The XLRator Story: Bridging the Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Fraser Valley

The XLRator Story: Bridging the Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Fraser Valley

Aligning local government, provincial government, and industry to support innovation, industrial research, and tech transfer to increase skilled tech training and local jobs.

Intro

The Fraser Valley is an incredibly diverse region with an abundance of agriculture, manufacturing, and aerospace-focused enterprises. With a sprawling geographic land area of 13,362 square kilometres, unifying the region as a connected and collaborative district required a concentrated effort on the part of local governments, multiple industries, and academic institutions. Along with a segmented population base, entrepreneurs spread throughout the region were not able to connect with any one institution or organization to further their business goals within the region. Though the Fraser Valley is home to some of the brightest and most innovative companies in British Columbia, their ability to network with one another was limited to events within their local municipalities and Greater Vancouver. Raymond Szabada, the visionary and founder of XLRator (formerly known as SRCTec), and the volunteer board comprised of seasoned tech entrepreneurs helped bridge this gap of collaboration through an innovative approach to community alignment.

The Challenge

British Columbia is home to a vibrant and dynamic tech sector that is a major driver of job growth and clean industrialization. As this sector rapidly grows and emerging technologies and tech companies locally and globally set their eyes on B.C. and its thriving regional hubs, it is now more important than ever for the Fraser Valley to grow and maintain its position within this sector.

The District of Mission, which was selected as XLRator’s headquarters due to its equidistance to neighboring Fraser Valley municipalities, had a strong industrial heritage catalyzed by the railway. Today, the District of Mission, along with XLRator, recognizes the importance of clean industrialization to push the region forward technologically, environmentally, and in terms of job growth. With land shortages and mounting costs of doing business within Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley is well-positioned to leverage the digital economy due to its affordable housing and the recent corporate interest to operate in the region.

However, the District of Mission, or any municipality residing within the Fraser Valley, could not compete directly with the tech investments occurring in Vancouver. Local organizations and institutions were also finding it difficult to retain Valley talent, oftentimes losing out to the lure of a big city position.

The Strategy

Over the course of the last ten years, XLRator has led the charge to unite the Fraser Valley tech sector, and by employing a simple “hub and spoke model,” has acted as the facilitator of collaboration between industry, government, and educational institutions. With three primary charters: supporting innovation & incubation, research & tech transfer, and skilled technical training & education, XLRator has introduced and effectively produced and/or administered a number of programs and projects to drive and support entrepreneurism and technology startups in the Valley.

Programs such as the Venture Accelerator Program (VAP) and the Agri-Tech Venture Acceleration Program (AVAP) were administered by XLRator to provide the necessary education to local entrepreneurs looking to build and grow their ventures.

In 2017, the Fraser Valley Tech Forum was organized in an effort to bring municipal stakeholders and the community together to discuss the ongoing needs of entrepreneurs, skilled workers, and industry to address issues including the disconnect between funding agencies and startups.

In addition, XLRator created Fraser Valley Tech Jobs, a job portal for local companies to post and engage with prospective tech-sector employees through various industries including aerospace, manufacturing, information technology, and agriculture to make it easier for local companies to find, attract, and retain local talent.

Successes

Over the course of the past three years, 42 startups, including Eleos Robotics and Picker Drones, have passed through programs administered by XLRator, many of which are thriving today. These entrepreneurs would have otherwise left the Valley but are now prospering in our diverse region with collaborations and funding from major organizations including British Columbia Innovation Council, Mitacs, and more.

An open discussion to move the Valley forward has now been formed between municipal stakeholders. In the fall of 2017, the first annual Fraser Valley Technology Forum was held to create an open discussion between regional tech-sector stakeholders to move the Valley forward. Over 200 participants attended the event, furthering recognition and awareness of Valley needs as well as the steps required in order to achieve tech success as a region. Representatives from the City of Abbotsford, City of Chilliwack, City of Maple Ridge, the Township of Langley, and the District of Mission attended the forum along with major sponsors and influencers including Fasken, PwC, Prospera, and BDC.

Following the success of the inaugural Fraser Valley Tech Forum, the City of Abbotsford has launched an Intelligent Communities Forum and the City of Maple Ridge held its first Innovation in Emerging Cities event in April 2018. The 2nd annual Fraser Valley Technology Forum is being hosted in Mission on September 20th, 2018, which will further push the envelope for important technology discussions as related to the Fraser Valley region.

In the Spring of 2018, the Fraser Valley Tech Jobs portal was redeveloped to make it easier for employers and prospective employees in the agriculture, aerospace, and manufacturing industries to connect. The Fraser Valley Tech Jobs portal will relaunch in the fourth quarter of 2018 and already has a database of job offers awaiting prospective tech and manufacturing talent.

Lessons Learned

One of the biggest hurdles involved with XLRator’s aim was connecting the fast-paced technology sector culture with detail-oriented municipal processes. Working with Stacey Crawford and the District of Mission’s economic development office was integral to the success of XLRator’s initiatives. Though the two vastly different worlds of tech and government may never completely align, it’s important to begin the process sooner rather than later.

Academia, industry, and government all have their own approach and vision on how to foster innovation and collaboration in the Fraser Valley. Getting regional stakeholders together in one room was incredibly important in aligning various visions to achieve a greater good. In this case, the greater good was connecting Fraser Valley municipalities to encourage and develop the tech sector while also providing our entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed.

 

Media Contacts:

Erik DiGuistini
Marketing & Communications Assistant
ediguistini@xlrator.ca
1.877.256.7722 Ext. 16

Reuben Mann
Marketing Manager
rmann@i-opentech.com
1.877.256.7722 Ext. 14

Municipal Leaders and Tech Entrepreneurs Unite for 2nd Annual Fraser Valley Tech Forum with a Focus on Intelligent Communities and Funding for Valley Tech Entrepreneurs

Mission, BC, August 20, 2018 – On Thursday, September 20th, key regional stakeholders and industry experts are participating in the second annual Fraser Valley Tech Forum co-hosted by the Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (SRCTec) and the District of Mission. The event aims to attract industry, government, academia, tech influencers, and community stakeholders to come together and foster growth and innovation within the local tech sector.

The event, being held at the Best Western Plus in Mission, BC, will focus on the funding needs of Fraser Valley start-ups and how tech start-ups are changing the landscape of our communities. The forum will also address the emerging need for municipalities to start planning a fundamental shift towards Intelligent Communities initiatives by leveraging the knowledge based economy.

Raymond Szabada, Chairman of the Board and CEO, SRCTec, notes:

“The key attribute of any start-up is the ability to grow, which requires capital. The 2018 Forum will provide a strong emphasis on the need for start-up funding locally, partnerships that promote tech entrepreneur needs throughout the life cycle of a venture, and the importance of local mentorship resources.”

Local dignitaries such as Randy Hawes, Mayor of Mission, and other city officials, will be presenting at the event alongside successful tech entrepreneurs and corporate sector executives such as James Maynard, a sales and marketing veteran with over twenty years of experience in bringing companies to success, and Paula Cruickshank, Senior Vice President of BDC, British Columbia and North, who responsibly managed a $12 billion program established by the Government of Canada to help restart the asset-backed securities market to stimulate economic activity.

“The development of tech-related business and the sector is important for Council. Clean tech jobs are critical for our economy and we’re very supportive of efforts and investments that build tech in our community,” mentions Randy Hawes, who will be presenting at the event.

For more information and event registration details, please visit srctec.org/fvtechforum. Free public registration opens on July 31st, 2018.

Thank you to our sponsors:

 

Media Contacts:

Erik DiGuistini
Marketing & Communications Assistant
ediguistini@xlrator.ca
1.877.256.7722 Ext. 16

Reuben Mann
Marketing Manager
rmann@i-opentech.com
1.877.256.7722 Ext. 14

XLRator Aims to Bridge the Gap Between Concept and Commercialization within the Growing Fraser Valley Tech Sector

The Fraser Valley Tech sector is growing and tech entrepreneurs are beginning to see the value in locating their business in the Fraser Valley. There is a problem: tech startups require funding in order to reach commercialization. In the past the Fraser Valley has not been able to provide this to the local entrepreneurs resulting in the local talent relocating to Vancouver where they could find adequate funding.

XLRator’s mission is to bridge this gap between start-up and commercialization; not only providing the funds but also working closely with start-ups to bring innovative ideas to market.

There is a gap in the market and local tech start-ups are unable to gain traction without proper funding. XLRator plans to connect high net worth individuals to innovative start-ups, creating a synergistic relationship between entrepreneur and investor that will accelerate the Fraser Valley tech sector to the next level.

Raymond Szabada, CEO & Founder of XLRator, noted: “While spending the last few years mentoring startups through SRCTec’s start-up programs, I noticed that there was a constant lack of funding for these tech entrepreneurs. XLRator will enter the picture, working with SRCTec and local investors to provide Valley money for Valley tech entrepreneurs.”

Maple Ridge Innovation Day Leaves Audience with an Important Message: “Regional Collaboration is Key”.


Hosted by the City of Maple Ridge on April 4 2018, the Innovation in Emerging Cities Forum brought together the Region’s technology stakeholders, academia, government and industry at the ACT Arts Centre in downtown Maple Ridge. The event boasted a plethora of knowledgeable speakers, panelists and attendees all participating in the discussion throughout the day via Slido, an audience engagement tool.

As a tech entrepreneur, SRCTec CEO & Chairman Raymond Szabada participated in the afternoon panel discussion touching on the difficulties that local businesses face when looking to attract, develop or retain top talent within their organizations.

“The key to growth in today’s economy is people. Developing the workforce within the Region is imperative in order to foster growth and innovation in today’s growing technology ecosystem. The SRCTec team looks forward to working closely with all regional stakeholders in pursuit of the development of the Valley’s Tech economy.” noted Mr. Szabada.

If you are interested in attending events similar to this in the future, follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

Fraser Valley Start-up MOXY Prepares to Bring Revolutionary Building Material to Market.


The Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (SRCTec) is a not-for-profit organization governed by a select group of technology executives that form a volunteer board of directors. SRCTec is a coalition of local government, industry partners and high education institutions interested in attracting tech based investment into the “Region” (including the District of Mission, City of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, the Township of Langley and the City of Maple Ridge).

MISSION – MOXY OID Technology Management Ltd. (MOXY) is a Fraser Valley start-up that has developed a proprietary building material they have branded as CERLOS. Made primarily from Lignocellulose Fibre, CERLOS solves numerous problems of current building materials for the construction industry such as water, fire, mold and termite damage. Having spent the past 18 years  and $20 million in research and development, CERLOS is now ready for commercial production.

Led by the impressive duo of Robert Bedard and Alan Heywood, and with the help of SRCTec, MOXY is beginning to explore numerous funding options in the Region, including what would be the region’s first Initial Token Offering (ITO).  Following the cryptocurrency craze of 2017, ITO’s have emerged as an effective tool to raise capital.

Upon completion of the manufacturing plant, MOXY’s first product launch will be CERLOS Siding, directly competing with fiber cement followed by CERLOS Roof Tiles that can be made to look like slate and cedar shake but at a fraction of the cost.

Raymond Szabada, CEO & Chairman SRCTec, noted: “Upon evaluation of Robert and his company, it was evident that he had a clear vision for where the company was headed. SRCTec supported MOXY by providing guidance for Robert in terms of funding options and will continue to support the company as they work to penetrate the building materials market.”

About MOXY OID Technology Management Ltd.

Bedard and Heywood began an extensive research and development process for CERLOS building materials in 2000, attempting to solve major problems: The costs of building supplies are steadily increasing along with the quantity and cost of fire and water damage. Fast forward to today and you have CERLOS building materials priced lower than most commonly used building materials and featuring a variety of benefits including: Fire resistance with a Class A fire rating, insect, rodent and bird resistance, water stability resulting in no shrinking or swelling, and mold resistance. In addition to these various features, CERLOS is 100% environmentally responsible, sustainable and produces zero waste throughout the manufacturing process. In addition, at the end of the product lifecycle, CERLOS can be 100% recycled to make new CERLOS products.

 

Contact:

Erik DiGuistini
Marketing and Communications Assistant
ediguistini@xlrator.ca
(604) 768-6052

Second Annual Hackathon Doubles in Size as Valley Tech Industry Continues to Grow


The Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (SRCTec) is a not-for-profit organization governed by a select group of technology executives that form a volunteer board of directors. SRCTec is a coalition of local government, industry partners and high education institutions interested in attracting tech based investment into the “Region” (including the District of Mission, City of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, the Township of Langley and the City of Maple Ridge).

CHILLIWACK – Thirty-two participants, exactly double last year, registered for the 2018 Hackathon, with all six competitive teams plus two non-competitive teams completing the process. The six competitive teams pitched and demoed their new tech companies to three judges: Raymond Szabada from SRCTec and i-Open Technologies; and Netty Tam and Brian Coombes from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation.

The winning team, Gamma Games Interactive Inc., was awarded to Alex Terhart and Josh Zall. Alex and Josh built a 3D Space arcade game that focused on jumping right into the fun, combining modern 3D flight and graphics with game mechanics more akin to older arcade games such as space invaders.

An honorable mention was awarded to Team Tarsier, with Jill Shem Pagcaliwagan, Jess Peter Santos, Jess Luie Santos, Darnell Rosales, Jean Layton, Gabrielle Baul, and Jamela Erice. Team Tarsier created a product named Automated Academic Advisor, which helps students track their college and university graduation requirements and plan accordingly.

New for 2018, existing companies could join the fun. Last year’s winning team, now named Maplespace Inc. and host Cnawlece Incorporated both joined the marathon and launched new products during the final presentations. Maplespace launched a new 3D crossword puzzle game, while Cnawlece took the wraps off Fixpedient; a new system to help land developers underwrite their projects and list them in a marketplace for investors.

The event was organized by the http://Chilliwack.Tech community group, part of the Chilliwack Innovation Network. Supporters of this initiative included the University of the Fraser Valley’s Computing Student Association, SRCTec (Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech), Community Futures South Fraser, CEPCO (Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation), the Downtown Business Centre, and Cnawlece Incorporated.

Taking place at the Downtown Business Centre, participants started with a networking session late Friday afternoon to get to know each other, then received a one-hour education session that introduced using three common tools to validate new business ideas. Those who showed up with ideas but not a team gave a quick pitch to attract additional team members. Then all teams worked on both the business plan and the technology for 20 hours, iterating and “pivoting” as needed. Several teams changed up their plans significantly at least once during the event.

All teams received two mentorship sessions along the way. One session early Friday evening to help validate the ideas, and another Saturday morning to help ensure they would be ready for the pitches and demos. The mentors included Duane Storey from Lindell Media, Wim Kerkhoff from CraftyPenguins, Tim McAlpine from Currency Marketing, Dave Leger from Loop Energy Inc., Colin Schmidt from Cnawlece Incorporated, and Kalvin Morrow from Greenhouse Games.

The winning team is awarded $1750 towards bringing their product to market; sponsored by CEPCO, Community Futures South Fraser, SRCTec, and the Downtown Buisness Centre. They are also awarded six months of office space at the Downtown Business Centre.

Team lead, Alex Terhart of the winning team, before the final presentations and knowing his team had won, commented that “we learned so much more than we expected to! It was awesome.” The feedback from participants in general, judges, and sponsors once again clearly indicated that this annual event for Chilliwack is here to stay.

Raymond Szabada, CEO & Chairman SRCTec and 2018 Hackathon judge noted: “The Hackathon continues to attract young innovative talent, effectively stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit in the Valley. The Chilliwack.Tech community group did an excellent job organising and hosting the event and we look forward to what’s in store for the 2019 Hackathon.”

Any questions about this event, or the Chilliwack.Tech community in general, can be directed to Colin Schmidt at colin.schmidt@cnawlece.com

Pictures and public comments on the event can be found on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=ChwkTech

PWC Business Leaders Breakfast Session Taking Place April 17 at PWC Surrey Office


Register today – limited availability

Is your company’s innovation funding affected by evolving Federal Government policy? Is your SR&ED claim being prepared in line with current CRA expectations?

Innovation is THE new buzzword being used by the Federal Government. With the recent announcement of the 5 successful superclusters, and the recent 2018 Federal Budget providing increased direct funding mechanisms under a more streamlined delivery structure, the latest chapter in Canada’s funding strategy for science and technology promises to be exciting for many corporations.

We invite you to attend our breakfast sessions to hear PwC’s interpretation of current trends and developments for innovation support, and the latest CRA policy application within the centrepiece SR&ED program, to help you understand how each will potentially impact your company’s investment in innovation and SR&ED claims in future. We’ll also introduce new tools to help you navigate this new realm of innovation support.

Speakers

Ted Bell
Partner and National Leader, SR&ED and Other Tax Incentives
ted.bell@pwc.com
Ted Bell is a partner in the Tax Services practice of PwC. He leads our National Incentives practice, which includes Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED), in addition to supporting PwC’s Climate Change Services team as a technical subject matter expert. Ted has worked with numerous clients to help them apply for and claim a variety of government incentives and to identify, document, prepare and successfully defend their SR&ED claims.

Jason Cheng
Partner, Tax Services
jason.c.cheng@pwc.com
Jason Cheng is a Partner in the Tax Services practice of PwC He leads the technology team in the BC Incentives practice, which includes Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED). He has extensive government incentives and tax experience in many different industry sectors including computer software development, semiconductor design and biotechnology.

George Stefan
Partner, Tax Services
george.stefan@pwc.com
George Stefan is a Partner in the Tax Services practice of PwC. He leads the Fraser Valley team in the BC Incentives practice, which includes Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED). His industrial manufacturing and entrepreneurial experience is helping clients to identify, document, prepare and successfully defend their SR&ED claims. He has successfully defended multi-million dollar claims with CRA offices in several provinces.

Register

Two dates and locations to choose from:
1) Fraser Valley
Tuesday, April 17
PwC’s Fraser Valley Office
13450-102nd Ave, Suite 1400
Surrey, BC
Register for Fraser Valley

2) Vancouver
Tuesday, April 24
Terminal City Club
837 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
Register for Vancouver

Agenda
7:30 am – 8:00 am Networking and breakfast
8:00 am – 9:30 am Presentations and Q&A

Contact
To have somebody contact you about your SR&ED needs, contact:
Ian Bates
Manager, Technology Sector
ian.k.bates@pwc.com
604-495-8921

The City of Maple Ridge to host Code-a-thon and Innovation Day as part of the Innovation in Emerging Cities initiative.


MISSION – In October 2017, SRCTec introduced collaboration between Industry, Government and Education through the Fraser Valley’s first Tech Forum in Mission. As part of the Tech Starts Here initiative, the Forum served as the platform to discuss ways to support and leverage the tech sector for local economic and workforce development within this Region. Leveraging the local momentum and topics covered in the Fall Forum, The City of Maple Ridge has taken initiative and is hosting the Innovation Day on April 4th 2018, featuring panel discussions touching on key topics including “Fostering a Climate for Innovation in an Emerging City” and “Attracting, Developing & Retaining Talent”. The event will also include keynote speakers Dr. Salvador Ferreras (Provost & VP. Academic, Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and Steve Dotto (Dotto Tech), a long standing celebrity in the BC Tech circles.

In addition to the Innovation Day, as part of the Emerging Cities initiative, The City of Maple Ridge and Esri Canada are hosting an online code-a-thon open to secondary and post-secondary students in the lower mainland as well as business owners in Maple Ridge. The contest is looking for an innovative app, tool or more using the City of Maple Ridge’s open data portal and four winners will each be awarded a prize of $300.

Raymond Szabada, CEO & Chairman SRCTec, noted: “Events such as the Innovation Day are critical to the growing tech sector economy and the development of a local, skilled, technical workforce. Building the tech sector within this Region cannot be done by one organization, the collective efforts of all regional stakeholders is imperative. The SRCTec team fully sponsors Maple Ridge for taking the initiative to organize and host the spring event”

 

For more information on these exciting developments please click the following links:

Innovation Day

Innovation in Emerging Cities Code-a-thon

2017 Fraser Valley Regional Tech Forum

Tech Starts Here

 

Contact:

Erik DiGuistini
Marketing & Communications Assistant
1.877.523.5543 ext 16
ediguistini@xlrator.ca

2018 Chilliwack Tech Start-Up Hackathon – Registration Now Open!


Registration is now open for the 2018 Hackathon! SRCTec is very excited to be a part of this event once again as last year’s event was such a success. SRCTec CEO & Chairman Raymond Szabada will be one of four all-start judges at this event alongside Netty Tam (CEPCO), Steven Tao (Downtown Business Centre), and Helen Yu (Downtown Business Centre). If you or anyone you know is interested, please register for this event by clicking the following link. 

 

http://chilliwack.tech/hackathon