“Nothing is better for leapfrogging to success than technology. And now our government is giving the tools to British Columbia Agri-Food entrepreneurs that will help them feed the world”.
The speaker is the BC Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Norm Letnick. Along with Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens Services Amrik Virk, he is in Mission to announce funding for the new Agri-Food Venture Acceleration Program located in the recently opened Technical Centre of Excellence. Operated by the Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (SRCTec), the announced $844,000 will provide entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Fraser Valley with training, coaching and the network to help them accelerate growth. This new program expands on BC Innovation Council’s BC Venture Acceleration Program, which now delivers a successful technology accelerator program in 13 communities around the province. To date, 296 companies have benefitted from accelerator programs, but Mission’s is the first to concentrate on agriculture.
Minister Virk points out that the technology industry, with $23.2 billion in revenues, is British Columbia’s third largest contributor to the economy – larger than forestry and mining combined. “And it’s no longer restricted to just Yaletown in Vancouver”, he tells his audience. “It’s also in Kelowna, in Kamloops, and now it’s right here in Mission”.
Mr. Virk goes on to emphasize that Agri-Food is a $12 billion industry in our province, with substantial value added, and it could not have survived without technology. “We have some of the best and most productive farmland in the world. Innovation makes our products safer and more efficient – products that could not exist without technology”.
Praise for SRCTec Chair Ray Szabada
Both Mr. Virk and Mr. Letnick give praise to SRCTec Chair Ray Szabada for his persistence and perseverance in making this initiative a reality. “Agriculture is a prominent industry in the Fraser Valley”, says Szabada. “And the delivery of an intense training and coaching program aimed at agriculture-related innovators and entrepreneurs is critical to our local economy. Now that this level of support and resources is available here, those individuals no longer have to commute to receive assistance. On behalf of SRCTec, I’m pleased to be working with the BC Innovation Council as the newest partner of the BC Acceleration Network to bring this impohttps://missionbizenews.wordpress.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=58&type=image&TB_iframe=1rtant program to the region.”
The final speaker is Jerry Ericcson, co-founder and CEO of Diacarbon Energy Inc. Mr. Ericcson’s company started with an idea (the application of practical and realistic technology to provide carbon neutral and carbon negative products that will benefit the planet). Currently employing 35 people and producing practical solutions to mitigate climate change, Diacarbon is a poster child example of why these accelerator programs are of vital importance to British Columbia. “I am a product of this pipeline”, says Mr. Ericcson proudly. “I couldn’t have reached this point without the professional and emotional help and support provided by the Venture Acceleration Program”.
Since 2011 BC’s Venture Acceleration Programs have created over 850 permanent jobs – jobs that pay 66% higher wages than the provincial average. It is clear that embracing technology will be a game changer for both Mission’s and the regional economy. The enthusiastic response from the audience packed into the Tech Centre says it all: “District of Mission – Technology Starts Here”