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Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network bridges gaps for entrepreneurs


Late last year, UBC entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) calling for increased collaboration to support a regional innovation zone known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network (CVAN) was launched to nurture entrepreneurship between private, non-profit and research teams within British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. 

West Tech Report speaks with Sean Lumb, director, New Ventures, entrepreneurship@UBC (e@UBC), about how this network will help entrepreneurs and foster innovation. Operating in the exciting space of this West Coast venture accelerator partnership Lumb outlines the impetus for signing the MOU and what the group’s vision is.

“I think a big part of it for entrepreneurship@UBC was a desire to build relationships and capitalize on the experience and resources of the other members,” explains Lumb. With an early focus on Life Sciences, the goal of CVAN is to facilitate a free flow of information and foster collaborative efforts in information technology, life sciences, and clean-tech sectors. Lumb explains that CVAN aims to open up opportunities for cross-border capital and other resources to support new ventures: “We’re all trying to do the same thing: Build innovative and lasting ventures, and there is strength in numbers and the collective experience.”

CVAN holds great potential for tech innovation, connecting research, industry

Bruce Ralston, the current B.C. Minister of Jobs, Trade, and Technology, recently stated: “The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network holds great potential for tech innovation, connecting research, industry, academia, and investment across the Pacific Northwest.” With teams working across borders towards shared goals, CVAN unites the region’s talents. Lumb went on to detail how e@UBC fits into this MOU.

“UBC is one of the founding members and through e@UBC, UBC will share best practices, venture, and investor networking opportunities, provide space, meeting rooms, and will host other members as they visit and interact in the Vancouver community,” explains Lumb.

Business does not like to recognize boundaries or borders, and by sharing knowledge and resources, everyone in the Cascadia region can benefit. CVAN also aims to build on the existing momentum through a future website and regular member meetings. Members can network, establish lines of communication and build relationships to leverage resources and new venture opportunities.

Key goals of CVAN include activities such as:

  •       Identifying innovations ready, or nearly ready, for commercialization.
  •       Introducing innovators to cross-border funding and support opportunities.
  •       Facilitating cross-border trade and collaboration for innovators.
  •       Redirecting non-commercial-ready innovations to research organizations.
  •       Sharing activities such as workshops, seminars, and other educational and networking events.

“The one thing everyone should know about CVAN is that there are resources beyond your local community. CVAN works to make the world a smaller place,” Lumb says. “The early stages can be tough. Making the world smaller for that critical, high-risk stage, where fundraising can be a serious challenge, can be priceless for a tech entrepreneur.”

As for budding entrepreneurs seeking support, Lumb stresses the importance of connecting, networking and building relationships.

“Someone has been there already and done it before. Be open and accepting of advice and mentorship,” suggests Lumb.

In related news, e@UBC grooms ventures to compete in The New Ventures BC Society’s New Ventures Competition. The BCIC New Ventures Competition is the largest and longest-running technology competition in BC, awarding $275,000 in cash and prizes to early-stage startups.  They recently announced the top 10 finalists on newventuresbc.com.

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To learn more about e@UBC and how they aim to help entrepreneurs change the world, go to www.start.entrepreneurship.ubc.ca.