Crystal Garden will be brimming with life, both actual and virtual, on Friday as Victoria’s technology sector pulls back the curtains for what has become its annual open house, Discover Tectoria.
The one-day event organized by the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council will welcome up to 4,000 people of all ages into the showcase that has become a recruiting tool as much as it is about showing off the tech sector.
“It used to be, back in 2003, that no one believed there was a technology sector in Victoria, so we had this thing that was an opportunity to see it all in one place,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of VIATEC. “But as the sector has grown and demand for people has increased it’s morphed into a career-profiling, day-in-the-life kind of thing.”
The event features tech companies of all stripes and stages, from start-up experimental technology firms to established gaming and engineering outfits.
Almost all of them are growing and in need of people and investment to expand.
Victoria's tech sector has set a new goal for itself — to have its constituent firms more than double their existing combined revenue to $10 billion by 2030. Currently, it collectively has just over $4 billion in annual revenues from its 904 companies and employs about 20,000 people.
“There are big career elements at Discover Tectoria. Companies are hiring, picking up co-op students for work terms and even listing what kinds of things you should be taking in school if you want to work in their space,” said Gunn, noting the event is deliberately held on professional development days in the school district to encourage students to explore what’s possible.
“Most students don’t know what a tech career looks like because you don’t see that on TV, but this is a chance to meet people face-to-face see what they make and find out how they got there.”
It’s also a chance for anyone interested in the sector — be it someone considering a career change, just curious, media or policy makers wanting to understand the sector. “There are lots of people who have been hearing about the tech sector in Victoria don’t see it first hand because we don’t sell a lot of product here, so it’s an opportunity for the curious, no matter what age or stage of career to come out and get a better sense of it all,” he said.
Discover Tectoria has 76 company booths on two floors, trade show, panel discussions, science demonstrations, virtual reality exhibits, a jam hut and samples from Victoria Beer Week. There is also start-up alley for new firms finding their feet, research projects from the University of Victoria, and interactive experiences to try. The showcase is open to all 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Crystal Garden. There is no admission charge.