Blogs

  • 27 Mar 2019 by DigiBC

    Choosing the right office space for your business is an incredibly important decision. Location, size, style, price, and features all play a part in determining whether a commercial space complements your day-to-day operations, your company’s future roadmap and most importantly, your brand and culture. Blair, Kevin, and Alain from The High Technology Facilities Group of CBRE offer their best advice to tech companies on the available commercial real estate options in Vancouver. With co-working spaces growing in our booming technology ecosystem, finding a suitable spot can seem daunting, so they've broken down the key differentiators to help you find your perfect match!

    In this lesson, they delve into opportunities for start-ups that not only provide ample space for a growing company, but also promote incubation, education, community, and support.

    Sample Start-up Company

    • Size: 2 – 12 people, or 800 – 2,000 SF
    • Location: Downtown and surrounding area, on transit (10-minute walk max)
    • Expansion plans:1 to 2 years
    • Stage in business: Boot-strapping, limited investment, early-stage company

     

    Co-working: Global vs Local Spaces - Which will suit my business goals?
     

    Global Co-working Space

    An explosion of co-working spaces in the Vancouver downtown core now gives small (and large) tenants a wide range of options of flexible, pay-as-you-go, think-tank work environments. These options include larger international brands like WeWork, Spaces, Regus, which have large spaces in large office buildings and provide full-service amenities in today’s leading office design. They offer private offices for single individuals, up to 20 people or up to a full floor, basically no maximum size. The spaces are built and furnished and the snacks, coffee machines, and kegs are stocked. However, these beautifully designed, furnished, turn-key solutions do come at a premium price tag.
     

    Local Co-working Spaces

    The local co-working companies are also benefiting from the growing demand for flexible workspace solutions. They vary in size, location, amenities, and price.  There are larger spaces run by companies like The Profile and The Network Hub, who cater to all businesses, with a focus on the startup community. Other co-working spaces are operated by incubator companies that have a specific focus on what types of companies they cater to, for example, Launch Academy is focused on incubating local startups in tech and recently put space aside specifically for the VR/AR sector and another area for cannabis-tech. This type of focus will continue to evolve as new industries and technologies emerge. In addition, The Cube opened in 2017 to provide a user-friendly space for VR/AR companies. These are great spaces in character boutique office buildings, offering a plug-and-play, furnished and flexible workspace solution, at a price well below what the bigger players charge.


    Key Benefits to co-working:

    • Flexible lease terms (month to month, 6 month, 12 month and longer).
    • Community and networking
    • Events, Workshops, and Investor relations
    • Additional membership benefits: meeting spaces, access to other locations (globally and locally), beer and wine on tap, snacks and more.
       

    While co-working offers amazing benefits that a private office does not, they do have their challenges. Here are a few things to consider:

    • More noise, interruptions, and overall distractions.
    • Challenge in booking meeting rooms and call rooms.
    • Lack of privacy
    • Branding and culture challenges, lack of ability to create your own identity
       

    Overall, there are many co-working options to choose from, especially in Vancouver, and a company should carefully audit its immediate, short term and long term needs as best it can. As your team is still small, your board, management, senior staff or even your full company team should be consulted to understand what your needs are and then compare to what is offered in the market that best meets those needs.  We also recommend that any company evaluate their needs with a broker, as they can also assist in negotiating better terms with co-working options.

    ►Private Office Spaces

    If co-working is not the option you are looking for and you prefer your own Private Office suite, there are a broad range of options that can be summarized in two: short-term and long-term lease commitments. The pros/cons of each are summarized below to help you make sense of what is most appropriate for you.

    Before digging into this, it is important to understand the state of the Vancouver office leasing market:

    • Demand & Vacancy: Vancouver has witnessed strong tenant demand for office space for the past 2 years, bringing vacancy to a near all-time low of 4.5% in the downtown core, 1.5% in Yaletown and 3% in Gastown.
    • Rental Rates: Few available spaces mean landlords have the upper hand, and they have been steadily increasing rents throughout 2018, and this is expected to continue into 2019.
    • New Supply: New buildings are under construction, however, the next few buildings are not expected to have any significant impact on availability until late 2020 and 2021.
    • Tips for Successful Lease Negotiations: start your search early, hire an experienced broker, evaluate all aspects of your needs, plan for future growth (if able), be “market-ready” so when the right space comes along you can secure it quickly. Be prepared for competition and to step-up (if needed), as multiple offer scenarios can occur.

     

    Private Short-term Office Lease (6 - 36 months)

    These opportunities include those ranging from 6-months to 3-year commitments for a dedicated private office suite. Typically these are short term subleases from tenants with that no longer need their space.  Most landlords look for a (minimum) 3-year lease term, so finding a tenant looking to exit their lease early are great opportunities. 

    Pros: branding and “make-it-your-own” capabilities, security and privacy, limited distractions, controlling your space, positive optics for investors/clients and for hiring.  Sublease opportunities may allow for extra savings in free furniture and existing infrastructure to minimize set up costs.

    Cons:  Limited number of available spaces to accommodate this size of office spaces (800 - 2,000 SF). Lease term is set, limited flexibility to expand/contract. Upfront set up costs, ie: renovations and/or furniture. Required to manage the day-to-day office items such as (printers, internet, coffee, etc). Limited flexibility/growth potential, however, there are some ways to work around this with the right lease.

     


    Private Long-Term Office Lease (36 - 60 months or longer)

    These types of space opportunities range from 3 to 5 years, and longer (if desired), for your own dedicated office. Typically these are leases negotiated directly with the landlord, however, sublease opportunities may be available too (possibly with discounted rents!)

    Pros: In addition to most benefits shown above, long-term leases provide security in locking in rental rates for longer, ability to negotiate stronger lease terms, including free rent, improvement allowances and more. Financial setup costs are spread out over a longer period of your lease.

    Cons: long term leases limit growth flexibility, subleasing may be required (this could be an asset, upfront setup costs (ie: potential renovations and furniture), business goals may not align with long leases (ie: investors want easy liquidity for potential sale).  That said, there are creative solutions to many of these issues.

     


    As a starting point, if you’re not sure which option is right for you?  Here are some key questions to ask yourself and your team:
     

    • How long before we grow beyond 12 - 15 people?
    • Are we willing to stay in a co-working space long term, does it drive innovation/productivity, does it fit our culture and brand?
    • What is the 1 to 2 year goal and what is our budget for space for this period?
    • What type of space do we really need? (quiet, private, meeting room space?? And does the co-working solution offer these needs?
    • Are clients, investors or other important contacts visiting us?
       

    A thorough analysis of all these questions should help to give you and your executive team a better understanding of which option is best and give you the confidence to move forward with your decision. It is worth doing this upfront work to make sure you get it right the first time.
     

    To get familiar with what’s happening in the office market and to find out relevant information on culture, hiring/attracting talent, the start-up community, workspace design, and innovations, it is recommended you visit the HTFG’s website and subscribe to their quarterly newsletter here.

  • 25 Mar 2019 by DigiBC

    This month we have a guest blog post from Centre for Digital Media student, Sam Stumborg, telling us about some of the exciting projects that were recently made at the school.
     


    Written by Sam Stumborg

    Three student projects are using games or gamified technology to teach healthy behavioral changes in response to very different problems industry clients posed to them. The student teams (The Goal Diggers, Brain Bros & Viva la Vida) were given varying problems and briefed by different clients, yet they all decided to build digital, gamified solutions.


    Contractor City: An Idle Game for Working Contractors

    The Goal Diggers (Peter Zhengyang Pan, Sam Stumborg, Rubing Bai, Dafne Delgado, and Mikayla Preete) decided to create Contractor City, a mobile idle game after extensive consultation with their clients FortisBC and BC One Call. Ian Turnbull, a construction and pipeline safety expert helped the team discover that younger contractors didn’t know about the BC One Call animated ads (“Call before you dig!” with a talking horse). As a result, these contractors were at an increased risk of striking a pipe. A game was one of the solutions the team proposed to address this knowledge gap. This idea eventually became Contractor City.

    Rather than a traditional “win/lose” video game, Contractor City is an idle game that plays itself while you’re away. Like a stock portfolio that constantly accrues interest, idle games push the envelope of what it means to be a video game because little player interaction is needed. Pocket-sized, easy to play, Contractor City aims to teach the player how important it is to know what’s below by rewarding safe ground disturbance practices and punishing dangerous deeds. As a way of rewarding contractors, there is an option that allows players to turn their real-life BC One Call reference numbers (a number you receive when you call their service) into in-game currency rewarding real-life safety with in-game success. All in all, the game aims to make lasting behavioural change by encouraging repeat use, safe practices, and BC One Call membership.

     

    Viva La Vida: Making Exercise Fun Again
    With a focus on human health, MDM team Viva la Vida’s project is the kind of serious game that could get it invited to the 2020 Serious Games and Applications for Health conference being held at the CDM next summer. Laureen Wales, CEO of Your Viva, approached the Centre of Digital Media looking to build an installation on the University of Alberta campus that would encourage students to get fit on their way to class. Like the Goal Diggers, they were being tasked with instilling behavioural change in a younger audience. After a lot of testing and research, the team convinced Laureen an installation was the wrong solution. Instead, they landed on a game where every step is rewarded, individual actions benefit a team, and specific physical activities are assigned as quests.

    Team Viva la Vida’s product is an augmented reality app with game elements that reward and engage the player. When Pokemon GO! launched no one expected there would be healthy and beneficial outcomes. The members of Viva la Vida (Emily Cao, Ghazal Jenab, Hang Zheng, Isabelle Rash, Shervin Mortazavi, Ziyi Xu) worked backward, from the intended benefit toward an augmented reality game with teams, territories to capture, and a map built from Google Maps. Instead of ignoring the health benefits, they doubled down, tying the player’s progress in the game to in-game exercises, activities, and social engagement. Exercises include activities like “shelving books” where the player has to move their phone up and down as if they were taking books off a high shelf and putting them on a lower one. This is actually a repeated stretching motion under the guise of “shelving books” but it and other activities help the user move and keep active without obviously being exercise. As team Viva la Vida found out, the biggest barrier between an inactive student and exercise is mental and it’s the biggest stumbling block to leapfrog.

     

    Cerebro: Mind Games by Brian Bros
    While the first two groups had to convince the client that a video game or gamified digital content was a solution to their problem, Dr. Claudia Krebs approached the CDM specifically looking to build a game. In this case, a game for medical students that would help them better memorize brain structures for their neuroanatomy courses. After significant research and development, team Brain Bros (Julia Lastovikova, Kimberly Ann Burke, Niccolo Pucci, Oliver Riisager, Sean Jeon, Weiyi Zhang)
    built Cerebro, a 3D game that you play on a mobile phone. In this game, the player aims a robot (named NeuRob) to fly through the parts of the brain and spinal cord. Memorizing the structures helps them rack up points in the game and (one hopes) points on their exams.

     

     
     


    The New
    Genre of Healthy Games

    Both the Brain Bros and Viva la Vida have joined an exciting field that blends health science with video games. Indeed, health and video game professionals are working closer than ever before with neuroscientists like Adam Gazzaley building the case for the medicinal benefits of video games, even nabbing the front page of the prestigious journal Nature in 2013. Rather than simply training doctoral students, encouraging physical activity or behavioural change, Gazzaley’s Neuroscape Lab, Akili Interactive Labs, and others are actively pursuing FDA approval for medicinal video games.

     

    Serious Games Here in Vancouver
    As the world waits for FDA approved medicinal video games the Centre of Digital Media is joining those charging ahead. Vancouver based Biba Venture, Ayogo (on the same campus as CDM), and Mod7 Communications (now a part of Open Road Communications) are all pioneering in the same space which makes Vancouver fertile ground for serious games. The 8th annual international conference for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH) are both coming to Vancouver in 2020, hosted at the Centre of Digital Media. The CDM is a natural fit for SeGAH with a master’s program already building games for real-life applications. With three gamified solutions to professional client problems this semester alone, the CDM can expect to have approximately nine more student projects seriously applying game elements before SeGAH opens August 2020.

     

     

  • 22 Mar 2019 by DigiBC

    Are you an active video game company operating in Canada?

    The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC), in partnership with Nordicity, is launching its 2019 research survey for Canada’s video game industry. ESAC is the voice of our industry and they want their research to include all companies who contribute to making Canada a vibrant and prosperous place to create and play video games. By completing this survey, all active video game companies in Canada are contributing to the creation of an accurate snapshot of the industry, and this research will explore trends and provide specific and practical information about it.


    Please take 20 minutes and complete the survey:
    http://bit.ly/esacsurvey-sondageadl2019


    Survey closes May 31, 2019


    For past industry reports, and information about ESAC, visit theESA.Ca

    Specific questions about the survey? Please contact Kristian Roberts, Partner, Nordicity at kroberts@nordicity.com

    Questions about ESAC? Please contact Corinne Crichlow, Director, Communications & Public Relations at ccrichlow@theESA.Ca

     

     

  • 19 Mar 2019 by DigiBC

    The Irving K Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society provides scholarships and financial awards to help BC post-secondary students achieve their educational goals. The society gives out ten awards annually to recognize women in tech (computer science, engineering or mathematics), and at least one of these is dedicated to a woman of Aboriginal ancestry.

    They are pleased to announce that applications for 2019 Women in Technology & Indigenous Women in Technology Scholarships are now available through the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society.  Ten scholarships valued at $10K each will be awarded in June.

     

    Application Deadline:

    The deadline to submit your application is May 15, 2019

    Instructions on how to apply, links to application forms, and full eligibility criteria can be found at https://www.ikbbc.ca/women-in-tech/about-this-scholarship/

    You can learn more about last year’s recipients at https://www.ikbbc.ca/student-stories/


    Further Information:

     

    What You Should Know:

    You must have completed a minimum of one year of full-time studies leading to an undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate in computer science, engineering, or mathematics, and be continuing in your studies at a BC public post-secondary institution for at least one additional year. Women in Technology Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement (Minimum B+ GPA required), and a demonstrated commitment to the pursuit of a career in the technology sector.
     

  • 01 Mar 2019 by DigiBC

    British Columbia’s future innovators and science leaders have been preparing projects since the early fall for school, community and district science fairs across the province. 2,000 finalists from these local competitions are now putting the final touches on their presentations for the Regional Science Fairs where they will compete for awards and the chance to attend the 58th Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) in Fredericton, New Brunswick. In celebration of their achievements, the Province of British Columbia has declared March 2019 as 'Youth Science Month'.

    Support from the provincial government and corporate sponsors enables The Science Fair Foundation of BC and The Regional Science Fair Network – the largest volunteer science outreach network in British Columbia - to recognize young scientists and their project work, encouraging them to further develop their ideas and excel beyond their communities. Last year, 67 students from throughout B.C. and the Yukon presented their projects at the CWSF in Ottawa and brought home $187,000 in awards and scholarships, including two platinum awards, six gold medals, 11 silver medals, and 25 bronze medals. Learn More >>

    BC students are also standing out on the international stage. In September, Nicolas Fedrigo earned a spot at the European Union Contest for Young Scientist held in Dublin, Ireland where his project was awarded first prize. In January, Mr. Fedrigo also received a gold medal at the 2019 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF) competing alongside his teammate, Natasha Burgert, who earned bronze. This marks the fifth consecutive year that both B.C. students attending the TISF have earned top honours for their innovative projects.