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Tech community honours its stars for first time since 2019

The 600 attendees raised $150,000 to fund the Victoria Community Food Hub’s Kitchen Connect program
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Dan Gunn, centre, chief executive of VIATEC. COURTESY VIATEC

Victoria’s technology community made up for lost time Thursday night at the Victoria Conference Centre by toasting 16 of its stars and raising $150,000 at the first Tech Community Awards since the pandemic started.

It was also technically the first Tech Community Awards, as what had been the annual VIATEC Awards changed its name and some of its focus this year to ensure more people and companies felt included in the high-tech community.

“Not being able to bring our tech community together to celebrate like this during the pandemic has been difficult,” said VIATEC chief executive Dan Gunn.

The 600 attendees raised $150,000 to fund the Victoria Community Food Hub’s Kitchen Connect program, a food-business incubator and processing facility designed to enable farmers and food makers to create local value-added products. It also provides business development support, peer mentorship, skills training and work experience for vulnerable populations.

“Seeing all the smiling faces, laughter, camaraderie and excitement again felt amazing,” Gunn said. “Great people and companies were recognized and watching their generosity make an amazing initiative like Kitchen Connect’s Food Connections program possible for two years makes us very proud of the great people in our sector.”

The awards were established 20 years ago to bring the tech community together to celebrate some of the most notable companies and individuals in the sector.

The annual Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion went to Jerome Etwaroo, director of the Coast Capital Innovation Centre at the University of Victoria, and the Janet Baird Award for Community Champion went to Trinity MacRae.

The VIATEC member of the year was Cognito Health, and Product of the Year went to ­Barnacle Systems.

The other winners were:

• Certn, Anchor Company of the Year

• Pilothouse Digital, Scale Company of the Year

• MarineLabs, Growth ­Company of the Year

• Audette, Start-up of the Year

• RaceRocks, Employer of the Year

• Dr. Karolina Valente, Leader of the Year

• Julianne Johnson, Emerging Leader of the Year

• Freshworks, Inclusion Champion

• Joni, Social Impact and Innovative Excellence in ­Hardware

• Shaun Jamieson, Angel of the Year

•VitaminLab, Innovative Excellence in Software

aduffy@timescolonist.com