Startup City

Downtown Vancouver's business district (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

The Vancouver Economic Commission is launching ‘Startup City’ on Sept. 21-25 to celebrate the emergence of a rapidly emerging global hub for entrepreneurs.

“We know that capital and talent are core needs of a globally-recognized startup ecosystem for it to be the very best,” said Ian McKay, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC). “Startup City will connect Vancouver’s entrepreneurs to the talent, capital and a variety of other resources to accelerate their growth and keep them in Vancouver.” 

That means developing a city friendly to venture capitalists willing to invest in new businesses as well as successful prior examples of startups, Hootsuite and Spotify being two Vancouver brand names that have now spread nationwide.

However, keeping such entrepreneurs in Vancouver may yet prove challenging owing to the city’s skyrocketing cost of living, featuring an average house price of $1 million. As a result, even middle class people in professional-level jobs are often forced to relocate, forced out in many cases by exorbitant house prices.

Nonetheless Sean Elbe, development manager for the VEC’s tech sector, said that the average technology job salary was 66 per cent higher than a typical industrial wage.

“Where we can effect change is [through] presenting opportunities that present themselves with a knowledge-based economy,” said Elbe.

As traditional industries give way to a knowledge-based future, eco-friendly businesses are moving in to help propel Vancouver towards a greener future.

This may mean businesses networking to combat textile waste, developing apps to help find alternative fuel sources for operations, or one businesses recycling construction waste or items discarded by another.

However, Elbe said that new industries were often “sector agnostic,” combining green business practice and technology development for example, without being exclusively tied to a certain sector.

Elbe’s bullish outlook is also reflected in initiatives such as Startup City’s ‘Networked Business Bootcamp’ aimed at smaller firms,  while its industry panel will focus on building growth-oriented companies, including big players like Shopify and Hootsuite.

The VEC is also partnering with the BC Innovation Council, New Ventures BC, Garibaldi Capital, the Vancouver Enterprise Forum and VanIMPACT to bring back ‘Startup Alley’, a daily ‘investor walk’ showcasing 20 different local startups from four different focus areas: technology, local business, social adventures and investor-ready companies.

“Startup Alley will highlight the most innovative startups in Vancouver and connect them with impactful partners, investors and supporters,” explained McKay. “We’re proud to offer this unique session that shines a light on the diverse and impressive range of startups and investors in our city.”

Other highlights include a drone building workshop by local 3D printing company Tinkerine; Unicorn or Bust, a panel on trends in angel investing led by Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures; and the HR Tech Group’s Talent Conference, which will be at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Scheduled Startup City events will take place at the newly expanded Imperial on 319 Main St, as well as other locales around Vancouver. For a full schedule of events and to learn more please visit the VEC’s website.

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