Victoria tech sector hands out annual awards

The high-tech sector honoured its next wave and some of its past Thursday night as the Victoria Advanced Technology Council handed out the hardware at its annual awards show at the Victoria Conference Centre.

More than 700 crowded the awards show to see Clayton Stark win the Colin Lennox Award as Technology Champion and 30-year-old firm Quester Tangent take home Technology Company of the Year.

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“Clayton is different from a lot of people who have won the Colin Lennox Award in the past. He comes from a different industry and has gone about business in different ways,” said VIATeC executive director Dan Gunn. “But there are few people who have taken more time to champion Victoria and the tech sector than Clayton. He’s the perfect choice.”

Stark, a Victoria native, moved from Victoria to San Francisco with his firm Flock when it was bought by online games firm Zynga in 2011.

He returned less than two years later to set up a Zynga studio here and now has established a new gaming studio, KixEye, which is part of a vibrant and growing sub-sector within the Victoria high-tech industry.

Gunn said through it all Stark has been a mentor to young executives and start-up companies and has maintained that Victoria has made an excellent name for itself in the technology industry.

Quester Tangent’s award recognizes a well-established firm that has grown into a shining example of what’s possible in Victoria.

“Quester Tangent is one of those really great stories for Victoria — a company working in a certain area that through strong management and strategy managed to double their organization in a short period of time and find a real niche for themselves,” he said. “It’s also a great story to see a three-decade-old company have a strong surge 25 years in. That’s a good example to all established companies of what is possible.”

Quester started life as a developer of ocean mapping gear and has evolved to create monitoring units to provide detailed diagnostic information for rail systems. In the last five years it has doubled its revenues.

Award winners were given a new kind of trophy as VIATeC unveiled a robot made of spare parts — some took to calling it Freddy by the end of the night.

“We really wanted something as unusual, creative and unique as the tech sector itself,” said Gunn.

For the third year running, the awards show was laid out as a late-night talk show, and it appeared to be a hit again as it marks the first year some people could not get tickets.

“Expectations have continued to rise every year we do this. We have gained a reputation for being irreverent and creative and as a result we’ve seen a massive increase in ticket sales,” said Gunn

Some of the features of the night included a series of video vignettes showing the robot award statue animated and enjoying the sights of Victoria. In addition, the start-up company of the year award was decided by audience vote after brief pitches by the finalists. It also had a finale that featured confetti cannons and giant inflatable whales that have become a staple since the talk-show format took hold.

And while last year there was a 500-person light sabre battle to wrap things up, this year the awards ceremony turned into a dance party. Vancouver’s Decentralized Dance Party crew took over leading guests out of the hall and into the city.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

2013 TECHNOLOGY  AWARD WINNERS

Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion
Clayton Stark    
VIATeC Member of the Year
Race Rocks 3D Inc.    
Emerging Technology Company of the Yea
Tutela Technologies
Team of the Year
Vancouver Island Health Authority  IMIT PDM
Employer of the Year
Edoc Systems Group Ltd.
Executive of the Year
Stuart Bowness, MediaCore
Innovative Excellence
3DA Systems Inc.    
Online Strategy of the Year
Tap for Tap    
Product of the Year
Latitude Technologies, IONode Flight Data Monitoring Device         
Tech Company of the Year
Quester Tangent    
Education Champion
Dave Shortreed

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