TechTalk Blog
Integrated health care just one of many VITP enticements

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
March 11, 2003

Integrated health care aids in worker productivity.

The Vancouver Island Technology Park's willingness to have health care professionals provide preventative medical services onsite proves that its "open-minded" managers understand "that keeping workers healthy will enable them to work better and work happier," says Dr. Richard McIllmoyle of City Chiropractic.

City Chiropractic provides a range of services such as chiropractic care, massage therapy and acupuncture treatments to employees at the tech park.

Dr. Tanya Slaco, who oversees City Chiropractic, once provided care to US employees of the international computer giant, Apple.

"The way they tend to work on computers all day affects their posture," she explains. "If the worker is having pain, headaches or back pain, it definitely affects how they are able to work."

Easy access to services makes sense from a time-management point of view. Since workers don't have to leave the tech park, their treatments can take as little as 15 minutes – much less time than if they had to leave their workplace.

"The convenience is a big factor for the majority of people I see here. It's tough to get downtown to see someone, or get out of here to see someone." McIllmoyle says.

Slaco notes that close proximity of the tech park's weight room, which is right next door to the chiropractic office, enables the medical professionals to oversee and encourage any rehabilitative work their clients require.

"We do rehabilitative programs and exercise programs for them – kind of the whole integrated health concept here," she says. Prior to setting up shop within the tech park, some of the tech park workers visited Slaco at her downtown Victoria practice and her clients – both old and new – appreciate that she is so close.

"It's so much easier for them. They love the fact that we're here."

Happy workers = SUCCESS

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
March 11, 2003

Happy workers are good workers – it might sound like a 20th century Marxist rallying cry, but free market managers at Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) are convinced that creating a positive environment for their employees is crucial to succeeding in today's high pressure corporate culture. 

They say it's a simple philosophy and one that is grounded in common sense – employees who are more content are less stressed and more productive – and from its cutting-edge and award-winning "green" design to its growing list of amenities, the VITP is attracting new tenants who are enticed by its worker-friendly atmosphere. 

While the tech park's on-site cafeteria and Starbucks coffee shop are hardly new to the corporate scene, the facility could be setting a new trend with its fully-equipped exercise area, on-site chiropractic services, basketball court, and pristine walking trails. All of the amenities serve a function and are part of VITP's calculated formula for success – serving the needs of people who work there. 

Joe Van Bellegham, the tech park's business development and green initiatives manager, is toying with the idea of providing laundry service to tech park clients. 

"The laundry company would come in, pick things up, and then deliver it back," explains Van Bellegham. "It simplifies people's lives so they don't have to be constantly on the go, in the car, trying to organize their life." 

Van Bellegham says businesses that were once slavishly preoccupied with their bottomlines are beginning to focus more on managing their biggest expenditure — salaries – and discovering that they will get a significant return on their investment if they spend money to improve the efficiency of their workers. They are "starting to understand" that simply providing their employees with a workstation is not necessarily enough. 

Amos Rowsel has been a tech park tenant for about a year. A specialist in graphics and animation, Rowsel considers the VITP's unique workplace culture a vital asset. 

"It's pretty nice. In the summer, you can go out and play basketball during a break," he says. 

Rowsel participates in a tech park-wide foosball league, just one of the signs of the healthy interaction that goes on among those who work – and sometimes play – together at the tech park. 

Interestingly, when Rowsel's employer – ETraffic Solutions – moved into the building, it immediately saw a 30 per cent increase in productivity, without hiring a single additional employee. 

That growth has been so steady, that soon, Rowsel will be able to scout foosball talent from additional co-workers: the company expanded this month, with potential to expand again in the near future. 

Mary McFarland is the vice-president of administration at Epic Biosonics, one of the tech park's very first tenants. There's an intangible value, she says, both in the surrounding trails and green space and in the tech park's deliberate attempts to create a harmonious internal working culture. 

"Just being somewhere where you can look out, and actually see green space – that's fabulous," she says. "I think it will be really a dynamic place to be when there are more tenants in the building and I really look forward to interacting with them." 

Epic Biosonics CEO Peter Baille has another way of describing the tech park's culture and atmosphere. 

"It's campus-like, I think, that's probably the best way to put it," he says adding that his company moved into the tech park because "it provided us with a facility that we could do whatever we needed to make it work for us. It's really functional." 

On Friday evenings, when workers in many companies around town can't wait to file out of their offices, many of the tech park workers, from CEOs and executives to front-line programmers, stay put at the park for what has become a weekly social gathering – often with their spouses and children. 

It is that kind of casual, welcoming atmosphere that Baille and others who work at VITP say is simply part of the "tech park" vibe, a natural outcome of its thriving and positive culture. After some thought, Baille likens it to the indefinable "chemistry" often associated with championship sports teams. 

"You hear players enter different facilities and how they feel – how they have that emotional interaction," he ventures. "It's different in each facility you go into and it has an effect on the performance. It's difficult to quantify." 

Quantifiable or otherwise, Baille is certain of the benefit. "It's really conducive to us getting our work done."

Etraffic Solutions Announces Doubling of Office Space

In response to their continually expanding role as corporate leaders in the global elearning industry, Victoria's Etraffic Solutions is expanding their office space in the Vancouver Island Technology Park, located at 4464 Markham Street.

Etraffic Solutions is doubling the area of their office space to include more meeting rooms and to accommodate new staff members. “Our core deliverable is in developing elearning solutions and the elearning industry is really the only growth area arising from the dot-com revolution,” explains John Juricic, Director at Etraffic Solutions. “Our office expansion reflects the exponential growth that Etraffic has experienced in the last year.”

Juricic sees potential for even further expansion. “This is Phase II of our arrival to the Vancouver Island Technology Park,” he says. “If our growth continues as it has, there will most likely be a third and fourth expansion phase in the future.”

The current expansion will increase Etraffic's office space from approximately 2,100 square feet to 4,000 square feet. Etraffic Solutions will soon be able to accommodate a full-time staff of 37 employees.

Technology park prepared for explosive growth

Goldstream News Gazette
G.E. Mortimore
Feburary 05. 2003

Victoria could be two years away from a multi-million-dollar economic breakthrough that would make it Silicon Valley North. 

That thought jumps into mind on a tour of Vancouver Island Technology Park in the upgraded high-tech, energy-efficient building that used to be Glendale Lodge hospital, next to the Interurban campus of Camosun College. 

Dale Gann, the technology park's marketing manager, refrains from wild forecasts, but he knows for sure about one future event in the domain where scientists, engineers, technicians and managers from inventive leading-edge companies do their work. A major new tenant company, whose name he is not yet ready to disclose, will soon move into this globally-connected information headquarters set in 35 acres of trees, grass and woodland trails. 

So far there are only 135 workers in a building that was retrofitted under the auspices of the BCBC to house 800, but the numbers continue to grow steadily, even though high-tech enterprises have suffered a world-wide setback. The building is expected to reach the half-way mark this year, and, depending on the outcome of a sales campaign, which included a journey to San Francisco led by Premier Gordon Campbell, it could reach capacity by 2005. 

Then it could launch the build-out of five new buildings still on the drawing board, scheduled to radiate from the present core, swelling the work force to an eventual 2,500. 

The new tenant, like the seven companies already settled in the technology park, was drawn there by six kinds of attractions: 

First, the chance to trade ideas over lunch in the centre's Hard-Drive Café, or at meetings in the conference rooms, with neighbours who represent a universe of knowledge and invention. 

Second, the modern data networking and telecommunications backbone. It includes an Internet-connected phone system. 

Third, happy green surroundings, (woods, trails, basketball courts, gymnasium) offering a chance to relax, enjoy and stay in good physical shape ­ a drawing-point for "footloose" companies that can settle anywhere they please. 

Fourth, the social and academic context: two nearby universities and a college, to provide labour and brainpower. 

Fifth, low office expense. 

Sixth, stretchable, reserved-in-advance space to expand, if the tenant wants it. "There's nothing like this anywhere in B.C.," Dale Gann acknowledged. "The nearest I know is the Microsoft campus in Washington." 

Vancouver Island Technology Park continues to recruit tenant companies that are damage-proofed against the global high-tech decline by smart management, superior talent and shrewd appraisal of future markets. 

Examples include the following:

Epic Biosonics, Inc., of which the chief executive officer is Peter Baillie, former Victoria Times Colonist publisher ­ a company formed by entrepreneur Peter Berrang and retired ear-nose-and- throat surgeon Alan Lupin to develop a total inner-ear implant with no external parts, and connect the world of sound to the auditory nerve in people with deep hearing loss. 

The company is also doing early-stage research on other electrical nerve-pathways that convey sensory messages to the brain and on those that modulate brain blood-vessels, for possible treatment of strokes.

JASCO Research Ltd., a company with a world reputation for manufacture of oceanographic measurement and underwater acoustic monitoring instruments, and development of specialized scientific and data-management software. 

Among other activities, JASCO is ready to take part in the VENUS and NEPTUNE projects, shared by UVic and the University of Washington, which will create far-spread sea-bottom observatories served by networks of cables and robot vehicles. JASCO proposes to provide expertise in areas that range from design and engineering of custom subsea instrumentation to advanced data-processing.

Omega Biotech Corporation, which is tuned in to the burgeoning world market for antioxidants, shown to possess health-protecting, life-extending properties. Omega extracts one of these compounds, its own brand-named grape-seed powder, Protovin, from the seeds of grapes grown near Mt. St. Helens in Washington, which were chosen because of their content drawn from nutrient-rich volcanic-ash soils following the 1980 eruption.

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Corporation, which is researching the development of medicines for a number of rare disorders, a niche by-passed by the larger drug companies.

Silver Lake Contractors' Ltd., which works on large-scale software-service contracts for governments in Canada and the United States.

Headquarters of Municipal Software Corporation, which will take over 10,000 of the centre's 190,000 square feet, to serve clients in five provinces and 29 states.

Etraffic Solutions Inc., a designer of electronic learning programs ranging from interactive language-learning to an online data-base for school administrators. Their brilliance is summed up in one of the company's introductory paragraphs: "It's all about creating the teachable moment. Learning that engages the learner to be curious and to further investigate. Message combined with stunning visual design. Customized content, online modules, software tailored to your needs. Unique programs along with messaging materials so your learners can clearly understand what to learn and how to learn it." 

John Juricic of Etraffic solutions told a reporter that pleasant and stimulating surroundings had boosted the company¹s productivity 30 per cent since it moved in. 

The technology park's planned high-tech growth in this leafy part of Saanich offers inspiration for parallel growth in Victoria's Western Communities ­ provided they can resist the temptation to sprawl and pave the green spaces over. The vision might include such environmental technologies as wastewater recycling, plus visitor trade in compact communities along rail corridors, with convention centres and an Imax theatre.

Vancouver Island Technology Park Welcomes Municipal Software Corporation to the Park Victoria, BC

Municipal Software, Corporation, a leading developer of local government business process automation software and a wholly owned subsidiary of Municipal Solutions Group, Inc. (TSX: MSM), announced today that it has signed an agreement to open it's new corporate headquarters at Vancouver Island Technology Park. Municipal Software will occupy approximately 10,000-square-feet of high tech office space to accommodate the company's anticipated growth. 

"Municipal Software Corporation has grown from 2 employees at its inception in 1982 to more than 40 people locally" said Rob Bennett, President & CEO. "Municipal Software wanted to ensure that our new corporate facility would accommodate our steady growth, as well as provide a pleasing and dynamic working environment for our employees and our customers. We believe our new location will help us continue to attract and retain the high-caliber employees that are so important to our business. It's essential to provide a healthy productive environment for our employees. And VITP's LEED Gold rated facility delivers that. We will also need to bring our government customers from all over North America to a world-class facility, and it was clear that the Tech Park provided the best flexibility and opportunity for us." 

"This is an exciting day, as this announcement brings another world class company to Vancouver Island Technology Park. Municipal Software Corporation has clients in 29 states and 5 provinces, and has been in business for over 20 years," stated Dale Gann, Marketing Manager of the Vancouver Island Technology Park. "Municipal Software Corporation (www.MunicipalSoftware.com) is the one-stop provider of everything government needs to automate their business processes including the software, the training, the service and the post-purchase support. Microsoft recently named Municipal Software Corporation the worldwide Gold Medal Winner in the Packaged Application Category of the Microsoft Certified Partner Awards. 

"Vancouver Island Technology Park is committed to working with Municipal Software Corporation to develop a location that will be advantageous for their business. We pride ourselves in being able to deliver on the specific business development needs of our clients. This relationship is a win-win situation for all parties," stated Sandy Beaman, General Manager of Vancouver Island Technology Park.

Countries Around the World, including India, are Brighter and Safer Thanks to Products Manufactured by Carmanah Technologies

Countries around the world, including India, are brighter and safer thanks to products manufactured by Carmanah Technologies . The Victoria-based company designs and manufactures solar-powered LED (light-emitting diode) lights for marking channels, waterways, moored vessels and docks, as well as highlighting hazards and high caution areas on roads, highways and railways.

During the Canada Trade Mission to India, Carmanah signed a contract for the sale of 22 of its Model 701 marine lights to the port of Kandla. One of India's largest ports, Kandla is the connecting hub for one million square kilometres of northwestern India, and has the country's only Free Trade Zone.

There is a large market for marine navigation products in India, which has 12 major ports, 150 minor ports, and 12,000 kilometres of coastline and navigable inland waterways. Carmanah has sold its marine lanterns to port and waterway authorities throughout the country.

"Buyers in India recognize that Carmanah's short-range marine navigation lights are the best in the world," said Carmanah Business Development Manager, Jim Baker. "And the Model 701 has the lowest cost of acquisition, installation and operation in its class." Like all Carmanah lights, it has a self-contained power source and requires no battery/bulb replacement or other maintenance during its lifespan.

About 98 percent of Carmanah's production is exported to port and roadway authorities, marinas, and rail yards, as well as numerous other commercial and private users around the world.  The company also serves the needs of the Canadian and United States Coast Guards and the United Kingdom's Trinity House.

Vancouver Island Technology Park, Etraffic Solutions, and PureEdge Solutions Join Premier's Leading Edge Marketing Mission to San Francisco

Vancouver Island Technology Park, Etraffic Solutions Inc., and PureEdge Solutions Inc., attended as members of the 34 B.C. technology executives that promoted B.C.'s competitive advantages to California investors and high-tech executives as part of the Premier's Leading Edge marketing mission to San Francisco, Stanford University and Stanford Research Institute International in Silicon Valley.

This first Leading Edge marketing mission to San Francisco and Palo Alto highlighted companies from B.C.'s biotechnology and information and communications technology sectors. B.C. delegates met with representatives from major U.S. venture capital firms and California high-tech companies to explore investment and partnership opportunities. "This trip proved to be very productive. All parties were able to meet with potential new clients, generate new business opportunities and build new relationships. This kind of trip should occur on a regular basis," said John Juricic, CEO of Etraffic Solutions. Premier Campbell, Minister Thorpe and the Canadian Consul General created the requisite positive environment that allowed BC technology CEO's to promote their products and generate potential new business opportunities. "If the B.C. Government can make the introductions, we'll do the rest. B.C. technology companies can compete with anyone at anytime," states Juricic. 

BC offers tremendous competitive advantages for the technology industry, including lower tax rates and business costs, access to the most innovative companies and highly skilled workers in the world. A comparative analysis prepared by the BC Trade and Investment Office shows that with the government's tax cuts, business costs in BC are now 40% lower than in California for a typical software development firm. 

The Vancouver Island contingent would like to extend a special thank you to Sandy Beaman, General Manager, and Dale Gann, Marketing Manager, of the Vancouver Island Technology Park for enabling Etraffic Solutions and PureEdge Solutions to join this Leading Edge Trade Mission. Their efforts continue to strongly reinforce their role of introducing business development initiatives and activities for the Vancouver Island Technology community. "BC has the core technology, seasoned management, lifestyle, and government leadership necessary to create a positive economic world class high tech cluster." said Dale Gann.

IRAP Moves to VITP

by Rafael Benedek
Camosun Nexus
October 30, 2002

The opening of an office at the new Technology Park, next door to Camosun's Interurban campus, is a step in the right direction, bringing Camosun students and faculty closer to potential clients and investors.

Camosun President Liz Ashton envisioned the benefit of having a college presence at the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) and set about opening an office where it's expected the new location will create more business interactions with Tech Park firms and clients.  In addition, it will develop more contacts for co-op placements and enhance the college's contact with the community.

Up until now, the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) has had an office at Interurban campus, but Bill Sturrock, the IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) has moved down the road to occupy the shiny new Camosun office at the Technology Park. 

Sturrock, one of 260 ITAs across Canada, acts as 'portal' to a vast range of programs and services offered by IRAP.  He is a professional you can trust with your innovative ideas and business plans, who knows the Canadian innovation network by heart and can guide you through the maze of opportunities it offers. 

IRAP is a cross-Canada network of experts involved in bringing research concepts to the marketplace, through promotion of innovation in small and medium sized enterprises, youth employment, women entrepreneurship and aboriginal businesses.

Last year, close to 500 industrial projects involving BC's most innovative companies were supported with combined funding of close to $14 million from IRAP and its Canadian Technology Partners. 

To help increase the survival rate and success of Canadian businesses in an extremely competitive global market, IRAP links them into 'community innovation clusters'.  Ultimately, IRAP's various initiatives boost Canadian industry and economy. 

"It's a win-win situation for everyone involved," says Sturrock.  

Students should make their co-op employers aware that partial funding of their salaries may be available through IRAP for research and development projects.

Camosun students and faculty are invited to drop by the Tech Park and visit Sturrock in his new office. 

The office can also be utilized by other college departments.  For information on availability, contact Penny Waterman, 250.370.4543. 

Bill Sturrock can be reached at 250.483.3215.  For more details visit the IRAP website: www.nrc.ca/irap

Silver Lake Contractors Ltd is moving to the Park!

Silver Lake Contractors Ltd is proud to announce its move of their corporate premises to a new location in the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP). Jim Cole President & CEO of Silver Lake Contractors, chose VITP because of its modern data networking and telecommunications backbone, its Business Centre with advanced videoconferencing and audiovisual presentation facilities, and its connections and resources including Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Peer group CEO's, Media, local universities, technology agencies, government officials and industry leaders. The modern Technology Park is set in an open semi-rural area with woods and hiking trails nearby.

"We are very excited to be moving to VITP! I think VITP is an excellent example of Government supporting local industry. VITP will give Silver Lake the resources, the partners, and the environment necessary to grow our business."

"Vancouver Island Technology Park is committed to working with Silver Lake Contractors to develop a location that will be comfortable for their employees. We pride ourselves in being able to deliver on the specific needs of our clients. This relationship is a win-win situation for all parties," stated Sandy Beaman, General Manager of Vancouver Island Technology Park. "We are able to structure deals that work with each company's needs for future growth. Silver Lake Contractors Ltd., satisfied its goals by developing an efficient custom-built space with the option to expand into additional space as needed. It is rewarding to provide solutions to our tenants' transforming business needs."

Tech Park Tenants are Prospering

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
October 9, 2002

Six months after a glitzy multimedia presentation kicked off the official opening of the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP), tenants of the cutting-edge facility couldn't be happier. 

While tenancy rates aren't quite what the landlord – the BCBC – had anticipated, there are signs that the tech park is living up to the hype and promise that preceded its opening. 

About a quarter of the park is now occupied (1,800 square meters has been leased in the last six months)– and BCBC has set a target of having half of the building filled up by next spring. 

The current tenants are delighted to be operating in the brand new facility, which has won accolades and some prestigious awards for its environmentally friendly design. 

As one of the three co-owners and directors of E-Traffic solutions, a company specializing in online business training, John Juricic is stunned that his company's productivity levels have increased by 30 per cent since taking occupancy in April. 

In particular Juricic cites the increase in workspace and the park's positive environment – including its ample walking trails, in-house basketball court and better high-tech new lighting – key reasons for his company's recent prosperity. 

"We were surprised how that enhanced our productivity levels. People have their space. They can focus. The result has been tremendous," he enthuses. 

According to Juricic, corporate executives are just beginning to realize the benefits that can be reaped by seeking out ergonomic work environments that are situated in natural surroundings and have plenty of recreational opportunities. 

E-Traffic's jump in production, he insists, is adequate proof that creating a good environment for employees is linked to market competitiveness. 

"It's very much like a university environment out here. There's an academic feel to it. We all knew these things would help. We just didn't realize how much of an impact there would be," he observes. 

Another reason for the jump in E-Traffic productivity, says Juricic, has been the opportunities to network with other tenants at the tech park and new business that BCBC sends the company's way. 

"We had no idea that they would network us, talk about us, and send us so much business," says Juricic of BCBC. 

E-traffic will be hiring new employees to meet the demand for business. 

"We probably need to double our size in the next six months," Juricic notes, adding that the company's growth rate "could be higher and that explosion is because we're able to produce quality product, which is a combination of good productivity and satisfied staff." 

Joji Ishikawa is the general manager of Omega Biotech, another VITP tenant. He agrees that the new work environment -and particularly the tech park's commitment to environmental sustainability – has been good for his company. 

"There was a function a couple of weeks ago and we were chatting about the park showing it to a lot of people from outside (the province). We got a lot of good feedback," says Ishikawa. 

Joe van Belleghem, who was VITP project consultant, has worked tirelessly to promote the tech park and has today he's also championing its tenants. 

"We're a networking liaison," van Belleghem says. "We're helping the companies that are in here and helping them grow." 

Belleghem is also happy with impact the tech park has had. 

"By designing the building as 'green' we thought the productivity of the workforce would increase," says van Belleghem. 

As for the occupancy rate, van Belleghem remains optimistic. "We're not too far behind our original projection," he says. "We're quite happy that despite the decline in the tech sector Victoria is growing quite well," he says.

Executives of other VITP-based companies are also looking positively on the future.

Peter Baillie, CEO of Epic Biosonics, firmly believes the Capital Region is positioning itself to become a global force in the technology sector.

"If you look back in five years time, you'll look at (the slowdown) as a blip. In three years, most of the tech park will be rented out," he says.

"If we get a big player established in Victoria or a strong turnaround in the economy … if that starts to materialize, you'll see the take-up happen very quickly. (VITP) space will be very much in demand."

Epic Biosonics currently leases the greatest amount of space in the tech park and the company expects to expand by 2005.

Richard Glickman, chair and CEO of Aspreva Pharmaceuticals, says the company highlights the tech park's cutting-edge image in its international marketing campaign. Likewise, he says the vast amenities of the building, along with the natural charm of the Capital Region, help VITP companies recruit talented employees.

"It allows the company to present itself in an environment that is consistent with what their expectations would be," he reasons, it is the kind of facility where people would be comfortable in, particularly if you're recruiting them from high-tech centers in the (United) States."