TechTalk Blog
Tech News: What are the Top Tech Priorities for Online Retailers?

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What are the Top Tech Priorities for Online Retailers?

According to the first annual Retail Tech Forecast from LightSpeed, inventory management and predictive analytics software, in-store mobile device integration, and e-commerce solutions are the biggest technology priorities for independent brick-and-mortar retailers.

“Retailers are sending a clear message when it comes to technology: they want solutions that enhance efficiency and improve the customer experience, all things that can help them make more money right away,” said Dax Dasilva, Founder and CEO of LightSpeed.

“Tools which help retailers sell smarter and better, like mobile checkout, mobile inventory lookup, and integrated e-commerce, are on the rise, because they generate tangible results virtually the minute they get deployed.”

The company surveyed 640 of its users, primarily independent store owners with relatively large or complex inventories, about the technologies critical to their businesses today and those they believe will be most important down the road.

While cutting edge innovations like iBeacons, heat mapping, fitting room technologies, and smart screens have made their mark as hot topics of conversation in the media, LightSpeed wanted to learn what retailers really have on their minds and forecasted in their budgets.

They found that most merchants focus their limited budgets — 82 percent of respondents have a technology budget of less than $200/month — on digital tools that they believe will immediately impact their bottom lines.

Check out the complete report online.

Tech News: Leaving No Stone Unturned: Successful Entrepreneurs Take Advantage of Everything

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Posted by Mark Kolody

Leaving No Stone Unturned: Successful Entrepreneurs Take Advantage of Everything

A handful of years ago, we made perhaps one of the smartest hires in our 14 year history. The title was nebulous – “producer” – and the job description was even more so: “to create opportunities for us to create beauty.” Sounds pretty fluffy, right? This individual quickly set about to finding us hundreds of thousands of dollars in opportunities that we didn’t know even existed.

Everyone’s business is different (model, jurisdictions, tax laws, etc.), so blanket advice is challenging. I’ll offer what we did by means of example. We looked at tax credits to counteract 75% of staff salaries for ourprovable experimental research and development hours (SR&ED). Previously, we simply ate losses to keep on the leading edge of the industry, but SR&ED – pronounced “shred” – actually rewards failure (read: the attempts that went awry before things went right). Depending on your business model, this could be six figures.

We also took advantage of employee subsidies when looking to inbound any juniors, provided they came through reputable university or technical college programs. This amounted to a six month subsidy of half the junior’s salary.

Before you go crazy taking advantage of this, realize that juniors are about as useful as a bagful of hammers – for the first half year anyways. They need to be taught standards, culture, and have their skills refined. Also, they soak a ton of time from the project and team leads. Still, we found that it was a benefit when unexpectedly encountering a diamond in the rough. The subsidies took the sting out of the training investment and partially de-risked the hiring process.

Grants (public or private) were another useful avenue for us, especially when creating our own intellectual property. This genre is very competitive, as everyone wants “free money,” but we managed to receive IRAP funding at a few critical junctions. You’ll have to pitch the concept, show the value proposition and business model, and work with an advisor. Each step along the way, you’ll need to prove the work product is matching your proposal. It’s a lot of legwork, but most certainly worth it when you can get the base salaries – but not burn rate – of project resources covered.

The last category – and most certainly the most competitive to win – are forgivable loans. We earned the opportunity to receive $250,000 in marketing funding for Leafcutter from the CMF.

Needless to say, this comes with a lot of prep-work, due diligence, and oversight. Forgivable loans are structured so that when the initiative is in the black, repayments start. These funds are few and far between, but if you’re willing to do the work, have a great initiative, and embrace the incredibly detailed accountability, forgivable loans can be the difference between success and failure.

Even though I’ve been writing about non-standard cash events, the thing I’d encourage people to understand is that nothing comes “free.” We soaked a lot of time (read: tens of thousands of dollars) into the research, applications, and follow through. Add requisite “spec work” and supporting collateral, and it’s a massive business investment per annum.

For us, however, it helped with the transition from a pure-play creative agency into a company that operates in the product space and can afford to run fantastic R&D initiatives. In short, by finding and taking advantage of everything, we gave ourselves the chance to become that which we aspired to on a far shorter timeframe than were it all self-funded.

View the original article here.

Tech News: Victoria’s VidTime Online Launches Live Streaming Platform

VITP Tenant VidTime Online featured on TechVibes!

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Written by Sonia Motisca

Victoria’s VidTime Online Launches Live Streaming Platform

VidTime Online is an online event broadcasting company founded by Jason Potter, an online video expert who’s been active in this industry since 2005.

The company publicly launched in May and provides a channel for entertainers and educators to directly connect with their audiences in real time. Performances, workshops, conferences, and more can be easily broadcast through VidTime Online with viewers from any location being able to connect to the live event via the internet. Potter aims to develop VidTime to fill the gap in the live streaming market with innovative and effective technology.

Online live event broadcasting is appealing in a number of ways to a wide range of people. It’s a modern experience for viewers who can use it to cut back on travel costs and save money on tickets while still attending a show or performance, (even those that have sold out!).

The fact that it’s free to promote and perform an event live on VidTime is an attractive option for broadcasters as well. It provides performers with the opportunity to connect to a much wider audience, especially if their reach would be much more limited otherwise.

Events are posted on the site and categorized for easy navigation. Times and prices for shows are also displayed and viewers can register to keep a calendar of events and update their viewer profiles. By paying a small fee through PayPal, which is set by the broadcaster, they get access to the event and are able to join the audience from the comforts of their own home. They can also interact with each other using the chat system, powered by Disqus, during the event. Broadcasters get paid directly after the event through PayPal.

Comedy, music, sports, theatre, and training events are all currently available on the site, with new events being added every week. Instead of having to miss a sold out show or wait for months, sometimes even years, for a performer to come to a certain city, viewers are able to be a part of live events from wherever in the world they might be.

For broadcasters, especially those that have limited financial support in terms of reaching a larger audience, this platform will help them gain exposure while still getting paid to do what they love. Broadcasters simply need to set up a camera at their show to go live. The VidTime system is ready for any codecs and formats for the foreseeable future, uses complex bandwidth detection systems, and can work on any device and with any camera. It is also fully automated, making the live streaming process exceptionally easy for both broadcasters and viewers.

One of the main focuses of the company is community involvement and so each month VidTime supports a charitable cause or non-profit organization in a few ways. They feature the charity or non-profit on the VidTime Online site, broadcast any events held, and also donate a portion of the proceeds for that month to the organization.

Other broadcasters also have an option to donate a portion of their revenue as well. By removing the barriers of broadcasting to a larger audience, VidTime hopes to create a more open, free-market approach to events for viewers and performers.

Right now the company is still developing extra features and streamlining the process, but hopes to have full functionality in place by the end of 2014. VidTime Online has already held more than 20 events since its launch with viewers from over 25 countries taking part. By combining online broadcasting and online ticketing and offering a full-service option for users, VidTime Online hopes to take the streaming world by storm while helping performers and viewers connect in a new way.


Emotient, UVic & Autism

Researchers from the University of Victoria are using facial recognition technology to enable autism intervention programs, in collaboration with Emotient and Google Glass.

Read the following articles for details on this exciting study and how the University of Victoria’s Centre for Autism Research Technology and Education (CARTE) is leading the research.

Emotient to Present Emotion Aware Google Glassware at Vision Sciences Society (VSS) 2014
Click HERE for the article

UVic researchers give children with autism a fun way to hone their social skills
Click HERE for the article as seen on UVic’s website.

Very exciting to see such innovative research happening right here in Victoria, the technology hub!


Picture This Moves Into VITP!

VITP welcomes its newest tenant Picture This into their new office space at the old BC Ambulance Building!

Picture this .today has integrated new and existing technologies into an online software product that promises to change the way we buy homes … and home furnishings. They are creating fully interactive and professionally staged 3D renditions of real properties listed for sale. Each will be professionally staged with local and national brand home furnishing products and embedded in a realtor’s website. Homebuyers can ‘walk’ inside the virtual home, and view, move and replace the products, effectively furnishing and decorating the home according to their own particular taste. Designs can be shared with family and friends, and product can be ordered with a click of a button.  A variation of the product designs office work spaces for the commercial real estate market.

For contact details and more information click here!

Victoria Makerspace on the News!

CTV News interviewed VITP tenant Victoria Makerspace for their new weekly segment “Tech It Out” and it aired on Monday, May 19th. For those that missed it, check it out below!

Click here for the segment.

It has also been featured on the CTV blog, click here to view.

For more details and contact information for Victoria Makerspace, see here.


Tech News: Timeless Tricks to Make the Most of Any Networking Event

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View the original article here.

Timeless Tricks to Make the Most of Any Networking Event

Do you look forward to or dread mixers? Do you seek out only familiar faces or do you feel comfortable introducing yourself to strangers?

While no one wants to be thought of as a schmoozer, some of the best business opportunities are initiated at social functions like mixers and receptions. These informal events can be pleasant ways to touch base with friends and colleagues, make new contacts, and “be seen” as an active member of the community. Here are a few tips to reduce mixer apprehension and help you make the most of an informal business event.

Before You Go

If you find you have little to say to people, do a little homework first. Research the company hosting the event or the purpose of the event so you can make comments and ask questions. Read the paper or watch the news so you know what’s going on around town.
Be sure to think about how you will answer people who ask you what you do, and practice a quick reply that explains who you are and what you do. Keep your reply to about thirty seconds; no one wants to hear your job description in detail unless they are applying for your position or planning a company takeover.

Do you know how to shake hands properly? Are you sure? You may be surprised at how many people comment on how other people shake hands. Make eye contact with the person whose hand you are about to shake and, using one hand only, grasp firmly (but don’t squeeze or clutch). Then it’s a simple straight up, down, up. Practice before you go if you aren’t sure. And make sure your hands are dry (not sweaty) and clean (a good reason to avoid messy appetizers). Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t offer their hand. Many people hesitate these days due to the “germ factor.” Don’t take it personally.

When You Get There

When you arrive at a mixer, it is natural to spend the first few minutes with the people you arrived there with or look for familiar faces. While you should definitely talk to the people you know, and, granted, this may lead to introductions, if you want to make new contacts, you have to move around. Moreover, if you have arrived alone and don’t know anyone, you must make an effort to mix. Take a deep breath, think positive, look positive, and, with as much confidence as you can muster, make your first move.

A good place to start is by approaching one person standing alone or a couple not actively engaged in a conversation. (Note: If the couple is actively talking, don’t interrupt; it could be a personal conversation). People at food and drinks tables and people looking at displays are other good starting points. Start the conversation by commenting on the event itself (or the food/drinks, display, presentation, etc), or simply introduce yourself. Continue the conversation by asking the other person what their connection is to the host company or organization.

Be pleasantly curious about the other person, but don’t pry. Ask them questions about their business and look for something or someone you have in common. Keep to general topics (weather, positive news, food, interests) and avoid personal questions (politics, religion, family) and negative comments. After five to ten minutes, wait for a pause in the conversation and finish with “It’s been nice talking to you.” If you seem to have a lot in common or want to learn more, exchange business cards and agree to continue speaking later on during the event or at a later date. Then move on.

Another option is to approach a small group and stand at the edge of the group. Watch their body language and listen to their conversation. You will be able to tell by their body language if they are having a closed conversation. If they move more closely together, you should move on. If they move to allow you to enter the group, this is your clue that their conversation is open. Listen to their conversation for a while and show polite interest. Make a relevant remark or ask a relevant question when it is appropriate. As the group grows, it likely will break into small groups allowing you to pursue further conversations.

Like anything else, practice makes perfect, and with networking, practice may lead to valuable connections that can help you boost your business.

Mixer Manners

  • Bring business cards with you and keep them in an easy-to-get-at place so you aren’t searching awkwardly for them.
  • Check your hair, make-up, teeth, and clothes before you walk into the room.
  • Turn off your cell phone or at least switch it to vibrate. If you have to take a call, leave the room.
  • If you have your own company nametag, wear it. At most functions, nametags are provided for anyone not wearing their own.
  • Eat something before the event. Mixer snacks are not intended to be a meal and you don’t want to appear to be starving. Always avoid messy appetizers.
  • Watch your alcohol consumption. Avoid drinking or limit yourself to one drink. You want to be at your best.
  • Hold your drink in your left hand, and keep your right hand free to shake hands.
  • Avoid crowding others. Aim to give the people you are speaking with at least 20 inches of space.
BioMedix has moved in! Welcome to VITP’s newest tenants.

VITP is excited to welcome our newest tenants BioMedix to the park! BioMedix was looking to expand into the Canadian market from their California head office, and chose VITP as their desired location! We are looking forward to a bright future with them.

What does BioMedix do exactly?

BioMedix has been in the forefront of food safety advocacy since 1997. Combining the dependability of classical methodologies with the enhance precision of state-of-the-art technology, BioMedix is consistently providing the food industry with innovative solutions to the various food safety challenges that come with manufacturing food.

The BioMedix food safety systems enhance a food manufacturing company’s capacity to manage its food safety objectives. This is attained by facilitating the development of a viable food safety management system that empowers a food company to measure its rate of success in assuring the safety of food and in maintaining a manufacturing environment that prevents the contamination of food.

BioMedix food safety advocacy is provided through the following products and services:

  • Effective food safety (HACCP) and GMP training programmes
  • Food safety systems assessment
  • Food safety systems design and development
  • Establishment of a turn-key in-house testing laboratory
  • Web-based HACCP development and food safety data management (
  • Consultancy services (HACCP, BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, Regulatory Compliance)

BioMedix is a global provider of effective solutions to the food safety-related challenges that confront the food industry.

BioMedix is a tradition enhanced by innovation.

For contact information, click here.


UVic wins “Most Entrepreneurial Post-Secondary Institution of the Year” Award!

The Vancouver Island Technology Park is proud to be a part of why UVic was named the “Most Entrepreneurial Post-Secondary Institution of the Year” award by Startup Canada!  UVic was nominated for two awards this year, and won them both!

The University of Victoria won the “Most Entrepreneurial Post-Secondary Institution of the Year” Award, for the college or university that demonstrates the largest commitment and impact in advancing entrepreneurship. In their nomination they highlighted the activities of the Gustavson School of Business as well as Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization, the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs, CanAssist and VITP, among others.

And their own Dr. Brent Mainprize received the title of “Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year”, recognizing a Canadian educator who has:

  • Demonstrated excellence in educating, empowering and equipping entrepreneurship students with the attitudes, skills, experiential learning opportunities and networks needed to pursue successful entrepreneurial ventures;
  • Made a significant impact in both fostering student-led entrepreneurship initiatives and motivating senior campus leadership to adopt entrepreneurial policies and priorities; and / or,
  • Engaged actively in the local startup community through bringing students into the community and bringing the community onto the campus.

Check out the website for details and a full list of winners!



Tech News: IBM and Ocean Networks Canada Collaborate to Make BC the World’s ‘Smartest Coast’

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IBM and Ocean Networks Canada Collaborate to Make BC the World’s ‘Smartest Coast’

IBM this week announced it is collaborating with Ocean Networks Canada on a three-year, multi-million dollar project to equip British Columbia with a monitoring and prediction system to respond to off-shore accidents, tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The “Smart Oceans BC” programwill use marine sensors and data analysis to enhance environmental stewardship and public and marine safety along Canada’s West coast. According to IBM, the technology will monitor vessel traffic, waves, currents and water quality in major shipping arteries and will include a system to predict the impact of off-shore earthquakes, tsunamis, storm surge, and underwater landslides.

IBM says it is investing $12 million in cloud computing infrastructure, analytics software, services and skills training to support this next phase of the system. Part of IBM’s commitment will go toward internships for over a dozen students from BC universities to build subject matter expertise and practical experience in this emerging industry.

“ONC has a world-leading marine sensor network and associated expertise,” says IBM President Dan Fortin. “IBM is making significant investments in technology and skills-training to ensure ONC has the capacity to analyse data from the new sensors coming online, which will allow modeling systems to better support disaster planning and drive Canada’s economic future through the development of big data skills and associated digital expertise.”

ONC will use an IBM, on-premise cloud to run simulations on earthquakes and tsunamis with a goal of predicting their behaviour and potential impact on coastal areas. Researchers will also employ a suite of IBM visual analytics, data streams processing, machine learning and data exploration software to develop, test and run decision-support systems with commercial viability that could aid industrial and governmental agencies in ocean management.

“Through IBM’s contribution, we’re able to draw insights and conduct analysis of a massive amount of new data that will be critical in the implementation of a world-class marine safety system,” noted ONC president Dr. Kate Moran.

Through a series of investments totaling $200 million in the past two years, IBM has made it a mandate in Canada to collaborate with academia and government to help further advance this country’s ability to innovate, address a critical skills gap, and drive analytics research.