B.C. tech industry creates closer ties to the U.S. with Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network

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      After Trump was sworn in as President, a lot of individuals jokingly called for the secession of America’s West Coast. Internet memes clowned about Washington and Oregon’s amalgamation with B.C. into a new country of Cascadia.

      While the suggestion may have been a tease, the regions have a lot in common. Both hosting thriving tech sectors—particularly in the cleantech and life sciences industries—there is more that unites than divides the areas.

      It comes as little surprise, then, that tech, research, and investment partners are moving to integrate the territories.

      Today, nearly 50 stakeholders from B.C. and the Pacific Northwest launched the Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network, which aims to match tech startups with funding and collaboration opportunities across both borders. 48 signatories endorsed a document that recognizes the new association, and each pledged to work collaboratively and in support of entrepreneurs and researchers across the region.

      “B.C.’s tech sector is firing on all cylinders, with businesses and researchers increasingly looking to work together on a larger scale,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, who was in Seattle to commemorate the signing between partners. “The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network will help B.C.’s home-grown talent connect with partners across the Pacific Northwest region to boost our economy and create new jobs here in B.C.”

      Canada’s co-signers come from a number of backgrounds. The province’s 17 members represent tech accelerators, incubators, universities, and others who have vowed to support new companies and more established start-ups to commercialize, share talent pools, and grow within the region.

      The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network will greatly benefit the province’s booming tech sector. Currently providing jobs for over 106,000 people, the industry offers wages around 85 per cent higher than the average B.C. salary, and employment in technology companies is rising well above the province’s overall growth.

      The announcement comes weeks after premier John Horgan reaffirmed B.C.’s commitment to working closely with Washington state, and support the thriving tech advances  that connect the two.

      “We recognize our shared responsibility to protect the environment, grow our economies, find new opportunities to expand our flourishing tech and innovation corridor, and create good jobs on both sides of the border,” he said in November.

      “Our governments remain committed to joint action and leadership in the fight against climate change, and in the pursuit of strong, sustainable economic development that works for the people of Washington and British Columbia.”

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays