By Jessica Klymchuk at TYPE Rag on May 16, 2016
With our new designation as an official Startup Canada community, Kamloops is being recognized as an entrepreneurial hub.
That’s good news for students looking for opportunities to forge their own path outside their field of study. The ball got rolling last year when Kamloops Innovation won the Startup Canada Award for Entrepreneur Support in BC and Robert Attwood of Hummingbird Drones Inc. won for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Since then, Kamloops Innovation has united community groups that promote entrepreneurship to form a partnership under Startup Canada’s flagship program, a national network giving voice and opportunity to startups. Kamloops Innovation, Venture Kamloops, Community Futures, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and TRU Generator have joined forces under Startup Kamloops to support new business in the city.
“From my perspective, I think the designation is a bit of a recognition of what we’re already starting to do here,” said Lincoln Smith, executive director of Kamloops Innovation. “I see it as an opportunity to bring these organizations together under one umbrella and really support one another.”
Essentially, the partnership promotes a referral-based system of entrepreneurs who find themselves at the door of, say, Venture Kamloops or Community Futures but could also benefit from the work other partners do, Smith said.
Amanda Chan, community builder with Kamloops Innovation, said the city’s startup community is already considered quite mature. With this partnership, it will be easier to see where the needs of entrepreneurs are being met and where they aren’t.
When considering applying for the startup community designation, they looked to Startup Nanaimo and how the program was beneficial there. They found it was connecting the city to a large network of potential business, helping promote Nanaimo as a viable place for entrepreneurs.
When Kamloops was reviewed by the national network, the community was recognized as already having a thriving environment for startups, Chan said. The designation will not only allow us learn from other cities, it will allow them to learn from us.
“I think we’re at the bottom end of a big expansion in the startups in Kamloops,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of things that are fuelling that.
“You have the university turning out students of a generation who are looking for other opportunities besides following a career they’ve trained in and are looking seriously at entrepreneurship. You have an economic situation where living in large cities is less affordable and there’s a push back towards communities where young people may have been raised or grew up.”
Kamloops has the potential to be a very attractive place for startups or small businesses looking to relocate, Smith said. Kamloops Innovation, which primarily supports tech startups, sees increases every quarter for the number of people employed by new tech businesses, the number of investment dollars attracted to Kamloops and the revenue its companies generate, Smith said.
“I think we’re starting to see a real change in the types of jobs and opportunities in Kamloops and it’s exciting,” he said. “I think not too far, in the future companies from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and maybe some further away are going to be considering moving their operations here for a whole host of reasons.”