Funding boost for Accelerate Okanagan

An Okanagan business created to help create other businesses received a $2.1-million investment from the governments of Canada and British Columbia on Saturday.

The announcement came during the official opening of Accelerate Okanagan.

The company was designed to increase the number of technology companies that start and grow in the Okanagan.

They're a not-for-profit organization that is already helping more than 20 local firms through its start-up and growth strategy programs.

Kelowna currently has one of the highest concentrations of wireless and digital media companies in the province.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the Okanagan," says Accelerate Okanagan Board Chair Douglas Corbishley.

"When you can bring funding together you really can make a difference. It delights me to be a job creator."

The funding, over three years, was announced today by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan at the official opening of Accelerate Okanagan.

"Our government's priority is working on creating jobs and the economy and focusing on the knowledge industry and technology sector," says Cannan.

"Our government has been investing in the Okanagan for years. Today's investment will provide small and emerging businesses, which are pivotal for our economic success, with the tools they need to grow and create jobs in our region."

Accelerate Okanagan programs support the growth and acceleration of local startups in the gaming, animation, mobile, web, life sciences and clean energy sectors.

"We're here to celebrate an organization that is making a big difference to technology companies here in the area," says Dr. Moira Stilwell, B.C. Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Research and Innovation.

"In less than a year, 'AO' has already created three very successful programs and the tech firms in the Okanagan clearly know a good thing when they see it."

Accelerate Okanagan CEO Jason Neale says the funding will be used to deliver support programs to high-growth technology companies across the Okanagan.

"We're like a university for business. Our programs provide the key elements needed to ensure the success of technology companies. Things like individualized needs assessments, hands-on coaching, mentorship, and access to world-class expertise, as well as providing key connections provincially, nationally and internationally," says Neale.

"I really see a great future for high tech companies in this region. We're looking to start and help grow about 30 companies in the region over the next few years."

That could mean up to 600 new jobs created as well.

The $2.1 million from the federal and provincial governments comes to Accelerate Okanagan through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement. Under the agreement, Canada and B.C. are contributing $25 million each, over four years, to strengthen economic activity and improve quality of life in western Canadian communities.

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