Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Andrew Wilkinson were joined by local technology entrepreneurs this week announce that the province of BC has made a commitment to invest up to $6 million toward the development of the new state-of-the-art Okanagan Centre for Innovation.
Construction of the six-storey, 106,000-square-foot centre, which will be located adjacent to the Okanagan Regional Library, is expected to begin in late summer and is anticipated to be completed in early 2016.
“This project has come together because of the focused effort of a broad range of community leaders, all sharing a strong vision for the economic future of the Okanagan,” said Jeff Keen, Okanagan Centre for Innovation spokesperson.
The centre will provide work space for budding local technology entrepreneurs, students and companies at a minimal cost. In return, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to collaboratively develop their ideas, gain experience and grow their businesses further with companies and mentors, like Accelerate Okanagan, who also will share office space in this building.
“Becoming the next made-in-B.C. success story like HootSuite or Club Penguin is no easy task – that’s why we’re investing in this project to help give people in our tech industry a competitive advantage,” said Premier Clark.
The $35-million project is being funded largely by the Kelowna Sustainable Innovation Group, who will also own and operate the building.
“This new technology centre is the perfect addition to Kelowna’s already booming tech sector, providing up-and-coming tech companies and entrepreneurs with a workspace ideally suited for networking and collaboration,” said Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
The City of Kelowna has agreed to a long-term lease of city-owned land valued at more than $2 million in the heart of downtown Kelowna to support economic growth and revitalization.
“The City of Kelowna is excited to be a part of a project that will entice bright, young entrepreneurs to create more jobs in our growing downtown,” said Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray.
The province will own a portion of the centre, which will be reserved specifically for local start-up tech companies at a minimal cost.