TechTalk Blog
Creating VITP was a wise use of public funds

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News – Weekend Edition
April 05, 2003

In a very short period of time, the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) has not only fulfilled its mandate to provide top-quality workspace to emerging technology companies, but it has also done so in stellar fashion.

The park's emergence as a focal point for the region's growing high-tech economy is a concrete success story. Despite downturns in the stock market and a technology sector hit hard by failures of dot-com empires, the park has continued to experience strong growth.

The value of the recent private-public partnership between MDS Metro Labs, the University of Victoria and Genome B.C. cannot be understated and will prove to be a vital step in positioning the area as a leader in biotechnology research support.

The demand for space at the park will almost certainly grow. As it does, more high-tech industries will bring in more resources, hire more employees and (most importantly) give a valuable boost to the local economy. With a high-profile anchor tenant now in place, that growth is likely to increase at an exponential rate.

The park's current building will be half full once MDS Metro Labs completes its move in December.

Three more buildings are already on the drawing board for the Markham Road site that would increase the site's current capacity by 250 per cent. Given the industry's growth, construction should begin soon to ensure that sufficient space is available when this building is full.

It's important to remember that the technology park's genesis – and its transformation from a closed down health care facility into a leading light in the local economy – came as a result of $11 million put on the table by the previous NDP government to renovate the former Glendale Hospital.

But to give credit where credit is due, the current Liberal provincial government has also aided the growth of the technology park and a burgeoning high-tech industry by reducing personal income taxes and eliminating bureaucratic obstacles for corporations and venture capitalists.

This government has also argued that by supporting the 2010 Winter Olympics bid – to the tune of $600 million or more of public money – the province will in turn reap the rewards of increased business investment.

Using that reasoning, the government should leap at the chance to spend a relatively small sum of money to support a venture that has already proven to be highly successful in generating business growth and improving the Greater Victoria economy.

But the government, surprisingly, has balked at making any further financial commitments.

The success of the technology park – one of the few things that the NDP government spent money on that worked – is a prime example of what an influx of public money can do to achieve an intended goal.

The initial $11-million investment (combined with the Liberal government's changes to the tax structure and the reduction of corporate red tape) have proven to be a successful combination. It's a potent formula that can't be overlooked.

For that reason alone, the government should recognize the value of making further financial contributions to this local success story.

Sowing the (grape) seeds of success

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
April 02, 2003

Omega Biotech used to discard about half a tonne of the small brown husks a week – that is, until Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) green initiatives manager, Joe Van Belleghem, saw opportunity in them thar' husks.

A VITP tenant, Omega Biotech extracts nutrients and antioxidants from grape seeds grown on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens that are packaged for use around the world.

Van Belleghem and Rick Weatherhead, Omega Biotech's director of business development, are exploring a plan to compost the grape seed husks on site and then sell them to the nearby Horticultural Centre of the Pacific (HCP).

Besides being saved the expense of having to have the waste trucked away, Omega Biotech has the pride of knowing it's doing something good for the environment, which is particularly important these days because "everybody in the community wants things that are sustainable, recyclable," Weatherhead notes.

"Green buildings that are being good to the environment have to be good to the community (also)," Van Belleghem agrees. "This is an ideal example of building a community."

If Van Belleghem has his way, the environment pay-off won't stop there.

One of the byproducts of the composting process is heat that Van Belleghem hopes to harness and pipe back into the tech park's central heating system.

"You've got something you can sell that's organic and you can use the heat from it to do all sorts of things," says Van Belleghem, outlining his plan with an enthusiastic simplicity.

If their plan works as well as they think it will, Weatherhead and Van Belleghem intend share the lessons they've learned through their own composting experiences with wineries around the province to encourage them to put the waste that once went to the landfill back into vineyard soil.

"It closes the environmental cycle," says Weatherhead, adding that the plan is a perfect example of the VITP's philosophy that what's good for the environment is usually good for business, too.

"You've got high tech companies in here of all sorts," Weatherhead observes. "You've got high-tech manufacturing and now we're talking about high-tech recycling. Why didn't we do this before?"

Of course, a number of obstacles still need to be overcome before the plan becomes a reality. At the moment, neither Weatherhead nor Belleghem are certain that the grape seed husks can be successfully composted into a useful organic material.

But, then again, that's a job for the HCP.

Hoke Holcomb, past HCP president, project supervisor and tireless volunteer, says that the HCP has been tasked with figuring out how to compost the grape husks – and what the composted material could be used for.

"I don't think they were sure whether it would be a fertilizer or a soil amendment," explains Holcomb, who adds that the research and development project is the first of its kind at the HCP.

"I see it as a two-pronged project. I see the smaller-scale grape-seed project that requires some low-scale research and development … and then the larger project with the grape industry," Holcomb says.

Traditionally, grape orchards have used a lot of chemical fertilizers, which not only have serious impacts on water systems, but also use non-renewable petrochemicals as a base product. Naturally it would be a tremendous asset to the province's wineries and vineyards to figure out a way to turn winery waste into marketable fertilizer.

It's a new frontier waiting to be explored, and all that may be needed is a little funding – perhaps a grant from a government or environmental agency – to make it happen.

"If someone is willing to do a little capital funding for us to bring our facilities up to snuff to do research and development in composting, we have the capacity to do that work," Holcomb says.

"This would be increasing our capacity in an area we haven't developed in the past," he adds. "If we can develop a much more professional capacity in one area, that will help us across the board."

Expansion will likely be up to private sector

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
April 02, 2003

Business is booming at Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP); building footprints and basic design plans have already been drawn up that would see the tech park's size more than double.

The then NDP-government spent $11 million to convert the old Glendale hospital into the VITP. But high tech companies shouldn't expect the province to kick in the cash needed to make the expansion so.

"I don't think its any secret at this point in time that resources are not there to do an expansion in the hopes of acquiring future growth at this facility," says Sandy Santori, the minister responsible for the BCBC, the tech park's landlord.

If a good business case can be made for expansion, the province might be willing to loosen its purse strings, but not without a significant investment from the private sector.

"When the demand is there for such a facility, we'll have to analyze what our role will be at the time, and what role the private sector is willing to play," Santori says. "For me to say 'we will do it' will be somewhat premature, but there will be a response to what I see as the kind of technology expansion we see today."

One hundred and fifty MDS employees Capital Region will soon relocate to the tech park, where they will join 20 genetic and protein-compound researchers from the University of Victoria Proteomics Centre.

Bob Breen, president and chief operating officer for MDS Metro Lab Services, doesn't think that there will be much need for the province to fund future growth at the tech park.

"Companies will move in," he says. "They'll be private sector companies for the most part. If they need to be here, they will find funding (for expansion). They will find ways of funding it that probably won't take a lot of provincial government support."

Breen says the industry has to learn to fend for itself. "We've got to learn to partner in such a way that we don't have to lean on the public purse to grow this economy."

Seeing Green

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
April 02, 2003

From grass and gravel parking lots to low-energy light fixtures and waterless urinals, there are signs of so-called "green" thinking all over the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP).

As Joe Van Belleghem, the park's business development and green initiatives manager points out, the tech park is testament to the fact that "green" thinking is as good for the company bottom line as it is for the environment.

Even though flat-screen LCD monitors are more expensive, the tech park encourages its tenants to use them because they use less electricity and produce less heat, which makes them cost-effective.

"There was a building in Toronto that was facing a $6 million upgrade to their cooling system," relates Van Belleghem. "Rather than do that, somebody came up with the idea of replacing all their old computer monitors… They didn't have to upgrade their building."

Routing cables through a slightly raised flooring system wherever possible would also seem to be an expensive proposition at roughly $90 per square metre.

But the raised floors allow tenants to move workstations around with ease and also serve as heating ducts. More importantly, the system is cheaper than installing a drop ceiling.

More notably, if the system goes into new buildings, construction and maintenance costs are reduced.

The tech park encourages the use of sliding doors wherever possible, again to save space. By eliminating space taken up by the arc of conventional doors, about one square metre (nine square feet) per door can be saved and allocated for other uses.

When the old Glendale hospital was being converted into the tech park, builders were required to install new walls to comply with modern earthquake-proof building standards.

Rather than constructing the tech park walls out of standard concrete, however, the builders used a waste byproduct of cement production called 'fly ash', which not only created a stronger, smoother wall, it also saved harmful chemicals from being pumped into the environment.

"One tonne of cement production produces one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions," explains Van Belleghem, adding that the emissions account for eight per cent of the global production of carbon dioxide. "By putting the fly-ash into the cement mixture, we're reducing the carbon dioxide emissions (of production) by 35 per cent, and it doesn't cost us anything because fly ash is cheap."

That sort of multi-pronged approach to saving money through green initiatives typifies the pioneering leadership the tech park has taken in the mostly unexplored realm of so-called "green building" design.

The tech park already has a deal in place with BC Hydro and the Hartland landfill to install a methane-burning generator at the regional waste facility to turn gas that is currently being released into the atmosphere into hydroelectric power without any detrimental impacts on the environment.

At a time when many other business leaders are reluctant to accept environmental standards endorsed in the Kyoto Accord, Van Belleghem sees a promising future.

"The reason we want to promote Kyoto is that buildings are responsible for 10 per cent of (all) emissions," he explains. "We think, by transforming the building industry and getting them to think differently, we can have a 25 per cent impact on the Kyoto protocol."

While many of the cost-savings measures benefit the BCBC – the tech park's landlord – they also filter down to Saanich taxpayers.

For example, the waterless urinals save 1.2 million litres of water per year, which not only decreases demand on an already overburdened water reserve, but also has less impact on municipal infrastructure. Continued vigilance in the realm of water consumption will mean that Saanich won't have to build new sewer systems.

"If we continue to use water conservation, along with Camosun College, Saanich won't have to replace that trunk line and that's about a $1.5 million saving," Van Belleghem says.

The tech park has also created an on-site water retention system for storm water. The system cost about $128,000 to build – significantly less than the $600,000 it would have had to pay to pipe storm water away from the tech park into the storm sewer system.

It seems as if the "green" philosophy is contagious. Coffee drinkers at the Hard Drive cafe receive a 30 cent discount if they produce their own mug.

PRAISE FOR TECH PARK 
The Vancouver Island Technology Park, which is located at the end of Markham Street near Camosun College's Interurban College has racked up several awards, including:

-Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Award
-BOMA BC Earth Award
– Greenways Developer's Award from the Provincial Capital Commission
-Urban Development Institute (UDI) 2002 Sustainability Award
-2003 Award of Merit for Engineering Excellence by Consulting Engineering of BC
-NAIOP International — Beyond the Box: Exceptional Industrial Projects

UVic moves into high-tech park

By Ryan Calvery
Saanich News – Weekend Edition
March 22, 2003

In the wake of recent outbreaks of mysterious diseases and super-bugs, the University of Victoria is stepping up its research capabilities by aligning itself with the province's largest independent laboratory company. 

MDS Metro Laboratory Services, a medical research company that employs more than 300 people on Vancouver Island, signed a cooperation agreement March 13 with the university. The agreement will transplant both UVic's Proteomics Centre and MDS Metro's facilities so that they are situated next to each other in at the Vancouver Island Technology Park. 

Both parties anticipate the partnership of proteomics, the study and dissection of proteins, and MDS Metro's health research will lead to advances in medical diagnostics and treatment. 

"It's a tremendous benefit," said Dr. Bob Olafson, director of the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre. "MDS is very interested in proteomics. They would like to have us close by so we could collaborate." 

Almost five times larger than the current university facility, the new 17,000 square-foot hi-tech research laboratory is projected to be up and running by the end of June, said Olafson. 

Dale Gann, marketing manager of the Vancouver Island Technology Park, and a person who helped foster the aggreement, is confident this new alliance is only the beginning. 

"It establishes the Capital Region as a hub of life sciences technology," he said. "It puts us on the map." 

Gann predicts that other medical research companies will follow MDS Metro's lead and turn the Victoria area into a cluster of research facilities, giving the local economy a needed boost. 

According to the Vancouver Island Technology Park, MDS Metro contributes $21 million directly into the province. 

The agreement is not only a benefit to the local economy, said Gann, but firmly establishes the Vancouver Island Technology Park, which celebrates its one-year anniversary in April, as a major contender in global medical research. 

"There's no other campus like it in technology, except Microsoft," said Gann. 

The signing of the agreement is an example of the provincial government's push for public and private partnerships. 

"We are working with the private sector and post-secondary institutions to make B.C. a leader in life sciences," Premier Gordon Campbell states in a press release. "This new research facility is a model for the innovative new partnerships that will help us meet our commitment to be one of the world's top 10 technology centres by 2006."

Powering prosperity

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
March 18, 2003

Put several progressive high-tech companies together under the same roof in a nurturing environment that inspires workers to be the best they can be and the result is a workplace with a heightened sense of community, an "incubation centre" for success. So says Rick Weatherhead, director of business development for Omega Biotech, of the VITP. 

While VITP tenants are eager to outline in detail their individual successes, they are also quick to acknowledge how the tech park's team-like atmosphere encourages innovative. There's a word for the constructive energy that is created through collaboration and united action: synergy. 

"We all talk together, we all work together, we all promote each other," says Weatherhead. 

Robin Poncia of the VITP-based Etraffic Solutions says she didn't fully appreciate how important synergy is to the prosperity of her industry until she recently returned from a federally-assisted trade mission to France and Germany. 

"What I saw that was unique about the tech park is a real partnership mentality," says Poncia. "It's about fostering more business." 

During her European tour, she got the sense that there is more of an emphasis there on building relationships between high-tech companies and academic institutions than on creating viable businesses. 

"There wasn't this component of 'now these people have to make money,'" she reflects. 

Recently, tech park manager Sandy Beaman was escorting a tour group from Iran when he discovered "a huge problem – they don't have enough educators." There simply are not enough instructors in the Middle East nation to create a pool of educated young high-tech workers. 

So Beaman directed the group to the offices of Etraffic, one of the province's leading producers of distance education software and as a result of their chance visit, the Iranian contingent might have overcome a serious obstacle in the growth of high-tech in their own nation. 

There are examples of these sorts of mutually-beneficial partnerships throughout the tech park from the venture capitalists who are right on site to cooperative students from Camosun College who serve four-month terms as front desk security officers and administration assistants for the Corps of Commisionaires. 

Tech park company executives rave about the support provided by the staff of the BCBC, which manages the tech park operations and, in fact, it was just that sort of synergistic-thinking that led the VITP to land its newest tenant, MDS Metro, BC's largest independent community laboratory network. 

Those who are familiar with the tech park's energetic staff can be forgiven if they chuckle when they learn how the plan for an integrated life sciences research partnership was conceived in the back of a bus in San Francisco last fall during a provincially sponsored trade mission to California. 

After seeing for themselves the benefits of marrying biotech companies with educational institutions, Beaman and VITP marketing manager Dale Gann cornered BC Science, Competition and Enterprise Minister Rick Thorpe and Premier Gordon Campbell and asked, "Why not (do the same) here in our own backyard?" 

Beaman went on to pitch the idea to Dr. Don Rix, chair of MDS Metro labs. 

After piquing Rix's interest, the tech park staff facilitated discussions between MDS and the University of Victoria, helping to forge a new private-public research partnership. 

It is part of the VITP's mandate to support such partnerships, but the recent deal brokered between MDS and UVic is clearly the largest in the VITP's brief but remarkable history. 

"They did a hell of a job pulling all of the people together," says Rix, who concedes that now that he has the benefit of hindsight, the partnership makes obvious sense. "Here we have a medical lab that does a lot of medical tests, including tests for cholesterol and here we have proteomics (research) at UVic that studies proteins, including the proteins that alter cholesterol – obviously, there's opportunity for collaboration there." 

The opportunities for further agreements seem endless. Rix points out that both MDS and UVic use mass spectrometers to analyze molecular densities and a Toronto-based company that manufacturers the devices has expressed an interest in having the new VITP partners test its newest models. 

"They're now interested in what's going on and locating a beta site out here on the coast. Why they're here is because the lab is here, proteomics is here, and it makes sense for them to have a beta site for their equipment here – that's a great example of synergy." 

Bob Breen, MDS Metro president and chief operating officer, is also fond of that buzzword. 

"By putting two and three different organizations, individuals, or thinking processes together – the outcome is going to be better than any one of them can come up with on their own," he suggests.

VITP is poised to brave new biotech frontier

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
March 18, 2003

Half of the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) will be full once MDS Metro Lab Services, its newest tenant, moves in. But even more importantly the addition of the largest independent community laboratory network could very well put the province in a position to brave a new biotechnology frontier as pioneer in protein research. 

VITP helped broker a private-public partnership that will see MDS Metro Lab Services consolidate its three existing offices and move its 150 employees into the tech park along with 20 researchers from UVic's Proteomics Centre who will be devoted to the exploration of molecular proteins. 

Capital from Genome BC, a project that has access to federal, provincial and private funds, will be injected into the union to advance protein research. 

"This is the opening of the first life-sciences cluster in Victoria," says Dr. Don Rix, chair of both MDS Metro labs. 

The University of Victoria has been actively trying to bridge the gap between scholastic research and the private sector with such ventures as the soon-to-be-opened Discovery Park. UVic president Dr. David Turpin expects the UVic/MDS/VITP partnership will help bring the region's corporate and academic sectors even closer together. 

"(It) will help to further research and development and it will help serve to establish our province as a leader in research and commercialization," he declares. That in turn, will help fuel knowledge-based industry in BC, which Turpin is convinced will transform the provincial economy. 

Proteomics, the study of molecular proteins, holds the key to a host of possible health care breakthroughs, he insists. 

"It is very likely that in the not too distant future, family doctors will have proteomic tools to assist in diagnosis," Turpin suggests. "The partnership that we're forging between the University of Victoria, Genome BC, MDS Metro Labs, and the Vancouver Island Technology Park is going to bring that day closer." 

Indeed, Alan Winter, the president and CEO of Genome BC, suggests that in many ways, the partnership signals a significant step forward for biotech research in the region. 

"This is the day we see some of the reasons Genome BC was put together," Winter says. "This is an interesting area that in the future will do a lot for us in the area of how we diagnose disease and how we manage resources." 

The work that will be done at the VITP could impact forestry, fisheries, and health, but particularly the latter, says Winter. The cooperative relationships forged by the tech park managers and companies will assist in accelerating viability in the marketplace. 

"I am struck by the number of times companies that grow say they couldn't have done it if they weren't part of a larger cluster," Winter says. 

Plugging the Brain Drain
Besides blazing new trails in the realm of biotech research, the opportunities that emerge from the new public-private partnership as well as favourable personal and corporate taxation schemes may stem the exodus of Canadian high-tech talent to the United States. 

Bob Breen, MDS Metro president and chief operating officer, says the partnership is a crucial step in establishing the province as a biotech leader. 

"The provincial government has been saying for the past two years that British Columbia has fallen behind," he says. "These kinds of things are going to put British Columbia back on the forefront. This is what partnering with the public and private sector is all about." 

Breen is convinced that tax incentives also have an impact and eventually will help things "to pick up speed … (so) more and more will happen." 

He thinks the private-public partnership (also known as a P3) announced last week at the VITP might be used as a template for future agreements. 

"This will really showcase BC as a leader in the biotech sector," he says. "We're excited to be one of the ones at the forefront." 

Breen won't speculate about the sort of advances that can be expected from the VITP's latest partnership. "

Within a very short time of us being here, we'll be working with proteomics to move ahead on that platform," he said. "How long before you come up with something new is anybody's guess." 

Rix is willing to venture a guess. "I'd be very disappointed if we didn't see some results two years after they move in." 

Those results, he says, will come on two fronts. 

"You're going to see the synergistic effect of research ideas and new things we can use in the lab … The second thing you'll see is new companies coming here." 

Rix reveals that a company specializing in so-called "orphan" drugs, which are medications that may help mitigate the effects of extremely rare diseases, has already expressed an interest in getting in on the MDS Metro/UVic Proteomics group, or perhaps even setting up shop at the tech park. 

"I think you'll see other complimentary companies coming here because we're all here (and) they'll want to be here too," predicts Rix, who believes high-tech talent will also follow. 

Rix was one member of a provincially sponsored trade mission to California last fall. One stop on the tour was Stanford University, where over 200 Canadian high-tech students, many of whom are working on master's or doctorate degrees, welcomed the tour. 

"Sure, they were interested in the tax issues, but they were (also) very interested to see if they could do the things they were trained to do," notes Rix, "…whether there was a facility they can work at, research they can do, (grants available), companies interested in what they can do." 

Because of the new research opportunities that will emerge as a result of the partnership, the tech park might be more able to attract some of Canada's best and brightest minds. 

In short, says Rix, the 'build it and they will come' philosophy not only will keep talented young minds from heading south, but also luring back some of the nation's intellectual elite from across the US border. 

"We'll hold and attract people, and we'll also attract some people that were down (south) who will now come back because the work they want to do is being done up here and they have some opportunity to pursue that."

MDS Metro to set up $2-million lab

By Norman Gidney
Times Colonist, Victoria
March 14, 2003

MDS Metro Labs is moving to the Vancouver Island Tech Park and will spend about $2 million on a new lab analysis facility.

It's the biggest client yet for the provincial government's $11-million project for high-tech businesses in Saanich, which has struggled to find tenants.

The University of Victoria's 20-year-old cell protein chemistry research lab will also move in June from the UVic campus to new space at the park.

MDS chairman Dr. Don Rix said the two new tenants at the Tech Park together "create one of the first life science clusters in Victoria."

The deal with MDS "puts us over the hump" at 55 per cent occupancy, said VITP marketing manager Dale Gann.

"Over the last two years, this site has grown into a community," said Saanich MLA Susan Brice, referring to the Tech Park's present collection of companies who write software, do scientific acoustic research, develop a high-tech artificial ear and search for treatments for rare diseases.

MDS is taking 17,000 square feet in the campus-like Tech Park, located in the former Glendale hospital among open fields and forest.

MDS now has three separate labs in the Victoria area where 150 staff analyse four to five million blood, urine and other samples annually.

Their relocation to the Tech Park will push total employment there to 450 people, and the direct economic impact of the centre to $21 million a year.

The nine MDS sample collection offices around the region will not be affected, and the company will not open one at its new location, said president Bob Breen.

The move "will make our operation more efficient," he said. Aside from routine test analysis, MDS also expects to work closely with the proteomics centre on research into new genetic-based tests.

It has the province's only molecular biology lab in Burnaby and he thought its scientists will travel back and forth often to work with the UVic scientists.

The science of proteomics should be able to help develop new ways that are better at detecting disease, Breen said.

Target date for the MDS move is December, Breen said. The lab company has just bare concrete walls now and must create and equip the new space.

Government Services Minister Sandy Santori, who is responsible for B.C. Buildings Corp., the developer and owner of the Tech Park, said there are no plans at the moment to sell the centre to the private sector.

"It's a great facility." UVic will have about 3,500 square feet there, space for nine full-time and two-part time staff and researchers, which is expected to double in number soon.

It will be known as the UVic-Genome Proteomics Centre, for its partnership with Genome B.C., the funding agency for large-scale genome research. It will be a "high-quality, world-class initiative, said UVic president David Turpin.

New Research Facility Joins Vancouver Island Technology Park

MDS Metro Laboratory Services, Genome British Columbia and the University of Victoria signed a collaborative agreement today to establish the University of Victoria – Genome British Columbia’s proteomics research facility at the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP).

MDS Metro, B.C.'s largest independent community laboratory network, is relocating its Victoria analytical facilities to occupy approximately 17,000 square feet of high-tech laboratory space in the VITP building. The UVic-Genome British Columbia Proteomics Centre, which conducts advanced research on the structure and function of proteins, is moving from the University of Victoria campus to about 3,500 square feet of lab space adjoining MDS Metro. The two groups will work together to develop and implement new analytical tools for more accurate medical diagnostics and treatments. 

This agreement supports the B.C. government's efforts to stimulate collaboration among the academic, business and biotechnology communities, and helps establish BC as a leading Biotech centre for Canada. 

“We are working with the private sector and post-secondary institutions to make B.C. a leader in life sciences,” B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said. “This new research facility is a model for the innovative new partnerships that will help us meet our commitment to be one of the world's top 10 technology centres by 2006.” 

“This collaborative move brings so many benefits,” said Bob Breen, president and COO of MDS Metro. “Our relocation to VITP reflects MDS Metro’s leadership in lab medicine – as providers and innovators. Our collaboration with UVic and Genome British Columbia reflects our joint commitment to applying new technologies that advance diagnostic medicine.” 

“The University of Victoria is delighted with this partnership, which recognizes the scientific importance and societal value of advancing proteomics research in collaboration with the private sector,” said Dr. Martin Taylor, UVic's vice president research. “Our centre is already a national leader in proteomics research. This partnership will expand the centre's capabilities, increase training opportunities for our students, and stimulate technology transfer to the marketplace.” 

This model for a sustainable life science cluster will further economic development in our region, attract world-class scientists and provide insight into how we diagnose disease and manage our health and resources,” said Dr. Alan Winter, president and CEO, Genome British Columbia. 

“By investing in projects like these, Genome British Columbia is helping to build Canada’s research infrastructure, attract and retain world-class researchers, and build on the successes of these Victoria partners,” said Allan Rock, Federal Minister of Industry.

Tech Park tenants are trail blazers

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
March 11, 2003

Turn-of-the-millennium companies are just beginning to realize the benefits of creating a happy workplace, says Susan Painter, a UBC psychology graduate who surrendered a teaching position with an Eastern Canadian university to pursue a career in environmental psychology. 

The growing fascination with engineering workplace contentment has spawned a whole new industry of professionals who seek to integrate building design, furniture and facilities to produce the best work environment possible. 

"When I talk about this in public, or at lectures at UCLA, people are fascinated. They want to know more about it," says Painter, who is a design consultant with the California-based firm, AC Martin Partners. That fascination doesn't necessarily translate into action, however as many of the office features that Painter feels are vital to creating a positive work environment tend to be a bit more costly than the standard traditional fare, and consequently they are often scrapped. 

"There's not as much focus on this area, this issue, as one would hope at this point in time," says Painter. "The issue of human factors and how people relate to their physical environment is given a certain amount of lip service." 

Gathering statistical evidence rather than anecdotal feedback will be key in proving that so-called "green" buildings make long-term fiscal sense. 

"The weight of statistics and hard data is heavy – it makes a big difference," says Painter, who commends the developers of Vancouver Island Technology Park and tenants like E-Traffic Solutions, who have taken the time to quantify the effect moving into the facility had on productivity. 

She says it will be interesting to see if productivity gains continue over the long-term and whether they are "still keeping up that level of productivity once (they've) moved past the novelty stage." Once Painter and other environmental psychologists begin gathering hard data on the long-term benefits of crafting positive working environments, architects are more likely to begin designing 'healthy' buildings, she says. 

In the meantime, cutting-edge facilities such as the technology park will no doubt be pioneers in an emerging field.