How the accomplishments and lessons of 2022 will shape B.C. tech in 2023

Switchboard’s Kathleen Reid shares predictions for the coming year.

In hindsight, the B.C. technology sector’s stellar 2021 would have been a tough act to follow even without the global tech and investment downturn of 2022. That’s why I expect the aggressiveness of the last few years to be replaced in 2023 by an emphasis on strategic thinking, more measured decision-making, and making the most of the resources at hand.

As someone who works in corporate communications, I often have previews of the next big things in tech. Those experiences, combined with what we already know about the year to come, inform the tech trends I see emerging in 2023:

Tech will thrive outside of Vancouver

If the upcoming OKGN Angel Summit and December’s Victoria Tech Community Awards are any indications, B.C.’s biggest tech news of 2023 may well come from outside its largest city.

The former is a uniquely elevated pitch program that guides Okanagan-based investors, and startups from across Western Canada, through the capital-raising process as part of a Dragon’s Den-style selection process culminating in a public Grand Finale in March of 2023. As well as celebrating its fifth anniversary, the 10-week OKGN Angel Summit is awarding an investment fund of up to $250,000, the largest in its history, to the last company standing.

Last December’s Victoria Tech Community Awards, meanwhile, put an exclamation point on Victoria’s emergence as the fastest-growing tech region in B.C, with more nominations than ever before: 187 across 10 award categories.

The winner of the “Startup of the Year” award, Audette, recently landed a $12.8-million CAD funding round to launch its building decarbonization platform across 150 North American cities. On that note…

Cleantech will help Canada keep pace

With Canada committing to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and to reduce emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, I expect the problem-solving power of B.C.’s cleantech sector to ramp up in the months to come.

The stage is certainly set for this to happen. Made up of nearly 300 companies that employ more than 16,300 people and generate annual revenues of around $2.4 billion – up from $1.8 billion in 2016 – Cleantech is one of the fastest-growing segments of B.C.’s economy.

The sector is also about to get a boost with the federal and provincial governments partnering on a new Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy. The B.C. government is investing $60 million in the project, and Ottawa is adding up to $35 million, according to the most recent federal and provincial budgets.

More under-represented groups will find careers in tech

Of the many positive impacts that I see the Honourable Brenda Bailey having as B.C.’s new Minister of Jobs, Economic Development, and Innovation (JEDI), a focus on diversity and inclusion across the tech sector stands out.

After all, Minister Bailey co-founded the Silicon Sisters gaming studio in 2011 in response to the lack of high-quality video games being developed for women and girls. More recently, she served as Executive Director of the Creative Technology Association of British Columbia (DigiBC), where she worked to bring more diversity and inclusion to the sector.

Smart money will follow seed money

Many venture capitalists rose to prominence during the 2008 economic crisis by investing in companies like Uber, Lyft, Slack and other household names in the making. They did so in part because startup valuations were lower and investment terms were more favourable, and I predict that pattern will repeat itself in 2023.

The stage has been set in part by Panache Ventures’ new fund with commitments of $100 million for pre-seed startups. Investments from the Montreal firm’s “Fund II” will be made across a diverse range of sectors, with several already made in blockchain, digital coaching, and artificial intelligence. Investments have already been made in 12 companies, two of which – Big Whale Labs and Impro – are based in Vancouver.

In the wake of seed funding, other B.C.-based companies to watch include:

On that note, let’s raise a tech-enhanced glass to an exciting and prosperous 2023!

Kathleen Reid is founder and chief communications officer at Switchboard Public Relations.


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