TechTalk Blog
Geffen Gourmet Catering is on the go

By Norman Gidney
Victoria Times Colonist
May 21-27, 2002

Geffen Gourmet Catering is on the go. Na'ama Regev and Todd Feser, a wife-and-husband partnership, started the business 3 ½ years ago in Langford and were recently selected to provide food services at Vancouver Island Technology Park in Saanich, next door to Camosun College's Interurban Campus. Regev said Geffen will run the new Hard Drive Café at VI Tech Park, which is starting to fill up with technology firms. The café, expected to open early next month, will serve Starbucks products and will be a base for the firm's outside catering for weddings, receptions and special events. Geffen is at 391-3916.

Multiplex architect to tour technology park

By Times Colonist Staff
Times Colonist (Victoria),
May 07, 2002

The chief architect for Victoria's proposed new arena will tour the Vancouver Island Technology Park in Saanich today to look at its environmental design.

Leo Mariotto, from Burnaby-based ICR Architects and Project Consultants, said he is open-minded about incorporating green elements in the $30-million multiplex and is interested in seeing the hi-tech facility first hand. The $12-million park, developed by BC Buildings Corp., a provincial Crown corporation, won a gold medal this year from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Councillors Pam Madoff and Denise Savoie, who have been pushing for the arena to be built to the latest environmental standards are meeting with Mariotto to press their point.

"At this point we're really open to all these ideas," Mariotto said. "But it's too early to say exactly what features will be included in the final design", he said.

"Environmental technology like energy-efficient heating and lighting and systems that conserve water can pay for themselves over the life of the project", he said.

Mariotto's company is the project manager and design consultant for the 7,000-seat arena planned to replace Memorial Arena.

Pervious Pioneers

By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News,
April 24, 2002

Behind a plastic barrier fence, directly opposite the main entrance of the new Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP), lay innocuous looking strips of gravel and grass.

But appearances are deceiving. Hidden from view, underneath the gravel and grass, is a technology that transformed a local plastics company and triggered an amendment to the zoning bylaw to allow for permeable paving systems.

The gravel and grass are integral parts of a revolutionary parking lot – revolutionary because the materials foster a water-permeable, durable surface that reduces pollution and stormwater damage to the environment.

The parking lot is the first of its kind in Greater Victoria, but recent adjustments to Saanich bylaws ensure that there will soon be more.

The surface permits water to trickle through and eventually filter into the ground rather than conventional impermeable parking lots where water drains off into a nearby storm sewer.

As a result, the new technology will thwart storm surges – or large amounts of water that accumulate in storm sewers after a heavy rainfall. In addition, the biology of the grass and bacteria in the soil underneath the new parking lot will help hasten the decomposition of organic compounds – primarily oil – that drip off the parked cars.

Joe Van Belleghem, development consultant for the VITP, says that along with the reduction in storm water runoff and pollution, the surface also has another benefit.

"It's a lot cooler to park on and that's a big benefit in urban environments," says Van Belleghem. "The heat impact of parking lots can have a huge impact on cities."

Saanich engineer Hugh McKay says there are still some wrinkles with the technology to get smoothed out .

"Permeable surfaces have been around for a while, but their effectiveness hasn't been fully evaluated in the past," explains McKay.

One drawback is the technology requires a water-permeable subsoil to be effective.

Developers of a subdivision that will be built the old allotment garden grounds on Gordon Head Road thought "about using pervious surfaces, but because of the layer of clay not that far underneath, it was decided that there wasn't enough drainage," explains McKay.

But there are plenty of other areas in Saanich that would be well suited for the new parking lot technology, he quickly adds.

Saanich has been progressive in regulating how large developments manage storm water runoff and McKay says that a recent bylaw change will give developers more opportunity to use permeable surfaces as part of their storm water management plans.

"Developers are looking at more innovative ways to deal with on-site drainage," says McKay.

Saanich Coun. Carol Pickup has been a brazen promoter of permeable surfaces since she first learned about the parking lot plans for VITP over a year ago.

"The cost (difference) is getting pretty close, as I understand it. If all things are equal and one (option) is more environmentally sensitive, I'm hoping people will consider that route," she ventures.

Changes to the bylaw will only help, says Pickup, who says the previous bylaw actually discouraged the use of permeable surfaces.

Saanich planner Russ Fuoco says that the VITP surface will undoubtably be heralded as a template for future developers.

"If somebody comes in, we can tell them to go look for themselves," says Fuoco. "I think it's a benefit to have a local example and it's going to spur other projects in the area."

The surfaces will be fully functional in about a month once the grass has fully taken root.

Hopes high for Victoria tech park

By Wendy Stueck
The Globe and Mail,
April 23, 2002

 Victoria is perhaps best known for tea and crumpets, mild weather and for a few weeks earlier this year, as the home of "Camp Campbell" when protesters set up tents in front of the provincial legislature to protest against Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell's cutbacks.

"Technology hub" doesn't spring to mind, but some hope that could change with the opening of the Vancouver Island Technology Park, under development for the past two years and officially opened this month.

The facility, comprising just over 160,000 square feet of commercial space, was formerly a residence for adults with physical and mental disabilities that opened in 1971 and closed in 1996.

British Columbia Buildings Corp., the crown corporation that owns the complex and the 14-hectare site around it, began work in 1994 to determine the best use for the facility.

"A research park emerged as the most encouraging option, and eventually we built a business case around it, "said Sandy Beaman, general manager of the technology park.

That business case holds that provincial support – to the tune of $11.9-million worth of renovations and improvements – will pay off in a facility that will support and nurture the region's fledgling technology sector, create co-op learning opportunities for students and thereby boos local learning institutions, and lead to other economic benefits over time.

Spending for the facility was approved under the previous NDP government, but Mr. Campbell, who won a landslide election victory last May, did not pull the plug and Liberal MLAs attended recent opening ceremonies for the park.

Regardless of its political roots, the park is getting a warm welcome from industry observers.

"We have never had a place where you could say there was a focal point [for technology]," said Doug Taylor, president of the 600-member Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre. "One of our problems here is letting people know that there is great technology going on."

Some critics, however, object to the province pouring money into a tech park while it cancels early-stage technology programs.

The project suffered from bad timing as its space began to come onto the market as the technology market was in a funk and many companies were either cutting back or canceling expansion plans.

Currently, the facility is about 20-percent leased, with deals signed with five tenants and others under discussion.

Mr. Beaman said planners expected it would take up to five years for the project to be fully leased.

The park is expected to build strong links with neighbouring schools and colleges. One of Camosun College's two campuses is nearby, and the park is a 15-minute drive from both the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University.

Renovations and site improvements to the park followed the latest "Green" building guidelines and made it the first project in Canada to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Some of the sustainable factors at the park include a parking lot that features grass, gravel and interlocking plastic bricks. The system filters harmful compounds from storm water and allows it to be discharged into the water table.

The park is also outfitted with thermal heating loops that will store excess heat from tenant areas or computer rooms and make it available for morning warmup instead of heat from gas-fired boilers.

Mr. Beaman said the green approach costs less, not more, due to several factors, including hiring a specialized demolition company that salvaged and sold nearly everything on the site and submitted a bid that was substantially lower than those of conventional demolition and construction teams.

"Our budget was set prior to deciding to pursue the green technology," Mr. Beaman said. "But [the park project] demonstrates that it doesn't have to cost more and, in fact, can cost considerably less.

Vancouver Island Technology Park achieves LEED Gold Level Rating

The United States Green Building Council has awarded the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Rating to the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP). This makes VITP one of only three projects in the World to have achieved this level under LEED 2.0 and the first project in Canada to be accredited under the LEED program.

The VITP project was given approval to proceed in September 2000 to renovate the former 165,000 sq. ft. Glendale hospital into a research technology park. VITP is to be a focal point for private sector, government and educational initiatives to promote and provide necessary infrastructure for the growth of local technology firms and to attract new ones to the Region.

Key Environmental Features

The building is using waterless urinals, dual flush toilets as well as electronic sensors on all lavatory faucets, and low flow type shower heads to reduce overall potable water use. Potable water use in the building will be 33% less per year than the base line case.

The urinals are now being made in Canada creating economic opportunity for the U.S. company because a new market has been opened.

Grass and Gravel Parking System

This system has two primary features- grass to remove oils and gas residue from waters and interlocking plastic cones to contain the grass and gravel that filters the runoff.

  • The grass oxidizes and biologically treats oil and gas drippings from cars – removing the hydrocarbons that cause environmental damage.

  • The combination of grass, gravel and plastic interlocking cones provides a permeable system that allows the discharge of storm water directly into the ground, which in turn recharges the water table. Grass and gravel parking retains water while reducing the flow of storm water discharge. A grass and gravel paved parking lot can handle extremely high levels of rain with no runoff. A 1-hour 1 in 10 year rain event can occur before any runoff occurs from the parking lot.

  • VITP introduced Invisible Structures to Scott Plastics of Victoria who is now the Canadian manufacturer of these interlocking cones on behalf of the US company. This lowered product costs, transportation impacts and contributed to the local economy.

Ground Water Recharge and Storm Water Treatment

VITP has one of the most innovative approaches to storm water treatment in Canada.

  • The systems installed at VITP provide bio-filtration and sedimentation of storm water while increasing ground water recharge and reducing the flow of storm water, thereby protecting the salmon-bearing creek.

  • The goal of water filtration is to ensure that polluting substances and sediments are filtered out of storm water runoff from vehicle parking and roads before it leaves the site. VITP has a Storm Water Management Plan that will meet several objectives including using on-site ecological treatment before discharge into Viaduct Creek, flood plain management, incorporating the aquatic habitat with no negative impact. There will be a decrease in storm water discharge since the current storm water system is being reconfigured.

Water Efficient Landscaping

The goal of water efficient landscaping is to limit the use of potable water for landscaping irrigation.

The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific students designed and planted the VITP landscaped beds using native plant species. Once these plants take hold they require little water and maintenance because they are native to the area.

The old irrigation system for previously irrigated lawns has been decommissioned. This will allow a more natural meadow to develop.

Green Power

Green Power could not be purchased in BCBC at the time the project was announced. VITP and BCBC reached an agreement with the Capital Regional District (CRD) and BC Hydro to turn the methane gas from the Hartland Landfill into power that will be sold to BC Hydro for use at the Tech Park. The result of our desire for purchasing Green Power means an important economic initiative will happen creating an opportunity for a private sector company. The CRD will be paid an amount for their landfill gas and the CRD/VITP/BCBC partnership will earn a return for packaging this economic opportunity for the private sector.

The net result to VITP/BCBC is that the net cost of the Green Power for the VITP project will be less than traditional power.

Construction Waste

99% of all deconstruction and reconstruction waste was salvaged or sold. This resulted in a $600,000 saving as well as interest cost savings because the construction and design process was shortened.

Sustainable Transportation Study

The Federal Government has provided $80,000 for a sustainable transportation study for VITP.

VIATec is managing the study that includes participation by VITP, Camosun College, BC Transit, UVIC, CRD, the Municipality of Saanich and VIATec. The study will look at innovative and financially responsible alternatives to single occupant vehicle transportation to VITP, Camosun College, and to the region.

Bicycle Trails

The Municipality of Saanich is building a bicycle trail along Markham Road and through Layritz Park to connect into the regional bicycle network. When they are completed, the new trails will connect to trails between Camosun College and VITP property.

Bicycle storage at VITP includes 80 stalls in secured areas within the building and outside covered storage for another 100 stalls. The fitness centre includes showers for bicycle users.

Transit

An agreement has been reached with BC Transit to provide bus service to VITP. There is a bus stop and a bus layby at the Tech Park.

Car Pooling and Reduced Parking Requirements

Carpool cars have been given preferred parking spaces to serve 5% of the building occupants.

Protect Habitat Areas

Through consultation with the community and the Municipality, previously protected areas will continue to be protected through a no-build covenant that protects ecologically sensitive areas. Two registered no-build covenants provide protection for Viaduct Creek and to an ecologically bio-diverse tree stand between the renovated building and existing parking lot.

Restore Degraded Habitat Areas

Essentially all previous degraded habitat areas are being restored through native planting or decommissioning of lawn areas. Additional native species will be planted in the open green space areas and native fruit and nut bearing trees will be added along the trails as a food source for wildlife.

Creek Restoration Plan

The salmon-bearing creek is not a proper functioning
creek since it was trenched out historically for agricultural purposes. The creek has been significantly harmed because of traditional storm water management practices. VITP has been working with the storm water consultant to raise funds to restore the creek to its proper functioning condition.

Green Buildings contribute to Sustainable Community

Green Building contributes to a sustainable community in several ways with sustainable community being defined as both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Greater Victoria's Tourism sector and high tech are dependent on the preservation of our quality of life and the preservation and enhancement of that quality of life will lead to economic prosperity. A major reason why high technology companies are attracted to and stay in Victoria is because of that quality of life.

This was a motivating reason to develop VITP in a environmentally sustainable manner.

Understanding the environmental and financial impact that buildings have on communities will continue to fuel green building design but can result in economic savings to communities.

  • Less potable water use – impacts water reservoir and sewer treatment infrastructure and replacement of water and sewer infrastructure

  • Less construction waste, recycling programs – impacts landfill sites (expansion and useful lives)

  • Less energy consumption or renewable energy sources require less gas power generating facilities.

  • Proper storm water treatment will protect streams thereby supporting the fishing/tourism economy and reducing storm water infrastructure cost and maintenance. Locating commercial buildings near transportation services (transit, bicycle trails) and residential neighborhoods reduces the reliance on the automobile resulting in less road infrastructure (less roads, smaller roads and road maintenance).

High-tech park opens doors

The Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Park is open for business.

The Saanich facility opened its doors Wednesday with the area's political heavyweights heralding the event as the next stage in Victoria's high-tech sector taking on the world.

They also put their money where their mouths were.

Federal Environment Minister David Anderson handed over $300,000 to match the provincial government's commitment to the complex's business centre.

"(It) is exactly the type of facility Canadians need to foster business excellence and take on the world with their products and ideas," said Anderson.

"The high-tech industry is the third-largest employer in the Greater Victoria area, and the investment in the technology park will ensure that it continues to grow and the region prosper."

About 180 people gathered for the grand opening of the $11.9-million conversion from the Glendale Lodge, many of them representing businesses who may be contemplating a move to the centre.

Though the centre has only leased out 20 per cent of its 165,000 square feet of space, the site's general manager says it won't be long before that number increases significantly.

Sandy Beaman says the opening has rekindled interest in the high-tech park and that he's been fielding calls all day from prospective tenants.

"And recently we have been touring companies through here daily," he added.

The site has signed five tenants: Epic Biosonics, which has developed a prosthetic device designed to restore hearing to profoundly deaf people; ETraffic Solutions, creator of software for Internet delivery of educational systems; Jasco Research, an acoustic research firm; Aspreva Pharmaceuticals, which develops high-value medicines for rare medical disorders; and Omega Biosonics, which extracts phyto-nutrients from botanicals for health-care products.

"And we are in discussions with a whole series of others," said Beaman.

Some critics have suggested the market isn't there for this kind of space in Victoria, and that the lack of tenants at this point is proof. But Beaman maintains the project is still on track.

"The leasing cycle is such that from the time it takes a company to realize it needs more space to the time it moves is a significant period of time," he said.

"Our original business plan was to see this full in five years with the bulk of it done in the first three years."

The first year will be up in September, at which point Beaman will know exactly where the facility stands along that time line.

"But right now, we have more than 30,000 square feet leased out and I am pleased with the progress," he said noting the downturn in the high-tech industry and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hurt the market. "But right now we believe we're on track."

Beaman does not consider the 180,000-square foot space once occupied by JDS Uniphase at the Keating Industrial Park as competition, as the two sites are targeting different clients.

The Island Advanced Technology Park is geared for small-to-medium sized companies needing between 2,000 and 12,500 square feet of space.

He says the JDS building, vacated when JDS downsized its global operations last year when the telecommunications industry was ravaged by a glut of inventory, would accommodate the larger ones. "It has 20,000 square feet of clean room space alone," he said.

The U.S. Green Buildings Council presented a Gold Award to the owners of the park, B.C. Buildings Corp., for its cutting-edge environmental and energy-conscious design.

The award recognizes the green adaptations within the buildings, grass and gravel parking lots, storm-water recovery systems, power purchased from methane gas conversions, bike paths and landscaping.

"The province is committed to creating common-sense solutions to the environmental challenges facing British Columbia and the world," said Saanich South MLA Susan Brice.

" This building shows that we can safeguard the environment while promoting economic development."

Partnership agreements have also been signed with the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology centre, Camosun College, Royal Roads University and the University of Victoria to open the door for research and learning opportunities.

Vancouver Island Technology Park – Backgrounder

History:

The Vancouver Island Technology Park was formerly Glendale Lodge, a residential facility for adults with mental and physical disabilities built in 1976.

Glendale Lodge closed in 1996 when residents were moved into community-based homes. Since then, the film industry and government clients have used small areas of the building.

In August 2000 the provincial government approved $11.9 million for the park's development.

High-tech in the region:

The high-tech sector is the third-largest employer in Greater Victoria, with more than 700 firms. It is growing by 15 per cent per year.

More than 1,300 technology firms operate on Vancouver Island, and the industry grossed in excess of $1 billion in 2001.

In 2000, British Columbia's high-tech industry created $3.8 billion in revenue. By comparison, tourism revenue was $5.4 billion.

The Vancouver Island Advanced Technologies Society is a not-for-profit, industry-driven venture with 400 local members and a $700,000 annual budget. It operates as VIATeC (the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre) to facilitate the growth of technology on Vancouver Island by linking local resources with emerging or growing high-tech companies.

VIATeC is a partner organization for the National Research Council's industrial research assistance program. It has reciprocal arrangements with the British Columbia Advanced Systems Institute, the Science Council of British Columbia, the Information Science and Technology Agency, the Canadian Technology Network and the Canadian Institute for Market Intelligence.

Business Centre:

Group Telecom (telecommunications), CISCO Systems (manufacturer of network hardware), IBM, NexInnovations (integrated systems provider), SMED and Graphics Office (office design and furnishings companies) have contributed to the creation of the business centre.

Tenants can use the business centre for educational purposes, shareholder meetings, and special events. It will be the site of lectures featuring academics, venture capitalists, bankers, patent lawyers and accountants.

Events and some facilities are available to all advanced technology firms in the area.

Tenants:

Epic Biosonics Inc. developed a prosthetic device designed to restore hearing to profoundly deaf people. Developed by high technology entrepreneur Peter Berrang and Ear Nose and Throat surgeon Alan Lupin, the first totally implantable cochlear hearing device will be produced at the tech park. Contact: Peter Baillie, 250.727.9833.

Jasco Research, a University of Victoria-based acoustic research firm, is involved in environmental impact assessment studies related to the effect of sound on wildlife and marine life as well as advanced software development and instrument design. Contact: Roberto Racca, 250.472.4328.

eTraffic Solutions, operating under a contract with the federal government, creates software for Internet delivery of educational programs. In addition to developing educational software, the company provides Web design services. Contact: John Juricic, 250.658.8238.

Omega Biotech Company was established in 1991 to develop and extract phyto-nutrients, from botanicals, such as grape seeds. These antioxidants from grape seed extract act as both a shield and sword against free radicals and are thereby key components in the prevention of ill health and the promotion of health and longevity. These extracts are used in food and beverages and personal care products. Contact: Joji Ishikawa 250.655.6572.

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals works with patients, doctors, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and investors in the development and commercialization of high value medicines for the treatment of rare medical disorders. Leaders in the health research and pharmaceutical industry have founded the company. Contact: Richard Glickman 250.213.1523.

Special features:

The retrofitted buildings feature a seismically upgraded concrete structure, fibre optic broadband connectivity and a 25kv electrical power feed.

The centre is equipped with IP telephone technology and unified messaging. The IP phones allow data and voice to be consolidated into a single network infrastructure that reduces operating costs. Unified messaging allows clients to have a single point of access for e-mail, voice mail and faxes, which aids in productivity.

The park offers work-life balance: a fitness centre and showers, a cafeteria, a games area including an outdoor basketball court, and a park-like setting with hiking and cycling trails that connect with the regional trail and green space network.

Tech Park managers optimistic

About 80 per cent of the Vancouver Island Technology Park's office space remains empty, nine months after the provincial government began marketing it.

But with the futuristic Saanich centre set to officially open today, representatives of B.C. Buildings Corp. say the space will soon be snapped up.

Joe VanBelleghem, a consultant hired by BCBC to help manage the development said Tuesday that two new companies have just signed leases. He added that several more are in discussions to locate in the first phase of the park, which offers 165,000 square feet in the renovated former Glendale hospital for the mentally challenged.

"We're actually pleased how it's gone, considering the downturn following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," VanBelleghem said.

The building's tenants come from a cross-section of companies, including research, pharmaceutical, health and computer software fields.

Despite the meltdown of dot.com and telecommunications companies, VanBelleghem said high-tech businesses remain a significant driver of the Victoria region's economy.

"People don't realize this, but high-tech has exceeded tourism in importance — it's over $1 billion in activity a year," he said.

The flameout of JDS Uniphase, which closed its Central Saanich offices and laid off more than 500 workers last year, was a major blow to the sector. However, Victoria has been less exposed to the telecom industry (JDS's field) than other communities and stands poised to benefit from other innovative companies looking for locations with a high quality of life, VanBelleghem said.

BCBC spent $11.9 million to renovate the empty Glendale hospital, a group of interconnected three-storey buildings in a pocket of rural Saanich, surrounding by forest views near Camosun College's Interurban campus.

The plan, hatched by the NDP government, was to convert the facility into a magnet for leading-edge companies.

The park incorporates water, lighting and energy efficiency into its design with innovative interiors and a grass parking lot that prevents rain runoff from flushing into nearby Viaduct Creek.

The project is the first in Canada to achieve certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's rating system for sustainable buildings. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system evaluates such aspects as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy, materials and indoor environmental quality. The tech park has received a gold rating, the highest possible.

The Saanich facility fairly bristles with the latest technology including waterless urinals, low-flush toilets and Web-based phone systems.

Wiring and communications cables are placed beneath the floor or alternately on visible overhead tracks. These allow for flexible office arrangements. Similarly, offices use moveable walls, with built-in wiring and portable furniture that allows for spaces to be quickly reconfigured.

A common space is made available for high-tech businesses to make presentations and has already been used for a job hiring fair for Camosun College students.

The proximity of the college, plus links with UVic and Royal Roads University, also make the park an attractive proposition for potential tenants.

More than 50 per cent of computer studies graduates from Camosun end up going to the U.S. to find work. VanBelleghem said the park can provide a home for companies that can hire locally trained employees.

Still, the park is seeking tenants at a time when other developments, private and public, are gearing for high-tech businesses. GMC projects, for example, is planning more than 150,000-square-feet of office space in two buildings planned for 645-655 Tyee Road. UVic is planning a high-tech park of its own and other buildings like Shoal Point, the 13-storey mostly residential complex in James Bay, are providing ground-floor space for marine technology companies.

Doug Taylor, CEO of Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC), said the projects are not competing directly with the Saanich tech park. He added that the tech park is a long-overdue "showcase" that will provide a home for locally based companies now scattered across the southern Island. VIATeC is a 13-year-old non-profit organization that promotes development of tech businesses.

"Established local companies have grown and they need more space," said Taylor, who predicted the tech park will eventually fill up.

Peter Baillie, president of Epic Biosonics, is planning to move his hearing-aid company there from the Royal Oak business park in June. "I think it's just a really neat environment," said Baillie. "It's a campus-like setting with unique services."

Epic Biosonics has 30 employees but plans to grow significantly in 2004-05 and the park will allow it to do that, he said.

Baillie particularly likes the cycling amenities at the park, which include paths and special lockers for 180 bikes. The goal of the park is to have at least 50 per cent of workers commute by bicycle, bus, carpooling or other forms of alternative transportation.

In addition to the first phase, future plans call for the development of a further 235,000 square feet of offices in new buildings.

Other companies signed up for the park include ETrafffic Solutions, Jasco Research, Aspreva Pharmaceuticals and Omega Biosciences.

Tech Park gets Business Centre Funding

VICTORIA – Federal-provincial funding totaling $600,000 has enabled the completion of the business centre at the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Park in Saanich, which officially opened today.

The funding announcement was made by Environment Minister and Victoria MP David Anderson on behalf of Stephen Owen, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development); Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong on behalf of Competition, Science and Enterprise Minister Rick Thorpe; and Saanich South MLA Susan Brice on behalf of Management Services Minister Sandy Santori, who is minister responsible for the BC Buildings Corp. The funding was provided to the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Society under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement.

"The business centre in the Vancouver Island Technology Park is exactly the type of facility Canadians need to foster business excellence and take on the world with their products and ideas," said Minister Anderson. "The high-tech industry is the third-largest employer in the Greater Victoria area, and the investment in the technology park will ensure that it continues to grow and the region prosper. Federal funding for this initiative demonstrates one example of Canada's Innovation Strategy in action."

"The funding for the centre is in keeping with our New Era vision of making British Columbia a global magnet for high-tech investment, growth and job creation," said Chong. "We are building an exciting, modern economy that extends the benefits and opportunities in technology to every family and community in British Columbia."

The U.S. Green Buildings Council presented a Gold Award for leadership in environmental and energy design to representatives of the BC Buildings Corp. BCBC is the park's owner and manager.

Only three Gold Awards have been issued worldwide under the leadership in environmental and energy design program. The award recognizes the green adaptations within the buildings, grass and gravel parking lots, storm-water recovery systems, power purchased from methane gas conversions, public transportation agreements, bike paths and landscaping.

"The province is committed to creating common-sense solutions to the environmental challenges facing British Columbia and the world at large," said Brice. "This building shows that we can safeguard the environment while promoting economic development."

To date, five leases have been signed with high-tech companies. VIATeC, Camosun College, the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University have partnership agreements that open the door to learning opportunities for students and research and development companies.

"The federal-provincial contribution to the business centre indicates the importance of building a flexible centre that provides market-rate space and equipment that is open to the entire business community," said VIATeC president Doug Taylor. "This tech park is a huge benefit for students and new technology firms moving into research and development."

Programs and services will be financed and undertaken by the private sector. The centre includes offices for the partners; a wired, multi-purpose conference room for 95 people; a video-conferencing boardroom; and a marketing resource room to display products and services to the technology industry.

The 14-hectare tech park is next to the Interurban campus of Camosun College and the Victoria Horticultural Centre. The 15,300-square-metre business complex offers flexible, efficient and versatile space for biotechnology, high-tech manufacturing or information technology uses.

The Canada-British Columbia Western Economic Partnership Agreement is a joint multi-million-dollar agreement to encourage economic development and job creation in British Columbia. The federal department of Western Economic Diversification Canada and the provincial Ministry of Competition, Science and Enterprise are the lead agencies for the partnership agreement.

Federal funding for this project was provided for in the December 2001 budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Corporation Founded to Develop Medicines to Treat Rare Disorders

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada – A new global pharmaceutical company, Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Corporation, headquartered in Victoria BC has been created to develop high therapeutic value medicines for the treatment of rare diseases.

In the US and Canada there are over 27 million people living with a rare disease. To date, physicians have identified and documented over 6000 rare disorders. Many of these diseases are debilitating and significantly impact both quality of life and longevity. Yet the vast majority of people with rare diseases find their medical and pharmaceutical needs are poorly addressed. As a result rare disease patient advocates are increasingly vocal. They rightly feel excluded from the benefits of medical progress. They argue forcefully that their needs are just as great if not greater than those affected by far more common disorders.

The Company's business strategy and structure have been designed to meet the needs of four key stakeholders: patients with rare disorders; physicians who care for people with rare disorders; pharmaceutical companies with potential orphan drugs; and healthcare investors interested in a risk-reduced clinical-stage portfolio approach to drug development.

Aspreva is well positioned to become the pharmaceutical industry's preeminent partner of choice for rare disease orphan therapeutics. Through the provision of highly specialized orphan drug clinical development programs, the use of innovative regulatory strategies and unique marketing, sales and co-promotion initiatives Aspreva will bring desperately needed medicines to disenfranchised patient populations.

Founders

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals is founded by a core team of experienced pharmaceutical and biotechnology executives. Mr. Richard M. Glickman, founder of StressGen Biotechnologies Corporation and Ontario Molecular Diagnostics Inc., will serve as the company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Michael Hayden founder of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, Xenon Genetics Inc., the Center of Molecular Medicine and Neurovir Corporation, will serve as the company's Chief Medical Officer; and Mr. Noel Hall, a senior pharmaceutical executive with expertise in rare disease marketing and commercialization will serve as the Company's President. The founders' breadth of experience and knowledge of the rare disease field will ensure Aspreva is well positioned to become a leading force in rare disease therapeutics. The founders are supported by a team of world-renowned medical and commercial experts who have agreed to act as advisors for this new venture.

Aspreva's Business Strategy

Despite the financial success for those companies that choose to focus on orphan markets, and the medical benefits and positive corporate image associated with orphan drugs, most major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, for a variety of reasons, are unable to dedicate the resources to develop such therapies. As a result of industry consolidation large pharmaceutical companies now have significantly higher hurdle rates for drugs in development: most drugs must have a realistic chance of bringing in at least $500 million (US) in worldwide sales. Many of these same companies, however, have significant numbers of potential orphan drugs in their portfolios and need innovative partnership strategies and access to rare disease drug development expertise to fully exploit the inherent social equity associated with the provision of orphan therapeutics.

Aspreva's strategy is to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, assisting them in exploiting the full social and economic value of their drug portfolios. Aspreva will in- license orphan drugs from these companies, assuming full responsibility for their development and commercialization. Through unique co-branding and development strategies, Aspreva will ensure the original developer of the molecule will receive recognition for bringing a high value therapeutic to a patient population desperately in need.

The Company's first strategic partnership is with the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, one of the world's top research organizations in genetic medicine. Over the last 10 years the CGDN has played a key role in identifying many important rare disease genes. Since almost 80 percent of the over 6000 rare diseases are genetic in origin, this relationship provides the Company with a unique window on both scientific and medical breakthroughs in the rare disease field

Aspreva to Locate Corporate Offices in VITP

Aspreva intends to locate its global headquarters in the newly created Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The VITP will foster a dynamic growth environment that is ideal for recruiting key employees, a critical element in the successful establishment of high technology medical ventures. Furthermore, the state of the art communication systems will facilitate the establishment of the company's global operations. Aspreva's management believes the VITP will become a focal point for the Island's emerging medical and technology industries.

For more information contact:

Richard M. Glickman: 250.213.1523
Noel Hall:   250.813.0403

* Aspreva: Derived from the Latin for hope (spero) the French for dream (reve) and the English word aspiration

MANAGEMENT, DIRECTORS & ADVISORS

The Management and Founders

Richard M. Glickman – Co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Richard Glickman was the co-founder, and past President and CEO of StressGen Biotechnologies Corporation, a publicly traded biotechnology company specializing in immunotherapeutic application of stress proteins. The company is in Phase III trials with HspE7, a molecule with broad-spectrum activity against a variety of diseases related to the human papilloma virus. HspE7 was granted orphan product status in 2000 for the treatment of RRP, a rare manifestation of warts in the upper airways that causes considerable morbidity. Formerly, Richard Glickman was the founder and director of Ontario Molecular Diagnostics, a diagnostic facility that evolved into the largest molecular diagnostic laboratory in the country and is now part of the North York General Hospital in Toronto. He was also a co-founder of Probtec Corporation, a rational drug design and molecular genetics firm. Richard Glickman as Vice-President of Corporate Development, established and introduced the first licensed DNA-based forensic and paternity testing services into Canada.

Richard Glickman has served as the Chairman of the British Columbia Biotechnology Alliance and as a member of the federal government's National Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Richard Glickman is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Board of StressGen, Chairman of the Board of Vigil Health Management Inc. and is on the Board of Directors of Epic Biosonics Inc. Richard Glickman is on the Executive of the Board of Directors of the Genetic Diseases Network, a Canadian Centre of Excellence, and is a member of the British Columbia Knowledge Development Funding Committee. Richard Glickman is the recipient of both Canada's and British Columbia's Top 40 under 40 Awards.

Noel Hall – Co-founder and President

Noel Hall was Practice Leader of both the North American Life Sciences & Canadian Pharmaceutical Practices for Hill and Knowlton, one of the world's largest public affairs and marketing communications consultancies. Prior to this Noel Hall ran the UK and European Pharmaceutical practice for H
ill and Knowlton, based in London UK. In this capacity Noel Hall has worked with all major pharmaceutical companies, advising them on a wide range of issues relating to the successful commercialization of numerous pharmaceutical compounds, including several orphan compounds, throughout all stages of their lifecycle. This has included: all aspects of commercial assessment covering product positioning; strategic planning; pre and post launch marketing; medical education; stakeholder management; public relations; market access and product reimbursement. Noel Hall's product campaigns have received many awards including best launch for Zomig. Noel Hall has also worked with biotechnology companies on their pharmaceutical partnering strategies.

Prior to joining Hill and Knowlton Noel Hall was Director of Corporate Affairs (UK) for The Wellcome Foundation Ltd., with primary responsibility for market development, product PR, professional relations and health policy. Noel Hall has also worked for the UK affiliate of Abbott Laboratories as Head of Professional Relations. In this capacity he ran the pre-marketing programs for all clinical-stage research products. Noel Hall was awarded the Annual Chairman's Prize for his project assessing the viability for point-of-care diagnostics. Noel Hall started his career in the pharmaceutical industry at Leo Laboratories where he was a teaching hospital representative and then a regional sales manager.

Noel Hall currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Genetics Disease Network. Previously he sat on the Board of Directors for the HIV and AIDS charity Red Ribbon International and on the steering committee for the UK division for Pharmaceutical Partners for Better Health.

Michael Hayden, MD PhD – Co-founder and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board

Michael Hayden is currently a full professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, as well as the Founder and Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) in Vancouver. The CMMT is a gene research center associated with UBC's Faculty of Medicine.

Author of over 400 peer-reviewed publications and invited submissions, Michael Hayden focuses his research primarily on genetic diseases, including genetics of lipoprotein disorders, Huntington's Disease, and predictive medicine.

In association with his colleagues, Michael Hayden developed the proposal that led to the award of the Canadian Centers of Excellence on the genetic basis of disease. This effort has been furthered by his involvement in the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network. Michael Hayden has served as the Network's Scientific Director since its inception in 1990.

The recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards, Michael Hayden was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 1992, to the Board of the American Society of Human Genetics in 1994, and to the Royal Society of Canada in 1995. Among his most recent awards is the 1998 Distinguished Scientist Award of the Canadian Society of Clinical Investigation, the 2000 BC Biotechnology Alliance Award for Vision and Leadership and in 2001 Michael Hayden received both the Award of Excellence of the Genetics Society of Canada, and the Ottawa Life Sciences Award of Merit.

Michael Hayden was a co-founder of Xenon Genetics and Neurovir Inc, both research stage biotechnology companies.

Michael Hayden completed his medical training (1975) and received his PhD in Genetics (1979) from the University of Cape Town.