Booming: that’s the best way to describe the growth of Kelowna’s technology sector. Fuelled by entrepreneurial spirit, innovative ideas, and a wealth of capital, tech is leading Kelowna’s fast-growing economy. A centre of excellence for gaming development, animation studios, medtech, agtech, and software as a service provider, the city plays an integral role in Canada’s Digital Tech Supercluster, emerging as British Columbia’s fastest growing tech centre, and a sought-after destination to host meetings and events in the tech sector.
“With the fastest growing tech hub in British Columbia, Kelowna and the Okanagan are not only attracting entrepreneurs and start-ups ready to scale, but as a hybrid urban/resort destination, it’s become an inspiring meeting place for tech entrepreneurs to network with industry influencers at by-invitation executive retreats and conferences each year,” says Corie Griffiths, Director Economic Development Commission, Regional District of Central Okanagan
It’s the Okanagan lifestyle that helped attract the by-invitation-only Metabridge Retreat to Kelowna. The high-level networking experience is an opportunity for Canadian tech CEOs and founders to connect with top influencers from across North America to help scale international growth. Held annually in early summer, it’s also a great opportunity for delegates to network while experiencing the region’s dynamic farm-to-plate culinary scene, 40 wineries, golf, watersports, and much more.
“The benefit of meeting in Kelowna – you have all the amenities of a major city, all the recreation of a resort, and plenty of opportunities to connect with Kelowna’s tech entrepreneurs, researchers and thought leaders – that’s not something every destination can boast,” says Jennifer Horsnell, Director of Destination and Business Development for Tourism Kelowna.
Kelowna is part of Canada’s Digital Tech Supercluster and an important region within the Cascadia Innovation Corridor that links British Columbia and Washington State innovators. It’s the headquarters of such innovators as FreshGrade, a portfolio and assessment platform used by educators around the globe, Yeti Farm digital animation studio, and games developer, Hyper Hippo Productions; businesses that are the cornerstone of Kelowna’s tech boom.
“What a great place to make video games! When we started we usually had to explain we were from ‘Kelowna... Canada... north of Seattle....’ Today we walk into the some of the biggest tech companies in the world, where they greet us as the "Hippos from Kelowna"... they know where Kelowna is now... a true testament to the amazing tech hub Kelowna has become,” says Sam Fisher, President of Hyper Hippo.
Indeed, when organizations meet here, they can capitalize on Kelowna’s intellectual capital, then balance all that brain work exploring five distinct wine trails, three ski resorts, and one of the longest golf seasons in Canada. Meeting in Kelowna allows for plenty of formal and informal ways to network and connect before, during, and after business sessions.
As Kelowna’s tech community expands, so does the demand to host conferences here, which is why organizations like Celero, and CentralSquare Technologies, and the upcoming Canadian Communications Alliance host conferences here.
“There’s a real buzz to the city,” says Horsnell. And when it comes to meetings and events, “no one wants to miss out on what’s happening in Kelowna.”
Kim Cameron is a content editor specializing in tourism and hospitality storytelling. A former international meeting and incentive travel planner and hotelier, Kim drives all editorial coverage for Business Events Canada, a division of Destination Canada, the country’s national tourism marketing organization. In addition to writing winning awards entries, event proposals and website content for private event planning agencies, Kim is working on her first novel.