Tech, mining make strange bedfellows in B.C. supercluster – by Tyler Orton (Business Vancouver – February 28, 2018)

B.C. technology, natural resources and health-care companies are partnering with post-secondary institutions to accelerate innovation in the province

In the 1990s, when flip phones were still pricey and 56K modems were a luxury, B.C.’s tech scene was not the guaranteed money-maker that now employs more than 100,000 people. “My dad told me, ‘You’ve got to get a job in mining or forestry because then you’ll have a job forever,’” recalled Edoardo De Martin, director of the Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) Canada Excellence Centre.

New funding from Ottawa’s $950 million supercluster initiative will afford De Martin, who now leads the tech giant’s office in Vancouver, the opportunity to bridge the gap between his chosen profession and his father’s suggestion.

The supercluster program is intended to jump-start public-private partnerships within specific regions across the country to facilitate collaborations between companies and post-secondary institutions that don’t normally work together.

On February 15 the federal government gave the green light for a West Coast-led consortium featuring Microsoft and more than 260 partners to share nearly $1 billion in funding with four other consortiums across Canada.

The B.C. entity, known as Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, is focused on finding better ways to collect, analyze and eventually visualize data across industries such as natural resources, transportation, manufacturing, health and the creative economy.

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