BC Premier’s Technology Council calls for action on province’s key clusters

Guest Contributor
April 16, 2003

The BC Premier’s Technology Council (PTC) has issued its fourth report highlighting areas it has previously identified as priorities for government, and it joins a chorus of voices in advocating urgent action on the development of a provincial fuel cells strategy. The report covers variety of issues and contains a chorus of recommendations in on often confusing manner, including priority recommendations on venture capital, marketing and promotion of the province’s technology strengths, broadband and telehealth.

The latest report is the first to be issued since the PTC re-organized and introduced five new members (see box), and reduced its reporting commitment from quarterly to semi-annually. The next report is slated for completion this summer.

For the fuel cells sector, the PTC wants the government to building its provincial strategy in tandem with a similar national initiative. But it couches its directives within the Liberal administration’s calls for fiscal restraint and a “leaner more effective government”. While it acknowledges that specific actions are required, its call for public investment is muted.

Areas within the fuel cell cluster for which the PTC recommends action are: enhanced support for R&D, support for market-focused demonstration projects, the BC government as an early adopter of fuel cell products, harmonized codes and standards, incentives for growth and investment, and infrastructure development.

The report contributes nothing new to its stand on venture capital (VC), but it does note that it remains a high priority in the absence of government action. It calls for the tax credit budget for labour sponsored VC funds to be increased from $50 million to $100 million annually. It also calls on the government to drop the requirement for registering a separate VC corporation to allow direct investment and increase the maximum amount of capital a business can receive beyond the current $3-million limit.

Other VC related recommendations include:

  • increasing the threshold limit for a small business from 75 employees to 150;
  • allowing program investors the option of investing directly from their self-directed retirement savings plans; and
  • expanding investment options beyond capital investments.

The report underlines the Council’s sectoral approach to accelerating economic growth by urging action in support of the new media and wireless industries. Along with fuel cells, information technology and life sciences, these are the five key technology sectors that the PTC wants to be branded and promoted internationally. It calls for the creation of a technology industry plan to provide a sustained marketing effort of the technology industry and business climate.

Recommendations on the new media and wireless sectors will be addressed in a future report.

The report also urges the government to introduce a Premier’s Awards program in the context of the province’s push for cultural and fundamental change in the public service. The awards — modelled on a similar program in the UK — would be open to the broader public service and include four categories: leadership, service excellence, innovation and partnership.



Reg Bird

chairman, TRLabs & SaskTel

Denis O’Connor

executive chairman

QuestAir Technologies Inc

Dan Muzyka

dean, faculty of commerce and business

Univ of British Columbia

Darcy O’Grady

corporate VP, human resources

Creo Inc

Gerri Sinclair

general manager, Microsoft Network Canada

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