Who knew? Ask anybody about Silicon Valley North and they will very likely mention Vancouver and the well-established and recently emerging tech sector that is driving a great deal of the city's business environment. And they wouldn't be wrong. But Victoria -- "home of the newly wed and nearly dead" -- is not just managing to sneak into the conversation, they are earning bragging rights of their own with nearly 900 tech companies, 20,000 workers and close to 4 billion generated in economic impact. While they won't challenge Vancouver when it comes to sheer size and muscle power, Victoria is punching well above its weight.
On a recent trip to the provincial capital, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of clients who talked about the importance of the industry and how it has helped to revitalize the city, including the reestablishment of the downtown core area and the development of tech nodes such as the Vancouver Island Technology Park which shares space with Camosun College and Fort Techtoria. Fort Techtoria is the brainchild of VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council whose stated mission is "to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector". A visit to the webpage gives the following quote from Dan Gunn, Executive Director of VIATEC.
"We built Fort Tectoria to support entrepreneurs, creators and innovators throughout Greater Victoria. Much more than just well-appointed offices housing 35 early-stage tech companies on the upper floors, our main floor was designed to provide a gathering place for hackers, makers, movers and shakers to host meetups, workshops, networking sessions and events. We look forward to hearing what you have in mind."
Why Victoria? A few common themes came to light. First, Victoria isn't Vancouver. The cost of doing business reflects life in a smaller community. Space is certainly cheaper and workers who can't afford or are otherwise allergic to the price of real estate in Vancouver, find Victoria to be a bit easier on the paycheck. Accordingly, demand for new office space from within the tech sector has now outpaced government in the downtown core, and interestingly, in a city as old as Victoria, this demand has specifically targeted older character buildings giving new purpose and life to the city's historical assets. The sense of support in the community was also mentioned. The idea that VIATECH exists to help get industry together to solve problems and share ideas is a powerful magnet for startups and tech enterprises. And what about attracting applicants for work? It is a challenge but the same sense of community, decent weather by Canadian standards and a conglomeration of tech business means the word is getting out and the same workers who may have once targeted Vancouver are now starting to take notice of Victoria.
Are you interested in working on the island? If so, Eagle is always looking for great candidates for a variety of roles with great clients in Victoria.