Annual meeting also produced changes to board

Andrew A. Duffy, Times Colonist

Published: Saturday, September 20, 2008

The name may have changed, but the acronym and direction remain the same.

The Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC) has changed its name to be more reflective of its mandate of promoting and helping develop the high-tech industry in Victoria.

The name change, to the Victoria Advanced Technology Council, was made official Thursday night at VIATeC's annual general meeting.

According to VIATeC executive director Dan Gunn, the change made sense as the organization has been heavily focused on the immediate region, while the Mid-Island Science, Technology and Innovation Council focuses on Nanaimo and the north Island.

The other reason for change was to eliminate any confusion with the Vancouver Island Technology Park, where VIATeC has its offices.

"Many close to the industry could confuse it with the tech park because 'centre' implies a place rather than an organization," he said.

The AGM also brought new changes to the VIATeC board, with high-profile former Carmanah Technologies CEO Art Aylesworth stepping in as chairman.

"It's the return of a well-known name in the technology community, someone with a lot of experience in starting companies small and growing them into one of the biggest in the area," said Gunn, noting Aylesworth helped grow Carmanah into an industry leader before stepping aside earlier this year.

Aylesworth is now with Armada Pacific.

Gunn said the addition of Aylesworth will provide a new level of experience for VIATeC's staff.

"It's a bit of a coup in that people look at the organization and the name and start to relate the two together and that is an upside — he's one of the better-known names in tech and has taken time out of his schedule to help us grow the organization."

The board also includes Dale Gann from the Technology Park, Rob Bennett of Simation, Harry Weiler of AXYS Technologies, Gary Eisenstein from Falcon Software, Don Safnuk of Corporate Recruiters, Dale Campbell of Atomic Crayon, Scott Petersen of OA Solutions, Scott Phillips of StarFish Medical, Mark Grambart of Contech Electronics, Michael Shannon from Michael Shannon and Associates, Maria Race from Udutu, David Sovka of Camosun College and Craig Thomson of Beanstream.

At the AGM, VIATeC reported it was in the best financial shape in its history with $700,000 in revenues, double the figure from 2005, and now boasts $450,000 in assets set aside to maintain the organization's minimal reliance on government funding.

"One of our goals since 2005, when VIATeC was in serious financial trouble, was to remove our dependence on government funding and make sure we have a rainy-day fund should we ever enter a situation like that again," said Gunn, noting their aim is to have a year's operating expenses, or $500,000, in the bank.

"Government is now less than a third of our funding," said Gunn, noting that allows the organization to focus on the industry rather than on its relationship with government funding institutions. 

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008