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.

Just Posted

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Parking lot rework effort begins

Work is well underway on the Downtown Parking Lot Redevelopment Plan, which… Continue reading

Day at the beach

People young and old flocked to Radley Beach to relax and cool… Continue reading

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read