Orcajam 4 begins September 6

OrcajamGaming developers ahoy! The fourth annual Orcajam begins on September 6.

The event attracts developers, designers and producers from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Washington State for two days of intense game creation. Around 80 people are expected to attend, reports the Victoria Times-Colonist.

It costs just $20, Bring your own computer but there will be food, prizes and access to brilliant minds. Orcajam is part of Thinklandia – a festival of imagination, which sounds intriguing.


Royal Roads launches online archive for yearbooks

Royal Roads is the other university in Victoria. UVic, with all its PR people, churns out story after story so it’s good to hear something from Royal Roads, which has launched an online archive of its yearbooks.

The yearbooks date back to the school’s early days as a military college. The digitization project was funded by a grant from the BC History Digitization Program and will interest history buffs as well as former students. I enjoyed flicking through the pages of several issues from the 1950s.

The yearbook is called The Log and the online archive provides access to every yearbook from 1943 until the college became a university in 1995. Around 7,000 pages were scanned and uploaded, so it was a considerable task.

Victoria’s techology sector celebrates with annual awards

Dann Gunn at the awardsVictoria’s tech sector celebrated its great, its good, and old faces and new ones earlier this month at the annual VIATeC Awards. More than 700 folks were in attendance at the sold-out show to see Quester Tangent named as Technology Company of the Year.

VIATeC’s Dan Gunn told the Times-Colonist:

“Quester Tangent is one of those really great stories for Victoria — a company working in a certain area that through strong management and strategy managed to double their organization in a short period of time and find a real niche for themselves. It’s also a great story to see a three-decade-old company have a strong surge 25 years in. That’s a good example to all established companies of what is possible.”

Quester Tangent is an electronics manufacturing firm with a pedigree of almost 30 years in the market. It began by developing ocean mapping gear and now creates monitoring units to provide detailed diagnostic data for rail systems.

Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion – Clayton Stark
VIATeC Member of the Year – Race Rocks 3D Inc.  
Emerging Technology Company of the Year – Tutela Technologies
Team of the Year – Vancouver Island Health Authority  IMIT PDM
Employer of the Year – Edoc Systems Group Ltd.
Executive of the Year – Stuart Bowness, MediaCore
Innovative Excellence – 3DA Systems Inc.
Online Strategy of the Year – Tap for Tap
Product of the Year – Latitude Technologies, IONode Flight Data Monitoring Device
Tech Company of the Year – Quester Tangent 
Education Champion – Dave Shortreed

UVic microscope workshops coming soon

The University of Victoria’s mega microscope is once again in the news. Workshops to train scientists on how to use the behemoth are slated to start this fall.

“We have bragging rights. We have the highest resolution in the world,” Elaine Humphrey, manager of UVic’s Advance Microscope Facility told the Victoria Times-Colonist.

Size does matter in this particular area of technology. The seven-tonne, 4.5-metre-tall microscope views objects at a magnification of up to 20 million times larger than what the human eye can see. Built in Japan by Hitachi, it arrived at UVic in parts a year ago. (Imagine putting it together? I hope they had more than an IKEA-style series of badly drawn diagrams.)

The workshops could have international appeal for chemists, electrical and mechanical engineers, biologists and physicists.  The Times-Colonist reports Redlen Technologies, a Victoria firm making high-resolution radiation detectors used in nuclear cardiology and baggage scanning, could be a possible customer.

MediaCore keeps it simple …on a global scale

In the latest of her series of Victoria company profiles, MaryLou Wakefield meets MediaCore – a media library that provides schools, higher education institutions and businesses with an easy way to share and manage educational content.

There’s no doubt about it, the company that wants to transform education through video and mobile technology is on a roll. MediaCore launched in 2009 and since then has grown from four staff to 20. In the next two years they plan to double or triple that. Add to that, new investors, global clients, and a number of exciting projects on the horizon, not to mention winning 10 awards in 10 months.

But MediaCore’s young CEO, Stuart Bowness, seems unfazed by the attention. “The awards are great, but what we’re really focused on are student outcomes. That’s what really matters to us,” he says. “Getting feedback like this from Royal Veterinary College in the UK is really exciting.”

We regularly upload videos of technical procedures that we do with animals on farms, and this enables the viewer to gain a real personalized experience. One of the RVC’s courses includes a lambing placement and students can review what they have learned by playing back the video. Students can also access this material before going to help with lambing, to give them an idea of the procedure in advance. Hundreds of people have used this video and it is available for anyone to access.

In contrast to a lot of technology in the education space, MediaCore wants to assure customers they’ll get a product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. He acknowledges that it’s significantly more challenging to build something simple because that takes a lot more decision-making. With the philosophy that ‘people who use software are real people’ to guide their decision-making, “we focus on what our customer’s core needs are and what our product needs to do, and stick to that,” he says.

VIATeC: What problem are you solving for people?

MediaCore:  There are a few things happening right now that are very challenging. Education on a global scale is undergoing huge change and we’re at a crossroads. Governments don’t have money to spend on education, and, huge numbers of people in developing countries such as India and Africa want access to education. The system as it is now just doesn’t scale well. There’s been a big move over the past few years to provide education online because it gives more people access, the cost per student is lower, and, research shows that when online education is combined with video, the education is significantly more effective. That’s where MediaCore comes in. We provide a simple, reliable platform for institutions and businesses to harness the power of video for their education and training needs. We provide a platform for any school or university to create an online media library that’s private, secure and enables a great learning experience. The pedagogy models that teachers regularly use alongside our software include peer-to-peer learning, blended learning, flipped learning and inquiry-based learning — all of which offer different ways of teaching in new an innovative ways that make better use of instructor time while increasing student outcomes.

VIATeC:  What are you excited about right now?
MediaCore: A few things actually. I’m really passionate about a project we’re working on to create Africa’s first online university. It will give people across that country access to education for a fraction of the cost of a traditional education ($500/yr. as opposed to $5000/yr.) and, it will deliver programs designed to specifically meet employment needs in various regions of the country. We’ve also been invited to make a presentation about a pilot program for up to 500 schools in Hong Kong. We’re excited about our progress in China with the first schools there starting to adopt our platform, and we’re generally excited about the response we’re getting from Australia, the Middle East and a few other countries. At the end of the day, you want to spend your life working on really interesting things you feel are making a significant difference in society and that’s really what we’re trying to do.

VIATeC: Who works at MediaCore?

MediaCore:  We’ve got 2 offices and 20 people who work at MediaCore. At our London (UK) office we’ve built a great sales, marketing, and business development team (headed by Allan Greenberg, previously with Apple Education’s Higher Education business in Europe and Asia) and we also have two engineers there as well. In our Victoria (Canada) office we’ve located the majority of our product team who are led by Nathan Wright (CTO) and Anthony Theocharis (Chief of Engineering). Overall, we’ve got some brilliant minds who are really passionate about solving big problems in education and making a difference on a day-to-day basis.

VIATeC:  What’s the best thing about working at MediaCore?

MediaCore: We have terrific talent here and insanely smart people love working with other insanely smart people. They also love solving really interesting problems and we’ve got both of those. After that, we have great policies around flex hours and working from home, a really lovely office space with comfortable couches and a kitchen, and we keep company with a very friendly dog named Tucker. We also do events as a team a number of times a year which include sailing and ski trips – we just all really enjoy spending time together.

VIATeC:  What’s the value of being part of the high tech community in Victoria?

MediaCore:  Being part of the VIATeC community is a great way to meet other CEOs and take advantage of some mentorship opportunities. It’s a good way to build awareness of your organization in the ecosystem. The VIATeC Job Board is terrific in terms of spreading the word about job opportunities in the community as well.

VIATeC:  Where do you see the community going in 2 -5 years?

MediaCore:  I feel we all need to look beyond just creating amazing companies. It’s not enough to have a few standout successes if there’s no broader engagement. We need to look at building an amazing ecosystem here in Victoria. In San Francisco for example, large companies mentor mid-sized ones, and they in turn mentor smaller ones. They have accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces and other programs. Granted, that all takes time to build and a lot more than just one group of people moving it forward. We also have to think about becoming global players. The fact is, that it’s faster to fly to the Valley, than it is to take the ferry to Vancouver. That should be on every CEO’s mind.

Update June, 2013: Stuart Bowness was named Executive of the Year at the 2013 VIATeC Awards. Congratulations Stuart!

MaryLou Wakefield

Finalists announced for 2013 VIATeC Awards

The finalists for the 12th annual VIATeC awards have been announced with 38 companies and individuals listed in nine categories. A gala event is scheduled for June 20 at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Clayton Stark, who opened a gaming studio called Kixeye, will receive the Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion, while the VIATeC Member of the Year award will be RaceRocks 3D. Lots of fantastic companies listed below.

Technology Company of the Year

FTS – Forest Technology Systems
Quester Tangent
Unit4 Business Software

Emerging Technology Company of the Year

Race Rocks 3D Inc.
Red Brick Media
Tutela Technologies

Executive of the Year

Nadine Harrison – HP Advanced Solutions
Stuart Bowness – MediaCore
Andrew Wilkinson – MetaLab

Innovative Excellence

3DA Systems Inc.
Applied Brain and Vision Sciences
Holografyx Canada Inc
Race Rocks 3D Inc.

Online Strategy of the Year

Atomic Crayon
Caorda Web Solutions
Tap for Tap

Product of the Year

Heartcheck PEN Handheld ECG Device from Cardiocomm Solutions
IONode Flight Data Monitoring Device from Latitude Technologies Corporation
Learning Content Management System from Udutu

Team of the Year

FCV Interactive
UNIT4 Business Software
Vancouver Island Health Authority – IMIT

Employer of the Year

itgroove Professional Services Ltd.
Prototype Equipment Design
Red Brick Media

Start-up of the Year

A.O.E. Accumulated Ocean Energy Inc.
Rewards Den

SendtoNews signs NASCAR highlights deal

Sendtonews screenshotThe Times-Colonist reports on Victoria-based SendtoNews. The three-year-old company has announced a deal with NASCAR for the exclusive rights to distribute online video highlights of races.

“It sets a new standard,” said CEO Greg Bobolo. “It really is that validation and it has accelerated all of our other discussions. “NASCAR was brutally invasive to make sure we were the right company. Now with everyone else we are talking to on that tier-one sports landscape, there is a confidence level. They think ‘if NASCAR is OK with them …’”

SendtoNews is a cloud-based distribution platform that connects content from major organizations with the media. The report adds the company is housed in a new downtown office and has “22 employees, 15 of them in Victoria. The rest are in bureaus in Vancouver, San Francisco, New York and Toronto and later this summer they will open a London office.”