February 25, 2020
British Columbia has a strong and stable environment for startups, in part due to the ambitious collaborations between incubators, accelerators and universities. They all have an interest in growing the next generation of successes and are pooling their knowledge and resources to make it happen.
Relationships with university startups are driven partly by practical financial considerations such as shared space and resources; startups focused on deep tech sectors and research-intensive areas in British Columbia can obtain a credit of up to 45% of R&D expenses.
At the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University-Industry Liaison Office enables research collaboration and innovation partnerships between researchers and industry, government and non-profit organizations. In fiscal year 2018-2019, UBC funded nearly 10,000 projects ($669.1 million in total funding) and filed 285 patents. Since inception, these partnerships have resulted in the establishment of 213 spinoff companies.
Many universities also have their own structures in place to nurture ideas into their full potential. UBC has a tech incubator, HATCH, which provides the space, time and resources to ensure that ideas successfully grow into products. It allows entrepreneurs to test their projects while accessing seed and concept funding, office space, business mentorship from entrepreneurs-in-residence and guidance from top-tier UBC researchers.
The incubator is a partnership between the university’s campus-wide venture accelerator entrepreneurship@UBC and its Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS). The ICICS is a research centre for advanced technologies systems across disciplines including applied science, science, medicine and art.
At the University of Victoria (UVic), budding entrepreneurs can access similar resources through the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre. The Centre recently received a million-dollar funding boost from their namesake to help innovators develop business concepts to appeal to investors.
Simon Fraser University recently received $3 million in funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada to establish a scale-up and soft-landing centre at VentureLabs®, its Vancouver business accelerator. VentureLabs is a science and technology accelerator that works with government and industry stakeholders as well as universities throughout the province. They support projects at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, UVic and Emily Carr University.
These are only a few examples of university partnerships with accelerators. In other parts of the province, organizations like Accelerate Okanagan, the Kootenay Association for Science & Technology, Kamloops Innovation and the Innovation Central Society provide support to post-secondary schools throughout B.C.
A formalized life sciences sector partnership called the Cascadia Venture Forum (CVF) unites entrepreneurs, innovators and academic researchers across the Pacific Northwest region known as Cascadia. The group encompasses British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon and was established in December 2017 through an initiative led by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Seattle. CVF’s activities and initiatives will benefit companies on both sides of the border as each side will offer a soft‑landing space in their market and venture capital will flow more readily across the region.
Collaborations like these are part of what makes British Columbia’s startup environment stable and strong. Entrepreneurs in B.C. are well-educated and well supported. If you are considering establishing a startup or investing in one, we can help. Connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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