Inside the incubator: A look into incubator/accelerator programs in BC

Content provided by Ricardo Khayatte from Vancouver Weekly

When the federal government decided to invest $31.4 million into four of B.C.’s largest technology based incubator and accelerator organizations late last year, it was no big surprise. The technology sector in B.C. produces approximately $15 billion in GDP and accounts for over 84,000 jobs according to a recent report released by KPMG.

Incubators are organizations that are specifically designed to help companies mature by offering services such as office space, marketing support, management advise and more. While business incubators have taken on many different shapes and sizes since their early inception, there has been substantial interest from the technology sector in particular for these types of organizations.

Sean Kerklaan was already a seasoned entrepreneur when he was hired on as CEO of Fatigue Science two and half years ago.

He had already gone through many of the challenges most entrepreneurs experience when he started his first company back in 2007. He taught himself some of the basics running a technology-based business by investing his savings in what some might consider ‘the school of hard knocks’.

Shortly after joining the Fatigue Science team, Kerklaan met with a good friend and local entrepreneur for lunch and was instructed to meet Bill Tam, the president and CEO of the local incubator known as BC Technology Industry Association (BCTIA).

Within a week, Kerklaan signed Fatigue Science up to BCTIA and was taking advantage of the many programs available.

About a year ago, Kerklaan was looking to raise a significant amount of capital for Fatigue Science. BCTIA put together a panel of seven experts in his industry and they watched his team present their investor pitches and critiqued them for hours.

“It was one of the best learning experiences for me as a CEO. They helped us refine our approach and ultimately we were extremely successful in raising that capital last year,” says Kerklaan.

The B.C. incubator scene

Vancouver, much like other tech hubs around the world, has experience tremendous growth when it comes to entrepreneurial cooperatives such as incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces.

More than half of the 25 organizations included in the BC Innovation Councils list of incubator, accelerator and co-working spaces in the province have launched in the last few years.

What makes Vancouver special?

In order to get a better sense of what incubator programs are all about, I made my way over to two of Vancouver’s largest technology incubators – BCTIA and Wavefront.

In the following video, Bill Tam, President and CEO of BCTIA, describes some of the programs that are available through Centre4Growth. Centre4Growth is a program organized by BCTIA which helps companies accelerate their businesses and gets them to one of four stages:

  • the think it stage, which helps companies realize their ideas
  • the build it stage that assists companies in acquiring customers and creating revenue
  • the grow it stage, which looks primarily at increasing revenue
  • the scale it stage, which finally helps companies to focus on global markets.

How BCTIA helps

BCTIA received $10.4 million from the federal government and matched that number with investment brought in from their own business community.

They decided to move into a new 26,000 square foot office space with the goal of bringing in up to 30 companies interested in accelerating their business.

To read the full article online, click here.