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B.C. innovation minister and Vancouver mayor head south on trade mission

Pair stopping in Austin, San Francisco in hopes of landing an anchor company

B.C. Innovation Minister Brenda Bailey and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim are heading south of the border for a trade mission in hopes of promoting both B.C.’s and Vancouver’s tech sectors.

The pair are in Texas Friday at one of the largest tech and innovation conferences, South by Southwest. The conference includes its first Vancouver day specifically to showcase Vancouver’s growing tech scene.

“Now the overarching goal is to highlight the opportunities that exist in the Vancouver technology market for direct foreign investment and also opportunities for folks to move their companies into British Columbia. So we're really highlighting the opportunities that exist here in our tech sector,” said Bailey.

While it’s hard to boil the trip down to a single achievement, Bailey hopes to reach out to potential anchor companies in hopes they set up shop in Victoria or Vancouver and further develop the start-up ecosystem. 

“An international anchor company that has those long tentacles of connection, and a great start-up ecosystem, and companies in growth mode, that's how you have a really strong cluster,” said Bailey.

The trip includes meetings with leading private enterprises, venture capital firms and government officials.

After her visit to Texas, Bailey will participate in the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco where she will promote B.C.’s advances in agricultural technology like the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation that is working to improve food security.

Bailey says the goal of this trip is to promote the opportunities that exist in B.C., not just the talent but the collaborative opportunity that exists in B.C. with various tech clusters including life sciences and creative technologies.

While Vancouver has developed some global brand recognition, Bailey is also there to promote other tech and innovation centres in the province including those that don’t typically get the spotlight like Kelowna and Victoria.

Bailey said when she is on these trips people are usually surprised by the amount of growth British Columbia has seen. She said she also tries to make people aware of the province's immigration laws and opportunities, which she said has given the province a real competitive advantage in recent years.

Bailey added that she does not attend these events to promote any specific companies but rather the industries and opportunities available in B.C. across various tech sectors.