Step on the Gas! Grow Your Idea, Startup, Business: BC Venture Acceleration Program

BC Venture Accelerator Program

The BC Venture Acceleration Program is a huge stomp on the gas pedal of your business, designed to launch and grow your technology idea, start-up or business venture – faster and more successfully.

On the heels of the abundance of inspiration the MIDAS and KAST teams enjoyed at the recent #BCTECH Summit, we thought it a good idea to remind the growing number of local aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses about what’s available to them to grow your idea or startup and take it to the next level.

A structured program, BC Venture Acceleration Program (BCVAP) is designed to guide, coach and grow ambitious early‐stage technology entrepreneurs and effectively grow their technology ventures. The program helps entrepreneurs accelerate the process of defining a proven business model based on a set methodology and set of best practices for growing technology companies.

In short, BCVAP offers participants dedicated attention from an experienced Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), a “been there, done it” technology and business professional.

The goal of the program is to drive economic development and job creation in the province of BC by accelerating the commercialization of technology, resulting in the rapid growth of technology ventures.

The Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST) has been delivering the BCVAP program for several years and is proud of the roster of companies that has taken advantage of the program and its resources, successfully making huge strides growing their businesses.

Each of these local companies is growing rapidly, developing their innovations and businesses not only in the region, but well beyond!

The Venture Acceleration Program is delivered by a team of Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and supported by a province‐wide network of partners and entrepreneurs. Together, they make up the BC Acceleration Network, an alliance of regional partners, EIRs and executive-level mentors.

Find out more HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Don’t forget that our specialized team here at MIDAS, and the state-of-the-art equipment and associated training are here to support your entrepreneurial and startup endeavours!

So much to help you launch the idea or business you’ve been dreaming of!

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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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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Creating & Nurturing a Maker Culture

Creating & nurturing a maker culture

Can a Maker Culture help bring economic diversity and sustainability rural communities need?

Over the past couple of decades our region, along with so many others in rural British Columbia, has been faced with tremendous challenges seeing traditional industries such as mining and forestry diminishing, taking jobs and people along with them.

As a result, it’s been essential to look to diversifying from that of a resources based economy to one that encompasses other lucrative sources of education, jobs, opportunities, wealth, and ultimately, sustainability.  Communities throughout the province are looking to the New Economy, or the knowledge-based economy, as the answer to closing mills and mines, embracing technology to not only add new economic drivers but revolutionize and revitalize the old.

And while we may look to all the big tech players; Silicon Valley and our British Columbia equivalent, Silcon Valley North – Vancouver – to help inspire the way, providing for the vital foundation of opportunity; the narrative is really taking shape and expanding with boots on the ground in rural communities like Trail, Nelson, Revelstoke and others providing for the essentials to a more Maker Culture approach.

What rural towns and small cities are recognizing is that not only does the talent exist in these places, but they’re eager to create new and vibrant opportunities lending to the long-term sustainability to new industry, but also contributing to the innovative change of those existing.

The key to this forward momentum is not big tech, not at all.  It is the fast-emerging movement of the Maker.  These communities encourage a maker spirit, and ultimately, a Maker Culture, providing for innovation at a very hands-on level, providing the tools, education and support to propel innovation and manufacturing, hand-in-hand with a tech startup, entrepreneurial energy.

Who are these Makers?

A Maker Culture draws innovators from industry, such as engineers and machinists, but also anyone else with an idea or concept interested in seeing it brought to life; the curious, the imaginative; and creating an environment in which they can flourish.  These are the Makers:  an illustrious group of diverse individuals who make up and support the Maker Culture and who share many of the characteristics of those we call innovators.

These folk see failure as part of the innovation journey, understanding that they learn so much from mistakes.   Makers see the possibilities in technology and embrace it.

Makers enjoy the challenge and problem solving of a daunting task and don’t stop when the going gets tough.   Similar to accepting failure, they understand that to get to the top of the proverbial mountain they’ll need to amass knowledge and experience.  They set aside time to learn and fail.   These are the owners of ‘what if, can we make it better, I wonder how we could…’ – curious and innovative thinking!  

Provide the facility to nurture & develop the foundation – the Makers Space!

A space for makers brings the curious, the innovators, the inventors out of their silos and into a place together: growing, mentoring, learning, developing, sharing, fulfilling their curiosity and innovation.  This is where magic happens!

A maker space, a foundational element in the Maker Culture for most communities, fosters curiosity, collaboration, tinkering, and iterative learning, which in turn leads to better thinking through better questioning.  This leads to determination, independent and creative problem solving.

Community is the defining element of the Maker Culture on both a local and international scale.  It embodies the following qualities: co-working, collaboration, teaching, learning and an open sharing of ideas. It also invites cross-generational and life-long learning encouraging individuals with a range of expertise to share their passions.

The greatest assets to any region’s economy are living and working right here.  With innovations and ideas that range from developing a new wobbler conveyor to be used at the Teck smelter in Trail to a local small business owner creating a new business 3D printing beautiful, biodegradable pet urns and so much more, the ability to bring an idea for a new product or service to fruition with the support of the community is huge.

Facilities like ours here at MIDAS, support the expansion and development of local small and medium-sized companies’ strengths as they grow their businesses as well as individuals seeking the education, tools and equipment to explore the potential of their ideas further.

Through collaboration, adopting technology, and creating new and marketable products while promoting skills training opportunities in digital fabrication and metallurgical technology for entrepreneurs, company personnel and students the MIDAS Fab Lab is fully invested in promoting a Maker Culture.

Experience the Maker Culture for yourself – check out our course calendar HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Maker Movement: DIY, Hands-on, Innovation In Action!

maker movement fostered at MIDAS

There is a movement afoot and, with the help of education, tools and equipment (such as welcomes you at MIDAS!) to more easily and cost-efficiently bring ideas to life, it’s gaining tremendous steam!

The Maker Movement – or in more familiar terms, Do-It-Yourself – is growing in participation in schools, communities and industry throughout the province, and, of course, beyond.  What makes this a movement, rather than simply the act of puttering in one’s garage, is the resources, equipment and materials available to support it in ways we’ve never seen before.

This movement is grassroots innovation and it’s being enthusiastically embraced and fostered in more and more communities, nurturing an ever growing number of people, creative and curious.

The digital age has really blown the lid off what was formerly tinkering, or on a larger scale, inventing and innovating with significant effort and resources to bring an idea to prototype, using specific manufacturers located by and large overseas.  Inventing and innovating, as it has previously been known, has required very specialized software and fabrication equipment, not easily accessible either in terms of cost or location and has made it prohibitive for potential innovators to see a project through to completion let alone market.

With technology expanding as it is, so fast and with such scope, the creative process of invention and innovation is being transformed.  The access we have to imaging, scanning, drafting and other specialized software as well as the fabrication equipment to translate plans into tangible, surprisingly high quality, prototypes allows and encourages Maker creativity and invention unlike any time before.

MIDAS, and our MIT certified facilities, is a great example.  As part of this movement gathering momentum, every day we see makers contributing to what is becoming their own market ecosystem, developing incredible new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and Arduino micro-controller along with 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

Makerspaces are cropping up in communities big and small. Offering everything from Repair Cafes – where makers offer up their talents to fix and repurpose everything from computers to mobile phones to toaster ovens – to workshops on soldering and Arduino to imaging software education to actual fabrication and prototyping equipment, as we do here.

Inquiry-based and more hands-on education trends are beginning to trend as well.  Schools, for pre-schoolers through secondary students, are offering more and more resources and opportunities to explore and nurture their curiosity.  Through electronics and technology, young people are challenging their own creativity, innovating unlike ever before through coding, robotics and other fun and hands-on ways of expanding their knowledge and experience in the various facets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (Design), Mathematics, or STEAM.

While many makers consider themselves simply hobbyists or enthusiasts they are a vibrant and fundamental source of innovation, embracing creativity, developing new products and generating value in the Maker community.  In fact, it’s not unusual for some of these Makers to take the leap as entrepreneurs and start companies.  We see it all the time!

While there are several industry professionals who take advantage of the incredible Maker opportunities at MIDAS, it’s not necessary to be an engineer or techie to enjoy all a space like MIDAS offers.  Check out our #madeatMIDAS features to see the examples of ordinary people making extraordinary things.

That’s what’s so great about the Maker Movement: accessibility!  You don’t even need to bring an idea… just your imagination and curiosity.  The ideas will flow soon enough!

What can MIDAS can help you make!  Check out our calendar of courses HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Introduction to MIDAS from MIDAS Fab Lab on Vimeo.

Redefining Teck’s By-Products

Trail Operations partners with MIDAS to explore new ways to create value from slag

Metallurgical slags, by-products of Teck’s lead-zinc smelting and refining complex in Trail, B.C., are at the centre of a three-year research project led by the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Graduate students are looking at ways to extract and refine valuable rare elements from the slag, which can be used  commercially in semiconductors and other electronic applications.

Much of this is unfolding at MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies), a fabrication lab located in Trail, where this project is able to flourish, along with other technical opportunities heating up in the region.

A Centre for Regional Innovation

From the outside, MIDAS could be another retail shop in a strip of small businesses, but inside, technology and innovation are at the forefront. The applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility services the metallurgical sector that clusters around Teck’s Trail Operations. MIDAS makes advanced manufacturing technology—including 3D printing—accessible to many in West Kootenay, B.C.

MIDAS, a public-private enterprise initiated by the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

“Part of the rationale for building MIDAS here in Trail is the proximity to Teck’s Trail Operations,” explains Amber Hayes, project director for MIDAS. Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

Regional companies use the facility and its equipment to supplement their business. For example, manufacturers can digitally print test prototypes in plastic before creating their products in wood or metal, training programs can be downloaded and accessed virtually, and aging equipment can be reverse-engineered. These disruptive technologies are not only being accessed by engineers, but also by resident artists, students and entrepreneurs.

“There is also a strong material stewardship opportunity with MIDAS for Trail Operations,” says Greg Richards, Superintendent, Knowledge Management, Trail Operations (pictured below). Greg is also a metallurgical engineer and serves as Chair of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society’s Metallurgical Committee, which works to advance business development and economic strength in Trail and surrounding areas.

“Being able to provide our by-products to MIDAS improves our ability to maximize the value of our materials across their life cycle while providing economic development opportunities for other companies and our region,” adds Greg.

When the facility was being commissioned, MIDAS also took the opportunity to gain critical safety expertise from Trail Operations.

Dallas Cain, Trail Operations’ Superintendent of Health and Safety, together with Chris D’Odorico, Manager of Health and Safety, supported MIDAS in developing the safety program for the site, which includes equipment operator training, lock-out procedures and facility safety management.

“MIDAS provided a real locus for the ideas that had been generated around regional metallurgical technology and innovation,” says Greg, recalling the number of discussions and attempts at something like MIDAS over the years. “I believe that MIDAS was the missing piece that we needed to help advance opportunities in our area.”

Originally posted at Teck Connect.