NANAIMO – Data shows 2016 was a solid year for B.C.'s tech sector and 2017 is expected to see that growth continue.
Accounting firm KPMG reported last year that B.C.'s industry is growing faster than tech sectors in the rest of Canada and the U.S. While the sector on the mid-island is not as large as some bigger centres, but Paris Gaudet, executive director of Innovation Island, says there was some positive news locally last year.
“We're seeing a lot of this kind of development happening within our region," said Gaudet. "For instance this year, many of the companies that we've worked with they're able to secure some capital which has always been a real challenge. And when they're increasing their capital, they're increasing their jobs."
Along with accessing capital and hiring talent, another hurdle is access to customers and Gaudet says where Nanaimo is situated will help address that.
"I think the next level will be getting some direct flights to some of the bigger tech sectors," said Gaudet. "From Nanaimo, San Francisco would be great or Vegas would be another great one. Just so we can bridge that gap a little bit more. Definitely Seattle and Calgary flights are really a great start and I think it's only going to increase."
Giving programming and coding the same importance as construction in trades training is key, according to Gaudet. But as she looks at the next generation of leaders, there's reason to be optimistic for the future.
"This is the first generation that has never not been connected to a device,” she said. “Their whole upbringing and their kind of DNA and learning experience has been very much connected to technology."
Gaudet says she would also like to see more women enter the traditionally male-dominated tech sector.