The supercluster, a consortium that includes some of the world’s most recognized names in tech, healthcare and natural resources, hopes to create 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years, boosting the regional economy in many sectors. Microsoft is one the more than 300 participants in this group. An initiative of the Canadian Federal government, the Digital Technology Supercluster was one of five winning recipients of a $950 million award nationwide, and is focused on accelerating growth by bringing some of the biggest names in the industry together to advance technologies.
According to its CEO, Sue Paish, one of the goals of the consortium is to create an environment that will help develop, grow and ultimately sustain innovation and talent in the area.
“In British Columbia, we have a long history of producing a lot of start-ups and lots of innovative minds,” she says. “If we can take some of these creative minds and their technologies and put them in an environment where they are surrounded by like-minded people and medium and large companies that have the expertise and resources to help redefine and refine ideas and bring it to market, that’s essential to their success. We need the shot putters, sprinters and the long-distance runners to make a track team.”
A training ground for augmented, virtual and mixed reality
At the British Columbia Institute of Technology, students are being equipped with tools for the real world. Studies at this institute of applied education focus on integrating student learning with industry projects, applied research and entrepreneurship so graduates head out to the workforce with the right mix of skills to create breakthroughs in the field.
“We know that people and organizations will work very differently in the future, as technology evolves fast and furiously,” says Kathy Kinloch, president of BCIT. “As an applied education institute, BCIT believes that people will be the driving force of success through this disruptive change and their own evolving career needs. We provide young people and lifelong learners with a diverse set of the latest technical and human skills, as and when they need them, to create innovative leaders and resilient individuals.
BCIT students graduate with a broad perspective, making them the right people to advance the field of augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality. Microsoft has partnered with BCIT to develop a first-of-its-kind mixed-reality curriculum, with the goal of training students for careers in the field of digital media and entertainment. Graduates are also able to make an impact in their own communities as they don’t have to go too far to find work, whether in the city of Vancouver or further south along the Cascadia Corridor.