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Kelowna  

Tech adds $1 billion to Valley

High tech equals big bucks in the Okanagan.

A just-released study commissioned by technology incubator Accelerate Okanagan shows the Valley’s technology sector contributed a whopping $1 billion to the regional economy in 2013.

The third-party economic impact report also showed a direct impact of $797 million in revenues generated by tech companies, as well as an indirect impact of $223 million created by businesses that supply inputs to the technology sector.

Accelerate Okanagan CEO Pilar Portela says the study shows the Okanagan is one of the best places in Canada to start or invest in a tech business.

Local success stories include Bardell Entertainment and WTFast.

Bardell relocated to Kelowna in 2012 with eight staff members and has since grown to 50 employees.

Portela says the gaming production studio is expected to expand again to 120 staff by the end of this year.

WTFast was launched locally in 2009 and has grown from nothing to $2 million in annual sales after launching globally in 2012. The company provides network software for faster gaming.

Portela sees no end in sight.

“The Okanagan tech sector is a real hotspot… it’s not stopping at all,” she says.

“Startups and tech companies in the Okanagan have great access to vital resources. With over 6,500 highly skilled tech workers, an international airport that offers non-stop flights to 64 destinations, and easy access to vital business support programs and services, the Okanagan is a thriving entrepreneurial community that offers everything today’s startups need for success.”

According to the survey, the Okanagan is home to 558 technology businesses with a collective workforce of 6,551 employees. The average business has 10 employees (eight full-time and two part-time) and works with two independent contractors. 

It’s estimated there are 1,920 self-employed technology workers in the Valley.

Technology employees tend to be slightly younger than those in other local industries, with 38 per cent of them under the age of 35.

Portela says the industry is also attracting more women, whereas it has historically been a male-dominated sector. The study shows one quarter of local tech employees are female, and that is expected to increase over the next few years.

The full 22-page report is available here.

Accelerate Okanagan is a tech-focused not-for-profit with the mission to increase the number of technology companies in the Valley.

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