TechTalk Blog
Vancouver Cleantech company celebrates rapid growth

Vancouver’s Pulse Energy celebrated the move to their new downtown office last night with an official launch party drawing some big names in Vancouver. Political leaders braved a rainy winter storm to rub shoulders with the city’s business, real estate and energy sector elite.

Mayor Gregor Robertson toasted the fast-growing company on their success, and made an announcement that the City of Vancouver, in partnership with BC Hydro Power Smart, would be deploying Pulse Energy’s technology in its own buildings. Mayor Robertson told a group of 150 guests that “by improving the efficiency of our largest buildings, Pulse Energy’s energy management software will move Vancouver closer to our goal of becoming the world’s Greenest City. A great benefit of Pulse Energy’s approach is that it enables cost savings that doesn’t require expensive capital expenditures on new equipment.”

“We are excited to join the City administration to make Vancouver a Green Capital. This will allow them to improve energy efficiency by quickly fixing energy-wasting problems, and also to show the world how they’re performing on the web” said David Helliwell, Pulse Energy co-founder.

Walking the talk, Pulse Energy displayed their new building’s energy consumption at the office launch party. After checking in with a courtesy bike valet and choosing to take the 6 flights stairs to Pulse Energy’s office, guests viewed real-time data on Pulse’s live dashboard and were made to appreciate that minor changes in their behaviour offset more than just the martinis they were drinking.

Current users of the software, like the University of British Columbia and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have been seeing energy savings of up to 20%. UC Berkeley’s Centre for the Built Environment has ranked Pulse Energy as one of the top three energy visualization software companies in the marketplace.

Coastal America Spirit Award to Coastal & Ocean Resources Inc.

Coastal & Ocean Resources Inc. (CORI) was recently awarded the Coastal America Spirit Award as part of the Alaska ShoreZone partnership.

The Coastal America Spirit Award: “recognizes exceptional projects that demonstrate the 'spirit' of teamwork for group efforts that are poised to address our challenging coastal issues.”

The Alaska ShoreZone program is a coastal habitat mapping program supported by over 20 federal, state and county agencies in addition to non-governmental agencies. To date, over 40,000 km of coastline have been imaged and mapped as part of the program. CORI has been the primary contractor for the program.

ShoreZone initially began in 1979 with funding by the Province of British Columbia and eventually mapped all the 35,000 km of the BC coast as well as the 5,000 km of the Washington coastline. CORI has been the primary contractor for all of the BC, Washington and Alaska mapping. As we approach the end of 2009, we have developed close to a 100,000 km contiguous mapping from the Columbia River to the Bering Sea – a continental scale dataset.

To learn more:

The Coastal America website:

                        http://www.coastalamerica.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=71

The Alaska ShoreZone website where you can “fly 40,000 km of coast via the internet:

                        http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/maps/szintro.htm

Coastal & Ocean Resources Inc. website, including a Alaska ShoreZone Fact sheet:


                        http://www.coastalandoceans.com/

Times Colonist Reports: Rix was a giant in life sciences

Dr. Donald Rix will be remembered today as a giant in British Columbia's life sciences field and a major force who helped to establish the core of businesses at the Vancouver Island Technology Park in Saanich.

Rix, a physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist, founded LifeLabs (formerly MDS Laboratory Services) and gave his time, money and expertise to new and existing companies to open new markets.

Rix died of cancer on Nov. 6 at age 78. A public celebration of his life is being held this afternoon from 4 to 6 at the Hotel Vancouver.

In Victoria, Rix is remembered as the force behind the life sciences cluster at the Vancouver Island Tech Park, a group of technology-related businesses that last year injected $318 million dollars into the local economy.

Dale Gann, president of the University of Victoria-owned technology park, praised Rix for his foresight.

"The concept of VITP's life science cluster was hatched in the back of a bus in 2002," Gann said.

Rix, along with Gann and Premier Gordon Campbell, were on a bus headed to the Palo Alto venture capital area as a part trade mission in California. "Don presented the concept and got the premier's approval and when back home he followed up immediately," said Gann.

"To me, Don was a friend, a mentor, a scientist, an entrepreneur and always a friend of our community. We should never lose sight of Dr. Rix's hand that has guided us by the spirit of collaboration and the message of what we can do together."

"His accomplishments have enabled so many people to have good quality jobs, which affect so many lives within Victoria and Canada," Gann said.

In 2003, as chairman of MDS Laboratory Services, Rix engineered the move of his lab to a $2-million facility employing hundreds of lab technicians and scientists to the Vancouver Island Technology Park. In an agreement with Genome British Columbia and the University of Victoria, Rix helped to establish the UVic Genome B.C. Proteomics Centre. The payoff of the collaboration spun off to other park tenants such as GenoLogics Life Sciences, which developed sophisticated software for the global medical research industry.

Rix either invested in or helped to launch other park life sciences businesses, including Aspreva Pharmaceuticals and Cantest Laboratories.

The tech park is now home to 34 companies with 1,400 employees.

Gann said Rix was extremely proud of his association with universities and associations. Over the years he received honorary doctorates from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and University of B.C.

He was also a recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of B.C.

Rix believed that technology and innovation were the foundations to build the future of B.C.

In a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade, Rix explained that technological innovation transcends all boundaries. "Not only does it create new industry sectors and new jobs which, in turn, boost economic output, it also provides traditional industries with advances that allow them to be more productive and competitive. Most importantly, technology improves every aspect of life by coming up with new ways to address important social issues," Rix said at the time, offering Vancouver Island Technology Park as an example.

Times Colonist Reports: Victoria's high-tech revenue hits $1.95 billion

Total annual revenues for Victoria's high-tech community are at $1.95 billion and the total economic impact of the sector is in excess of $2.6 billion, according to a new economic-impact study to be released today.

The study, to be unveiled at Island Tech 2009, a showcase for the sector at the Victoria Conference Centre's Crystal Gardens, was undertaken over the last two years and its findings are considered very conservative, according to Dan Gunn, executive director of the Victoria Advanced Technology Council.

"We wanted to make sure it was a strongly defendable number," he said. "But in no way do we want, nor do we need to exaggerate the size or impact of the sector."

Two years ago, VIATeC made a splash at its annual awards dinner when it revealed the industry boasted $1.7 billion in revenues, catching many in the $1.2-billion tourism industry by surprise as that had long been considered the city's largest private industry.

The new findings are also likely to raise an eyebrow or two, which Gunn admits is part of the idea.

"By doing a well-constructed and conservative study, it shows people the size and impact of a sector that often goes unseen by the general public," he said. He noted it could result in more people considering careers in technology, investments in technology companies or just a general appreciation of the sector locally and abroad.

It's even more conservative, he says, considering many of the numbers the research team used were gathered after the economic downturn wreaked havoc globally.

"Because our estimates are conservative and the respondents were quite optimistic about the remainder of 2009 and next year, we're confident that number will continue to grow," he said.

Gunn said the study didn't reveal anything the sector didn't already know, but there are other phases of the research still to come that could prove handy for the industry.

The research, being done by PhD students at UBC, will also look at compensation, allowing companies to compare how they attract and retain staff. There will also be a study undertaken of other high-tech communities to determine what Victoria has to do in order to maintain its competitiveness when it comes to attracting high-tech talent.

The results of the economic-impact study are likely to be the buzz flying through Island Tech today.

It's the fourth such showcase — designed to raise awareness of the size, influence and impact of the local tech sector — that in the past has drawn between 2,500 and 3,200 people through the conference centre.

This year, in addition to seminars on high-tech management and investment, a showcase of more than 40 companies, schools and agencies, there will be eight speakers delivering engaging "out of the box" talks on various topics that affect the industry.

Island Tech 2009 starts at 8 a.m. with an invitation-only VIP reception before opening to the public at 10 a.m. for a day's worth of talks and seminars at the Crystal Garden.

aduffy@tc.canwest.com

President of ACCT Visits VITP

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Vancouver Sun Reports: Philanthropist Don Rix leaves a legacy felt in business and charity

Written by Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun

Don Rix, a man regarded as a giant in British Columbia's technology and biotech sectors, died Friday, leaving a philanthropic legacy that will live on in institutions, programs and initiatives he was instrumental in launching across many sectors.

Rix, who was predeceased by his wife Eleanor, passed away at age 78 following a long illness.

He was known and admired as a leader and a mentor to many.

"Don was a giant," said Darcy Rezac, the Vancouver Board of Trade's managing director. "He was a role model to everybody in business, and in the broader community as well. He was a consummate volunteer, an engaged community leader. He was a philanthropist and a model corporate citizen.

"It is a sad day for us."

Many philanthropists' good deeds are on display for all to see, from their names emblazoned on buildings to foundations, awards and other very public offerings.

Rix's philanthropy is similarly known, but he was also responsible for many acts of kindness and charity that he carried out far from the spotlights of black-tie dinners and press photos.

Mark Schonfeld, chief executive officer of the BC Medical Association, first met Rix when he was a medical student at the University of B.C .and Rix was a clinical instructor.

"He was just a great guy. He was a great humanitarian, a mentor, educator, physician and leader," said Schonfeld. "He was the kind of person you really looked up to, and you learned tons from him.

"We have lost a great Canadian, not just a great British Columbian."

Schonfeld said Rix used to say, if you do something for yourself — like go fishing — you enjoy it for a day; if you do something for the community, it lasts forever.

Schonfeld said Rix helped people on a personal basis, in ways that no one ever knew about.

He helped bring back a program to help medical students who were facing financial difficulties, and Schonfeld said even when cases didn't qualify for the assistance, Rix found a way to help.

A doctor, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Rix had a string of honours from the Order of Canada, to the Order of British Columbia, honourary degrees, and many commendations. But he was not just a cheque-book philanthropist, according to people who knew him.

And his focus wasn't limited to the medical field, to business, innovation in biotechnology and technology, or even education — all areas where he has had a significant impact in B.C. It could be homelessness, children's health — or fate of a courier who worked for his company.

Rezac remembers how the courier who was delivering to one of Rix's medical laboratories was killed on the Oak Street Bridge, a victim of a motorist who strayed across the centre line and hit his van head on. Rezac said Rix lobbied to have a median put on the bridge to save others from the same fate. He quietly helped the victim's family, the man's widow and child, who Rezac said is now going to university on a scholarship Rix set up.

Rix began his medical career as a G.P. with a practice on West 10th Ave., down the street from the university where he has devoted much time and money.

UBC President Stephen Toope recalls arriving in B.C. just over three years ago and asking people who he should talk to for a sense of what was going on in the province. Rix's name came up again and again.

Toope said Rix always wanted the best for society, with a philanthropy not just about giving money away, but donating in a very strategic way.

"He and I think his family look to where they can really make a difference — it is thoughtful, it is considered, and he always links it to his own personal engagement. The thing about Don is not just that he gives money away, he gives so generously of himself," Toope said in an interview for a profile I was writing on Rix before his health took a final turn for the worse.

Last May, Rix and his daughter Laurie Macrae donated $2.5 million to UBC to create the first professorship in rural teacher education. It was named the Eleanor Rix professorship in honour of Rix's wife of 49 years, a former teacher who died in September 2007.

It was only one of his many contributions to the university that total almost $9.5 million. The money has gone to the Rix Bursary in Medicine and the BC Leadership Chair in Early Childhood Development, as well as UBC Athletics, the Michael Smith Memorial Fellowship, and the Program Office for Laboratory Management.

All that despite early days when, as Toope recounted, the institution didn't always stand behind Rix. The UBC president recalled a story Rix told at an event to honour Rix's contributions to the university.

"He told a story about how when he first came here he was a doctor in our student health service," said Toope. "He was involved in a controversy about the provision of birth control to students. He was approaching this as a medical doctor, and he wanted to make sure the kids who were going to be sexually active had opportunities to protect themselves. It actually generated blowback in the community, and he was not widely supported by the leadership of the university.

"I think they hung him out to dry, but he didn't take it personally. Instead, he spent the next 40 years working to help the university."

At an age when most people would be long into retirement, Rix, who was a pioneer in B.C.'s biotech sector, chairman of LifeLabs Diagnostics Inc. (a province-wide health care facility with more than 80 laboratories) and chairman of Cantest Ltd. (an environmental and industrial testing lab he acquired in 1974), took over as chairman of the Vancouver Board of Trade, a position which he held until his one-year term ended last June.

gshaw@vancouversun.com

Special Effects Tools from cebas Enable Major Movie Epic "2012"

The boutique software company cebas Visual Technology Inc. created the highly advanced 3D special effects software that allowed the director of the upcoming movie epic "2012", Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day", "The Day After Tomorrow"), to "destroy" most of Los Angeles along with other well-known parts of the world. The $200 million blockbuster from Sony Pictures will have its worldwide release on November 12 and 13.

"This epic is a milestone for us and confirms our decision to move operations from Germany to the West Coast," cebas CEO Edwin Braun said. "Now we are closer to our clients in the Vancouver film and interactive entertainment industries and in the same time zone as the Hollywood movie and San Francisco game production centers."

The 20-year-old, privately held company is bringing more glamour to Victoria and its growing technology base. Cebas builds next generation animation and special effects tools that have been used in such well-known pictures as Spiderman, Star Trek and Harry Potter and many top selling computer games such as StarCraft, NeedForSpeed Pro Street Racing, Command & Conquer, and many more.

"2012" Computer Graphics Effects Supervisor Ari Sachter-Zeltzer noted: "Our partnership and tight collaboration with cebas was an integral part of our image pipeline and enabled our artists to take on extremely complex destruction effects that would normally require a far larger team. The effects in the movie's central Los Angeles and Las Vegas sequences would not have been possible without the ThinkingParticles and VolumeBreaker software from cebas."

"Cebas worked very closely with us to develop the technology we needed in our demanding production environment, which allowed us to solve our most exacting technical challenges," Ari Sachter-Zeltzer added.

Not only were these tools used in all destruction effects involving thousands of objects in buildings, roads, cars and airplane crashes, the company's FinalRender product also enabled very efficient rendering of the finished images in the more than 250 special effects shots in the ground-breaking "2012" movie. Cebas software is also used in the major motion picture Red Cliff, currently in a worldwide release.

cebas Destroys the World

The boutique software company cebas Visual

Technology Inc. created the highly advanced 3D special effects software that

allowed the director of the upcoming movie epic "2012", Roland Emmerich

("Independence Day", "The Day After Tomorrow"), to "destroy" most of Los

Angeles along with other well-known parts of the world. The $200 million

blockbuster from Sony Pictures will have its worldwide release on November 12

and 13.

"This epic is a milestone for us and confirms our decision to move operations

from Germany to the West Coast," cebas CEO Edwin Braun said. "Now we are

closer to our clients in the Vancouver film and interactive entertainment industries

and in the same time zone as the Hollywood movie and San Francisco game

production centers."

The 20-year-old, privately held company is bringing more glamour to Victoria and

its growing technology base. Cebas builds next generation animation and special

effects tools that have been used in such well-known pictures as Spiderman, Star

Trek and Harry Potter and many top selling computer games such as StarCraft,

NeedForSpeed Pro Street Racing, Command & Conquer, and many more.

"2012" Computer Graphics Effects Supervisor Ari Sachter-Zeltzer noted: "Our

partnership and tight collaboration with cebas was an integral part of our image

pipeline and enabled our artists to take on extremely complex destruction effects

that would normally require a far larger team. The effects in the movie's central

Los Angeles and Las Vegas sequences would not have been possible without

the ThinkingParticles and VolumeBreaker software from cebas."

"Cebas worked very closely with us to develop the technology we needed in our

demanding production environment, which allowed us to solve our most exacting

technical challenges," Ari Sachter-Zeltzer added.

Not only were these tools used in all destruction effects involving thousands of

objects in buildings, roads, cars and airplane crashes, the company's

FinalRender product also enabled very efficient rendering of the finished images

in the more than 250 special effects shots in the ground-breaking "2012" movie.

Cebas software is also used in the major motion picture Red Cliff, currently in a

worldwide release.

Survivor, Amazing Race Designer Visits VITP

 

Task Force, Committee to Lead Clean Energy Development in BC

The Province will establish a Green Energy Advisory Task Force, as committed in the August 2009 throne speech, and a new Cabinet Committee on Climate Action and Clean Energy, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today at the Independent Power Producers of B.C. annual conference.

“Clean energy will be a cornerstone of B.C.’s climate action plan that will create jobs, support families and generate new economic activity throughout British Columbia,” said Premier Campbell. “This task force and the new committee will ensure B.C. remains a leader in clean and renewable energy by developing our resources, maximizing our opportunities and establishing our potential as the supplier of choice for clean power.”

The Green Energy Advisory Task Force will be comprised of four advisory task force groups, to report directly to the new Cabinet Committee, include:

·         Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Procurement and Regulatory Reform
This task force will recommend improvements to BC Hydro’s procurement and regulatory regimes to enhance clarity, certainty and competitiveness in promoting clean and cost-effective power generation; and identify possible improvements to future clean power calls and procurement processes.

·         Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Carbon Pricing, Trading and Export Market Development
This task force will develop recommendations to advance British Columbia’s interests in any future national or international cap and trade system, and to maximize the value of B.C.’s green-energy attributes in all power generated and distributed within and beyond B.C. borders. The task force will also develop recommendations on carbon-pricing policies and how to integrate these policies with any cap and trade system developed for B.C.

·         Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Engagement and First Nations Partnerships
This task force will develop recommendations to ensure that First Nations and communities see clear benefits from the development of clean and renewable electricity and have a clear opportunity for input in project development in their areas. It will work in partnership with First Nations, not only to respect their constitutional right, but to open up new opportunities for job creation and reflect the best practices in environmental protection.
Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Resource Development
This task force will identify impediments to and best practices for planning and permitting new clean, renewable-electricity generation to ensure that development happens in an environmentally sustainable way. The task force will also consider allocation of forest fibre to support energy development and invite input from solar, tidal, wave and other clean energy sectors to develop strategies to enhance their competitiveness.

The task force groups will consist of clean-energy experts, energy consultants, renowned climate experts, leading academics, First Nation representatives and environmentalists. The members of those committees and terms of reference will be announced in the coming days. All task force groups will also undertake a comparative review of existing policies in other jurisdictions.


The new cabine
t committee will include the Premier, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Blair Lekstrom and other cabinet ministers whose portfolios are important to the development of clean energy, and existing members of the climate action committee. Additionally, the committee will include the chairs of BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corporation.

“These task force groups and this new committee will help the Province work with BC Hydro, BCTC and the BCUC in developing future long-term acquisition plans that produce more opportunities and jobs for British Columbians, especially in rural and remote communities,” said Lekstrom.  “It will help us make the most of our energy potential, while retaining competitive rates for all British Columbians.”

“The task force groups and the new cabinet committee will help us advance our climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a greener economy that generates well-paying jobs while maintaining high environmental standards for both the permitting process and the operational phase of any project that gets built,” said Environment Minister Barry Penner.

As part of the Province’s commitment to end reliance on Burrard Thermal, government has clarified its intention to the BCUC to replace the firm energy supply from Burrard Thermal with clean, renewable and cost-effective energy. BC Hydro estimates that ending their reliance on Burrard Thermal Generating Facility for energy needs will also save tens of millions of dollars over the next seven to 10 years in maintenance and capital costs.