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Greater Vancouver’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector represents about 70 per cent of the ICT industry in British Columbia, which comprises more than 6,000 companies and more than 46,000 employees. The sector is predominantly service-oriented, and focused on computer systems design and related services, engineering services, software publishing, wired telecommunications, and computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing.
Most companies are small service providers, but Vancouver is also a location of choice for major ICT companies:
Between 1997 and 2004, B.C. had the highest growth in Canada in the following ICT categories: employment, R&D spending, and software and computer services revenue.
Wireless technology businesses constitute a strong ICT sub-sector. The province now has some 500 wireless companies - half in wireless technology and half in wireless-related businesses. Wireless employs 6,000 people in B.C. and most wireless companies are cash-flow positive. Industry revenue grew over 50 per cent between 2004 and 2007, and tops $1 billion. For a detailed profile of the Vancouver sector (here)
Vancouver’s success in ICT has been enabled by strong research infrastructure, an established network of seasoned professionals, CEOs and angel investors, and close ties to the U.S. and Asia.
Vancouver’s infrastructure is bolstered by proven ICT research and development capacity, including facilities, specialized equipment, and a large cadre of researchers and scientists. In addition to two world-class universities that spin off innovative companies, the Vancouver region is home to a variety of ICT research and development facilities, including WestGrid, a $50 million project linking supercomputers across Canada; the IBM Pacific Development Centre, which develops custom software solutions; and a Nokia R&D centre that develops Internet-friendly mobile devices. Nanotechnology research to advance ICT is growing rapidly at Vancouver’s two research universities.
A recent University of British Columbia study found that technology companies in B.C. deliver the best return on R&D investment in North America.
The growing pool of skilled ICT workers in B.C. includes 67,000 engineers, IT professionals and production workers. Welcoming immigration policies contribute to the quality of Vancouver’s ICT workforce, a significant factor in Microsoft’s recent decision to open a software development operation in Greater Vancouver. Family and business ties to Asia, and foreign students at local educational institutions, are additional sources of talent.
Direct access to the United States market is a major advantage for ICT in Vancouver, while links to emerging markets in China and India are critical to the future strength of the sector. These links are facilitated by Vancouver’s award-winning international airport, which allows ICT firms to quickly move people and products to key destinations.
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Research & Development
The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) provides a range of technical and business-oriented advisory services to support growth-oriented Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises. This can include non-repayable contributions to Canadian firms interested in research to develop their services, products and processes. The program has contributed more than $570 million to more than 30,000 projects. In 2007-2008, approximately $13 million was available to firms in B.C.
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is a federal tax incentive designed to encourage research and development in Canada. Qualifying non-Canadian companies are eligible to receive tax credits of 20 per cent of qualified expenditures. Canadian companies receive enhanced credits. The B.C. government adds a ten per cent tax credit for qualifying Canadian and non-Canadian corporations that conduct R&D in British Columbia.
British Columbia offers tax credits of 30 per cent to qualified resident investors who provide venture capital to small businesses conducting R&D on proprietary technologies and developing interactive digital media products. Investment must be made through a venture capital corporation or directly to an eligible business corporation. Early-stage ventures are also eligible for support from the B.C. government’s $90 million B.C. Renaissance Capital Fund.
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Forum of CEO’s of technology and life science companies.
B.C. Innovation Council
Crown Agency that fosters innovation and commercialization, in partnership with government, industry and academia. The Council provides research funding, scholarships and other resources.
B.C. Ministry of Economic Development
Provincial government department that promotes commerce and investment in B.C. and administers B.C.’s venture
Consortium of post-secondary institutions in B.C. providing high-speed Internet capacity for advanced research.
B.C. Technology Industry Association
Non-profit organization that supports the growth of B.C.’s technology industry through a variety of programs and initiatives.
An innovation network of community-based cultural, media and technology champions.
National Research Council of Canada
Canadian government agency that provides support to small and medium-sized businesses. It has an office in Vancouver.
Vancouver Enterprise Forum
Non-profit society that advances technology entrepreneurship through educational and networking forums.
Commercialization bridge between the wireless developer community and mobile operators, government and large enterprises deploying wireless products and services.
Association representing the wireless industry.
B.C. Institute of Technology
Internet Engineering Lab
Simon Fraser University
Centre for Scientific Computing
Compound Semiconductor Laboratory
Graphics Usability and Visualization Lab
Pacific Centre for Advanced Materials & Related Technology
PolyLab - Sun Technology and Research Excellence Centre for 21st Century Network Computing
University of British Columbia:
Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory
Institute for Computing, Information & Cognitive Systems
Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre
Software Practices Lab
System on a Chip Lab
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