Geek Speak: Michael Bidu, president of the Digital Media and Wireless Association of B.C.

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      Michael Bidu is gearing up to promote the province’s digital media and wireless sectors to the world during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The 49-year-old entrepreneur is the president of the new Digital Media and Wireless Association of B.C., which launched its VX 2010 Showcase site on January 20.

      DigiBC was incorporated on December 1, following the merger of New Media B.C. and the Wireless Innovation Network of B.C., of which Bidu was executive director. The industry group has 400 member companies and a staff of four. Bidu is also the executive producer of the Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit. This year’s summit will take place during the Vancouver International Digital Week, which will run from May 23 to May 27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

      Born in Brasov, Romania, Bidu was previously the founder and chief executive officer of CityDazz Interactive, a wireless start-up. He lives in North Vancouver.

      The Georgia Straight reached Bidu by phone at the DigiBC office in the Leading Edge Technology Centre in downtown Vancouver.

      What are your goals for DigiBC this year?

      Well, it’s our vision to really put British Columbia on the digital map in a global sense, and also to increase the awareness of the importance of digital media and wireless here in British Columbia—not only with our own industry but with academia and with the government. We believe that, from a strategic point of view, British Columbia is moving more and more into becoming this knowledge-based economy. We believe we have a very serious role to play there, and we really want to help, obviously, the province to go that way. That’s kind of the way we look at it.

      What’s needed from government to make Metro Vancouver a more attractive region for digital media and wireless companies?

      I think, you know, the government in B.C. has done lots of good things. I mean, it’s one of the best tax environments for small to medium-sized companies. There’s all sorts of programs that support, for example, angel investment with tax credits up to 30 percent. So, there’s a lot of good things that the government has done in the past.

      What I think the government needs to do in the future is to offer a better environment for senior management for small to medium-sized companies here in the province. So, we need to find ways to incentivize senior-level officials or representatives from all over the world—from the States, from Western Europe, from Asia-Pacific—to come and either join some of our member companies, whether it is Nokia or Electronic Arts or Rainmaker Entertainment or Sierra Wireless, or small to medium-sized companies, because a lot of the SMEs have very little experience in economic and business development, sales, and marketing.

      We have lots of great people who understand technology. We have lots of good people who understand content creation. But we don’t have that many people who really can take those small to medium-sized companies to sort of a global level.

      What do you hope to achieve with the VX 2010 Showcase?

      Well, what we’re trying to achieve with the VX 2010 Showcase is, really, we’re trying to promote the industry with this business audience and media audience that will be in Vancouver between now and during the Olympics and possibly Paralympics. But, more importantly, I think it is a platform that we will use in the future for DigiBC.

      VX is really the showcase of our industry. Right now, it’s open to about 70 companies, some of the best we have in our industry. So, what we’re hoping to achieve—we’ve heard numbers of between 30,000 to 35,000 business delegates will come to Vancouver for various reasons. Some of them will have an interest in wireless and digital media.

      For example, there’s a delegation from a sister province in Korea. They’re coming to Vancouver with a few delegates to look at our digital-media industry. We want to sign possibly a memorandum of understanding with them, so we can start collaborating on product innovation between our province and their province. So, that’s kind of a good example of what will happen during the Olympics. We’re also working with Think London, which is an agency in charge of trade and investment and creating jobs and possibly offering opportunities for our companies to do business in London. So, there’s lots of interesting opportunities that are happening.

      Also, with VX, we are in charge of a couple of services for the B.C. International Media Centre. So, we’re hoping that the 1,500 or so reporters that are there will learn about our industry and will be able to push some of the stories to TV, radio, magazines, and on-line publications or bloggers as well.

      What’s going to be new at this year’s Vancouver Digital Week?

      What’s going to be new at the Vancouver International Digital Week is a combination of a couple of interesting events. We’re bringing to Vancouver the MobileMonday Global Summit, for example, from Helsinki for the first time ever to North America. We are also doing the MobileMonday Peer Awards here. It’s also the 10th anniversary of MobileMonday. So, that’s kind of one event that we’re bringing from Europe here. We’re trying to bring an event from Tokyo. We’re trying to bring another event from Amsterdam.

      But we also have our own successful events that WINBC has done and also New Media B.C. has done in the past. For example, Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit is a successful event from the WINBC side. We’re going to make that better this year. On the New Media B.C., there’s a successful event called Fusion and also Vancouver International Partnering Forum—VIPF. So, those are events that we will try to kind of make them better in May 2010.

      What will be one big trend in both the digital media and wireless sectors this year?

      Convergence—there we go. That’s one word. Convergence and mobile broadband. I mean, the opportunities will be in the mobile space, because that whole space will explode by probably a factor of 100. The speed of mobile broadband, and we’re going more into 4G and LTE.

      In the next year or two, the opportunities in mobile broadband and wireless will be just phenomenal. So, what we’re doing with our industry is we’re taking the content that is created here and we’re trying to push that content to Canadians or other places in the world, so that our companies here have a chance to, you know, go global.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at