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Okanagan tech sector shows 2-year growth: Report


Accelerate Okanagan, a leading technology accelerator in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, released the results of a report on the technology sector’s economic impact in 2015.

Commissioned by Kelowna-based group, the study was conducted by a third party researcher with Small Business BC, and was focused on assessing two-year growth of the Okanagan technology sector, further to a similar 2013 report.

In 2015, the Okanagan technology industry contributed $1.3 billion to the overall Okanagan economy, including direct revenues of $1.02 billion generated by technology companies, and an indirect impact of $284 million from businesses supplying inputs to the technology sector. These figures are significant as they represent an increase of over $300 million of revenue contribution to the Okanagan economy since 2013 – an unprecedented 30% growth rate in two years. For reference, in 2013 the overall BC technology industry contributed $23 billion to the economy, with a 5.2% annual growth.

Study shows region’s technology sector is on a major growth path

Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO, Raghwa Gopal, explained that the study clearly illustrates that the region’s technology sector is on a major growth path, and is building value and diversity throughout the Okanagan. The economic study further revealed that the Okanagan technology sector is growing faster than any other British Columbia sector.

According to the 2015 economic impact survey, the Okanagan Valley is home to 633 technology businesses with a collective workforce of 7,600 employees, with the average business employing eight people. For reference, the 2013 Okanagan study showed 558 technology businesses with a workforce of 6,551 employees.

Over a two-year period, the Okanagan’s technology workforce has increased by 16% to now employ an additional 1,049 people. This is equivalent to five companies the size ofOkanagan-based QHR Technology, which recently sold for an estimated $170 million.

Technology innovation is rapidly transforming every industry and sector

“Technology innovation is rapidly transforming every industry and sector,” said Gopal. “Nearly all business is becoming ‘technology-enabled’. The growth we’re seeing is being driven from companies across the whole region, from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos, in a wide range of sectors — including agriculture, energy, healthcare, software, telecommunications, and advanced manufacturing.”

Okanagan technology industry growth is creating thousands of jobs for highly skilled people who are increasingly migrating to the area to enjoy the Okanagan lifestyle. More than half (52%) the Okanagan technology workforce is under age 35 – a significant increase of 14% since the 2013 survey (38%). This 2015 survey brings particularly welcome news for the City of Kelowna and other local organizations which enthusiastically support the technology industry, and see it as strategic to the Okanagan’s future.

“It’s really gratifying to see this growth trend in our local technology sector,” said City of Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “It has taken vision and hard work by Accelerate Okanagan, local technology companies and local governments to establish an environment where talented young people want to live and excel in their work.”

Success of Kelowna’s technology sector proves that tech is everywhere in B.C.

“The success of Kelowna’s technology sector, that contributed over $1.3 billion to our local economy in 2015, proves that tech is everywhere in B.C. Our tech sector is the largest it’s ever been, with a record number of 7,600 jobs and growing faster than the overall economy,” said Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “The work being done through Accelerate Okanagan and the positive results we are seeing are exactly why we’ve committed to supporting and encouraging the growth of tech in local communities as part of the #BCTECH Strategy.”

“The technology industry is playing a critical role in the economic vitality of the Okanagan region. Companies like KF Aerospace, QHR Technologies and Two Hat are not just innovating, but creating high-paying skilled jobs and positively impacting their communities,” said Shirley Vickers, President & CEO of BC Innovation Council.

“BC Innovation Council is proud to support the commercialization of innovation in regional communities across B.C. through members of our BC Acceleration Network like Accelerate Okanagan,” Vickers added.

“The work that Accelerate Okanagan does is crucial to success of the technology industry in the Okanagan, and BC as a whole,” said Karen Olsson, COO of Two Hat, creators of Community Sift. “Our company wouldn’t be where we are today without their ongoing support. Programs like those offered through Accelerate Okanagan are critical. We hope the Provincial and Federal Governments continue to look for ways to support its efforts.”