What B.C.’s post-pandemic recovery plan means for the innovation economy

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VANCOUVER – The British Columbia NDP government on Thursday unveiled its long-awaited economic recovery plan. Assembled by Innovation Minister Ravi Colon with the help of Rockstar economist Mariana Matsukata, it focuses on inclusive and clean growth, highlighting some technology sectors as a priority. It also creates “missions” to help the provinces achieve their goals and track progress in these missions with the premise that “what is measured is done”.

This is an update of StrongerBC Province’s plan, released in September 2020 to direct recovery after the pandemic. “We have come a long way, but much remains to be done,” Colon told a news conference on Thursday, saying the plan is 10-15 years ahead. “It sets BC real big goals that need to be achieved in the long run.”

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Although the plan was easy on the specifics of its implementation – perhaps the provincial budget will show more next week – it contained some serious announcements. Here’s what you need to know:

Center for Life Sciences and Bioproduction

BC contains more than 2,000 companies in the life sciences sector, according to the data report, and is home to the fastest growing life sciences sector in Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic, “virtually every candidate for the COVID-19 vaccine that reached late development in 2020 used components that were consulted, initiated, developed, or manufactured by a company or BC scientist,” the report said. The province plans to position itself “as a world center of life sciences” and seeks to nurture new talent, develop new laboratory spaces and take other measures to develop the sector.

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A point of conversation

The British government unveiled its economic recovery plan on Thursday, giving some insight into what we can expect from its budget next Tuesday. In the plan, it focuses on promoting inclusive and clean growth through a new method of tracking its success, not just GDP.

Agrotechnical Center

“We aim to make BC a global player in the agricultural technology market,” the report said, noting that there are more than 150 companies in the province that develop and use technology to improve productivity, sustainability and food security. The province wants to set up a Agritech Center of Excellence for collaboration between government, industry, science and Indigenous people. The center will focus on helping startups grow and scale by assisting in research and development, commercialization and mentoring. Lack of resources for expansion is common complaint from the technical sector of the province. During a news conference on Thursday, Prime Minister John Horgan said Colon and Agriculture Minister Lana Popham on Saturday would announce “regarding the expansion of our agro-technological component”.

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More broadly, the plan promises to “help the BC high-tech sector find talent and expand.” This language was welcomed by BC Tech Association CEO Jill Tiping, who called it’s “nice to see.” She works with 10 other organizations in the province to the lobby for tens of millions of dollars in government funding to build a local version of the Ontario-based ScaleUp platform.

ESG in the spotlight

“British Columbia’s high standards of environmental protection, social support and democratic governance are an important and growing economic advantage,” the report said. The province will develop an environmental, social and management strategy (ESG), which includes the establishment of the ESG Center of Excellence. He hopes the center will help attract bona fide investors, facilitate ESG’s investment in the province and diversify markets for the province’s products “under the respected and trusted ESG brand”.

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During consultationthe province has heard of its “enormous potential” relative to its “strengths” [ESG] principles, ”Colon said.

The establishment of the center will require consultation, he said, but there is already some opinion on what to expect. “I think one of the main things we’ve heard is,‘ Don’t create your own brand. Work with other jurisdictions so that each jurisdiction does not create its own standards. ” Callon said much of the work will take place between him, the environment and climate change. ” Strategy Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Bruce Ralston over the next few months.

Eliminate talent shortages

“Britain’s economy lacks skills and talent,” the report said. He predicts more than a million vacancies in the province, most of which will require post-secondary education that will not be filled without intervention. The government plans to promote training initiatives for Britain’s economic recovery plan released in September 2020. It also promised to create 2,000 technical places in public higher education institutions and provide more scholarships and internships for innovation, among other initiatives.

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“Access to talent is the number one barrier to growth facing Canadian enlargement,” said Tessa Seeger, Director of Government Affairs at the Council of Canadian Innovators in British Columbia. statement. The plan “lays the groundwork for overcoming this.”

New trade and technical complex in BCIT

The province will also try to address the talent shortage by contributing $ 136.6 million to the planned Trade and technological complex at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The higher education institution will provide the remaining $ 26 million needed to implement the project. It will have four buildings, including a four-story building with an area of ​​7670 square meters, construction of which is expected to begin in 2023. The last five-year capital construction plan is BCIT expected he will contribute $ 32 million to the project and expects $ 181 million from the province.

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Other highlights

  • To help with accessibility and support people and families, the government wants to introduce free bus fares for children, eliminate interest on student loans and expand affordable childcare. BC signed an agreement with the federal government last July to reach an average of $ 10 a day in the cost of some children’s facilities by 2027.
  • The government wants to expand the high-speed Internet connection and “aggressively speed up the connection time of all BC communities.”
  • The plan promises to support the joint development of an external agency led by indigenous peoples, which will focus on the economic development of indigenous peoples.
  • The plan also promises to increase domestic production.

Tracking progress

The province intends to measure the success of the plan goes beyond the traditional gross domestic product. He will also focus on what he called “indicators of well-being” such as affordable housing and post-secondary education. Much of the report, outlining specific missions and follow-up measures, is likely to have been taken from Mazukata, a professor of economics and founding director of the Institute for Innovation and Community Goals at University College London. Provincial Government credited her help in June 2021. She known for her arguments in favor of a mission-oriented approach, and a triple approach– also one accepted due to the province’s new $ 500 million strategic investment fund.

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What is missing

Seeger of the CCI noted a few things needed to supplement the plan. “Our domestic innovators look forward to real progress in data strategy, IP policy and modernized privacy legislation.” The provincial government has entrusted Colon with the development of an IP strategy, and although the report mentions that it is under development, it does not provide for further updates.

There are also no additional measures to address the talent problem. Tipping called creating 2,000 rooms for higher education “a great start”. However, she said that there are 10 times more vacancies in technology.

The Frontier Collective, a new group set up to expand the province’s meta-global technology companies, has criticized the plan for being too focused on the province’s resource areas rather than on being homegrown firms. Co-founder and CEO Dan Burgar said in a statement Logic he is “very disappointed” by the plan, which he says is “stuck in the past”.

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Some also noted a lack of detail on what part of the vision will be achieved. “While the plan helpfully articulates that on the government will measure, in less detail, what actions in the plan will lead to greater growth, to higher standard life and additional investment in our province, ”said Bridget Anderson, CEO of Greater Vancouver Trade Council, in a statement.

Similarly, Tipping said in a statement Logic that she “will be interested in the details of the economic plan if they appear to see how supply measures meet industry demand” to fill 150,000 new vacancies in technology, according to her association, will appear in the next decade.

What’s next

The report is ahead of BC’s budget next Tuesday. Last year budget strengthened plans for the InBC Strategic Investment Fund, expanded childcare by $ 10 a day, offered more funding to CleanBC and businesses recovering from the pandemic, and focused on training.

This section works from Logic. The Logic is Canada’s outstanding technology and business news. For more news, visit thelogic.co.

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