Accelerate Okanagan Appoints New CEO

Kelowna, BC -  February 10th, 2016 – Kelowna, B.C. – Accelerate Okanagan Technology Association (AO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Raghwa Gopal as the new CEO for the organization. Gopal who has been the acting CEO for the past 2 months, will assume the full-time position effective immediately. 
 
Mr. Gopal is no stranger to the Okanagan or the technology community. Having moved to Kelowna in the mid ‘70’s he helped to build and grow Vadim Software, one of the regions first and most successful technology companies. While operating Vadim for 28 years, Raghwa was instrumental in growing the organization to be one of the largest suppliers of financial management software to Canadian municipalities leading to its eventual acquisition in 2001. Since that time Mr. Gopal has been extremely active in the community as an angel investor, the recipient of several business awards and been recognized for many volunteer efforts including Director of the Okanagan College Foundation, the Rotary Club of Kelowna, the United Way and the Central Okanagan Development Commission.

“After an exhaustive search that involved over 120 candidates, we are extremely pleased to announce Raghwa Gopal as AO’s new CEO. Mr. Gopal was by far the best candidate measured against the core competencies established by our CEO Search Committee and we are very fortunate to have someone of his calibre to lead our organization through the next stage of growth,” said Blair Forrest, AO Board Chairman. “He is a very well-known and respected person with an extensive history in our community who will bring many years of business acumen, industry expertise and knowledge to the role. Through his prior involvement as acting CEO and Executive in Residence, Raghwa is very familiar with our team, association members, programs, clients, partners, government funding organizations and objectives.”

"It is an immense honor to be offered the position of CEO for Accelerate Okanagan, particularly because this is such an exciting time for the tech industry in the Okanagan and the province as a whole,” said Mr. Gopal. “With the Okanagan Centre for Innovation (OCI) opening soon, the new BC Tech Fund, and new and innovative programs being offered by Accelerate Okanagan, I see tremendous opportunity for the growth of tech companies in the Okanagan.”

“One of my primary goals will be to create an ecosystem of collaboration between different stakeholders – both here in the Okanagan and province wide - to provide bigger and better opportunities for local companies to grow and thrive. I’m looking forward to help further cultivate and nurture the burgeoning tech industry in the Okanagan," added Mr. Gopal.





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okanaganjobmatch.com launched

coedc logo

The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is launching okanaganjobmatch.com, an online job-matching platform to address workforce needs

Kelowna, BC, February 9, 2016 – The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) is launching a new component of its Workforce Development Programming. Magnet is a skills-based, employment matching platform that will serve as a key tool for employers and job seekers throughout the Central Okanagan. A regional adoption of Magnet will help to address some of the labour market issues identified in the 2014 report Growing in the Okanagan - 2020 Labour Market Outlook commissioned by the COEDC.

Magnet is a network powered by data-rich job-matching technology that was developed by Ryerson University, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Government of Ontario. Introducing Magnet to the Central Okanagan will build a regional focus to a single “job platform”, streamlining the employment search process and assisting in uncovering the hidden labour market. What’s different about Magnet vs. traditional job boards is that through intuitive technology it provides both job seekers and employers with a one-stop, supply and demand job hub to connect the right candidate to the right job opportunity – quickly, accurately, and efficiently. 

It is important to note that Magnet is a free service for job seekers, while employers can post opportunities and review candidates’ profiles for free. If an employer is interested in connecting with a candidate, a small connection fee is then incurred. As an introductory offer, the COEDC is covering all connection fees for Central Okanagan employers for the first 6 months after launch.

To facilitate the delivery of the initial phase of Magnet the Commission is working in partnership with: Accelerate Okanagan, Kelowna Community Resources, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, YMCA Youth Works, Okanagan College, University of British Columbia - Okanagan, the Centre for Arts & Technology, WorkBC and the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective in a phased, multi-year approach.

“Companies throughout the Region across a multitude of sectors tell us one of their biggest barriers to success is the sourcing of a talented workforce. The Commission’s introduction of Magnet to the BC Market aims to be the Region’s tool for matching employers and qualified job seekers by eliminating a major barrier faced locally – job seekers across Canada are unaware of local employer’s current job posting methods (i.e. local publications, industry job boards), thus reducing the talent pool for available opportunities significantly” states Corie Griffiths, Director of the COEDC.

Central Okanagan job seekers and local college and university students seeking full or part-time employment can learn more and register FREE OF CHARGE by visiting okanaganjobmatch.com.

Employers are encouraged to visit okanaganjobmatch.com to post their current hiring needs. Connecting with the right employee is FREE for the first 6 months. Those requiring assistance can contact Dustyn Baulkham, Workforce Development Officer.

Social media channels:

Web:                http://www.okanaganjobmatch.com                               

Twitter:             @MagnetToday

                        @InvestKelowna

Facebook:        Magnet

                        Invest_Kelowna

YouTube:          Magnet - Benefits to Job Seekers

            COEDC Channel

About Magnet

Magnet is a new network powered by data-rich, job-matching technology that connects job seekers with employers based upon skills, preferences and talent needs. The network is also a unique source of real-time labour market information for decision makers and community planners. The Magnet partner network currently includes more than 25 universities and colleges, 2,000 employers and more than 80 community organizations. “Magnet is about connecting jobs to people and helping communities strengthen their economies,” says Mark Patterson, Executive Director, Magnet.

For media inquiries contact

Corie Griffiths

Manager, Economic Development Commission

Regional District of Central Okanagan

(250) 469-6234

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For employer and job seeker inquiries contact

Dustyn Baulkham

Workforce Development Officer

Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission

(250) 469-6280

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Micro Home Business to Launch in Kelowna

https://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/Kelowna/16/02/05/Micro_Home_Business_to_Launch_in_Kelowna/

A new business is about to launch in the Okanagan and it has to do with teeny tiny houses.

Two women in Kelowna have created Little House Contracting, which is a micro home building company. Allison Ramchuk, director of business development and Tara Tschritter, president and founder of the company are working together to launch the locally owned and operated business.

<who> Photo Credit: Tara Tschritter </who> Allison Ramchuck, right, and Tara Tschritter, left, have created Little House Contracting
Photo Credit: Tara Tschritter
Allison Ramchuck, right, and Tara Tschritter, left, have created Little House Contracting

The company gives people full building contracts, design services, and will act as a liaison with city planners and financial institutions.

Homes will be between 320 and 625 square feet.

“Our homes are luxurious and designed specifically to enhance and compliment the owner’s neighborhood and property. For customers purchasing a micro home to rent out, their home will create a significant return on investment and increase the value of their property. Alternatively, depending on one’s stage in life, micro home owners could move into their home, renting out their existing home freeing up income for travel, hobbies, retirement etc,” Tschritter explained.

These miniature homes could be used as home offices, a place for senior family members to live, a guest house, or even a vacation rental.

Tschritter said Little House Contracting’s goal is to create a community of micro homes in the next three to five years.

“We, at Little House Contracting, are excited to offer home owners in our community the opportunity to have high returns for low investment with minimal risk. Additionally, we value community and believe that everyone deserves to have a home to call their own.”

The business partners are having a launch event for the company on March 11th at 5:00 p.m., at Laurel Packing House. The evening will be full of virtual tours, interior and exterior design schemes, and inspirational videos to make people realize what a micro home really is all about.

To get tickets for the launch visit the Eventbrite website.

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$6M Boost For Tech

The provincial government is investing $6 million into emerging tech research.

The announcement was made in Kelowna, at UBC Okanagan's engineering building, where a project between students and industry partner Helios Global Technologies is underway.

The partnership is researching energy-absorbing materials in helmets with the aim of reducing concussion severity from sports impacts.

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson said the money will be used to support graduate students and post-doctoral fellows via the not-for-profit organization Mitacs.

The funding will give students the opportunity to do research on real-world projects in a range of sectors, including technology, health, business and engineering.

“This is a substantial enhancement of the Mitacs program. We’ve been at it for 16 years, and it’s proven to be effective,” said Wilkinson. “So, we’ve decided this is a great place to invest because it makes the most of our talent and opportunities, right here in B.C.”

If successful, the helmet research could result in development of a prototype helmet with the capacity to reduce the incidence of concussions.

UBCO student Jonathan Smirl will receive funding for his training as a post-doctoral fellow.

“The concussion epidemic that is out there, the numbers are about 144,000 sport-related concussions in Canada each year. So, if we can find some technologies and find some ways to mitigate even a thousand of those ... that would be awesome,” said Smirl.

Helios CEO Martin Cronin said the program has enabled the company "to access world-leading expertise in the academic community to speed our development path.”

During the past two years, UBCO has studied 142 athletes from the Okanagan Sun, Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors through the Mitacs Accelerate program.

“We have had 14 unfortunate concussions, but we have been able to track the data to see what is happening with them,” said Smirl.

Since 2004, the province has provided $29 million to Mitacs, and the organization has supported more than 2,800 research internships, trained more than 7,000 students, and supported more than 470 international research collaborations in B.C.

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Tech repair shop success

William Walczak, Hayley Moffatt and Jordan Moffatt are young entrepreneurs who started the company in 2009 with the goal of becoming the first national repair store in Canada based out of Kelowna.

Now called Repair Express (formerly Fix My Touch), Walczak is optimistic about the company's future as it has grown from a home startup to a thriving business with four storefronts in the Okanagan.

“Within a very short period of time we have managed to get really good growth and we started thinking why aren't we templating this, why aren’t we opening more stores, so that is what we did,” says Walczak.

“We opened up the store in Vernon a year ago and it went extremely well, within a month we were profitable and within three months we were really, really profitable. So, we starting looking at the next store.”

By the end of the 2015 summer they opened another location in West Kelowna, and just this month their fourth location is opening its doors in Penticton.

He says part of their success is their partners in each store, like Dallas Teale in Vernon.

“He is fantastic, he has managed to get some fantastic reviews. He is nominated for entrepreneur of the year in Vernon,” says Walczak, who explains that the partners own a portion of each location.

“We want to get more people who want to be operating partners who are passionate about technology and want to have a repair store.”

Walczak attributes their success to their passion for what they do – and their local partners.

“We want to fix a lot of devices not only because it saves a lot of money and it is good for the environment, but also we want to help people use their phones, we want to help people use their technology,” say Walczak.

“We have a fantastic local marketing team here (Hiilite) and that has been a catalyst to our success. We are in front of the right people, on the right channels, with the right message and then tracking and converting them into clients and friends.”

He jokes that he definitely didn't expect it to be the success it has become.

“No definitely not,” he laughs. “We were hoping it would go well, but not quite as well as it has been going.”

Walczak says they are hoping to double their locations in 2016 alone, with their interest set on locations in other parts of the Okanagan, Kamloops and Prince George.

“2015 was great and I think 2016 will be even better.”

For more information check out its website here.

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Kelowna's Immersive Media Acquired for $100 Million

Kelowna's Immersive Media has been acquired by Digital Domain Holdings.

Digital Domain Holdings Limited is the parent company of Visual Effects studio Digital Domain, the creative force behind some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including Iron Man 3, the Transformers trilogy, Maleficent, the X-Men franchise and Titanic.

With the acquisition valued at $100 million, this transaction is the largest deal to come out of the Okanagan since Club Penguin was acquired by Disney in 2007.

Founded in 1994, Immersive Media is a digital imaging company specializing in spherical immersive video. Immersive Media creates fully immersive video experiences for companies like Disney ABC, American Express, Converse, Turner Broadcasting and Mountain Dew.

In 2010, Immersive covered the Vancouver Olympic Games for NBC, most notably webcasting The Today Show live for two hours daily in full 360-degrees.

In 2011, Immersive Media partnered with Livestream to produce the worlds 1st live 360 stream of the Black Eyed Peas Concert from Central Park, New York City.

Last year Digital Domain Holdings and Immersive Media entered into a joint venture to create IM360.

Immersive Media was represented by BC's Whiteboard Law in the transaction.

Another Community Futures success story!

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Trying out a cool therapy

 
A relatively new business in Kelowna is offering a chilly type of physical therapy.

Cryo Care provides a type of procedure called cryotherapy, where the body is subjected to extremely cold temperatures, prompting the body's emergency management, or 'flight or fight,' response.

Taylor Saukarookoff, the co-owner of Cryo Care, says when the human body encounters temperatures of - 165 C, it brings the blood to its core in an attempt to stave off freezing to death. 

When this blood is returned to the rest of the body, Saukarookoff says it brings with it a number of health benefits. They have treated people with rheumatoid arthritis, post surgery inflammation and post-athletic recovery.

The cold temperature is produced using nitrogen, making it a very dry cold. Because of this, Saukarookoff says the cold only impacts half of a millimetre into the skin, making it a pain free process.

Castanet reporter Nich Johansen went down to Cryo Care on Tuesday to see how this deep freeze therapy feels first hand.

 

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