Tech park impact hits $280 million -- University of Victoria technology centre eyes major expansion to reap additional rewards
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Richard Glickman runs a global business in a relatively small town.
But the chief executive of Victoria's Aspreva Pharmaceuticals says recruiting world-class employees to the drug redevelopment company isn't as difficult as it would appear.
As one of the main tenants in the University of Victoria-owned Vancouver Island Technology Park, Glickman said being intertwined in a cluster of 28 companies and more than 1,300 employees in a campus-style setting creates a destination that makes it easier to draw a skilled workforce to the region.
The tech park, purchased by UVic a year ago with the proceeds of the estate of longtime Victoria businessman Michael Williams, released its first economic impact study yesterday.
The impressive results are pointing to further expansion on the 35-acre property in rural Saanich.
The 53-page report covering the 2005 fiscal year showed the tech park contributed $279.9 million to the local and provincial economy, including $160.2 million in direct sales and almost $42 million in federal, provincial and civic tax revenues.
VITP vice-president Dale Gann said the economic impact study paves the way to begin expansion at the site within the next two years. He said plans are being draw up for the next 60,000 to 70,000 square feet, which will be attached the current 165,000-square-foot layout. And there is room for at least another 180,000 square feet at the site.
Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said infrastructure is essential for a healthy economy and it's the duty of today's politicians to make sure future generations have the facilities. Leonard said in the 1980s when interest and unemployment rates were running in double digits, Victoria " was a place where old people came to look after their parents. That has changed."
On expansion, Leonard said, "We'll find a way to make it happen ... business people, keep the pressure on public people so we know what you need so the economic infrastructure is there for the future."
UVic president David Turpin pointed to the tech park's double edge of providing students with jobs and business opportunities and the overall impact on the community and province. "The tech park has more than lived up to our expectations," he said. "The study is clear evidence of the tremendous impact that the cutting-edge research and technology transfer activity at VITP is having on communities on Vancouver Island and beyond." He added continued economic growth supports the case for "significant expansion" that will create more jobs and economic gains.
Karimah Es Sabar, executive director of B.C. Biotech, said the tech park has become a leading example how the clustering of companies can stimulate innovation and the building of "critical mass" in technology industries.
Troy Griffiths, CEO of Vigil Health Solutions which designs software and hardware for the elder care industry, agrees. His staff of 25 interacts on a regular basis with other company employees. "From telling war stories to getting new ideas, this is a great place to have a company," says Griffiths. "You feed on the energy around here."
For the rest of the article, click through to [url=http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/business/story.html?id=0cc0cb5f-7511-499f-ab67-e2ed9ec70c6b:976d3]this page[/url:976d3]...
It includes a bunch of stats, too.