Vancouver to Open Technology and Social Innovation Centre to Support Entrepreneurs, Startups

The City of Vancouver, in collaboration with the Vancouver Economic Commission and the Vancity Community Foundation, has designated 312/324 Main Street (former the site of the Vancouver Police Department) as the future site of the city’s first “Technology and Social Innovation Centre.”

According to the City, the centre will support a broad range of entrepreneurs, social innovators, and non-profit organizations through incubation and acceleration programming, and through offering business services, financing and training for a variety of sectors including technology startups, sustainability and clean-tech, social enterprise and micro-enterprise.

“Vancouver’s first Technology and Social Innovation Centre is a unique and exciting partnership that will provide significant new support to foster innovation in our community and economy,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“The centre will further accelerate job growth and investment in Vancouver’s fast-growing social enterprise, technology, and startup sectors, while providing important new resources, gathering space and programming for the community,” he added.

Quoth the City:

The re-purposing of 312/324 Main Street aligns with numerous City priorities including the City’s Digital Strategy, Greenest City Action Plan, DTES Local Area Plan and the Economic Action Strategy. The overall vision for the centre is to build a financially sustainable economic development platform that fosters innovation and creates great companies and social enterprises that drive social impact and key economic development performance measures in Vancouver.

The Vancity Community Foundation, in consultation with the City and the VEC, says it will lead the process for a phased-in approach to securing sub-tenants, who will act as partners in program delivery. The Foundation will also curate the space as property manager and provide oversight.

“We believe one of the best ways to support the community and the local economy is through an integrated approach, including increased employment opportunities for residents,” said Derek Gent, Executive Director of the Vancity Community Foundation.

“The new centre will focus on social innovation and involve a diverse mix of people in initiatives that make a positive impact and benefits the community for the long term,” he added.

The foundation will lease the second floor of the building to create a hub for social innovation and inclusion, which it earmarked $1.5 million toward last year. The ground floor of the centre will function as a community space for various events and programs, services and training, according to the City.

“We are excited to continue our work on this project with the Vancity Community Foundation and with the many passionate supporters in our business community who would like to see Vancouver become home to a world class Innovation Centre as we see in other cities across the globe,” said Ian McKay CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission.

The VEC says it will report the economic outcomes and activity-based outcomes of the centre on an annual basis to City Council and the VEC Board of Directors. Economic and business measures and performance indicators will include jobs created, jobs growth, companies and organizations created, investment attracted and other indicators.

“The VEC views this Innovation Centre as a critical piece of infrastructure aimed at closing gaps in our ecosystem and addressing the needs of our City’s entrepreneurs and innovators,” McKay added.