WINNs of Change

Our Government recently announced the Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative and I’m hopeful that the entrepreneurial engine that drives our local economy here in the Okanagan will benefit.

WINN is a $100 million five-year federal initiative that offers repayable contributions to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with operations in Western Canada move their new and innovative technologies from the later stages of research and development to the marketplace.

The first application intake period for WINN begins November 9, 2013, and ends on December 8, 2013.

Last week I met with a couple of local innovators, including Accelerate Okanagan, and the feedback on WINN was positive.

Accelerate Okanagan, in partnership with the federal government’s Department of Western Economic Diversification (WD), also held a WINN Initiative Info Session, which I understand was well-attended.

WINN came about as a result of our Government’s consultations with western businesses and entrepreneurs in an effort to find ways to address the gaps identified in the Canadian innovation process, gaps that slow down getting great ideas to market.

The WINN Initiative is also consistent with the Jenkins Report recommendation to support industry through innovation programs and to redeploy funds to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow into larger, competitive firms.

If you would like to learn more about the initiative, please go to www.wd-deo.gc.ca or contact the WD BC regional office at 604-666-6256.

Also on the innovation front is a growing movement called social innovation. There are many definitions of social innovation but essentially, it involves mobilizing partnerships between non-profits, charities, social enterprises, and business to find solutions to our most pressing social challenges.

Since 2011, the Government has signaled its support for social innovation initiatives to help community organizations develop and implement innovative ideas for social problems.

This October, in a keynote speech at the Social Enterprise World Forum, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development highlighted the importance of social innovation in addressing social challenges in Canada. He noted that for too long governments have imposed solutions to Canada’s social development challenges, while ignoring the innovative and successful approaches being developed in local communities and the private sector.

In fact, efforts to encourage and create vital links between community organizations and the private sector are already happening here in the Okanagan.

Later this month, organizations and individuals from across the Okanagan Valley will be pitching their creative ideas for making positive social change at an event hosted by the Okanagan Changemakers, a non-profit organization focused on solving social problems through collaboration, mentorship and action.

Highlighting some of the best For-Profit, Non-Profit, Established Registered Charity and Youth Led initiatives, this event will provide participants with the opportunity to get together with like minded social entrepreneurs to talk about social enterprise.

Organizers promise some good food, live music, and inspiring stories to get the social entrepreneur ideas flowing. Proceeds from the event will go to supporting year round programming and mentorship for social cause organizations.

The event takes place Thursday November 21, 2013, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA). For more info please go to www.okanaganchangemakers.com.

The Okanagan is home to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Canada who are leading the way to a more innovative economy. Not only are they driving the local economy toward job creation, they are also finding solutions to our most pressing social challenges.

Their dedication to succeed is ensuring a better quality of life in our communities and its proof once more that the Okanagan is one of the best places to live in Canada.


The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected].  Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca .

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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