Victoria’s tech sector has huge economic impact

At about $4 billion annually, the high-tech industry has roughly twice the impact of tourism.

  • Fri Feb 26th, 2016 2:00pm
  • News

— Tim Collins

It’s a common misconception that tourism is Victoria’s biggest economic engine. In fact, while tourism is important, it’s actually the high-tech industry that generates the capital region’s greatest economic impact.

At about $4 billion annually, the high-tech industry has roughly twice the impact of tourism.

That’s why last week’s courting of investors from across North America was hugely important, according to Mayor Lisa Helps.

It all started out as a sort of “reverse trade mission,” meant to attract investors from San Francisco in the wake of last year’s trade mission to that city. But last week’s visits by potential investors and conference planners from across North America exceeded all expectations.

“It was an amazing response to our event,” said Helps. “We had 30 people attend, representing Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg.”

The event, hosted by Helps and a prominent group of local representatives, transcended the original goal by far and helped solidify Victoria’s reputation in the competitive world of cutting-edge technology.

“It’s an exciting time for our city as our tech sector continues to grow,” said Dan Gunn, the CEO of VIATECH, Victoria’s advanced technology council.

He said he was thrilled so many influential people in the industry had taken the time to visit and learn more about what is driving a “new era in Victoria’s economy and community.”

Attendees started their visit at Fort Tectoria where they heard why Victoria is the ideal place to visit, work, play and invest. They heard presentations by Helps, Amril Virk (minister of technology innovation and citizen’s services), United States Consul General Lynne Platt, and Tim Catlin, vice president of engineering at Change.org.

But perhaps the presentations that made the greatest impact were those made by the dozens of Victoria start-ups — all pitching Victoria as the ideal place to invest and do business.

“With our three T’s — talent, taxes, and time zone — our reputation as a desirable place has created world wide appeal,” said Virk. “But we’re also renowned as an educated, creative and talented community.”

He said it all combines to attract investors to the tech industry and to help fuel the region’s economy.

“It was just awesome,” said Helps. “Some of these people had no idea that Victoria even existed. But they were just thrilled. It created a buzz… a vibe. We know that these people will go back home and tell their associates about Victoria’s innovation economy. It’s a big win for the city.”