‘Explore British Columbia first if you’re a techie from India’

Vancouver:  British Columbia, a major global hub for tech companies, is looking to woo more and more global capital and is keen on inviting Indian tech giants and talent into the Canadian province, says a senior minister of the province.

“We have a really attractive offer for companies. Please understand that Canada is more welcoming than our neighbours in North America. Canada is also a welcoming country for immigrants with skills unlike most of the developed countries,” says Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

The minister told a visiting IANS correspondent that the province has a unique combination of good business environment and infrastructure, healthy system and strong educational institutions and, above all, inventiveness that make up for a sound base for encouraging talent and industry.

He said British Columbia has established a 100 million Canadian dollar venture capital fund to invest in emerging technology companies across multiple sectors, including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Digital Media, Clean Tech and Life Science/Healthcare.

India-based Zee Studios International have plans to set shop in BC employing about 100 employees, Ralston informed.

The tech and innovation sector in British Columbia has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, transforming its economy in ways few could have predicted.

Ralston said the transformation is evident in the increase of technology jobs in British Columbia from over 60,000 in 2002 to more than 1,10,000 now.

“Today British Columbia is home to globally-recognised talent, trained at international renowned post-secondary institutions and some of the most successful and innovative companies in the industry.

“It’s a sector that accounts for 10,200 companies and approximately 28.9 billion dollars in revenue. For a province of less than five million, these are significant numbers,” the minister informed.

According to Ralston, the tech sector was growing rapidly and many countries have discovered British Columbia.

“We need investment and capital. Secondly, on our side, we are developing more talent. There are 4,000 seats in colleges and universities. With them, we will make sure the business environment is right,” he said.

The government of British Columbia has recently appointed an Information Commissioner — a senior public affairs official to liaise with the federal government and Canadian representatives abroad like in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.

“Innovate BC has an expanded mandate in British Columbia and globally,” the minister added.

Asked about attracting Indian investment and talent, Ralston said: “We are looking for typically higher skill and knowledge here. We have programmes for experienced entrepreneurs. India has a great reputation in the information technology sector and we are excited about attracting the Indian talent”.

Vancouver has a great start-up environment and they can come and develop here as well as for markets outside, he added.

“We are completing more housing for students, more rapid transit throughout the region so that it is easier to commute. Public health system and transport is also our focus,” the minister noted.

British Columbia has also set up an Immigrant Employment Council (IEC) for attracting global talent.

A report prepared for it by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) says that British Columbia is Canada’s leader in tech and has one of the fastest growing tech eco-systems in the world.

However, it feels the current supply cannot meet the industry’s growing demands for tech talent.

By 2021, the report, estimates an anticipated shortfall of over 30,000 skilled individuals to fill tech-related jobs in the province.

V.S. Chandrasekar