George Hanson

Economy key message during annual Vancouver Island summit

NANAIMO – Star from Dragon’s Den tapped to deliver key speech on innovation and technology at Vancouver Island Economic Summit.

A dragon from a popular CBC television show will be among the speakers at the 10th annual Vancouver Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo later this month.

Nicole Verkindt, the newest member of the Dragon’s Den and founder of Offset Market Exchange, an analytic platform for industries such as aerospace and oil and gas, will be give a talk on innovation, technology and “the importance of disruptive thinking” at the summit dinner Oct. 26.

As it is every year, the theme is the state of the Vancouver Island economy and Verkindt was approached for her entrepreneurial knowledge, according to George Hanson, president of Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, the non-profit society organizing the event.

“We’re interested always in entrepreneurialism, the younger demographic and what is going on in technology and various other sectors and she’s featured … as the newest and youngest person on the den and we thought it’d be a good fit to bring that perspective to the Island,” said Hanson.

Hanson said former Nanaimo MLA Mike Hunter is credited with initiating the summit because there was “recognition of a need for community and business and government leaders to come together” and examine how to collaborate to improve the economy. It has evolved and grown, he said.

“It has continued to grow and build its reputation,” said Hanson. “The summit and the organization started at a grassroots level and has continued as a grassroots event and organization and it’s grown from 150, 200 people perhaps that came to the first one … to an event that now regularly attracts close to 600 people annually.”

With all the delegates gathering in one place, networking opportunities are a major aspect, and they can bear fruit, said Hanson.

“A few years ago, we held a session on international education on the Island and brought folks together to speak about where that was heading and out of that came a realization that neither the school districts nor the colleges and universities worked together relative to their international marketing.

“A new organization was created in the south Island where now [the University of Victoria] and Camosun and Royal Roads and the capital region school district pool their marketing efforts overseas,” said Hanson.

For more information on the summit, please go to

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