Invitation to join the DER3 Program – For Local/Regional Digital Service Providers

My name is Jennifer and I am the GM of Innovation Island and Project Manager of the DER3 Program. I am reaching out to share some information about a local initiative called the Digital Economy Response Program (DER3)​. This program helps small-medium businesses enter or expand into the digital economy. We launched this program in partnership with the ICET, WD and Innovate BC to be able to support SMBs to #getdigital. I have included a brief description of the program and answers to some of the common questions we have been receiving below.


After launching in April, we now have almost 400 applicants in the program, and are actively working to assess the needs of all small-medium businesses (SMBs) who have reached out for help, as well as making recommendations to these companies of local Digital Service Providers (DSPs) like yourself, who offer the services and skills they require.


Our team is committed to providing as many “best fit” recommendations to the SMBs we are working with as possible, and we would love to be able to send you some prospective customers in the near future. Recent feedback from one of our Digital Marketing companies “I’m in the process of signing two new clients, with much gratitude to Innovation Island and the Digital Economy Restart Program. And I’ve gained another new client separate from the program, with at least one other in the wings. And I’ve hired a part-time assistant!”.


However, we can only recommend/refer DSPs who have registered for our program, so we encourage you to consider signing up as a DSP.  While we can’t and don’t promise future connections or work, this is a great sales funnel and potential opportunity to be introduced to SMBs in the region in need of the skills and services you offer.


Please keep in mind that there is no expectation or obligation to offer services for free or reduced rates through the program. We do have a few DSPs who have made the decision to create special offers for SMBs from DER3, but most will maintain their current pricing structure, and this decision is completely up to you based upon what is best for your business.


If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to reach out to the DER3 Team directly, or simply click here to access the DSP application and begin your registration. After you have completed your application, you will be invited to schedule an initial interview so that we can add you to our database of DSPs to whom we can make referrals.






About DER3


What is the Program (DER3)?

In partnership with ICET, WD and Innovate BC the Digital Economy Response Program (DER3) provides one-to-one business & technical expertise and actionable resources to companies that need to consider changes to their business models and/or best-practices on how to better engage with entering or expanding in the digital economy.


Why are you emailing me?

We need tech companies, business owners, individuals, entrepreneurs or solo-prenuers who can help small-medium sized businesses either ENTER or EXPAND into the digital economy, a.k.a Digital Service Providers (DSP). We are also looking for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who have Been There, Done That and want to give back to the community.


Who is Innovation Island?

We are a non-profit government service provider that delivers programs & services for tech companies (tech, science & manufacturing). We are a BC Acceleration network partner reporting to Innovate BC and our flagship program is the Venture Acceleration Program. We service 15+ communities on Vancouver Island, including the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast.


As the regional voice for technology entrepreneurship, Innovation Island has helped our client base achieve some impressive numbers; since FY-2014, 190+ new tech-based jobs have been created, over $25 million of new revenue has been generated and this has attracted over $20 million of early-stage technology investments.  For the past 20 years, Innovation Island has been instrumental in fostering and encouraging growth in the regional technology sector.


So why sign up?

There are small-medium sized businesses in our region who need help and don’t know where to turn. We want to connect those businesses to you, building service options that go beyond what we are able to provide directly within the program. Essentially, we want to foster new relationships that will help all of us thrive, now and into the future, whatever that may look like.


Next Steps

Once you have signed up you will be connected with one of our fabulous Program Managers to discuss next steps.


Please send questions or comment to or 250 753 8324 and one of us will get back to you ASAP. Feel free to also share this email with your friends, coworkers etc.


Jennifer Hufnagel | General Manager


+1 (250) 667 2323

Book a Meeting:


Check out the Digital Economy Response Program –


About Innovation Island: For the past 20 years we’ve been honoured to foster and develop the regional technology sector; serving greater Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. As a non-profit service provider we are partners in the BC Acceleration Network, proudly delivering the Venture Acceleration Program and other services.

SC COVID19 Digital Response Roster

  • Update September 2020: roster has shifted to standby.  See post above on DER3 program for local businesses seeking digital strategy advice, and digital service providers interested in connecting with new local/regional customers.

April 15, 2020:  Sunshine Coast COVID19 Digital Responders

We are 24+ professionals from the SC tech community who have formed a roster of digital responders ready to help local business, organizations, and our community figure out how to live, work, and stay connected in the digital space, and get through the COVID19 pandemic together.

Where can we help?

Has the ‘new normal’ created a pointy problem for your business or organization where a digital strategy and specific tech skills are needed for you to survive and thrive? Is this digital capacity otherwise not available?   Below are some ways where we might be able to help.

What digital skills are available?

Well, within the group we have folks with almost every digital skill ready to contribute their professional experience from working locally and globally. We will form small teams with you to creatively thinking about the problem and where possible design and deliver a solution.

I need digital help.  How should I connect with the group?

Lets start with a conversation to see if there is a fit between your needs and the skills in our group. For the first cohort, we are prioritizing our cycles for local business pivoting to survive, and organizations moving forward with COVID19 community response and support.  You can reach the roster by email connect [at]

Some ways we might help?

For local retail business owner shifting to a hybrid business model:
• connect with your customers through new channels: smart interactive social media engagement, email contact management using Mailchimp or other services, virtual chat on your website
• get started and avoid the downsides of the Google suite of information tools
• pivot your walk-up traffic to online order fulfillment using integrated product showcase and e-commerce tools such as Shopify or other services,
• build out other ways to grow your digital connections: digital photography tips and tricks, podcasting

For organizations working remotely together:
• tips and tricks for effective workforce collaboration using MS Teams, Slack, Zoom, …
• protect mission critical and private information and devices through cybersecurity protocols and tools
• secure remote access to organization networks using VPN techology

For our community as we rely on our devices:
• supporting digital literacy learning on staying connected (and keeping up with) the grandkids and working through tech frustrations
• can you help me … AMA drop-in tech office hours
• for parents as kids look for ways to connect with each other and online tutors

For organizations leading community response:
• support to vulnerable populations including helping seniors stay connected
• info management systems for collaboration, coordination and engagement; when email, docs, and spreadsheets are not quite working for the long run
• new tools and processes for information sharing through interaction, visualization, and data transparency

Wind Chill Meetup

A brave group of 20 gathered at TapWorks for our winter meetup. Fairly sure it was the coldest night ever for a beer on the patio.

Ryan Czech jumped on the bench to let us know good news on co-working space.  With support from the Fuse coworking hub is expanding to 3 locations – Sechelt purpose built space is opening by mid March. Gibsons is relocating to a larger space with an ocean view by June 1. Madiera Park is coming soon. Details on

Slack is our ongoing communication channel.  Send an email with the name of your favourite beach to connect <at> sctechhub <dot> ca.




innovation learning on the coast

Success.  Entrepreneurs who attended the innovation workshops this past week came away with some practical framework and resource references for working on their business (rather than in their business).

During the workshops people had a chance to apply startup inspired frameworks to their own business – ranging from digital services, agricultural, housing, and environmental tech – across all stages of growth.  Lots of good local connections formed.  And lots of time for 1:1 Q&A and feedback tapping into the experience of our workshop leader.

A valuable 1.5 days of local entrepreneur support and learning led by Graham Truax / Innovation Island.     Thanks to SCREDO for funding the series,  Community Futures for connecting the pieces, Capilano University kálax-ay the Sunshine Coast Campus for the venue, and Harbour Air for being our transportation partner.

The next workshops in the entrepreneurship and innovation series are March 6/7 focusing on financing and whether to pivot or persevere.    Registration is open now.  You can always reach out to Community Futures by phone or email with any questions on if/how attending can be valuable for starting, growing, or pivoting your business.

Here are the links to the presentation decks, with a ton of really useful external links that cover everything from the soups to nuts of starting and growing a business (literally!).

Startup 101  |  Lean Canvas Part 1  |  Lean Canvas Part 2

As we all learned, Graham is an avid reader and audit book listener.  His summaries are epic and expected amongst the VAP clients.

Good news!  Many of the books that Graham references are or will soon be available through our local library in print and/or digital formats.

Originals, Adam Grant  (one of top reads for 2017 where the author shows how research blows apart the myths about successful entrepreneurs).  “To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk. But the most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case.  Available in print and e-book formats locally.

The Art of the Start (the original, not the 2.0 yet) available in print and e-book formats locally.

Value proposition design : how to create products and services customers want / Alexander Osterwalder  available in print format locally.

The Lean Startup (the classic reference) available in e-book format locally.

And the ones that I have pitched our libraries to add to their print collections:

Any other great books that you recommend to entrepreneurs?  Let me know! 


Facilitator, @SCtechhub

It’s important to just start; with some learning (local!)

A series of 3 local entrepreneur workshops are happening on the Sunshine Coast over the next 3 months.  Jan 23/24, March 6/7, April 17/18.   Registration and details here.

The format is an early evening session followed with a full day session the next day.

A local opportunity for early stage and growth oriented entrepreneurs to connect with other local like-minded folks, learn from some of the best thinkers in this space, and connect into provincial and federal programs.  Designed to support local entrepreneur success.

Curious if these workshops are right for you?   Here are some Q&A’s to help get you a sense of what to expect.

Q: I’m a small going-concern business that uses “tech” but doesn’t build it, how can these workshops help me.

A: While there are some fascinating businesses and developers who are building core technology in our region most entrepreneurs are using “tech” simply in more creative or unexpected ways.  The biggest challenge, regardless of technology, is coming up with an innovative and sustainable business model.  The biggest challenge most entrepreneurs face with their business model is executing on it and/or almost constantly adjusting it.  Jeff Bezos considers Amazon to be a “Startup at day 1” — forever!

Q: I’m a small going-concern business in a very non-tech industry, how can these workshops help me.

A: Technology has changed (or will change) virtually every business on the planet.  The founders of Airbnb did not come from the Bed & Breakfast or Hotel industry, nor did the founders of Uber come from the Taxi industry.  Some of the biggest opportunities still yet to be had are “adding” technology to non-tech business and industry.  In most cases this starts with understanding core tech-based business development methodologies.

Q: I’m a LEAP Graduate and have had decent success (or challenges) with my business and I think I know this stuff so why should I RETHINK what I’ve already learned?

A: If we take a page from Jeff Bezos [reference above] and consider that our business is in a constant state of learning and progressing, then re-thinking the how and why of what we do will become a core habit that can help us to achieve our goals.  Read books, attend workshops, experiment, fit it in, make it happen, repeat.

Q: I’m nearing positive cash-flow with my business and I’m unsure if I should push harder with investment or other growth strategies, how will these workshops help my situation?

A: Most businesses, and certainly most founders and CEO’s are in a never-ending cycle of decision making.  However, some decisions are more important than others and knowing how to properly consider the variables and possible outcomes is both an art (that comes from experience) and science (that comes from data).  There are best practices, and there are tools to help!

Q: I’ve been kicking around several business ideas but I have yet to start anything, how can I decide what is best?

A: SWOT it!  An old but powerful Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat assessment can help more than you may realize.  Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t do this type of work and just go with their gut feel or with what “they” want rather than what “customers” or markets want.  It’s important not to do too much too soon, or too little too late, but more than that it’s important to just start; after doing some homework!

Q: Who is leading the workshops? 

A: Innovation Island is our regional partner for accessing BC Innovation Council support and Federal IRAP/NRC programming.  Graham Truax, resident EiR, comes over to the Coast to lead the sessions.  Interactive.  Fast moving.  Come away with a stack of resources that will help you get started / scale/ pivot in a smart way.

Q: Wait.  I have more questions.  Who can I speak with? 

A: Feel free to call or drop by the Community Futures office in Sechelt.  Or connect with the @SCtechhub who have members who have attended and are part of the ongoing BC Venture Acceleration Program.

Q: Who is supporting and organizing the events?

A:  Super pleased to have SCREDO, our regional economic development organization backing the workshops.  The workshops are being held with support from the Dean and staff at kálax-ay the Sunshine Coast Campus of Capilano UniversityCommunity Futures are championing the organization with support from @SCtechhub.

Refine, refresh, reboot your business in 2018. Venture workshops starting Jan 23.

FYI entrepreneurs and those aspiring to grow their business idea in 2018.  Local workshop series is starting Jan 23/24.

Organized by Community Futures Sunshine Coast, supported by @SCtechhub and Capilano University, and led by Innovation Island.

Come learn from some of the best thinkers in this space. Meet other local entrepreneurs.   Take away great tools and resources.  Increase the chances of your business taking the right first steps, avoiding the landmines, and positioning for success.

Registration and information

Fall 2017 meetup is November 17

Friday November 17 at the new 101 distillery and brew house in Gibsons.  Anytime 5:00 onwards.  We have a few tables reserved for the group.  No formal agenda – just a chance to connect with others who work in the tech space and share similar / complementary sets of skills and interests.  After 7pm if 101 gets too crowded we will move across the street to the Blackfish pub.  Future meetups you ask?  Always open to members initiating events!

Girls Learning Code – resources + lessons learned

We just wrapped another successful Girls Learning Code (and parallel Parents Learning Code) workshops.  7 mentors came out to support the learning for 24 girls (sell out) and 12 parents.  Thanks to Capilano University Sechelt Campus for hosting the event, and the Sunshine Coast Community Resource Center for helping with the organizational details.  Lisa Bains developed the curriculum and Richard Hoath was the event lead.

When can we do this again?

Check out the Girls Learning Code (Sunshine Coast) Facebook pageSubscribe to the GLC newsletter list.

Keep the learning happening and are amazing resources for kids (self paced learning), parents (try not to get hooked into coding!), and teachers (full age and curriculum specific materials with ready to go lesson plans).


Here are links to the course materials.  Please use/ share/ re-purpose freely.

Girls Learning Code Lesson Plan

Parents Learning Code Lesson Plan

and a handout with resource links

Here are some of the lessons we learned that may be useful for future workshops.

Girls Learn Code Workshop Saturday April 29 @CapU

Calling all girls ages 8-12!

Join us for this hands-on coding workshop led by women from the Sunshine Coast who work in the tech sector.

This workshop is designed for girls ages 8-12 who have some basic knowledge of the Scratch programming language.  You can learn enough Scratch to participate in this workshop by working through the exercises in Stages 1 to 8 here:

Parents – are you interested in learning more about coding and technology?  You are invited to a parents learn to code and tech Q&A session happening at the same time.  Parents – if possible, please bring your own laptop or tablet device to follow along.  Computers will be provided for the girls.

Question? Contact us at

Registration is limited to 24

A volunteer led community for people working in the digital sector and living on the lower Sunshine Coast (BC).