Okanagan, a little known Canadian town in the province of British Columbia, has opened a center for innovation as part of a broader goal to incubate a high-tech industry.
The center boasts six stories, 9,728 square meters of floor space, and nearly a dozen meeting rooms.
Several major tech players of Canada have already signed leases in the center, according to the government of British Columbia.
The center is an ideal place for young technology enterprises, as it allows then the opportunity to collaborate with larger firms. Accelerator Okanagan, a local incubator, has reportedly agreed to provide workspace and mentorship opportunities for new companies that are just getting started.
The government claims that scores of young companies are now starting out and the town is growing into a technology hub.
The federal government gave CAD$3.4 million for the construction of the Center, with the provincial government contributing CAD$6 million. But the bulk of funding for the CAD$35 million project came from the Kelowna Sustainable Innovation Group.
A local start-up, Soil Mate, is said to be the first private firm to sign lease in the center. The British Columbia Innovation Council is also occupying a large space.
There are approximately 633 tech firms in the Okanagan, employing 7,600 people, and contributing CAD$1.3 billion to the local economy, according to the 2015 Okanagan Impact Study.
These days, British Columbia is doing everything it can groom a technology hub. It has recently made foreign nationals working in high-tech jobs exempt from paying real estate tax. In addition, the federal government has offered funds for several technology firms in the province.
Technology employment in British Columbia rose 2.9% last year, more than double the national tech sector employment growth of 1.1%.