B.C. Technology Association CEO Jill Tipping. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

B.C. Technology Association CEO Jill Tipping. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

Tea and technology with B.C. Tech Association CEO Jill Tipping

B.C. needs training and competitive taxation to attract top talent

Jill Tipping, CEO of the B.C. Technology Association, sat down with Black Press Media legislature reporter Tom Fletcher this week to talk about the rapid rise of technology and her industry’s work to help companies grow.

TF: You have lots of corporate partners, how did the association get started?

JT: We’re 25 years old this year, and mostly private sector funded. That’s a bit unusual, about 60 per cent of our funding, and about 40 per cent is from the federal government. We haven’t any provincial funding but we’re hoping to change that.

We focus on helping tech companies grow and scale, making sure that the ecosystem in B.C. can support everybody, whether you’re a small company or a growing company or a big company.

TF: One of the things that the federal government acknowledged a couple of years ago is that they had too many innovation programs. How has that evolved?

JT: I think it’s a natural progression. At first there are so many people who are enthusiastic and they see what could change and what could be better. And that encourages in our sector a really entrepreneurial attitude, so everybody creates a new organization and says, ‘let me help.’ And the federal government says ‘let’s create a new program for every problem that we have.’ But over time we get a bit more mature, and we say, if we focus and prioritize we can have a bigger impact.

You see that in the federal programs, where there has been a tightening of the focus and streamlining of the approach so that we’re focused on just a few problems, scaling problems in particular sectors where Canada is strong. And we’re starting to see the same thing in B.C., where we’re coming together to focus on fewer things that are really critically important.

READ MORE: Premier Horgan urges investment at B.C. Tech Summit

READ MORE: B.C. task force goes in search of emerging tech economy

There two key things for B.C. One is access to talent. It’s the number one problem every company will talk to you about. The other thing is we don’t have as many companies achieving scale success.

TF: What are the jobs to train for in technology these days?

JT: Tech jobs are technical jobs and those are always in demand. So web designers and coders and deep data scientists. Those are really in demand. What’s also interesting is user design, so experiential learning, design thinking, marketing, finance. There are so many growth areas in tech, there’s a role for everyone.

TF: One of the difficulties with media reports is you’ll see this one-line summary about machine learning and artificial intelligence, and that it’s going to revolutionize the world. What does that actually mean, today at least?

JT: Let me give you a practical example, in medical imaging. We used to put an X-ray on the screen and expert eyes would look at it and see what they could find, and they found most things. What we can now do is take multiple different shots, and examine a database that can spot the things that the human mind and human eye might not see.

So now we’re spotting many more problems and we’re able to fix them sooner in medicine. It’s a great example of how machine learning and analyzing deep data sets can help to do things.

TF: So it’s not a robot that can do your kid’s homework.

JT: Or tidy their room. The history of machines, from the very beginning, whether we think of it as farming implements or whatever, has always been to help human beings do things that human beings either don’t enjoy or aren’t particularly good at. But the human beings will stay in control.

TF: Your organization is focused on attracting skilled people. The U.S. has lowered its corporate taxes. B.C. and Canada have increased their top personal income rates, so the combined income tax for a high-level executive or entrepreneur is more than 50 per cent. What’s the effect of that?

JT: One of the interesting things for our sector is that everything in the world that’s thriving in tech and innovation is in a place that’s got a high cost of housing, high cost of living and high taxes, like California. This is an industry that’s had to thrive despite those setbacks.

And it does it because what it’s mining is human brains and human intelligence, and human beings like to live in delightful, lovely places, so they really value quality of life taken as a whole.

Some of the things where Canada and B.C. in particular has a real advantage is our health system and our education system are fantastic advantages. Tech workers tend to be fairly cosmopolitan, so they like the atmosphere in Canada.

It’s one of the reasons I’m bullish about Canada as a tech economy. In a challenging world, our brand and what we stand for and the kind of place we are to live is going to be really attractive.

Not everything is the best it can possibly be, but we’ve got some great advantages.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Nanaimo African Heritage Society is capping its month of Black History Month celebrations with a virtual gala on Sunday, Feb. 28. (News Bulletin photo)
Nanaimo African Heritage Society presents virtual Black History Month gala

Event to feature a variety of speakers and performers

(Black Press file)
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools reports COVID-19 exposure at Cedar Elementary

School district says Island Health has completed contact tracing

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from the beach in rescue attempt in Nanaimo

Animal dies in spite of efforts of marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

(News Bulletin file)
RDN warns residents not to give financial info over phone

Resident hung up and called RDN after receiving call for credit card information

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way into business on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

Most Read