Tech Trends was in beautiful Vancouver for #BCTECHSummit the largest tech conference in Western Canada.

To steal a phrase from CNN’s cheeky wonder, Richard Quest, B.C. Means Business. Last week Tech Trends travelled to Vancouver for #BCTECHSummit 2018 and found a thriving state with a vibrant tech & start-up scene like few others.

Think of Canadian industry and you might picture forestry, mining, oil and gas. And you wouldn’t be wrong, but I was genuinely surprised to find that British Columbia’s biggest sector is actually technology, the tech ecosystem of BC is booming and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Built for the World’s Fair Expo in 1986 the Vancouver Convention Centre hangs over the harbour and this year hosted almost 9,000 participants for nearly a dozen conference-related events over three days. 3,000 delegates connected with over 270 exhibitors and watched more than 200 speakers highlighting the transformations technology is driving across all industries and its impact on how we work, live and play.

To support the growth of the Tech sector and boost engagement across this enormous state B.C. is undertaking infrastructure projects on a scale that would have the UK government quaking in its boots and looking for the exit. The Connected Coast project will bring new or improved high-speed Internet access to 154 rural and remote coastal communities, including 56 Indigenous communities — representing 44 First Nations — along the B.C. coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. The ambition of this new sub-sea network is immense and plans to place over 3,400 km of subsea fibre-optic cable, stretching from Prince Rupert south to Vancouver, then around Vancouver Island. In total, it is estimated that the project has the potential to benefit 175,000 British Columbians, living in 90,000 households.

The impact of the project and the opportunities it will provide to these communities will be enormous. Access to reliable high-speed Internet and cell phone service means that residents will be able to access online learning and health services, emergency notifications, news and participate in online discussions and sharing. It will also open new economic development opportunities for residents who will be able to work remotely and participate in e-commerce and online business development.

The Connected Coast project is only one of multiple infrastructure projects B.C. is undertaking to help grow the local Tech sector and an excellent selection of speakers, sessions and panels featuring global thought leaders, explored the importance of Tech to the future of society and launched new initiatives and funding packages while celebrating the thriving Tech community already in Vancouver. Conference highlights included:

• 150 investors that represent $225B in capital watched 45 of B.C.’s most promising startups pitch in the Investment Showcase.
• Approximately 2,000 high school students participated in Youth Innovation Day to learn about the jobs of the future and a career in tech.
• Over 220 B2B Meetings were matched between 38 technology buyers with 98 local technology solution providers.
• Delegates from 16 countries and four continents complemented a strong international presence of companies including Title Sponsor Microsoft, Google Cloud, Lululemon, Amazon, Blue Origin, Lyft, Lockheed Martin, Sage, WeWork, LinkedIn, Salesforce, IBM and RBC.
• Premier John Horgan announced tech and innovation investments including over $102.6 million in funding for 75 research projects in B.C. and $10.5 million for entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students.

Access to education was another strong theme of the summit and for the third year in a row, Youth Innovation Day was at full capacity with over 2,000 Grade 10–12 students attending the second day of #BCTECHSummit. There were also plans to use the new Internet infrastructure to reach out to native communities and in line with current reconciliation projects the First Nations Technology Council will offer remote first nation communities the possibility of entry-level technology-focused learning opportunities to ensure Indigenous people are competitive in the technology and innovation sector. Everyone will benefit from British Columbia’s support of this booming sector and as the Premier of the B.C. the Hon. John Horgan said, “Tech is the foundation of our future” @jjhorgan True Dat!

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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