Their business is technology and business is good.
The Vancouver Island Technology Park rolled into 2013 with new companies, new ideas and a new leader on the way to take over one of the region’s biggest economic drivers.
“The park plays a big role in the economy of Victoria. We want to continue to play that role and expand that role as we develop,” says park controller Glynn Jones. “It is 90 per cent occupied while things are slow. It will continue to be successful and have a bigger continued impact for the entire region.”
The controller for the University of Victoria properties took over administrative duties from former president Dale Gann whose position was eliminated in lieu of an as yet unfilled chief executive officer position expected to handle all UVic’s non-academic real estate, including the 14-hectare VITP and Swans Hotel and Brew Pub among others.
The restructuring sees the search for a leader continue while tech companies continue to seek out the tech park – evidenced by eight new companies joining the fold, raising the numbers to more than 30, despite a flat economy.
With plans for two new phases and a new 80,000-square-foot facility awaiting the economic growth to green light the project, Jones says the park is ready to take the next step, but waiting for the right market conditions.
“There is a plan for the next building and three more buildings which could accommodate a lot of growth as the years unfold,” he says. “It is a question of economics and government policy. Victoria is a great destination.”
While the nature of the tech sector has most employees working quietly behind closed doors protecting industry secrets, the park’s marketing co-ordinator Melanie DeCorte envisions a day when residents and visitors alike see Victoria as much for the tech as for the tourism.
“Vancouver Island is going to be known for its technology sector,” DeCorte says. “Technology is going to be huge in Victoria soon – so it is nice to be associated with that.”
A UVic economic impact study released last year estimated the park generated $317 million to the Canadian economy and supported 2,000 direct and indirect jobs, and helped make high-tech surpass tourism as the region’s largest industry.
VITP only plans to add more office and lab space to the 191,000-square-foot facility, including plans DeCorte can yet divulge. In coming years she estimates number of companies under the park umbrella will close in on 40 to 50, spanning medical and gene research, telecommunications, software development and marine science technology.
“It is exciting … I will see first-hand all the growth, the new things up and coming and new business up and coming and the new trends,” DeCorte says. “We are proud to have these companies here. When you think of Victoria and technology, (VITP) is the first thing that comes to mind.”