Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments to spark economic growth, job creation

Premier announces tech & innovation investments to spark economic growth &  job creation

Great news came out of last week’s #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver with the announcement of significant tech and innovation investment by Premier John Horgan.  Understanding the importance of technology to the economy of British Columbia, and to help spark B.C. innovation, economic growth and new jobs throughout the province, the provincial government is putting money towards tech-based research and advanced training opportunities.

“B.C. succeeds when British Columbians succeed — and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

Over $102.6 million will be earmarked for 75 post-secondary research projects in B.C., through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop B.C.’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced supercomputing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, the B.C. government will invest $12 million in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years. The funding will support priority areas such as science, tech, engineering and mathematics programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To further develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

“B.C.’s success comes from the ideas, innovation and inspiration of people who call this province home,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “From a two-person startup, to large established tech firms and traditional resource industries, innovation can deliver a wealth of benefits to people, companies and our provincial economy. It is about creating good jobs for people in every corner of the province.”

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to B.C., government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot. That means priority processing for people in tech occupations, such as biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers.

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of B.C.’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The B.C. government will unveil a provincewide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make B.C. a great place to live and work.

The Province of British Columbia is hosting the third-annual #BCTECH Summit on May 14-16, 2018, in partnership with Innovate BC, the Province’s Crown agency. Innovate BC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of B.C. industry.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, “As part of our tech-expansion, we’re adding 2,900 more tech spaces, launching a graduate student scholarship fund and providing awards for women pursuing a science or tech-based profession. We’re breaking down barriers to good-paying jobs for people in the booming tech sector by making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.”

Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, “Having access to reliable, high-speed internet is the foundation for the growing digital economy, and essential for the expansion of technology and innovation in every corner of our province. It is important that this growing sector be fostered everywhere in B.C. That is why we are investing in connectivity for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, because we believe that everyone — no matter where they live — should have the tools they need to be part of this important industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy, supporting over 106,000 good-paying jobs. It is home to more than 10,200 businesses.
  • Over 83,400 tech-related jobs openings are expected by 2027 — jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, information system analysts and software designers.
  • In January 2018, the B.C. government announced 2,900 tech-related spaces that will produce 1,000 additional tech-grads a year by 2023, to improve access to training and education. This includes the first full civil and environmental engineering program in the North at the University of Northern British Columbia, and the first full software engineering program in the Interior at Thompson River University. To support these new spaces, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training plans to increase investment up to $42 million a year in ongoing funding.
  • In April 2018, the B.C. government partnered with the Government of Canada to provide B.C. biotechnology company STEMCELL Technologies with $45 million to create up to 2,170 B.C. jobs by 2031, and build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burnaby.
  • Also in April 2018, the Province, together with the federal government and the Alacrity Foundation, provided the Cleantech Scale-Up program with over $787,000 to help promising clean tech companies throughout B.C. get investment-ready and sell to new markets.
  • In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.

Fun Friday: MIDAS Fab Lab & SMRT1 Taking #BCTECH By Storm!

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

The MIDAS & SMRT1 Technologies teams had a tremendous time networking, connecting and promoting at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit this past week.  First off, a ton of fun was had sharing space, time and laughs with the rest of the Koots contingent, KAST, Metal Tech Alley, Austin Engineering, and Imagine Kootenay and seeing a whole bunch of familiar Koots faces over the course of two days.

This year’s was a biggie, record-breaking, in fact.   Bigger than ever, this year’s Summit hosted an estimated 9,000 participants for approximately a dozen conference-related events over three days.  A whopping 3,000 delegates connected with over 270 exhibitors and watched more than 200 speakers highlighting the transformations technology is driving across all industries in British Columbia and beyond.

“There is no better indication of the robust and dynamic state of B.C.’s tech industry than this event—which has touched a record number of people for a third straight year,” said Shirley Vickers, President & CEO of Innovate BC, which delivered the event in partnership with the Government of B.C. “The #BCTECH Summit is where industry meets innovation, and the significant involvement of technology leaders, investors, senior government officials, students, researchers and business executives in every industry shows an unquenched thirst for innovation and collaboration in this province.”

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director and tech-savvy-innovator-in-chief-teddy-bear-biker, Brad Pommen, was THE man!  With tremendous skill and his usual warmth, he inspired, excited and charmed just about everyone who stopped by the booth with his range of knowledge, his expertise and his unstoppable enthusiasm.

Innovation is clearly Brad’s passion and it exuded in every conversation he had.  Whether it was the MIDAS Fab Lab or the business that was borne from it, SMRT1 Technologies and the incredible Brain STEM Toolbox vending machine, he made the booth a highlight of the conference.

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen, addressing the #BCTECH Summit press

 

KAST Executive Director at the MIDAS booth #BCTECH Summit

KAST Executive Director, Don Freschi, playing with the Hololens and Selkirk College’s Jason Taylor, at the MIDAS booth at #BCTECH Summit 2018.

In addition to the MIDAS/SMRT1 fun, attendees enjoyed thought-provoking sessions, panels and keynotes by global thought leaders featured highly among many other conference highlights:

  • 150 investors that represent $225B in capital watched 45 of B.C.’s most promising startups pitch in the Investment Showcase.
  • Approximately 2,000 high school students participated in Youth Innovation Day to learn about the jobs of the future and a career in tech.
  • Over 220 B2B Meetings were matched between 38 technology buyers with 98 local technology solution providers.
  • Delegates from 16 countries and four continents complemented a strong international presence of companies including Title Sponsor Microsoft, Google Cloud, Lululemon, Amazon, Blue Origin, Lyft, Lockheed Martin, Sage, WeWork, LinkedIn, Salesforce, IBM and RBC.
  • Premier John Horgan announced tech and innovation investments including over $102.6 million in funding for 75 research projects in B.C. and $10.5 million for entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students.

If you weren’t able to attend, make sure you check out some videos from this year’s crop of speakers HERE.

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Exciting #BCTECH Summit Launch: SMRT1 Technologies Brain STEM Toolbox

This is definitely MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen’s week!  First, the announcement of his featured speaking gig and now the exciting unveiling of a project dear to his heart and one that has been much anticipated by Brad, his company, SMRT1 Technologies Ltd., and anyone who has had the privelege to witness the idea’s evolution over these many months.

Eight years ago, having initiated his first tech club, the Nelson Tech Club, Brad found himself in search of an effective way to provide the growing local maker community a way to not only find the tech products and equipment they needed but also how to use it.  In one efficient step.

While a huge ask, he looked to the traditional vending kiosk system for his answer.  The idea simmered, and the concepts were pondered and explored for the next six years.  It wasn’t until shortly into his tenure as Director of MIDAS that the idea started take physical form.  He purchased his first vending machine directly from the factory and began the long and iterative journey of prototyping.

At the same time, his new business, SMRT1, also began taking shape.  His entrepreneurial journey was assisted when he registered with the BC Venture Accelerator Program under the expert guidance of entrepreneur-in-residence and current Executive Director of KAST, Don Freschi.

From basic vending machine to state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, SMRT1 Technologies is taking a pretty brilliant stab at revolutionizing what is a very conventional industry.  Vending machines have been slow to change and the Brain STEM Toolbox technology gives brand new life to the traditional vending machine with incredible touchscreen capabilities that go well beyond simply choosing your desired item off a rack behind glass.

MadeAtMIDAS SMRT1 BrainSTEM vending machine.

A very early iteration of what is now the clean and efficient touchscreen technology in the final version of the SMRT1 Brain STEM vending machine.

Education is a huge driver behind the Brain STEM Toolbox.  It isn’t simply about the purchase.  Rather, SMRT1 Technologies  has created a learning system designed to be easy and fun.  The touchscreen allows for full specs, details and the ability to rotate and zoom on the image of the product to allow for a far more educated purchase.

SMRT1 has been enthusiastically received by local education institutions.  There are currently six Brain STEM Toolboxes set to roll out to BC schools in September.  Teachers who are already using the learning modules and projects are excited to have in-school access.

The Brain STEM Toolbox takes the vending machine as we have always known it to a whole new level: this is an interactive and educational shopping experience.  It’s perfect for schools, technology retail, or any other pop-up retail location. Payments are easy and secure with cash, bank card or digital wallets.

“Snack vending machines are retro-fitted with our custom hardware which uses machine learning to interact with the student to help them choose the right project.  It also allows cash, credit or a digital wallet to pay for the project which is then dispensed.  It was the best way I could think of to get the projects that pair with the online learning modules close to the students and the teachers,” said Brad Pommen CEO of SMRT1 Technologies.

“The Brain STEM Toolbox can shape-shift to have application to a wide variety of micro-niche retail sectors.”

SMRT1 BrainSTEM Toolbox #BCTECH Summit launch

SMRT1 Technologies bridges the physical shopping experience with that of e-commerce. Not only does this technology revolutionize what is possible through a vending machine, it’s a completely custom experience available for less than $10,000!

This high-tech touchscreen tech vending machine will be on display at the MIDAS Fab Lab booth at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver next week, May 14-16,

If you want more information on the Brain STEM and SMRT1, do visit: www.smrt1.ca.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

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Community Futures CED Featured Speaker: MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

The 2018 Community Futures Community Economic Development Forum has a special treat for anyone familiar with all that is, and can be, achieved here at MIDAS.

MIDAS Lab Director, our own Brad Pommen, is set to speak at the event in Cranbrook May 23rd & 24th,, sharing his experience and expertise around the topic,  “The Sharing Economy: Innovation & Collaboration”.

In attendance at the forum will be local government officials, staff, economic development officers, planners, and others working in economic development roles.

As the Director of MIDAS, Brad knows innovation and collaboration, so this event is the perfect venue to share what he knows.  His expansive list of initiatives pertaining to education, innovation, and economic development is certainly impressive.  He is a technology network liaison throughout the Kootenays, providing professional representation, influence in technology adoption and education leadership through initiatives such as Ladies Learning Code, Nelson Tech & Knowledge Workers and Startup Nelson. He is also the brains and brawn behind the annual Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames.  Additionally, he helps lead the initiatives of Nelson’s Intelligent Community and Innovation Center planning.

MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen #madeatMIDAS

MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen showing off first iteration of 3D printed canine cast & recipient, Shawncy with his owner Karen Fontaine.

Facilitating the event is Ange Qualizza, an economist and City Councillor serving the City of Fernie.  Her background includes representing groups to create destination tourism infrastructure, community economic development, working with government agencies, municipal government and not-for-profit boards.   She also serves a local government association, the Association of the Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments where the mandate is to ‘assist our members in providing effective, responsible and accountable local government through dialogue, education and advocacy’.

In addition to Brad and the roster of impressive contributors, this year’s CED forum will include ‘a pop up trade show and an elegant evening of collaboration and experiential learning’.

For more information and the itinerary of events, please click HERE.

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Selkirk College RoboGames: The Best in Youth Innovation Fun!

Selkirk College RoboGames and MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

There was much fun and some serious gladiator-ship to be had this past weekend at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames on Saturday, April 28 at the Castlegar Campus.

Technology-fueled fun and free-spirited youth innovation was the name of the game.  With a simple robot kit and some big imagination, 55 participants in 39 teams designed and built competitors for events such as Obstacle Course, Robot Soccer and Balloon Popping.  It was a day full of excitement and camaraderie.

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames

As the doors opened upon RoboGames 2018, youth from around the region brought their robotics A-game having prepped for weeks, building and training their various creations.

Brian Malito, a Grade 12 student from J L Crowe Secondary School in Trail, has competed in four RoboGames including the first one held in Nelson in 2010.

“I got interested in robotics because of the idea that people could make non-living objects move,” Malito says, looking back to his early days of robotics. “I found it so fascinating and I also had an interest in programming and wanted to know more.”

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames with MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

Brad Pommen, MIDAS Fab Lab Director and Nelson Tech Club founder who enthusiastically brought RoboGames to the Kootenay-Boundary region directed events.  As in years past, he offered support and guidance in preparation for the games, providing online sessions kids were able to follow at their own pace.

“RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among our young community members by making science and technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating,” Pommen says. “It’s been incredibly fun for me as well. Seeing youth enthusiasm for robotics, something I’ve been interested in for so long, grow is completely rewarding. I also love seeing new ideas come forward every year.”

RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among youth by making it accessible and fun, using robotics to help to minimize the intimidation factor.

“Technology surrounds us every day, and understanding how it works—that it is not simply magic—can be very empowering and influence everyone, but most especially youth, in amazing ways.” states Pommen.  “When you make technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating, we are enhancing community vitality and sustainability to everyone with a curiosity and presenting it in a way that traditional educational models cannot address. ”

This was the sixth annual event. Learn more at selkirk.ca/robogames

Photos courtesy Selkirk College GLOWS.

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#madeatMIDAS: Nelson’s Chocofellar Chocolate Mould

#madeatMIDAS: Nelson's Chocofellar Chocolate Mould

This month, #madeatMIDAS features Sam Lazenby and Hollie Wheeler, and their business, Nelson’s Chocofellar.  Recently, the chocolatiers, in need of a new mould, unique to their brand looked to the equipment and expertise at MIDAS.   Sam & Hollie and their popular business are a great example of how the MIT-certified MIDAS digital fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab” can address a specific need a business might have to give it a unique, custom-made edge.

MIDAS is geared to support all manner of entrepreneur development: collaborating and adopting state-of-the-art technology to create the products needed to evolve and grow a business.

You can do it too! Check out our course calendar HERE!

#madeatMIDAS: Nelson's Chocofellar chocolate mould

Established in April of 1990, Nelson’s Chocofellar emerged from the hopes and dreams of co-founder, Sam, who was looking to create something from his lifelong love and passion for chocolate.  Having recently moved to Nelson, the couple loved the area and were keen to create something that would support themselves and the family they were planning.

28 years, two children, and thousands of kilograms of chocolate later, the pair continues to pursue their dream,  providing the Kootenays with delicious quality handmade chocolates , novelties and chocolate bars.  Their  aim is to create the finest chocolates using the highest quality of  ingredients we can find, some local organic, specialty flavourings from Europe. Modest about their contributions to the industry of chocolate, Nelson’s Chocofellar is proud of their their accomplishments, gracing many a special occasion in the Kootenays and the world over.

Many of the Chocofellar processes have remained unchanged from the traditional European Chocolatier. All the work is hand done, the products hand-wrapped, and every batch is sampled faithfully by the team and any willing volunteer passing by.

Sam and Hollie have worked hard to keep Nelson’s Chocofellar a size that fits their lifestyle in Nelson – sometimes easier said than done!  But, when it comes to chocolate, the Chocofellar team operates under the belief that it is one of the four basic food groups and creates quality product to support that belief, providing their clientele with consistently divine chocolate to tempt any palette.

While the processing and presentation of chocolate may have changed over the centuries, the sentiment of the ancient Aztec people carries on: a gift of divine origins.

Creating the chocolate mould

In anticipation of the 30th anniversary of the Capitol Theatre in Nelson, she approached Nelson’s Chocofellar for something special to help celebrate.  She suggested they consider a distinctive chocolate with a mould that would be specific to the theatre.

In previous conversations with MIDAS Lab Director, Brad Pommen, Hollie had discussed what possibilities might be available for creating unique moulds at the Fab Lab.  The anniversary request was the perfect opportunity to revisit the conversation.

Brad was, of course, intrigued and keen on exploring design and manufacturing processes to create a mould that was the right size and could be handled easily while standing up to the rigours of repetitive use. Hollie provided him an outline of things to be considered when working with moulds and chocolate and he took it from there.

Brad created a couple of prototypes and refined the mould until it was just right.  The celebratory anniversary mould for the 30th Anniversary of the Capitol Theatre was complete!

Hollie and Sam enjoyed their experience with this project and MIDAS thoroughly enjoyable and it’s opened up many other possibilities for creating unique moulds, particularly when it comes to custom designs for special occasions, making them just that little bit more special!

You can do it too! All the resources you need to help take your idea, startup, or business to the next level.  Check out our course calendar HERE!

Nelson Chocofeller – Homelinks Nelson from Peter Locke on Vimeo.

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Fun Friday: Highlights From the West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair 2018

West Kootenay Boundary Regional Science fair recipient accepting MIDAS prize!

It was another great day spent with young innovators this past weekend at the West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair 2018!  An inspirational day seeing what approximately 200 local students from around the region are showcasing in science experiments, studies, and research & innovation projects.

There is so much to be gained for these young participants through the Science Fair experience:  research skills, problem solving, thinking scientifically, public speaking and connecting with other participants, sharing ideas and process.

We were there in full force to help celebrate the incredible ideas, skill and talent while sharing the innovative possibilities available through the MIDAS Fab Lab.

MIDAS Lab Director was so pleased to present the MIDAS Innovation Award to student Dylan Peil for his fabulous BioMechanical Arm:  4 hours Custom Training at MIDAS at a value of $600.

MIDAS Innovation Award winner for Mechanical Arm


It was a celebration of local innovation and MIDAS & KAST were there to offer plenty of information about what goes on here in the Fab Lab.

And check this out…. in the spirit of all the fun of the Science Fair, a bit of a twist on MONOPOLY:  MIDASOPOLY!  3D printing at it’s most fun!

3D printed MIDASOPOLY

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MIDAS Closure: April 20, 2018

Fun Creative Partnership: Chicks in the Coop!

MIDAS and Chicks in the Coop sign making home decor workshop

We are always thrilled when we get the opportunity to reach further into the Maker community, connecting more creative souls to the possibilities at the MIDAS FabLab!

This month, on May 25th from 6-9 pm (must register by May 18th!), we are proud to be hosted by Chicks in the Coop offering a great opportunity to demonstrate the diverse projects and creative power that can be had at MIDAS with the help of our state-of-the-art equipment.

These will be monthly sign making workshops, featuring the Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter.  

This month, the course will be creating four foot porch signs.  NO previous experience or skills required!  This is a creative, fun and inspiring opportunity to learn something new while going home with a lovely home decor item.

Click below to find out more information and to register.

Interested in what else MIDAS has to offer?  Take a tour:  Weekly tours THURSDAYS from 6-7 PM!

Want to see what else you can learn at MIDAS?  Check out our full calendar of upcoming courses here at the MIT-certified FabLab!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

MIDAS Course: Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN Scanner

MIDAS courses & training: Creaform 700 3D Handyscan Scanner

The Handyscan scanner is AMAZING!  But, don’t take our word for it. Come out and see!

One of the most popular 3D scanners used by product development professionals and engineers, the Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN can easily scan any type of physical object and provide the most reliable and precise results.

In this course you will learn the basic function of the Handyscan on a variety of items.  The session will show you how to place tags, perform basic scanning, set up the receiving software and review the captured online files (CAD and others on demand).

Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN Scanner:  Speed and accuracy in production

Upcoming course May 28, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

MIDAS courses & training: Creaform 700 3D Handyscan Scanner

This era of industry and prototyping requires fast production without compromising precision. Thanks to its expertise in metrology and 3D technologies, the Creaform HandySCAN 700 addresses both of these in a tiny, and easy to use, package.

It is used to develop, manufacture and market cutting edge portable 3D measurement and analysis technologies that increase productivity.  It is a state-of-the-art tool capable of assisting in design, development and quality control processes.

This device can be used for critical tasks like quality control, dimensional inspection, etc. Its powerful features, like non-contact metrology and independent assessment, will make inspection in controlled environments easier than before.

The HandySCAN 700 will help you optimize the engineering time for product development by providing digital model of designs, overall dimensions or as-built. The resulting detailed, accurate data acquisition will to reduce production costs dramatically. The HandySCAN 700 comes with the shortest possible delay and minimal intervention time, which is very useful for getting fast outputs.

Ultimaker 2 3D Printer Course at MIDAS

 

This course DOES NOT cover the manipulation of captured images or printing but is intended to allow members to scan and understand the potential of this device. Recommended for engineers, architects, manufacturers, machinists, makers ad hobbyists alike.

Upcoming course May 28, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

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