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    Note: Thank you to Village Gamer for the live Twitter...

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    Note: Thank you to Village Gamer for the live Twitter coverage during Tuesday's event and for writing this fantastic article. To see the original article:

    As those of you who follow us on Twitter will be well aware, DigiBC hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday night for the BC game development community. It was encouraging to see such an excellent turnout for the event, and kudos to Whitney and Carly for putting the event together. The evening featured a panel of local creative devs with Lance Davis taking on the role of moderator. Opening remarks for the evening were presented by Rick Griffiths, Audit and Assurance Group partner with PwC. I will touch on only a few of the highlights from the evening, simply because the conversation moved quite quickly and because we did tape the event. The video should be available later today on our YouTube channel, and I have pulled many of the tweets into a board on Storify. I will send out a tweet and post on our Facebook page once the video is live. If you are reading this, then I’ve hit the Publish button – otherwise I will continue to add thoughts and edits endlessly, because there is so much to say and so much to do in regards to BC’s industry. A disclaimer to get out of the way first and foremost: I know I digress often – that is how my thought patterns work. As I said to Scott while writing this missive, people who know me know that this is how I write – I can be writing along with one thought, when I get a shiny new thought flashing through – but the message contained within does not change – we all need each other if we want to see the development community in BC grow and survive – and the same could be said for the national industry. It is not my intention to offend anyone or point fingers at any person specifically. It is my intention to get you all talking and thinking about what transpired at the meeting on Tuesday night, because I fully intend to do what I can to keep BC’s creative industry sector working and successful. How about you?

    Lance Davis and Rick Griffiths opened the evening by providing a base for the night’s topic with some background numbers and statistics in regards to global internet usage as it pertains to wireless, wired and console access as well as how the video game industry compares to others in this province. Rick also provided a brief comparison of BC, Ontario and Quebec in regards to product, talent and studios. I feel that this was a good way to begin the dialogue, as it shows to many who may not have been aware just how those numbers have, do and can play a very important part in showing where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we can go. Again – once the video is uploaded (it was supposed to upload overnight but the upload failed for some reason known only unto YouTube) you will all be able to listen to what everyone had to say.

    Before I continue, I do want to note who was on the panel and them for their participation, as well as thank the evening’s sponsors: Vancouver Economic Commission and Microsoft Studios.

    The Panel:

    • Wil Mozell, Microsoft Studios
    • John Lutz, Electronic Arts
    • Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters Interactive
    • Matt Toner, Zeros 2 Heros Media
    • Kenny Huang, Blue Bat Games
    • Julian Ing, Eruptive Games
    • Moderator: Lance Davis, Slant Six Games

    When I first launched Village Gamer back in 2008, I had already been holding many conversations with whomever would listen about how I, as a veritable outsider, saw the video game development industry in this province, and I identified a few key points. My main frustration at that time was that I felt very few were listening, and I believe that I am not the only one with such memories of trying to deal with what is still perceived as “the old guys’ club” that is the game development industry, and indeed, some of our trade-related associations fall into that trap as well. Last evening, for really the first time, I felt a weird vindication – like someone had been listening, and now the light has gone on – and the dialogue has started on what BC’s developers need to do to move forward – and I say BC’s developers because we all need to remember that not all of the province’s studios in Vancouver. Believe it or not, there is a world outside of the big city.

    Getting back to what I saw from local industry – everyone was busy doing what they did best – creating properties that engaged and entertained the gaming masses, but doing it alone, in their private silos, only coming together to bemoan the state of the market or the latest downturn. There was very little unity and very little interaction with the end user – the people who provided the sales dollars to fund current and future projects. Since that time, we have seen sectors of the game development industry begin to get together to share experiences and help each other – groups like Full Indie and Vancouver Social Games are flourishing, but there is still such a very long way to go. One of my main observations has been the difference between the development cultures in Vancouver and Toronto, which is another point I have raised repeatedly. Vancouver’s development community has grown up in the Triple A sector, one whose mantra has often been “thou shalt not discuss anything with anyone at any time.” Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Toronto’s development community has grown up Indie, only recently dipping its toes into the world of Triple A foreign-owned big house development. Those indie developers learned early on that inter-house co-operation and collaboration provided their best chances at survival.

    Then we have the trade associations. New Media BC warped into a merger with BC Wireless, and it was pretty well downhill from there for a few years. With the changing of the guard at DigiBC and with the addition of the BC Interactive Task Force, perhaps there is some hope. Whitney and Carly definitely have their work cut out for them trying to improve DigiBC’s brand – and it may in fact be time for another complete rebranding. Much damage has been done in the short time that New Media BC ceased to exist, but to be fair, I think that people need to put the past in the past and be willing to work with the association to move forward. Communication will be key.

    Unfortunately, DigiBC is not the only association with problems. Our local SIGGRAPH chapter – for all of the great events it brings, and the hard work that was done in winning the SIGGRAPH expo for the city – is very much a closed group. Our IGDA chapter also has challenges – mostly people power and organization – not for lack of trying – the attempt at reviving IGDA Vancouver is ongoing. There are all of these splinter groups that should be working together; granted, each association has its own bylaws and fees, but there is no reason why they cannot all sit at the same table and be all-inclusive to those in industry who want to join and become pro-active – and who do not necessarily live in Vancouver, Metro Vancouver or even the Lower Mainland. There needs to be transparency in all of our associations if they want people to join and become involved again – do not treat your members like lemmings and mushrooms.

    As per the usual cycle, the recent downturns in BC’s industry has seen an influx of smaller indie houses popping up, and while the meetup groups have opened the doors to communication, it is a challenge for years of ingrained “you shall not discuss” mentalities to wash away overnight, and this is where the biggest challenge rests, followed closely by industry association support, government interest and startup funding opportunities. While there has been some positive industry press coverage from outlets such as the Vancouver Sun and the Georgia Straight, not many of the buying public really understand what game development is all about because they don’t watch shows like Electric Playground or Reviews On The Run. They don’t read sites like ours or Canadian Online Gamers or TechVibes. They see the press coverage about studio closings and controversial game content. They see the coverage whenever there is a crime committed somewhere in the world and immediately people want to know if the playing of violent video games had a hand in it, but how many really know about the contribution our game developers have made, and still make, to the global culture and the tech world at large?

    These are some of the areas that were poked at last evening, with many excellent suggestions made, issues identified and a feeling that maybe now the BC industry can unite itself and work with its industry association on becoming the force it is meant to be (watch the video for full conversations). Going back to my mention of the “old guys’ club” – we cannot ignore the values and experiences the city’s development industry has gained from the legacy studios – the ones who put the Triple A stamp on Vancouver all those many years ago when the game industry was but a dot on the economic map. Without their pioneering the way and building the industry outwards with each cycle of lay-offs and downsizing, we wouldn’t have the foundation that we do today – it is an unfortunate reality that the majority of the legacy studios are no longer locally owned, and as was pointed out at the opening of the Town Hall, there exists a very real “build a company and sell it” mentality that should be looked at more closely.

    As Victor Lucas pointed out last night, our developers should be damned proud of what they do and the contributions they make to society, but you all need to learn to speak up and be heard – be heard by the government, the investors, the educators, the buying public and those who dismiss you as nothing more than toy makers. I know different. Victor knows different – many of your local media personnel know different – but how easy do you make it for us to talk about you and what you do? Certainly there needs to be that barrier of confidentiality as you work on proprietary IP projects, but if we industry insiders don’t know what you’ve done or what you’re doing, how do you expect anyone else to know and understand? You need to speak to the public more often than to build hype for an upcoming release. How interactive are you with your end users? Do you use social media to your advantage? What is your product support like? We have a project that has been in development for over a year that will help you achieve some of the above, but we need serious web coding help we can’t afford, so we are slowly working out the problems on our own. We’re only one year behind schedule. Maybe we’ll be ready next year. We are not in a position to incorporate, thereby being able to apply for Canada Media Fund programs, and we can’t afford the project rates offered by the Centre for Digital Media or BCIT, so we muddle along as best we can – the same as many of you.

    Speaking of affordability and growth, there was extensive talk during the town hall about the benefits and pitfalls of tax credits – the fact that they are there (or not there), the fact that one size does not fit all, their merit and their hindrance. Some tax credits work, some do not. Some feel that they need to be bigger, some do not. I personally feel that the best mix may be a combination of startup programs from all levels – within industry itself, within the investment community, government and the public. We are a creative group – why can we not work together to find a creative solution that is scalable and beneficial to many, instead of to the “privileged few” who always seem to be feeding from the trough, for the lack of a better term – and that is not really how I want to phrase the meaning I am trying to convey, but the right words are out in orbit somewhere. More caffeine.

    It will be no easy task to bridge the gap between “The Mother Ship” as many have referred to EA Canada, and the other Triple A houses owned by foreign publishers, and the localized independent community. The same could probably hold true for those independent house developing licensed IP as opposed to proprietary IP – but a bridge must be found and solutions to problems faced by BC’s development community found. When it’s all said and done, I am still a veritable outsider, and I readily admit I do not know about all the ins and outs of the industry, and I certainly cannot keep up on the interchanges going on between industry here, in Toronto, Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. I can only relay what my observations are, and what my take-away from last evening was. There will always be regional interests at the heart of the matter, but we have to unite not only our local communities, we have to unite as a country.

    One of my marketing mantras when promoting the Canadian digital media industry sectors is that I would love to see the outside world outsourcing to Canada. I would love to see our own industry outsourcing to itself whenever the need arises. I have, at times, been criticized for having a site named Village Gamer when it’s not just about games. It did start out that way, but I got so frustrated trying to source out news to post every day that I branched out – and looking back, it was the right thing for me to do because now if you are reading this site correctly and making use of the information I share, you will sit back and say “wow, I didn’t know there was a Canadian company doing that” or “gee, that was made in Canada?” – why ARE you contracting with outside companies when we usually have the resources right here at home?  Are you doing your part to support your own community as both a business and a consumer? Yes, I will admit, I am a “buy local” kind of person. Very few of the games I play are developed outside of our borders, and the one MMO-RPG PC game I do play was developed in Seattle, and Canadians are employed by that particular studio. In case you didn’t know – I am a core console gamer first, followed by handheld, followed by mobile, followed by PC.

    So, going back to the original thought I started a few minutes ago – what will happen if and when the possibilities and realities of tax credits, grants and subsidies goes away? Will this industry be able to stand on its own? It’s a competitive world out there. Have you positioned your company in such a way that your product is a valuable commodity to the buyers of the world? We are experiencing a minor hiccup in BC that could easily turn into a major eruption if this industry does not mature and open its doors to change. You all need to embrace each other – as much for your similarities as for your differences. We need to work with government and financiers not only for the financial and economic challenges we are facing, but also for the talent shortfall so many of you spoke about at the meeting. People are once again leaving BC for other parts. Creative talent is a mobile asset; the government made an announcement today about enhancements to education in regards to trade. Will any of those enhancements apply to education and training in the digital media or technology fields or will it all go to traditional careers in the service, building and resource fields? Are we remembering to work with other creative sectors and associations? Game development is not the only industry in this town. As digital entertainment and interactivity melds and molds itself into a transmedia sector, it is probably a good idea to have a few friends in those other sectors. Just sayin’.

    The previously-posed questions I asked in the above paragraph opens the door to another point – if the legacy studios in Vancouver gave us the talent and training to move onward in the indie world, what is the indie world going to leave as its legacy? You have so much to offer – not just to the end user, but to the future generations of creatively technical minds. This goes beyond working with the post secondary schools – this goes to our high schools and even our elementary schools. What can industry do to catch those young people before our industrial revolution style of education drains the creativity out of them? Are you taking opportunities to participate in school events? Are you talking to government about the need for more diversity in the career programs offered at our schools – one program that is a huge success is the Digital Media Academy at Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver. Every single secondary in the province should have this style of program available. Not every student is cut out for a traditional career, so why are we only offering those types of programs? Has there been any kind of dialogue begun with the Education Ministry? Are there programs in place in our post-secondary schools to teach the teachers of future generations – are we giving those who aspire to teach the tools they need to keep up with a rapidly changing world and to inspire the talent currently working its way through kindergarten and the primary grades? What are we doing in the here and now to prepare our kids for the knowledge and creative-based careers that are available to them?

    We have to find a way to make this community accessible to one and all – and I am speaking about the industry beyond the borders of downtown Vancouver. Be inclusive – there are great things going on around this province. There are programs in other regions that work. Not everyone can make it to downtown Vancouver for an 8 a.m. seminar. Not everyone can make it to downtown Vancouver for an afternoon or evening event, either. Not everyone can afford to attend conferences and seminars or join a trade association or special interest group or go on trade missions in foreign countries. The barriers to entry in regards to product and market may be lower than it used to be, but what are the barriers to involvement? The key to this province’s success is going to be in unity and inclusion for the whole province, not just those in the downtown core. It is going to be in all of the associations and programs working together whenever possible, in the pooling of resources, in the making light of a huge task with the help of many hands through communication and organization.

    The development industry needs to stop hiding and wringing its hands. I have seen what the people in this industry can accomplish when they come together, and no one can convey what is needed with the proper insights better than those of you who work in the industry. I can observe, I can hold conversations, I can promote what you do, but I cannot speak to the every day inner workings of what you need to grow and thrive. BC has so much potential to be on top as a creative hub – you used to be number one, and you can be again. Do not let the momentum of Tuesday night’s conversation go silent. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to happen overnight or even over a fortnight. It is going to take effort, it is going to take co-operation and the leaving of egos at the door. It is going to take changing your ways – to become outspoken extroverts who have every right to shout to the world that you are here (insert Horton Hears A Who scene here) and that you matter. You matter to the economy, you matter to the entertainment world, and you matter to the global community. Now what are you going to do about it?

     September 20, 2012
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    Online or offline? That seems to be the big question in a new survey conducted by the Department of Canadian Heritage on how Canadians prefer to...

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    Online or offline? That seems to be the big question in a new survey conducted by the Department of Canadian Heritage on how Canadians prefer to consume homegrown media.

    The findings of the survey, which was conducted in June 2012, reveal some interesting statistics about the accessibility of Canadian films, books, movies, and television. The results indicate that while the majority of Canadians are interested in homegrown content, they wish it was more widely available to the general public.

    According to the report, digital media may be the key to making Canadian content more accessible. Many Canadians already prefer to buy their music online, with 40% of respondents saying they planned to do so within the next six months.

    At the same time, fewer Canadians are buying physical copies of albums.  Over 10% of survey correspondents said that they are done buying CDs for the foreseeable future.

    A major barrier to accessing music online appears to be cost. Less than a quarter of respondents said that they would be interested in joining a monthly paid streaming service. Those surveyed were slightly more enthusiastic about free streaming services that run advertisements, but they have yet to gain traction with Canadian audiences.

    The study also shows that film and television buffs head online for content. One-third of respondents admitted to downloading movies, and there's been a noticeable jump in the number of Canadians using pay per view or on demand services since 2005.

    The rise of online streaming is accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the popularity of DVDs and Blu-rays. While two-thirds of Canadians still purchase DVDs, video stores are much less popular than they used to be. Compared to a 2005 survey, the number of visitors to stores in 2012 was reduced by almost half.

    The one exception to sourcing online content is in reading materials. While 70% of Canadians read print magazines, only 30% download digital copies. Almost a quarter of respondents replied that they prefer print over digital magazines, and 13% responded that they did not own a tablet or e-reader.

    Whether or not they get their content online, Canadian consumers exemplify the mantra "love where you live." If there's one thing to take away from the study, it's that almost all respondents agreed Canadian media was important. Over 90% said that they valued access to Canadian music and literature, and over 70% were interested in watching Canadian movies.

    Via Techvibes

     January 04, 2013
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    Ask any social media marketer and they’ll tell you that brand advocates and earned media are the holy grail of social media...

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    Ask any social media marketer and they’ll tell you that brand advocates and earned media are the holy grail of social media marketing. YUPIQ recognizes this value and created a social media promotions platform that increases sales and brand awareness by rewarding customers for sharing videos, links and special offers with their friends. Users who promote brands on Facebook, Twitter and email can receive rewards and offers for their efforts.

    The YUPIQ plugin for HootSuite allows marketers to share gifts and offers to brand advocates right from the HootSuite dashboard. It also lets them refer the same gift to a limited number of friends. Start rewarding your community today!

     December 11, 2012
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    Via Vancouver Sun

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    Via Vancouver Sun

    The owls at HootSuite are starting to chat.

    In its latest move to lead the growing market in social media management, the Vancouver start-up behind the wide-eyed owl logo has expanded its social media dashboard to add real time online chat.

    Fittingly, the company, which has become the darling of private investors and counts among its clients such high-profile social networkers as the White House and Fortune 100 companies, announced the new service today, midway through Vancouver’s Social Media Week.

    HootSuite Conversations launched in beta today and will be available to HootSuite’s nearly five million users around the globe.

    Besides giving HootSuite users a way to connect with anyone on their network via chat, the new Conversations lets companies’ teams and employee groups create their own online chat networks on their HootSuite dashboard, in effect giving them a back channel where they can share views and information without having to resort to email.

    “One of the things we’re seeing as a trend is a need for organizations to work together more effectively,” said HootSuite chief executive Ryan Holmes. “Conversations is a tool to help people collaborate more effectively and we’re excited about it.”

    Today’s release is the latest in a string of announcements from HootSuite, which recently bought another social media platform — San Francisco-based Seesmic. Earlier this year, HootSuite saw an injection of $20 million in an equity stake by the Canadian venture capital firm OMERS Ventures, in what amounted to one of the largest venture capital investments in Canada over the past decade.

    HootSuite, which offers a “freemium” model that monetizes about 3.5 per cent of its five million users, has been the subject of acquisition rumours, but so far it seem Holmes is content to turn away the suitors.

    Asked if he still holds to his earlier plans to build a billion-dollar company in Vancouver, Holmes said: “Absolutely. We are going to continue moving ahead with building up the company. We are getting close to making an announcement on space and a new office location. We are absolutely committed to building out in Vancouver. We’re well on track for that.”

    Read more:
     September 26, 2012
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    Article from: Sept 21, 2012

    On a recent trip to Europe, Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of economic development and innovation, made a point of stopping in at the headquarters of Ubisoft. The French video-gaming giant, responsible for such titles as Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia, opened a Toronto studio in 2010. Duguid wanted to make sure the company’s executives were still happy with that choice. “We had a fantastic meeting with them,” Duguid says. “What they’re really impressed with is the talent that’s evolved here.”

    The talent and, Duguid might have added, the tax breaks too. Ontario offered Ubisoft some $263 million in incentives over 10 years to set up shop in Ontario, according to the Toronto Star. The company also benefits from a 37% labour tax credit available to all video-game developers in the province.

    It’s the kind of package studios in B.C. can only dream of. Though long considered the heart of the Canadian gaming industry, Vancouver has been slipping fast in recent years. Montreal surpassed it in terms of total companies and jobs some time ago. Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe is coming on fast. The reasons, critics say, are simple: Ontario and Quebec are offering better tax incentives—B.C.’s labour tax credit for the industry is only 17%, for example—and their politicians are making efforts (like meeting with French CEOs in the summertime) that B.C. officials just aren’t. Sky-high commercial rents in Vancouver aren’t helping, either.

    There’s plenty of evidence that Canada’s gaming industry is fleeing the West for greener pastures. Ubisoft closed its Vancouver studio early this year, not long after the one in Toronto got off the ground. Rockstar Games, another major developer, announced it was shuttering its Vancouver operations in July. The company is consolidating Canadian development in Oakville, Ont. Radical Entertainment, meanwhile, one of the cornerstones of the Vancouver industry, all but ceased to exist in June when its parent company laid off 89 Vancouver employees. Things are so dire, says Jared Shaw, the founder of 31337 Recruiters, that he hasn’t filled a single video-game position in B.C. in nearly three years. “My job,” he says, “has been exporting people to the U.S. and out east.”

    But not everyone believes that B.C. gaming is on the brink of death. The industry as a whole is shifting away from consoles, like Microsoft’s XBox and the Sony PlayStation, and toward social and mobile platforms, like the iPad and Facebook. As it does, traditional companies like Rockstar and Radical may struggle. But Vancouver, with its deep wells of talent and proximity to Asia and Silicon Valley, could still compete for the next generation of firms.

    There’s some evidence that’s already happening. Gree, a big-name Japanese mobile developer, started hiring staff for a Vancouver studio in July. Local startups, meanwhile, are popping up every month. Many are staffed with at least a few veterans of Vancouver’s once thriving console scene. Almost all are hoping to hit it big with the next social or mobile sensation. “The best thing to ever happen to the Vancouver indie scene is that those big, fat, bloated old bitches left town,” says Jason Bailey, the CEO of East Side Games, a local mobile startup, of the traditional console giants.

    But social and mobile firms aren’t as large or as lucrative as the console players—at least not yet. And without a Rockstar or a Radical to anchor the local industry, some worry the next generation of Vancouver talent will have nowhere to learn its craft. If B.C. wants to keep its status as a gaming hub, says Elliot Siemiatycki, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, the province needs to step up. “Vancouver can’t rely on its mountains and ocean view to attract people,” he says. That doesn’t necessarily mean increasing tax credits, although Siemiatycki does think that would help. It does mean, however, making a visible, viable effort to keep the firms the province has left, while fighting Ontario, Quebec and the rest of the world for the ones still looking for potential homes.

     September 21, 2012
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    Vancouver, B.C. – Attracting some of the best minds in digital design and media just got easier with the launch of the new Centre for Digital Media at Great Northern Way Campus (GNWC). The Centre for Digital Media has been occupied since August 20, 2012 but celebrates its official launch on September 21.

    The 51,000-sq. ft. building combines social, learning and student residential space for the Masters of Digital Media (MDM) program. Located next to the existing Centre on the False Creek Flats, adjacent to Great Northern Way, the mixed-use facility provides state-of-the-art classrooms and studios, along with three floors (76 units) of student designated rental housing. The building meets LEED Gold certification.
    “This incredible facility is the new home of the next generation of digital media leaders,” said MDM Director Dr. Richard Smith. “Every time I enter this building I feel like I step into the future; a future created by the highly skilled graduates of our digital media school.” 
    As a purpose-built digital media hub, the new facility marks a major step in fulfilling GNWC's vision to bring academia, industry, and the local community together in Vancouver. The site is a collaborative mix of campus and commercial activities, jointly owned by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
    Said Dr. Smith: “This new building is a catalyst to make Great Northern Way Campus a central piece of Vancouver and British Columbia’s digital economy. I think I can safely say, having seen the excitement on the faces of our students, we are off to a great start. We are fortunate to have the ongoing support of the local community, the provincial government and the City of Vancouver on this project and we are very grateful for that.”
    The Masters of Digital Media program was established in September 2007 with an inaugural cohort of 21 students; over 120 students have since graduated. MDM alumni are engaged in industry as producers, managers, creators and lead designers, using MDM acquired skills to benefit the digital media community. The program attracts students around British Columbia and the world, and in five short years has seen many graduates experience success in the digital media industry. For more information on the MDM program, please visit 

     September 21, 2012
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    Canada today revealed that it plans to create a new class of visa, 

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    Canada today revealed that it plans to create a new class of visa, according to Reuters.

    Officials hope it will attract technology entrepreneurs to immigrate to the country to start new companies.

    The immigration department consulted with Canadian venture funds, including Boris Wertz's Vancouver-based Version One Ventures.

    Quote Reuters:

    It has put a moratorium on issuing its existing entrepreneur visa, which only required an immigrant to hire one person for one year, and intends to initiate a visa that would be issued to people identified by venture capital funds as candidates to create start-up firms in Canada. The venture funds would be required to invest in the start-ups. The start-up visa is one of several changes being undertaken by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in what he says is an effort to make the immigration system more responsive to Canada's economic needs.

    "Canada seeks young, ambitious, innovative immigrants who will contribute to Canada's job growth and further drive our economy," Kenney's press secretary, Alexis Pavlich, is quoted as saying. "The start-up visa is an initiative that the government of Canada is exploring to assist in transforming our immigration system into a fast, fair and flexible system that will meet the needs of our economy and help grow our country."

    Venture investment funds would choose entrepreneurs in whom they would invest, and the government would try to clear them for entry into Canada within weeks. The idea is to unite Canadian money and foreign brains. An initial source of candidates could be frustrated foreigners in the high-tech sector in the United States who have not been able to land resident status there.

    "This program will link brilliant, job-creating, immigrant entrepreneurs with Canadian investors. We want the world's best and brightest to come to Canada - to start businesses and to create jobs in Canada," Alexis added.

    The program is expected to be unveiled in detail later this year. According to the report, the government will set aside 2,750 visas a year. Last year it issued 700 visas under the old entrepreneur class. The problem with it was that an immigrant could buy a corner store and hire one person then abandon the business after a year.

    "There are never enough brains in a country," Version One Ventures founder Boris Wertz is quoted as saying. "Every country's going to compete for the best brains in the world."

     September 12, 2012
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    Posted by  see more Posted by Knowlton Thomas on 2012-08-17 3:20:00 PM

    Time ran a poll asking 5,000 people of all age groups and income levels across the world about their connections to technology. The results show that we are more connected to our smartphones than any other gadget or gizmo in history.

    The smartphone is a tool that, less than two decades ago, did not exist. That, three or four decades ago, would have been unfathomable. That, today, users can't go a day—or even an hour—without.

    Is it connectivity or addiction? According to Time, one in four people check their mobile device every 30 minites. One in five check it every 10 minutes. One third of people become anxious if they don't have their smartphone for even short periods of time. 75% of those aged 25 to 29 sleep with their phones. You decide.

    DON'T MISS: Never lose your smartphone again.

    Quoth Time:

    Just as remarkable as the power of mobility, over everything from love to learning to global development, is how fast it all happened. It is hard to think of any tool, any instrument, any object in history with which so many developed so close a relationship so quickly as we have with our phones. Not the knife or match, the pen or page. Only money comes close—always at hand, don’t leave home without it. But most of us don’t take a wallet to bed with us, don’t reach for it and check it every few minutes, and however useful money is in pursuit of fame, romance, revolution, it is inert compared with a smart phone—which can replace your wallet now anyway.

    In China, it is extremely common for people to ask each other on dates via text. One third of Indians have coordinated adultery via text. And 64% of Brazilians have sent a sext to a partner or loved one. Half of the world's mobile phone users believe text messages have affected "the way I live my life."

    See more in the infographic below.

     September 05, 2012
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    DEARBORN, Mich. -- Don't expect to converse with your car quite like David Hasselhoff and KITT did in the '80s TV classic "Knight Rider," but voice recognition is one of the...

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    DEARBORN, Mich. -- Don't expect to converse with your car quite like David Hasselhoff and KITT did in the '80s TV classic "Knight Rider," but voice recognition is one of the big looming trends in the automobile industry.

    For years already, some drivers who seek out the latest and greatest in technology have been talking to their cars when they want to listen to music, turn up the air conditioner or get directions.

    No need to look away from the road or blindly reach for a knob or button, just speak a command aloud and the car obeys

    Voice recognition and other high-tech features are expected to become far more mainstream in the months and years ahead, as automakers race to outdo each other and tap into consumer demand for an app-inspired, always-connected lifestyle on the road.

    CD players have been replaced by hard drives that can store tens of thousands of MP3s, or drivers can connect a smartphone and use its data connection to stream music via the Internet. Dedicated GPS navigation systems are being phased out in favour of multi-function digital panels that look like a smartphone or tablet homescreen, populated with a long list of apps.

    "Automakers are trying to replicate that smartphone/touchscreen experience that people are used to and like," says industry analyst and consultant Doug Newcomb.

    "Car buyers really want this, that's why automakers are doing it, technology really helps them sell cars."

    Perhaps there was no clearer sign that companies are serious about competing to develop the coolest, most advanced in-car technology than an Apple announcement in June. The tech giant revealed it's working with nine automakers to integrate its popular voice-recognition tool Siri into vehicles.

    Meanwhile, BMW and Honda are among the car manufacturers that are releasing new in-car technology in Canada this fall.

    And at the forefront of the trend has been Ford, one of the more aggressive companies in delivering in-car voice technology to the mass market with its Sync product, which has already been around for about five years.

    With Sync, drivers can press a button on the steering wheel and voice their desire to place a phone call, control the stereo, make their vehicle warmer or cooler, or get directions. Ford claims the system recognizes 10,000 different commands -- although there's no master list available to consumers so that's difficult to verify.

    "Our world is changing," Bill Ford, Ford's chairman, said at a recent press event in Dearborn, Mich.

    "We've got over four million vehicles with Sync on the road today and what's cool is we have an open platform, so developers are developing apps for Sync. And we love that, that's why we did it."

    Among those apps available for Sync in the U.S. are the audio streaming services Pandora, MOG and Slacker Radio, a program to listen to tweets posted to Twitter, and another that gives allergy sufferers an update on pollen levels in the local area.

    Critics, however, have noted that Sync's ability to understand strings of spoken words is nowhere near as robust as Siri's. Drivers must learn how to speak to the Sync system, which often doesn't respond to natural speech and instead needs to hear a sequence of spoken commands to complete a task. If your wording is a little off, you'll be prompted to try again. And don't even think of asking jokey questions like you can with Siri.

    "It's getting better but it's still not there, it's still all over the map," says Newcomb.

    "They're still in that learning phase, a growing pains phase."

    The market leader in voice technology is Nuance Communications, which powers Ford's Sync. Gary Clayton, chief creative officer for Nuance, says the technology is constantly evolving and becoming more intelligent. As of now, most voice recognition systems need to be prompted before they'll listen for user commands. But eventually, the technology will always be listening and will be able to recognize and distinguish between different voices.

    "It's coming but that's a very, very complex (problem)," Clayton explains.

    "There are so many fundamental things that have to be dealt with.... It's things like: who else is in the car, what else is being said ... all kinds of spurious things are coming in from the radio, from other people.

    "We have to continually poll the incoming audio to understand who is speaking, but with biometric verification -- it hears this voice, it knows that voice -- it (will eventually) automatically pay attention to that voice."

    Another major in-car technology player behind the scenes is Ottawa-based QNX, which is owned by Research in Motion. RIM purchased QNX in 2010 and took advantage of its software expertise to help build its upcoming BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system. QNX has also developed software for nuclear power plants; coal, iron, copper, and gold mines; steam and gas turbines; HVAC systems for big box stores; and sorting equipment used by the U.S. Postal Service.

    QNX's reputation for developing software with rock-solid stability has won it a number of contracts to provide technology for automakers, including Audi, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota, said product marketing manager Andy Gryc.

    "Car companies generally tend to be pretty brand sensitive, nobody wants to get a 'blue screen of death' or pull over and have to reboot their car, so that's actually really helped in terms of our ability to service the market and we're continuing to build on that."

    Gryc assesses the current state of voice technology as a "mixed bag" but says the technology coming down the pipe is truly impressive -- although it may take a few years until it hits the mass market.

    "Most consumers view (today's voice technology) as kind of a gimmicky thing because it is sort of like, 'Well, do you really want to do some of those things with voice?' Clearly some things are very natural to do with voice, like navigation is one that's very, very clear that's a good use case," he says.

    The technology that's about two or three years out will really wow consumers, he says, as opposed to simply being seen as "kinda neat" today.

    "It'll certainly take a couple of years just to get through the automotive production life cycle. Even if automakers snapped their fingers and said today, 'I want to build a system that's just like Siri,' the technology exists to do it but it's just that they'd have to go through the process of building automotive-grade hardware. It's not acceptable to just take a tablet and put it into the dash."

    One of the challenges for automakers is in making sure that its technology ages well over the years and is built so it can be upgraded with software. Hardware upgrades are not practical, at least at this point, Gryc adds.

    "Swappable chips is a lot more complicated in a car environment just because of a lot of the restrictions you need to take into account for vibration -- or 'shake, rattle and roll,' as they call it -- and temperature sensitivities," he says.

    "Most of the car companies have not been looking at that as a solution."

    Ford has used software updates to add new features and address problems and complaints. Ford previously had major issues with the touchscreen side of its technology, which caused frustrating system crashes.

    "Ford kind of got penalized by being a pioneer," Newcomb says.

    "No one's really figured this out yet, it's going to take two or three years before this really shakes out."

    Read more:
     August 31, 2012
  • Article

    Via TechVibes

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    Via TechVibes

    This morning Vancouver-based Vision Critical announced that they have received a $20 million investment from OMERS Ventures.

    This is the third large investment for OMERS Ventures in Vancouver this year.

    In March they made big news with a surprising $20 million injection into HootSuite and in June they invested $16 million in BuildDirect.

    Providing cutting-edge market research to its clients, Vision Critical has become the global leader in online community panels-a category that is revolutionizing the industry worldwide. Vision Critical will use the investment from OMERS Ventures to expand its product lines, support infrastructure, and further execute its global growth plans.

    "Demand for strategic customer and market research is surging, and online community panels are already established as the key to unlocking the tremendous power of the internet as a tool for two-way communications with consumers," said Vision Critical Chairman Angus Reid. "OMERS Ventures is strongly aligned with Vision Critical, sharing our entrepreneurial nature, aggressive growth strategy and long-term vision for the future of the market research industry."

    Founded in 2000, Vision Critical now has more than 600 clients including one-third of the top global brands using its community panel technology platform and research services.

     August 28, 2012
  • Article

    Vancouver will soon host Canada’s first video game-themed restaurant as Brian Vidovic’s 

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    Vancouver will soon host Canada’s first video game-themed restaurant as Brian Vidovic’s EXP Restaurant and Barapproaches its opening day.

    It’s a project that Vidovic has long dreamed of making a reality, and has fought hard to develop in its Pender St. location for the past two years.

    Initial struggles to acquire permits delayed the original opening date of autumn 2011—creating a restaurant and bar of his scale requires permits and licenses that can take many months to acquire. The LCLB has two potential liquor licenses available to new businesses; one, a liquor-primary license, is not being dispensed by the City of Vancouver. The other, a food-primary license, is far more common, and far more in line with the prerogatives of Vidovic’s business.

    It was this license that his business was awarded earlier this week. Once it’s opened, the venue will be host to indie meetups, local gaming events, and countless lovers and supporters of gaming culture.

    The one thing it can’t host is actual video games.

    For the past six months, Vidovic has found himself fighting a skirmish in the war that the Rio Theatre began against the province as he struggles to provide his future clientele with consoles to enjoy on premises.  The LCLB enforces laws that have been mostly unaltered since their creation upon the repeal of prohibition.

    As movie theatres and arcades were at one point the haunts of bootleggers, they were forbidden to provide liquor. Now nearly a century later, Vancouver businesses have begun to speak out against the code as it stands. Vidovic speaks out more stridently than most due to what he claims is unfair treatment. He will open without video games, but he will not give up the pursuit. I asked him if there was any way at all that video games were possible for the EXP Bar in a coffee shop not far from the restaurant’s Pender and Hamilton St location.

    “If I provide consoles, totally not possible. If other people were to bring them in, only not possible on our license, but doable anywhere else in the city,” Vidovic explains. “I asked them if I could set up video games. So what they’re saying is ‘Don’t be honest, ever, and you’ll get what you want.’ And I wanted to be an honest businessman."

    "The fact is that there is no policy specifically for sit-down video games, so they’ve been lumped in with card and board games, where they’re permitted so long as they don’t divert the focus from the food," he adds. "They argue that video games will divert—but it’s not as though they will be diverted towards liquor instead. They’ll just be distracted with their game, which is all I want to provide them with.”

    Vidovic has reached out to MP Jenny Kwan to bring the matter to Minister Rich Coleman’s attention. News has not yet returned from the capital.

    Here in Vancouver the restaurant has been embraced by the gaming community; custom Xbox 360 controllers have been designed by, and their June Indiegogo campaign earned the business over $61,000. There’s a petition here with 4,500 signatures thus far to protest the LCLB video game restrictions.

    “For me, it’s bigger than ‘I want to play videogames,'" says Vidovic. "I want to legitimize our industry as an art form: if you can have movies and tv and UFC up on a screen, then we need to have video games. I’m really stubborn. It’s not something I’m going to drop without a fight.”

    Vidovic speaks for entrepreneurs across the world when he says, “I just want to open my business to the true vision that it should be.”

    However and whenever it opens, gaming Vancouverites have much to look forward to.

     August 14, 2012
  • Article

    Thirty companies were selected to pitch at Startup Riot in Seattle this week. Five won. Two were Canadian.

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    Thirty companies were selected to pitch at Startup Riot in Seattle this week. Five won. Two were Canadian.

    Among of the top five judges' picks were PayrollHero from Vancouver and QuoteRobot from Nanaimo.

    PayrollHero, currently in beta, "optimizes work productivity with happiness." The startup offers consumer friendly time, attendance, scheduling, and payroll in the cloud for web and mobile. It also rates the moods of employees via clock-in photos to establish "an array of business intelligence to your companies companies corollaries between productivity and mood."

    QuoteRobot creates web design proposals quickly and easily. It's a rapid quote generation tool designed for freelancers and agencies who want to send high quality proposals to clients and is versatile enough to work for virtually any industry, not just web design. It's also competitively priced, offering "unlimited everything" for $10 per month.

     August 13, 2012
  • Article

    TinyCo, a San Francisco based developer and operator of popular mobile games such as Tiny Monsters, Tiny Village, and Tiny Zoo Friends,...

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    TinyCo, a San Francisco based developer and operator of popular mobile games such as Tiny Monsters, Tiny Village, and Tiny Zoo Friends, announced today that it is opening a new studio in Vancouver to expand its development of mobile games.

    Backed by an $18 million investment led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, TinyCo is looking to broaden its team of high-caliber engineers, designers, and artists who are passionate about gaming on mobile platforms.

    "We are thrilled to be bringing TinyCo to Canada," says Laurie Deneschuk of TinyCo. "The wealth of top talent and strong community make Vancouver the perfect place for us to continue to grow.  We see a great opportunity to further cultivate our winning culture, infrastructure, and creative there.  It was an easy choice already, but it didn’t hurt that I originally hail from Saskatchewan."

    Founded in 2009, TinyCo was named one of Pocketgamer’s top 50 developers in 2012 and has been highlighted as one of the first game developers to understand how to be successful with freemium monetization models on Android. Despite its rapid growth, TinyCo keeps its startup mentality, where people have a direct impact on not just the products they are working on, but the way the company operates as a whole.

     August 07, 2012
  • Article

    BURNABY - Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell launched the B.C. government's strategy to create and support jobs in the province's fast-growing technology sector today.

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    BURNABY - Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell launched the B.C. government's strategy to create and support jobs in the province's fast-growing technology sector today.

    "Technology is one of eight key sectors we identified in 'Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan', but it's doubly important in that technology supports all of the other sectors through product and service innovations that allow them to grow and create jobs," Bell said. "Technology enables growth in all sectors and growth means jobs for B.C. families."

    As jobs in the technology sector continue to grow twice as fast as any other, B.C.'s Technology Strategy predicts by 2014 there will be over 100,000 high-tech jobs supporting British Columbian families.

    In order to build on that momentum and support the sector, the strategy focuses on four key action items:

    • Accelerate technology commercialization and adoption.
    • Build on regional strengths to create new opportunities.
    • Develop talent for a knowledge-based economy.
    • Expand markets for British Columbia's technology

    The strategy builds on the competitive advantages and investments in B.C.'s main technology subsectors, which include clean technology; information and communication technologies; wireless, digital and screen-based media; and health and life sciences.

    "Building a knowledge-based society is key to the future of British Columbia - and British Columbians, " said Greg Peet, chair of Premier's Technology Council. "This strategy will strengthen and diversify the province's economy by encouraging the formation and growth of companies in B.C.'s vibrant technology sector."

    The new $7-million BC Commercialization Voucher Program will connect small and medium-sized companies from a variety of key sectors and regions throughout the province with cutting-edge researchers in B.C.'s post-secondary system. Those collaborations will help get the most innovative products to market faster.

    "The development and commercialization of technology is crucial for communities throughout this province," said Minister of State for Multiculturalism John Yap. "The sector provides innovative solutions that make B.C. competitive and bring jobs to communities both big and small."

    "To compete globally, it's more important than ever that we continue to strengthen the network of resources that support innovation, the development of highly skilled talent and the commercialization of technology products and services right here in B.C.," said Jill Leversage, board chair of the British Columbia Innovation Council. "BCIC and initiatives such as the BC Commercialization Voucher Program help technology entrepreneurs accelerate their ideas from concept to the marketplace."

    The B.C. government also plans to develop a second program, Productivity BC, to help companies increase cost efficiencies, production scalability and business sustainability.

    In addition, a new government procurement program will help businesses commercialize their ideas and get new products into the marketplace quickly and efficiently.

    Learn More:

    B.C.'s Technology Strategy:

    Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan:

    We want to hear from you. Please share your ideas

    Two backgrounders follow.


    Media Relations
    Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
    250 356-7104


    BC Commercialization Voucher Program

    What is it?

    • The BC Commercialization Voucher program will provide vouchers in amounts of $15,000 or $50,000 to support the commercialization of technology products, services and processes.
    • This new program is targeted toward technology and knowledge-driven businesses in British Columbia in provincial priority areas identified under 'Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan', including Technology, Forestry, Mining, Natural Gas, Agrifoods, Tourism, Transportation and International Education.
    • The program provides companies that operate from a British Columbia base with access to the unique knowledge and expertise available at the province's post-secondary institutions.
    • Details about the program will be posted on the BC Jobs Plan website in late September.

    Who can apply?

    • Qualified B.C. enterprises with an applied research and development question can apply to work with a qualified graduate student expert that is registered in a B.C. post-secondary research institution.

    When does the program start?

    • The first program intake is expected in early October.


    Media Relations
    Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
    250 356-7104


    Key B.C. technology subsectors

    Clean technology includes power generation, energy efficiency, transportation and industrial processes. This subsector includes more than 200 young companies, generates $2.5 billion in revenue and provided 8,400 jobs in 2011, with $650 million in combined payroll. B.C. has the third-largest clean energy sector in the world, behind California and Germany, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    Information and communication technologies and wireless comprises more than 6,000 companies undertaking software publishing, computer manufacturing and systems design, engineering services, and wired and wireless communications. B.C. has more than 500 wireless technology businesses alone, which generate revenues of more than $1 billion. The subsector provides 46,000 B.C. jobs.

    Digital and screen-based media companies include more than 600 firms involved in areas such as interactive design; digital entertainment and games; digital film, animation and special effects; mobile content and applications; and e-learning. The sector employs about 16,000 people and has $2.3 billion in annual sales. The global video game market alone is projected to grow to $76 billion by 2013.

    Health and life sciences companies produce medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, bio-products and process innovations. B.C.'s biopharmaceutical cluster alone comprises more than 90 companies and is the seventh largest in North America. Bioproducts are created using renewable resources and biological processes, and include biofuels, bioenergy, biomaterials, and everyday household or industrial products, with an estimated global market of $200 billion.


    Media Relations
    Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
    250 356-7104

  • Article
    Posted by  see more Posted by David Tubbs on 2012-07-20 12:30:00 PM

    In a recent survey conducted by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, nearly half of local businesses say their preferred advertising channel is online.

    At 46%, online advertising far outpaced radio and print. This displays a dramatic shift in the advertising focus away from the more traditional avenues in Waterloo Region. It shows that, while online advertising is still a developing field, there rests a major appetite towards reaching a broad audience in new ways.

    This survey was created after the much-hyped Facebook IPO that brought riches upon the social networking giant, but also created a great deal of speculation on the sustainability of its revenue streams (i.e. online advertising hosting). As is clear, there remains a desire in the business community to continue to utilize online advertising in all of its forms

    Furthermore, with those supporting email advertising combined with online advertising this forms a strong majority of 61% for survey takers preferred methods of advertising. This shows a distinct shift away from traditional advertising vehicles such as radio, print, and television for small to medium sized businesses.

    Part of the reason for this shift is not just the explosion in social media driven advertising and the strong legitimacy of online advertising, but also the fact that advertisers now have the ability to find real analytics behind the success of an online ad campaign much easier than a print campaign. Due to this limitation, the understanding that circulation numbers and moderate demographic information don’t necessarily translate into viewed impressions have led to a more success measureable model.

    Traditional advertising outlets are not being forsaken just yet, however. Business consultant Jeff MacIntyre from So There Business Solutionssays, “I find with my clients, the choice of advertising channels still depends on their market and the connection they are trying to make to their target audience. In many ways people still have an emotional connection to certain advertising mediums such as print and flyers.

    “This being said there is an enormous desire to be able to track success of a campaign and web based advertising metrics helps satisfy this need where no other avenue can. As traditions shift so will key advertising channels. And right now that shift is towards online advertising.”

    With the movement towards mobile phones being the primary source for accessing online content this means if online behemoths like Facebook are having difficulty translating effective advertising options for businesses they could eventually lead to a weakening demand similar to the weakening of Groupon sales after its inability to adapt to their market after their initial domination.

    The one thing that that can be deduced from the survey results is that while online advertising tops the list by a fairly strong amount, it is not the only preferred method of pulling in business.