Innovation Island on the coast – wrapup of roundtable. workshop 1/2.

On November 23/24 2015 Innovation Island came over to the Sunshine Coast to begin offering workshops and services under the District of Sechelt funded partnership agreement for the lower Sunshine Coast.

Graham Truax, Executive in Residence, kicked off the visit with a roundtable session looking at how Innovation Island can support and complement activity already happening on our community.

Thanks to the following people for being part of the roundtable:

Graham Truax, EiR Innovation Island

Beverly Ehlbeck, IT, District of Sechelt

Connie Jordison, Communications Manager, District of Sechelt

Eduardu Catucci, Rapid Edge Technologies

Yvonne Paulson, Rachelle Wirth, Coast Reporter

Richard Hoath, @SCtechhub facilitator

Jim Tivy, BlueStream

Robin Ranjit Singh Chauhan, ipathway

Jason Hall, open source tech for non-profits

Kim Darwin, Sechelt Chamber of Commerce

Dave Jephcott, Community Futures

After the round-table I invited attendees to share in a collaborative set of notes from the session as a record of our conversation useful for sharing with the wider community via www.sctechhub.ca and any other channels, and as a marker to check back on progress.

a) what you heard from around the table

b) links you mentioned (barcamp, startup weekend, Coast reporter app, coast makers, sctechhub, hackathon, …)

c) your takeaways

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From Graham Truax, www.innovationisland.ca

On behalf of the Innovation Island Technology Association (IITA) I would like to thank everyone for attending the roundtable gathering.  A big shout out to Connie, Richard and Darnelda for planting seeds and putting things together!  I truly enjoyed the opportunity meeting with you all and taking in the beauty of the Sunshine Coast!

For sake of keeping this response as “open source” as possible I will provide some basic comments and references from the discussion (see slides from the presentation attached).

From my vantage point there were three big “C” words that captured both the needs and opportunities facing the community; Communication, Collaboration and Consolidation.  These are common difficulties within our region; arguably “challenges” that we all need to get better at and are working on.

Regarding IITA Services and Program Costs:

Our complimentary Business Advisory service works in conjunction with the NRC-IRAP concierge service (a very powerful and wide ranging portal).  While IITA does have a primary focus on technology and innovation we can provide assistance to a range of businesses that fit our basic application form.  I have worked with over 100 individuals/companies under this program over the past two years; from innovative non-profit social ventures to $50M+ hi-tech firms.

The Venture Acceleration Program (VAP) is primarily designed for early-stage technology Startups.  The program has a $200/mth. cost and a fairly demanding intake/interview process; however, the core curriculum is available free of charge, see http://innovationisland.thinkific.com/.

In addition to the above IITA offers a variety of regional workshops and events; with industry speakers and partners.  The 2016 schedule is in planning stages now; we will distribute ASAP.  Our community partnering agreements allow us to deliver workshops such as the RETHINK series (outline attached) that we just started; remaining sessions for 2016 are being worked on now.  These workshops develop based knowledge, relationships and introductions that can be further supported by our primary programs; and/or allow us to redirect participants to other Government or industry resources.  As mentioned, IITA is a non-profit industry association; we do not fund companies nor take equity or other formalized positions with our clients.

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

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From Robin Chauhan www.pathwayi.com

Another great way to meet geeks on the coast, including computer tech but broader:  http://www.coastmakers.com/main/summary , its also good for young people usually.

In terms of events to draw geeks:  I would be interested in giving short presentations on different topics, in a barcamp or lightening talk format.  Topics could include linux, data science, programming, tech education, security, bitcoin, internet, web, databases, AI, analytics.

But Im not one to organize an event, Im way too busy.  If someone can organize something, ping me.  Also Id be much more interested in events with multiple speakers.  Nothing too formal.

If non technical people want to help things along on the coast, I think you can help by playing a supportive role.  Technical people are not usually event planners, its a different mindset.  Support might include things like:

  • Promotions.  Getting the word out for the event
  • Booking speakers
  • Obtaining the space, video projector, wifi, pizza and coffee/juice

If someone took care of the above, it would be like magic, and I would be there to provide great content (and Im sure others would too).

Does anyone else agree this type of support could help make things happen?  There is just no way I could plan an event with what I have going on.

That type of event, or series of events, I believe would be very fertile ground for promoting the type of networking that leads to things happening.  Over time.

You want things real alpha geeks would enjoy, because they are interesting.  They will not show up to meetings.  Most geeks hate meetings.

=R

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From Yvonne Paulson, Rachelle Wirth   www.coastreporter.net

It was nice to be a part of the group yesterday and hear the concerns everyone has and the opportunities to move the SCTech forward.

  1.  I heard that people are frustrated with not knowing who’s doing what, who has what to offer and how to get more techies involved on the coast.
  1.  We have a great app that’s useful for tourists and locals.  It’s a new app that came out in June of this year.  We are constantly updating and changing the app for the end users and advertisers.  There are a few different  opportunities to advertise on the app or have an app within an app.  This can be quite cost effective.  I see the app within an app application being very beneficial and attractive to the local municipalities.  We have the ability to send out push notifications.  This can be useful for water restrictions, breaking news, school closings and other announcements.

Free download from:  iTunes store or Google Play or launch the app store on your devise and search for “Sunshine Coast BC or www.coastreporterapp.net.

My takeaway is there are many agendas at the table and it would be good for these agendas to be streamlined as I believe there are some synergies here.  I agree with Dave regarding one message for the entire Sunshine Coast and not segregated as it appears to be a good percentage of the time.

It would have been nice to have Innovation Island explain the services they provide does have a cost associated with it.  It was introduced as offering all this assistance by a non-profit group.  (according to the website there’s a cost to tapping into the expertise.  Albeit a low cost in comparison to hiring a consultant) Just my perception.  I believe Innovation Island brings to the table a great deal of expertise that would ordinarily cost considerably more. They are a great resource for any new tech start up.

In summary I believe the SC Tech hub has a lot to offer the Sunshine Coast.  The challenge is to get all the techies together and find a way to get the word out.  Unfortunately you can’t achieve all of this for free.  Just like Innovation Island, they are offering a tremendous support to new up and coming tech companies.  This is one of the avenues to get a new tech start up.  There is a lot more to be done.  Becoming a member of the local Chamber of Commerce would be one avenue that shouldn’t be ignored.  I heard that techies don’t like to do “traditional” networking or advertising.   I believe that some of the traditional methods along with new methods needs to be incorporated to be successful.  As you know most things move forward as a result of someone knowing someone etc.  Networking is one of the ways to do this.  The Chamber is more than just networking.  If there’s an issue that requires legislation or assistance the Chamber is your place to go to get action.  They truly work on behalf of the members!

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From Richard Hoath, @SCtechhub  www.sctechhub.ca

Thanks and kudos go to the District of Sechelt for stepping up to the plate and funding the 1st year partnership agreement with Innovation Island on behalf of the lower Sunshine Coast.

Graham has provided a helpful details of the Innovation Island programs and services.  Really useful network of ideas, learning, and connections that entrepreneurs who fit their program can slot into.

Robin asks great questions about the support needed to pull together events.  @SCtechhub has seen this kind of support over the past 2 years.  Local orgs including Community Futures, District of Sechelt, Gibsons Chamber of Commerce, Sunshine Coast Community Foundation, and the Sunshine Coast Credit Union have stepped up with in-kind support and real dollars to sponsor and support our tech community events.  Summaries of many of these activities are up at www.sctechhub.ca.   While techs in general do not like “meetings” or traditional networking – my experience has been that engaging with our community can bring new creativity, energy, and opportunities to us individually and the wider community (a.k.a coast karma!).  Might be opportunities to learn from other chambers where there has been success in connecting with businesses working in the new economy.

Yvonne and Rachelle talk about coordination and simply knowing what is happening even in our small community.  Eduardo at the meeting felt that only a small fraction of people working in tech on the coast know about @SCtechhub.

The reality is that @SCtechhub events and learning opportunities happen when individuals decide to act in small ways (we have $0 budget, deliberately!).  Dave Jephcott makes time to spread information within his network, even when events like these have some overlap with Community Futures.   @SCtechhub members like Laurie McConnell who contributes her time and space on www.bigpacific.com to write about these events.

So the opportunity comes back down to each of us to seek ways to connect, collaborate, and communicate.  We know that people are seeking the kind of lifestyle and deep community connections possible on the Sunshine Coast – but still want to remain connected to the new economy and their professional networks.  What do newcomers to the Sunshine Coast see when they look at our community?   What are the topics of conversation online and in the printed media?

Here are the links to the presentation material from Innovation Island workshops #1 and #2 presented in Sechelt November 24.

2016 Innovation Island Calendar of Events coming soon.

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An open monthly design/dev meetup is now happening at www.fuseworkhub.ca in lower Gibsons (last Thursday of the month, 6-9pm).  Lightening talks, hands-on work, pizza, etc are all on the menu.

@SCtechhub general tech community meetups happen 2-3 times per year.  The last event was on game-changers.  Event wrap blog posts are here and Disruptors and Innovators all over the Sunshine Coast (bigpacific.com).