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Kelowna attracts tech start-ups

Kelowna is becoming a Canadian hub for the high-tech industry. Not only are local entrepreneurs launching start-ups, but established companies are moving to the Okanagan city. The industry has grown 30 per cent in two years and that trend is expected to continue. Kimberly Davidson reports.

For tech CEO Lynda Brown, Kelowna was put on her radar while she was attending Metabridge,  a two-day technology retreat held in Kelowna every June.

It brings high-level executives like Brown from around North America to interact with the top 15 tech start-ups in the country.

Her company, Curatio, was selected as Top Canadian Start-up, and voted the people’s choice favourite at the event in 2015.

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The company’s app assists those facing a health crisis. It connects them with other patients, information, and daily tracking tools to help manage their conditions.

Now Brown is bringing Curatio to Kelowna.

Accelerate Okanagan is the association supporting the sector and the organizer of Metabridge.

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“For tech companies, the edge is they can be a big fish in a small pond,” Brea Retzlaff, operations manager of Accelerate Okanagan, said. “So when they relocate here, they have a lot of different supports from institutions, academia and government. It’s exciting to come in and have that marketplace here.”

Other resources that are attractive to tech and startup companies like Curatio include a steady stream of graduates from UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College and access to international travel through YLW.

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In March, Kelowna’s Innovation Centre opened up. It’s a building dedicated to the needs of tech companies with offices, meeting rooms, and co-working space.

It’s already 80 per cent full and it’s where Lynda Brown has chosen to run Curatio’s Kelowna operations.

“It’s got a great community, it’s very welcoming, and I love, just the energy that’s here,” Brown said.