BC Shows Entrepreneurship Thrives With Community Leadership and Collaboration
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
BCIC is the provincial ambassador of the Startup Canada Campaign which toured the province from September 10-21, 2012.
Vancouver, BC (Wednesday, October 3, 2012) – As one of Startup Canada’s largest and most diverse provincial tours, the British Columbia (BC) visit during Sept 10 - 21 showcased an entrepreneurial community that spans multiple sectors and demographics, and underscored the value of enabling entrepreneurs to be community leaders.
“Startup Canada found that a significant driver of collaboration and innovative approaches to supporting entrepreneurs in BC was the fact that many of the leaders behind their key enterprise support organizations and programs are actually former successful entrepreneurs themselves who have had longstanding careers in growing enterprises,” said Victoria Lennox, Co-Founder of Startup Canada. “They know what it’s like to build a business themselves and understand the value of lean approaches in supporting BC’s entrepreneurs. By involving these entrepreneurs in organizational advisory boards and bodies, it provides a critical and value-added lens to funding allocations, decision-making, and oversight.”
BC was one of 11 provinces Startup Canada visited during its six-month National Tour to celebrate and support entrepreneurship across Canada. More than 1,800 people participated in Startup Canada events in Penticton, Kelowna, Victoria, Prince George, and throughout the Lower Mainland including Vancouver, North Vancouver and New Westminster. Attendees hailed from sectors ranging from agri-tourism to tech, with cultural backgrounds spanning immigrant entrepreneurs to First Nations communities.
“Startup Canada’s BC Tour was especially successful because of the number of people and communities that came together for an incredible number of diverse events,” said Dean Prelazzi, Managing Director of the BCIC Acceleration Network and Chair of the Startup Canada BC Steering Committee. ”It really was a tour that reflected the identity of our province and the fabric of BC small business and entrepreneurship. It wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of all of our event partners.”
Calls for action from the BC Tour included leveraging local resources and expertise to provide more opportunities for entrepreneurs to learn from and support each other. Examples ranged from setting up entrepreneur advisory councils within a community / institution / university, to better connecting entrepreneurs with policy-makers and program managers, to encouraging more entrepreneur-led programming.
These opportunities were evident from Day 1 of the tour, which began in BC’s Okanagan Valley in partnership with BCIC, Laughing Stock Vineyards, and Accelerate Okanagan. Discussions revolved around creative marketing solutions and stronger community partnerships to foster a more cohesive business community. Later, Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump:Start:Challenge event showcased the diversity of the local tech sector, and a Startup Canada Town Hall in Kelowna connected entrepreneurs within the region’s technology, agriculture, business services, retail, academic and hospitality sectors.
“Hosting Startup Canada’s entrepreneurship roundtable in conjunction with Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump:Start:Challenge helped to create awareness for the entrepreneurial movement that is happening in this region and raise the profile of the participating companies,” said Jeff Keen, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “Ultimately, by working together we can create a supportive entrepreneurial community that encourages sustainable new business growth and long term economic development in the Okanagan.”
On Vancouver Island, Startup Canada’s visit was timed with the launch of VIATeC’s Experience Tectoria, a multi-day event that aimed to strengthen relationships within the local technology sector and connect investors from across North America with local startups.
“Our goal was simple; show all of our guests Victoria’s thriving start-up ecosystem while dazzling them with our lifestyle and extensive music, artistic and food culture,” said Dan Gunn, Executive Director of VIATeC. “We look forward to working with Startup Canada to continue to highlight innovation and entrepreneurship with the aim of building Canada's future economy on ideas and resourceful thinking. It was our great pleasure to be included in their tour and we expect to be strong partners going forward.”
Moving north, the Prince George Town Hall was a standing room only event, hosting students from the University of Northern BC and the College of New Caledonia as well as a large contingent of young entrepreneurs. Similar to Victoria, Prince George’s quality of life and spirit of the city were identified as key elements of their entrepreneurial community.
“The Startup Canada tour stop in Prince George was important to highlight the can-do energy and attitude of northern entrepreneurs who are the true engine of the BC economy,” said Prince George tour organizer, Renata King with Northern Development Initiative Trust.
The last week of the BC Tour was spent in the Lower Mainland for events in partnership with Institute B, Urban Impact Recycling, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BCIC, Wavefront, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., TiE Vancouver, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, and Small Business BC. Throughout the week, common themes emerged around empowering startups, connecting entrepreneurs, and supporting a diverse entrepreneurial landscape.
“Startups represent the future of our country,” said Michael Tippett, CEO of Vancouver-based startup Ayoudo, and an Advisor to Startup Canada. “As a resource-based economy, we need to remind ourselves that our most valuable resources are our people. We must continue to celebrate and support our young companies if we want our country to prosper in the years to come.”
Now that the National Tour is complete, Startup Canada will use all of the feedback collected to draft a blueprint action plan to spur and support entrepreneurism across Canada. This plan will be announced in November 2012.
Startup Canada sponsors include Microsoft, Gowlings, Ernst & Young, Best Western Hotels, the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program, Export Development Canada, The VideoBooth Company, Kick Ass Media, PubliAir, the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network, the Association of University Research Parks Canada, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, the Evidence Network, Francis Moran & Associates, FreshBooks, Global Advantage Consulting Group, MSBi Valorisation, Podio, Backbone Magazine, HootSuite, ITWorld Canada, NextMTL, Paper.li, Sprouter, and Techvibes.
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BC Tour Highlights
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About Startup Canada
Startup Canada is an entrepreneur-led movement to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity by supporting and celebrating Canadian entrepreneurship. Startup Canada is harnessing the collective energies of Canadian entrepreneurs and enterprise support communities from coast to coast with the goals of providing the entrepreneurship community with a strong voice, promoting a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, and creating a unified brand that Canadians can rally around.