Association, BC Lottery Corporation, FortisBC and Aberdeen Publishing.

John Longbottom, IBM client unit executive for the B.C. region, said their company’s research efforts are being directed to Internet use access and data collection services.

“There will be about 20 billion things attached to Internet network by 2020. It’s not just about the seven or eight billion people in the world, but the interconnectivity of things. That offers an opportunity for us to do innovation but also to change dramatically how business and governments function,” Longbottom said.

“Any entity that exists today profoundly will be impacted by that factor.”

As for data collection, it is exploding across the Internet to the extent by 2020 the data collection will amount to 40 zetabytes.

“All technologies attempt to make our lives better, and some will argue perhaps that some may not, but you can’t argue with the fact that an absolute massive growth of data opens up potential innovation ideas for how it is used and accessed,” Longbottom said.

He said if companies are not starting to talk about the impact of The Cloud storage, Blockchain technology or cognitive artificial intelligence development, they should be.

“We are spending a lot of money in research and development in those areas because they are disruptive development trends that will fundamentally change the marketplace,” he said.

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