Recap: CDMN Canada 3.0 National Tour Okanagan Valley
By Anthony Reinhart on Feb 11, 2013 / Categories: Blog, CDMN News, Partners
From the air, the vineyards and orchards of the Okanagan Valley look like circuits on a motherboard, tying B.C.’s foremost winemaking region together.
The image is fitting, since a new kind of crop – digital media companies – took root and began its spread across the region more than a decade ago.
Most notable among the cluster’s successes, though certainly not alone, has been Club Penguin, a hugely popular online game for children launched in Kelowna in 2005 and acquired by Disney in 2007 in a deal worth $700 million. Club Penguin remains a local operation and continues to enrich the area’s tech ecosystem.
On Feb. 7, entrepreneurs, mentors, supporters and officials with ties to the Okanagan’s burgeoning tech community gathered in Kelowna to discuss opportunities and obstacles at CDMN Canada 3.0: The National Tour, the eighth such event that CDMN has held across the country since 2011.
The aim of the events is to hear from Canada’s technology clusters on the challenges they face and the successes they’re achieving, so that they can learn from each other and boost Canada’s performance on the world digital-media stage.
At the Kelowna gathering at the Coast Capri Hotel, a wide-ranging discussion among attendees followed presentations by a variety of speakers including:
- Braden Messenger, program director at CDMN node partner Accelerate Okanagan, an agency that helps technology companies start and grow through various programs and events. Its flagship Venture Acceleration Program, in which entrepreneurs receive one-on-one mentorship from executives in residence, has helped more than 100 companies in the past two years, and has been rolled out to tech clusters across B.C.
- Derek Gratz, associate director of the university-industry liaison office at the University of British Columbia’s fast-growing Okanagan campus in Kelowna, which he described as “the global institution you didn’t know was here.” The campus has tripled in size since 2006, with $400 million in investment, and now serves 8,300 students – a growing number of them eyeing careers in the region’s digital media sector.
- Richard Takai, export development officer at the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, a regional government agency that has been working closely with the technology sector. The COEDC supports several initiatives, including metabridge, a program that links promising local startups to key figures in Silicon Valley, and the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective, which aims to attract and retain talented workers by enriching the region’s cultural offerings.
- Steve McBride, vice-president of business development for Weever Apps, a Hamilton, Ont.-based company that makes it easy to develop mobile apps. McBride talked about how Weever benefited from the CDMN Soft-Landing Program, which enabled the company to make invaluable contacts and land deals during a week in New York City.
- Derek Lownsbrough, co-founder of Kelowna-based Vineyard Networks, which was recently acquired by Procera Networks, a global network intelligence firm based in California. Lownsbrough, who is now Procera’s vice-president of research and development, talked about the powerful lifestyle benefits of living in Kelowna, where a work-hard, play-hard ethos and small-town feel have become increasingly attractive to tech workers and entrepreneurs from outside the community.
“I thought the event was extremely well-run and well-executed, with good discussion,” Messenger said after the half-day forum. “It’s going to help drive technology in the Okanagan ahead at an increased pace, which is fantastic.”
See our Facebook photo album from the event, and check back here in the coming weeks for further coverage, including video, from CDMN’s National Tour visit to Kelowna.