BC’s young tech industry is hoping its first ever #BCTechSummit will help the province grow into a global player.
The event, being held tomorrow and Tuesday will feature a cross section of people from across the rapidly growing sector – among them, industry, entrepreneurs, government, and some big international names.
It will also serve as a showcase for both startups and established made-in-B.C. tech, from hardware, to services, to software.
Prem Gil, CEO of Creative BC – a provincially backed organization that promotes B.C.’s film and media sectors – says it’s a golden oportunity.
“I feel like we’re at that tipping point, and we have that critical mass. And the summit is really a way for all of us to get together and really look at what do the next five or 10 years look like, because we are poised really well and things are happening and we can really develop the ecosystem to drive this stuff forward.”
She says Vancouver has been noticed internationally, with major companies choosing to locate headquarters here, and local schools producing talent.
It might be the first time B.C. has hosted a tech summit, but you wouldn’t know it from the guest speaker list. Here are a few of the key names talking at this week’s event.
Andrew Wilson: CEO, Electronic Arts
Ray Kurzweil – Author, Inventor, Futurist
Elyse Allan – President and CEO, GE Canada
Eric Ries – Author, The Lean Startup
T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan – Corporate Vice President, Technology & Research, Microsoft
Premier Christy Clark
Daniel Muzyka – President and CEO, The Conference Board of Canada
While web-success stories like Hootesuite and Slack tend to get most of the attention, Gil says B.C. is strong in several areas, including gaming which helped launch the industry here.
And she says B.C. has also quietly become one of the leading global players in visual effects, with Sony Imageworks locating its VFX headquarters in Vancouver, and work being done on blockbusters like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Batman.
Gil says a key element of this week’s summit will be bringing leaders together to lay the groundwork for the next stage of the industry’s growth.
“As a region, what are we really doing to really drive that new technology development? Because we’ve got the talent here and we’ve got the interest here.”
She says B.C. and Vancouver are in a competitive global market when it comes to attracting business and workforce.
But she says as more companies succeed here, it’s creating the kind of fertile environment that attracts new talent – something buttressed by B.C.’s natural beauty and growing cultural scene.