Accelerating Canada's Future

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The Digital Technology Supercluster: Driving Canada's Future.

The Digital Technology Supercluster is stoking the engines of Canada's economic renewal through the development, deployment, and scaling of Canadian-made digital technologies to accelerate our return to prosperity and drive Canada's global competitiveness.

Canada's economic and global success will be driven by digital technologies to solve critical issues and capture massive opportunities, such as strengthening the resilience and sustainability of our healthcare system, combatting the impacts of climate change, protecting vulnerable citizens, advancing food security, and rapidly re-skilling our workforce.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital imperative. Powered by a growing community of more than 680 organizations, the Digital Technology Supercluster is growing a diverse and comprehensive portfolio of projects that leverage digital technology opportunities, drive the transformation of Canada's economy, build resilience across our healthcare system, create global platforms for securely sharing data and inspire courageous innovation.

Good for Canada. Good for the World.

Our Acknowledgments

Digital Technology Supercluster Ambassadors

This past year, the Digital Technology Supercluster continued to build on its commitment to solving industry and society's biggest problems through digital solutions. Whether it be measuring the impact of climate change, training Canadians for skilled positions in the digital economy, or tackling the challenges COVID-19 has presented, the Digital Technology Supercluster's approach to collaborative innovation contributed significantly to the strength of ‘Team Canada’.

Honourable Navdeep Bains,
Minister of Innovation Science
and Industry

These have been challenging times, but as Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft, recently noted – we've seen advancements in digital transformation that would have taken years to achieve. Looking forward, there is a tremendous opportunity to rethink the way we do things, rebuilding what works, and re-imaging the rest.

Edoardo De Martin,
General Manager,
Microsoft Vancouver

The opportunity to collaborate with some of the bigger partners creates outcomes beyond immediate Supercluster projects - we are already in discussions on what else we can accomplish working together, achieving greater growth at a faster pace.

Dr. Alexandra T. Greenhill,
CEO & Chief Medical Officer,
Careteam Technologies

Accelerating momentum

A Message from the Board Co-Chairs

Bold ideas and innovation emerge at the intersections of society. Now in our second year, this Annual Report highlights how we have accelerated momentum through digital solutions created by our Members.

This year, we successfully completed two competitive calls for proposals, resulting in project investments involving more than 150 diverse Canadian organizations, 100 of which are small and medium-sized companies.

Projects selected will help to better understand and monitor the health of our planet, protect oceans from illegal fishing, and use data to improve treatments for autism. These are just three examples of more than 60 selected projects that will help to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies.

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COVID-19 amplified the importance of digital transformation. We responded to this public health emergency with the launch of our COVID-19 Program focused on building the resilience of our healthcare system and enhancing our economic and social well-being.

On behalf of our Board colleagues, thank you to our dedicated Digital Technology Supercluster community for their determination and the remarkable accomplishments made this year in building a better future for all Canadians.

  • Johanne Senécal
    Senior Strategy Advisor, Government and Regulatory Affairs, TELUS

  • Edoardo De Martin
    General Manager, Microsoft Vancouver

  • Meet our full board of directors

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Building Canada's Prosperity: A message from the CEO

Working together to solve industry's and society's biggest problems

We embarked on this journey three years ago, with a collective vision to build a better Canada by working with industry and academia to solve some of our world’s biggest problems.

This year we saw our Members apply earth observation satellites to improve our ability to detect and forecast extreme weather events, use computational biochemistry to eliminate the need for chemical pesticides on our wheat crops, develop platforms that empower Canadians to manage their own health data, and leverage digital solutions to increase opportunities for women and underrepresented Canadians to explore and prepare for exciting careers in technology.

COVID-19 has unquestionably accelerated the need to digitize our economy. I am proud of our Members’ ability to pivot and respond to COVID-19, developing, and applying digital technologies to combat issues created by the pandemic while accelerating the extraordinary momentum started last year.

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I am grateful for the support and engagement from our Members, the guidance and thoughtfulness of our Board, the relentless dedication of the Digital Technology Supercluster team, and our partnership with the Government of Canada through ISI.

We are proud of our growth and accomplishments this year and are excited for the opportunity to help drive Canada’s return to economic prosperity and capture our opportunities for global leadership in digital transformation. Thank you for your support as we build the future of Canada, together.

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Our Purpose

From climate change to COVID-19, the Digital Technology Supercluster is working to solve the world’s biggest problems through innovative collaboration.

Vision

To position Canada as a global leader in digital technology through a Supercluster that unlocks the potential of data in the era of the intelligent enterprise.

Mission

  • Create a critical mass of world-leading digital technology companies in BC and Canada that develop innovative products, platforms, and processes;
  • Transform Canadian industries through the digitization of business, prioritizing industry, specific needs and delivering productivity gains and competitive advantages at the firm and industry levels; and,
  • Grow the economic benefits for the region and for Canada by generating new companies, scaling-up existing firms, enabling performance improvements in Canada’s sectors of strength, and positioning BC as a global hub for digital technology innovation.

Our Values

The Digital Technology Supercluster is guided by core values that are the cornerstone of how Members, Associates, staff and stakeholders interact and work together.

Diversity

We embrace diversity and inclusion in everything we do, including improving the inclusion and participation of Indigenous people, underrepresented groups and women in our digital talent base;

Transparency

We are transparent, open, candid and respectful in our communications and actions, and we promote a trustful environment;

Collaborative

We proactively collaborate, respecting and leveraging the value of different experiences and perspectives to drive agreement;

Results Focused

We are outcome and results-focused, knowing that through collaboration we will deliver meaningful, strong and positive results;

Greater Good

We embrace the greater good and seek system-wide benefits;

Bold

We are dynamic and innovative, pushing technology for maximum business and societal impact; and,

Respect

We keep our promises and if there are conflicts, we declare them to maintain transparency and professional integrity.

Our Goals

2019-2020

Our second year focused on growing a high-quality investment portfolio and an engaged Member community.

Our values include being bold, results focussed, and doing what is best for the greater good. It was no surprise then that when Canada was battling COVID-19 we responded quickly – marshaling nearly all uncommitted funding in our Supercluster and committing it to the Team Canada efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

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2020-2021

Our goals for 2020-2021 are to enhance Canada’s competitiveness, support our economy, build resiliency in our healthcare system, continue to address COVID-19, and help Canadians to return safely to work and community while we drive Canada’s return to economic prosperity.

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A Team Canada approach

From protecting food crops to climate change and COVID-19, the Digital Supercluster is working to solve the world’s biggest problems by developing, deploying and scaling Canadian made digital technologies in ways never seen before.

Proud to partner with

We are working with more than 680 organizations from across Canada in sectors ranging from mining to healthcare, quantum computing and software development, to post-secondary education, super-computing, forestry and beyond.

Our Programs

The Digital Technology Supercluster is accelerating Canada’s digital future through our dedicated program streams to fuel economic growth, and create thousands of new jobs across Canada.

Capacity Building

Partnering with employers, educators and community organizations to build job-ready, world-leading talent.

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Data Commons

New business insights through new platforms to collect, store and analyze data.

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Digital Twins

Creating virtual replicas of production environments for real-time operations management, simulation, modelling and training.

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Precision Health

Improving the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of disease through innovative digital technologies for better health and wellness for citizens.

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COVID-19

Unlocking solutions to protect the health and safety of all Canadians and our economy through the development, deployment, and scaling of digital technologies.

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Point-of-Care Ultrasound Project launched with COVID-19 in mind

Unveiled at the beginning of 2020, the Point-of-Care Ultrasound for COVID-19 project's overarching goal is to provide ultrasound bedside tools for doctors in urban, rural, and remote communities.

These advanced tools combine machine-learning technology, portable devices and a cloud-based platform to create an integrated point-of-care network that ensures accurate diagnoses for Canadians while reducing the need for specialized training.

“It's about democratizing health care and eliminating the discrepancy between the quality of care in rural and urban areas,” explained Prof. Purang Abolmaesumi of the University of British Columbia, one of seven diverse organizations collaborating on the project. “For the first time, we have integrated handheld ultrasound devices into a unified AI-powered platform that provides the medical data and image quality needed by physicians in every part of the province.”

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The power of diverse perspectives

Athena Pathways works to help more Canadian women see the potential of the tech sector for their future careers and how a tech career aligns with their skills and interests.

As part of the Digital Supercluster's Athena Pathways project, the Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology (SCWIST) used the unique initiative's online job board to post a volunteer opportunity for a data visualizer. Fast-forward a few weeks and the organization had welcomed not one but three young women into various tech-related roles.

Like other projects in the Digital Technology Supercluster's Capacity Building pilot program, Athena Pathways is helping Canadian tech companies fill job vacancies and become more competitive. In addition, this project is helping to ensure Canada's innovation ecosystem has the capabilities, talent and infrastructure to create good jobs, drive economic growth and enhance the country's reputation as a world-leading digital economy.

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Grocery project delivers hyper-efficiency amid a pandemic

When the country was told to stay at home, Canadians and frontline workers we're unable to have access to a safe and secure food supply. As the volume of online orders for groceries and pharmacy spiked, there was a need to deliver these essentials to those who needed it most.

Feeding our Frontlines, an e-grocery software project is dedicated to ensuring food security for millions of Canadians. In collaboration with Spud.ca, Adaptech, 1QBit, ETG and Microsoft, Food-X is developing foundational e-grocery software features to ensure that fresh, high-quality groceries are delivered to essential workers, hospital patients and other Canadians with health conditions in quarantine.

“The hundreds of letters and pictures we have received from children thanking us for helping to keep their parents safe highlights how it's all about doing the right thing in these difficult times,” says Founder and CEO Peter van Stolk.

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Water data project is a ‘canary in a coal mine’ to help mitigate climate change

Globally, water consumption is predicted to rise 85 per cent by 2030, driving demand that will outstrip supply by more than 40 per cent. This precious resource, so vital to our health, communities and economic future, is under constant threat from individual and industrial use, and climate change.

Despite these troubling predictions, Canada does not have a common approach to measuring, defining, and leveraging data on the health of our myriad bodies of freshwater. That void is being filled by the Fresh Water Data Commons a unique consortium led by Carl Data Solutions in collaboration with Teck Resources, Astra Smart Systems, i4C Innovation, Living Lakes Canada, Microsoft, the University of Victoria and Genome BC.

Together, the resource sector, digital companies, and not-for-profit organizations are developing a technology to help every part of Canada, and the world, harness data to protect supplies of fresh water and dependent ecosystems, foster sustainable development and monitor the impacts of climate change.

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When protecting Mother Earth, collaboration is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’

Our resource sector contributes 17 per cent of Canada's GDP, and with satellite imagery becoming increasingly relevant, it's no wonder that the Earth Data Store project has the potential to strengthen our resource sector, our economy and drive global leadership in using data to support natural resources.

Earth Data Store is led by UrtheCast in collaboration with Sparkgeo, Microsoft, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria (UVic) and Geoscience BC. This consortium is providing unparalleled access to complex geospatial and earth observation data from satellite imagery by using algorithms to aggregate, analyze and display this data on interactive maps to reveal how regions evolve over time.

“The key with this project is that you don't have to be a highly specialized data scientist to use the system,” says UVic professor Yvonne Coady. “You don't have to dig into every instrument on the ground or in the sky to use this tool to evaluate policies, make timely decisions and manage resources.”

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Digital Technology Supercluster helps Terramera expand scope and accelerate growth

Terramera knows a lot about growth, and not just because it develops technology that improves crop yields.

Since founding in 2010, the Vancouver-based company has raised more than $100 million from investors, which has helped Terramera grow to more than 135 employees— and counting— while developing its™ targeted performance technology, aimed at reducing global synthetic pesticide loads by 80 per cent and increasing global farm productivity by 20 per cent by 2030.

Joining forces with Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster was “an acknowledgment of the great work that B.C. businesses are doing in the digital tech sector,” says Dr. Steve Slater, Terramera's Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “It is an opportunity to advance our sustainable agriculture technologies to be truly transformational.”

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Project 1/5

Terramera

Predicting new COVID-19 virus strains

As part of the Digital Technology Supercluster's $60-million COVID-19 Program, the founding member, Terramera, is collaborating with Microsoft, the University of British Columbia, Menten AI, ProMIS Neurosciences and D-Wave to predict COVID-19 virus variations before they emerge.

While Terramera continues to reduce synthetic pesticide use with its Actigate™ technology, it is now using computational chemistry, machine learning, and artificial intelligence innovations to predict new virus strains and predesign medicines and therapies to prevent future pandemics.

“The Digital Technology Supercluster presents an enormous opportunity to harness complementary areas of science across industry and academia,” says Terramera CEO Karn Manhas. “By working together, we can help solve some of the world's biggest problems, COVID-19 included, with predictive technologies.”

Since 2018, Terramera has nearly doubled its workforce and is slated to add up to 30 new employees in 2020. This growth, combined with its new partnerships, have allowed the company to pursue key genomics tech “much earlier than would have been possible otherwise, and in a more thorough way,” says Dr. Steve Slater, Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives. “The Digital Technology Supercluster has been instrumental in helping us form partnerships and expand the scope of our work. It has improved our access to top talent, great ideas, and world-class facilities.”

The Terramera-led Precision Agriculture to Improve Crop Health project, which launched in January 2020, is a prime example of the company's impressive progress. Designed to prevent pests and protect crops while reducing pesticide use, the project is initially targeting wheat leaf rust, which threatens Canada's $7 billion in annual wheat exports, before tackling other devastating diseases.

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SanctuaryAI

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in labour-intensive environments

The ability to perform physical work remotely remains a weak link for Canada's economic recovery and renewal. That’s where SanctuaryAI and the Digital Telework Infrastructure for Remote Physical Work project come in.

SanctuaryAI's innovative tele-robotics technology is working to bring physical capabilities to remote workers by testing general-purpose robots in long-term care and clinical settings connected to 4G and 5G networks. Combined with the support of digital medical tools such as stethoscopes and biometric monitors, this innovative technology can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in labour-intensive environments while improving patient care and outcomes.

The Digital Technology Supercluster co-investment made the project viable for SanctuaryAI, says James Wells, Vice-President of Corporate Development, and has spurred collaboration with several new partners. “The Digital Technology Supercluster's support made it possible for the consortium members to come together in less than 30 days,” Wells notes, adding that the company expects to hire more than 10 employees as the project unfolds.

The initiative is also laying the groundwork for a digital job infrastructure that can sustain safe and secure productivity during health crises, Wells says. “COVID-19 has presented the world with an economic and labour challenge unprecedented in modern times. Partnering with the Digital Technology Supercluster and collaborating with Microsoft, Expeto, the University of British Columbia, and AInBC to build a highly innovative digital approach to job creation is a critical step in supporting Canada's economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”

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1Qbit

A real-time COVID-fighting tool

New funding and partnerships have enabled 1QBit to accelerate the clinical deployment of XrAI, a project leveraging artificial intelligence-based radiology used in the fight against COVID-19.

Recently certified as a Class III Medical Device by Health Canada, XrAI identifies lung abnormalities on chest x-rays in real-time, allowing clinicians in emergency rooms and rural hospitals to better diagnose COVID-19 and other illnesses such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and lung cancer.

“The trust that 1QBit's tool has garnered as a result of its rigorous approach is what I believe has led to such a prompt and positive response from the medical community,” says Dr. Paul Babyn, Physician Executive of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which conducted its clinical trial for XrAI much sooner than originally planned.

Through its COVID-19 program, the Digital Technology Supercluster is helping healthcare authorities to implement XrAI in hospitals and clinics in B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario. “It's one thing to make a software tool in a lab, but it's a completely different thing to bring it into the real world,” says Jaspreet Oberoi, 1QBit's Director of Machine Learning and Quantum-inspired Solutions. “The speed and efficiency of the XrAI deployment was a direct result of the collaboration empowered by the Digital Technology Supercluster.”

With XrAI seeking certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 1QBit is set to add to its team of more than 120 mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, software developers, physicians, biomedical experts and quantum computing specialists. “Deploying the tool in Canada shows that we can replicate it across different global markets,” Oberoi says. “This is opening up opportunities we might not have without support from the Digital Technology Supercluster.”

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SparkGeo

Working to commercialize rich geospatial data

Sparkgeo is working to make the most of the stunning potential of the Earth Data Store.

As satellite imagery becomes more widespread, the geospatial data it generates can guide city growth, improve environmental sustainability, and predict and respond to disasters such as forest fires and floods. By measuring financial exposure to environmental risks, Sparkgeo's analytic products deliver insights that benefit businesses by making this complex and abundant data consumable and applicable.

“Insurance companies are losing their shirts on climate change, and with this technology, we can manage environmental risk in an effective, proactive way,” says founder and CEO Will Cadell. “A refinery, for instance, could reduce its insurance costs by protecting wetlands to mitigate flood risk. In this way, the insurance sector can be used as an instrument for conservation.”

Based in the central B.C. community of Prince George, Sparkgeo is a “remote-first company,” Cadell says. “In effect, we are based nowhere. That's a key differentiator for us because we can access talent from across Canada and serve the financial sector in London as easily as the tech sector in Silicon Valley.”

That's where the Digital Technology Supercluster's unique collaborative model comes in. “We are helping the Earth Data Store platform deliver value to the global markets we already access while leveraging the skills and expertise of other organizations to manage our ability to execute and determine where our R&D is most useful,” Cadell explains.

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DNAstack

Breaking down silos to solve COVID-19

Toronto-based company DNAstack received widespread attention and interest when Canada's Prime Minister highlighted the Digital Technology Supercluster's COVID-19 Program during an April 21 televised address.

“DNAstack is developing a new cloud-based network that allows researchers who are looking to improve our ability to diagnose and treat COVID-19 to share their findings,” Justin Trudeau explained, referring to the new Beacon – Realtime Global Data Sharing Network project, also referred to as “COVID Cloud.”

The pandemic-fighting project, led by DNAstack in collaboration with Microsoft, is working to significantly improve health outcomes for all Canadians. Using the Secure Health and Genomic Platform, a patient's medical data, including genetic information, can be securely consolidated to determine how to best respond to treatment.

Both projects demonstrate how the Digital Technology Supercluster “has dramatically accelerated our product development, talent acquisition and access to capital,” says CEO and co-founder Marc Fiume. “The opportunity to work with Microsoft and our other partners, combined with access to the Digital Technology Supercluster support and funding, align perfectly with our core business and product roadmap.”

Since joining the Digital Technology Supercluster, DNAstack's team has doubled in size, with Fiume expecting a 50 per cent jump in company revenue in 2020. “Now we're getting interest from people in markets like Europe because we're working to improve access to biomedical data sets scattered around the world.”

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Careteam

Careteam provides the right tech at the right time

With the right funding and diverse partnerships in place, Careteam Technologies is providing the right tech at the right time to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the lead organization in the Digital Technology Supercluster's Rapid Deployment of Emergency Case Management project, Careteam's 15-member team is working with three other companies — one with more than 300 employees, and two with fewer than 50 — and one of Canadian's leading academic institutions. Along with the Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario (RGPEO), the initiative is providing in-home monitoring, virtual care and rapid referrals to Canadians with pre-existing conditions who are at increased risk due to COVID-19.

As well as providing funding to hire staff and expand R&D, the Digital Technology Supercluster “is an opportunity for us to get involved in projects that are much more ambitious than what we can do on our own,” says CEO & Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexandra T. Greenhill. “It is a way for a small company like ours to be connected to global players, develop solutions that are meaningful, and leverage the full value of the innovation we have created.”

At the same time, the Digital Technology Supercluster is helping Careteam attract funding and form new partnerships with heavy hitters such as U.S-based Change Healthcare. “We have global ambitions, and the Digital Technology Supercluster positions us as a strong Canadian partner,” Greenhill says. “It boosts the credibility of smaller companies and allows us to be a leader in the global market a lot faster.”

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Proud milestones

We achieved incredible momentum over the past year and are proud of our Members’ ability to pivot and respond to the needs of Canadians during the pandemic. Looking ahead, we will build on our momentum, developing and applying digital technologies to drive the transformation of Canada’s economy, build resilience across our healthcare system, create global platforms for securely sharing data and inspire courageous innovation.

Q3 2019

May 2019

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Q1 2020

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Pioneering our future

The Digital Technology Supercluster brings together the brightest minds and leading names in health, natural resources, communication, transportation and tech to develop solutions that will fuel our global economy.

Canadians have fought hard to tackle COVID-19. Through the last two years and accelerated by COVID-19 we see the benefits of digital technologies – across every sector and especially when it comes to powering Canada's economic recovery and renewal.

But why stop there?

We have a global opportunity to build on the momentum gained this year to help create a safer, more sustainable world.

From individual organizations to entire industries and all levels of government, we need to courageously embrace the power of collaborative innovation to develop, deploy, and scale Canadian-made technologies.

Together, we can unlock Canada’s potential to build a brighter future.

Collaborative innovation

Message from the Honourable Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

I want to thank the Digital Technology Supercluster for a great year and for playing such an important role in Canada's digital transformation.

To cite just one example, the Digital Technology Supercluster's Precision Health Wallet project will use blockchain technology to create a personalized health wallet platform that will allow individuals to confidently manage their medical data with approved parties, while ensuring that their privacy and the security of their data is protected. This will enable patients to present a complete medical history to healthcare professionals when needed including test results, prescription history and treatment records leading to more efficient and accurate diagnoses and treatment. That's the tremendous value that these hotbeds of innovation are bringing to our everyday lives.

Honourable Navdeep Bains,
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Left to Right: Graham Cunliffe, (Present) Client Solutions at Unity Technologies (Former) Chief Strategy Officer of the Finger Food Advanced Technology Group; Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster; The Honourable Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources; The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Karn Manhas, CEO of Terramera; Kory Wilson, BCIT Executive Director, Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships.

Left to Right: Graham Cunliffe, (Present) Client Solutions at Unity Technologies (Former) Chief Strategy Officer of the Finger Food Advanced Technology Group; Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster; The Honourable Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources; The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Karn Manhas, CEO of Terramera; Kory Wilson, BCIT Executive Director, Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships.

2019-2020 Financials

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the creative teams at Ballistic Arts Media Studios Inc. and Appleby Media Inc. for their hard work and innovative collaboration with the Digital Technology Supercluster to create our 2019-2020 Annual Report.