Lawson Lundell LLP has recently opened a new office in downtown Kelowna. From left: Max Walker, Paul Matthews, Michael Macaulay and Scott Andersen
A booming market of more than $1 billion in revenue brings thousands of jobs as this centre undergoes a transformation
It’s no secret that the technology sector is rapidly changing the prosperity of the Okanagan in general and Kelowna specifically. Once famous solely as a mecca for wine production and summer fun, the region today is home to more than 600 tech companies that employ almost 8,000 people, which in turn generates more than $1.3 billion in annual revenue.
Thanks to companies such as Disney, Telus, QHR, Stardyne and KF Aerospace, there are more people employed in the B.C. tech sector than in mining, oil, gas and forestry combined — with new companies accounting for nearly all net new job creation in the region.
It’s a remarkable achievement, considering only a few years ago Kelowna’s landscape was substantially different.
“There were a few startups five years ago when I first started making trips from Vancouver, and various levels of government and related organizations — such as Accelerate Okanagan — determined to make the tech sector one of the largest of the provincial economy,” recalls Michael Macaulay, partner at Lawson Lundell LLP. “The result of their hard work is astonishing.”
Plus, Kelowna-based companies are attracting attention from outside the region with hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the community via the acquisition of numerous Okanagan companies — with much of that talent being reinvested in new projects.
But with the growth comes the need for support, and Lawson Lundell has recently opened a new office in downtown Kelowna to serve as a liaison for tech companies and to facilitate growth. As a leading Western Canadian business law firm, Lawson Lundell draws upon the expertise of its Technology Group to assist clients with their commercial law needs in all stages, including financing, commercialization, acquisitions and exits — as well as keeping clients apprised of developments concerning regulations and governing laws.
Spearheaded by Macaulay — whose expertise includes corporate finance, venture capital funds, M&A and technology commercialization — the Kelowna office consists of: Paul Matthews, a professional engineer who focuses on licensing and technology commercialization; Max Walker, who handles corporate legal matters and tax; and Scott Andersen, a commercial litigation lawyer.
This year, Lawson Lundell relocated even closer to the action in Kelowna’s official tech hub: The Innovation Centre, a state of the art facility housing everything from two-person startups to large technology and innovation firms (Bananatag, Infuse I.T., Agility Fuel Solutions, Soil Mate, and Accelerate Okanagan and the University of B.C. Okanagan are some of the tenants).
For all of its remarkable achievements, Macaulay views tech growth in the Okanagan as just beginning — and fuelled by a growing number of University of British Columbia Okanagan campus graduates who want to stay in the region rather than relocate elsewhere.
He says, “There’s the right mix of capital, energy and will to expand further, which is underscored by a wonderful commitment of both new and established tech firms to give back to the community.
“It’s exciting for us to contribute to the early days of growth — and on a personal level we are all thrilled to live in one of the most desirable regions in Western Canada.”