Innovate BC injects COVID funding into tech
Gov’t agency dedicates close to $3M to tech firms impacted by pandemic
Some tech companies based in British Columbia can expect to get a positive injection from COVID-19, as Innovate BC, a government agency organized to support innovation in British Columbia, has received extra funding to share with businesses as pandemic relief.
Supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, tasked by the Federal government to support the Western Canadian economy, Innovate BC will distribute $2.95-million via two programs. The first will bolster new or existing tech start-ups and support them over the COVID-19 crisis, and the second is specifically designed to help main street businesses transition into the digital economy by helping companies develop digital skills to compete in the new economy, such as search engine optimization, paid ads, and content marketing.
Innovate BC funds and delivers programs that support labour market needs, encourage technology development, and promote product commercialization and adoption. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has damaged jobs and the economy, it is critical for companies to review what options are available to weather, and better still, transition into the new post pandemic landscape.
West Tech Report recently had the opportunity to connect with Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC, to discover more about the funding announcement, what new entrepreneurs can expect, and how existing companies can benefit from the new funding sources. The group works to support companies at all stages of growth, across all sectors, all over British Columbia.
Help companies start, scale and stay
“We even have programs, including the recently announced BC Tech Sector Resiliency Program, that helps non-tech businesses transition into the digital economy,” explains Gopal. “Ultimately, one of our key goals is to help our companies start, scale, and stay in British Columbia and ensure that the benefits of our thriving tech sector are felt by people in all regions of the province.”
BC’s technology industry is substantial, according to Western Economic Diversification Canada, accounting for seven percent of BC’s Gross Domestic Product and employing 5.2 percent of the province’s workforce. And, COVID-19 has changed the rules for funding as well.
“COVID-19 has created an opportunity for Innovate BC to launch new programs and adjust eligibility requirements for existing programs to provide direct support to BC-based businesses who need additional relief during the pandemic,” says Gopal. “Our website has eligibility requirements and application information for each program.”
Turn whiteboard ideas into reality
This means new entrepreneurs, existing tech companies, and even non-technology companies can find out how they can turn their whiteboard ideas into reality. There have been a lot of funds distributed by the government during this time through wage subsidies and programs such as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. It remains to be seen how this will impact future subsidies for the technology industry; however, so far, there have been promising indications that support will continue to grow.
“Governments at all levels have been very quick to respond to the pandemic. [One example is] the recent $3M in funding that came from Western Economic Diversification Canada,” says Gopal.
Innovate BC’s mandate is to help strengthen the Province’s economy, support job creation, and ensure the benefits of technology and innovation are felt around the province. Gopal recommends that if you need support, to reach out to them directly.
“If you’re a budding entrepreneur, reach out to Innovate BC and let’s see how we can connect you to the funding, resources, and support you need to build a successful tech venture here in British Columbia. It’s very easy to get a hold of us if you’re hoping to talk to someone about a specific program”.
To learn more, go to www.InnovateBC.ca.
Sohail Kamal is EP&T’s West Coast correspondent.