B.C. commits more than $120m in bid to retain West Coast tech talent

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. Tech Summit May 16 | Photo: Tyler Orton

The B.C. government is committing more than $120 million to research projects, scholarships and grants in a bid to cultivate and retain more tech talent on the West Coast.

The biggest portion of the funding announced by Premier John Horgan on Wednesday (May 16) is going towards the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF), which will get access to $102 million for 75 post-secondary research projects throughout the province.

Speaking at the B.C. Tech Summit, where 2,000 high school students were in attendance in addition to tech entrepreneurs, executives and investors, the premier said the BCKDF would encourage undergrads not to leave the province for other opportunities.

It wasn’t the only funding aimed at retaining more students within B.C. to work in the technology sector.

“I’m also announcing today a $12-million focus on STEM [science, technological, engineering, mathematics] graduate scholarships. Because one thing we’ve been hearing over and over and over again is that we seem to cut short after our undergraduate programs are completed and post-grads tend to be going elsewhere,” Horgan said.

“We want them to stay in British Columbia. We’re creating 800 awards of $15,000 for STEM graduate degree programs in universities and colleges right across British Columbia.”

The premier also announced $10.5 million in funding for the B.C. technology co-op programs and $500,000 worth of scholarships aimed at women.

“I also want to make sure that those that have felt marginalized and outside of the opportunities that are presented by the tech sector feel that they’re also part and parcel of what we’re doing,” Horgan said.

The premier confirmed that the province was extending its interactive digital media tax credit for five more years and continuing on with a pilot for the provincial nominee program, aimed at making immigration easier for certain foreign tech workers.