Moments that made the 2020 TIAs finalist announcement more than just another Zoom meeting

A quick recap of the incredible 2020 TIAs finalist announcement

In some ways, the first-ever live video announcement of the TIAs finalists was a lot like many Zoom meetings during the COVID-19 crisis. BC Tech CEO Jill Tipping, for instance, co-hosted the April 28 event from her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom so as not to disturb the Lego metropolis taking over her home office.

The celebration’s unique format was appropriate for more than just social distancing. As Jill pointed out right off the bat, “BC Tech is all about using technology to solve problems and find new ways of doing things, and celebrating our finalists like this is a great example of that.”

With 250 participants dialling in, with so much to celebrate, and with many finalists and sponsors working around the clock to combat the pandemic, the uniqueness and energy of this particular Zoom session soon shone through. Here are 11 moments that made it especially memorable:

Pandemic-fighting purpose

As Jill pointed out, “The theme of the 2020 Technology Impact awards is ‘Purpose’ – it’s a defining feature of our BC Tech companies, and we can’t think of a better value to celebrate in these challenging times.”

With many finalists working around the clock to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement underscored the tech community’s key role in response and recovery. AbCellera, for instance, is vying for the “Excellence in Global Export” award as it collaborates with Eli Lilly Canada to develop a clinical COVID-19 antibody treatment. Then there’s “Spirit of BC Tech” finalist Thrive Health, which in partnership with Health Canada has created the Canada COVID-19 app, a central resource for accessing personalized, trusted, evidence-based information about the pandemic.

“This comes as no surprise to me, as these companies are grounded in purpose,” Jill added. “There are so many others among the finalists that are really leaning in and creating a bright future for B.C.”

‘Culture eats strategy for lunch’

As in past finalist announcements, Riaz Meghji (of Breakfast Television fame) posed some great questions to his co-host. When asked about the role of B.C.’s tech culture amid the current crisis, Jill didn’t mince words. “If there’s ever been a clear time when culture eats strategy for lunch, it’s right now. So many businesses have had to rip up elements of their strategy and question everything. The one thing that seems to be coming true for everyone is that this is when we really lean into our culture. By doubling-down on our values, we will come through this stronger by having to adapt to challenges.”

Next-level chatter

The congratulations came fast and furious in the Zoom chat box as the TIAs finalists were revealed. When participants were asked to rate how they were feeling on a scale of one-to-10, Praveen Varshney of Varshney Capital unleashed this gem: “Sitting in my massage chair at home in YVR, so I’m a 10 out of 10!”

Now THAT’s how to do a Zoom meeting…

Jazz hands lend a hand

With unmuted applause sure to cause Zoom chaos, Jill called for a show of jazz hands from everyone on the call. Based on photos captured from the event, the B.C. tech community is one jazzy group. Riaz’s hands, it should be noted, are more gigantic than jazzy.

Minister in the house

The Honourable Anne Kang, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, made a special appearance to celebrate the finalists. “The technology sector is one of our crown jewels here in British Columbia,” she said, adding that the provincial government expects to see more than 75,000 tech-related job openings over the next 10 years.

Sponsors step up

Jill reserved special praise for the partners and sponsors that make the TIAs possible every year. “The TIAs is the biggest fundraising event of the year for BC Tech,” she said. “The funds raised are essential to support the programs and activities we deliver to help tech companies grow, scale and export.”

TIAs sponsors include Platinum Sponsors CIBC and Telus, and Gold Sponsors Finning Digital and KPMG, as well as award sponsors Accenture, BDC, Clio, EY, MDA, Microsoft, Osler, PwC, Safe Software, and SAP. Other partners that contribute to the success of the TIAs include Business in Vancouver, Digital Technology Supercluster, Gowling, Low Tide Properties, Lyft, MNP and Switchboard PR.

Harbour Air hanging tough

The TIAs finalist announcement was sponsored by Harbour Air, which in December affirmed its innovative credentials with the successful flight of the world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft. “Harbour Air has been significantly impacted by social distancing, so I think it’s just amazing that they’ve hung in with us,” Jill said. “We’re incredibly grateful!”

Next steps

B.C.’s largest and longest-running tech awards program is determined to continue its 27-year history of recognizing the 2020 TIAs winners in the fall “at the Gala we all know and love,” Jill said. “Whether or not that’s possible we know one thing for sure: We will be celebrating these 38 finalists and telling their stories over the coming months, and we will be more excited than ever to reveal the winners in each category in the fall. As we start to look ahead to better days, let’s take time to remember the value of innovation, the importance of progress, and the power of a team pulling together in support of a vision of a future that’s better than today.”