From Kelowna to Kamloops – Building the BCDev Community

By Loren Mullane, Community Engagement, BCDevExchange

In the early days of the BCDevExchange, we heard a key message from the BC Innovation Council’s (BCIC) experienced technology network: “Don’t build this idea behind a desk in Victoria. Get out and talk to the provincial tech industry.”

Driven by this sage advice, we have been testing the idea of the BCDevExchange at regular tech meetups around B.C., including stops last month in Kamloops and Kelowna.

Kamloops Innovation Hosted BCDev Meetup May 11th

The Kelowna meetup was already planned when the Kamloops tech community caught wind of the BCDevExchange. Kamloops Innovation, a tech accelerator in the BCIC network, contacted us via Twitter asking if we would come there, too.

The stars aligned and on May 11th a meetup hosted by Kamloops Innovation and local entrepreneur Jonathan Bowers saw over 30 people hear BCDev co-lead Peter Watkins talk about a new model of collaboration between government and the tech sector.


As at previous meetups, we were grateful to have local tech luminaries tell their stories to help spur discussion. Experienced technologist and Kamloops Innovation executive director Lincoln Smith moderated, while Dan Erickson of Truvian Labs brought an entrepreneur’s perspective to our panel.

Discussion themes that stood out for us included procurement, security and privacy—important considerations when collaborating on technology. The conversation focused on how government reviews, verifies and tests contributions from developers before actually using them. For example, what would the City of Kamloops need to do before taking code from developers on the internet and running that code against city databases and systems?

There was also enthusiasm to engage with the City of Kamloops and to further the discussion locally. Kamloops Innovation scheduled a second  BCDev meetup on June 17th to explore opportunities for collaboration between the City of Kamloops and the local tech community. We will be watching with keen interest, open to contributing where needed.

Accelerate Okanagan Hosted BCDev Meetup May 27th

On May 27th, we landed in Kelowna for a meetup with over 20 attendees hosted by Accelerate Okanagan, another BCIC accelerator.

Once again we were thankful for the support of the local tech scene. Chad Kohalyk, a technology expert with a deep knowledge of the web and consumer software applications, moderated a panel with open data API builder Mason Macklem and Accelerate Okanagan executive in residence Raghwa Gopal, a serial entrepreneur with 30 years of startup experience

A few of the key themes discussed included data quality and access, and municipalities taking the lead to foster a culture of innovation. Also top of mind: safeguarding the intellectual property of entrepreneurs who built IT products and services that leveraged public data, code or APIs.

Get Involved

Our engagement with the tech industry around B.C. has provided valuable insight to guide the direction of the BCDevExchange. We welcome any thoughts you have to share. Please post a comment below and check us out in GitHub.

Thanks to the host organizers in both communities and all of those who came out to talk about a better way for government and the tech industry to innovate and collaborate.

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