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Growing the Southern Interior through Research Partnerships

The Economic Trust of Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) is delighted to announce the eight successful grant recipients that will receive funding in 2022 through its research funding partnership with Mitacs. These grants encourage collaboration between the region’s public post-secondary institutions and industry, local governments and First Nations, while providing students with unique and stimulating research opportunities, which will lead to sustainable economic development in the Southern Interior of BC. The Mitacs research projects receiving support from ETSI-BC in 2022 include:

Multispectral Imagery and Machine Learning Applications for Agriculture in the Central Kootenay

Post-Secondary Partner:  SELKIRK COLLEGE
Industry Partner:  ABOVE SENSING LTD., Trail BC
Project Type:  Accelerate Entrepreneur

This project will demonstrate the value of using remotely piloted aerial systems (drones) to collect information in the field of resource management. Artificial intelligence will be used to collect, process, and classify data in the Interior Cedar Hemlock bio geoclimatic zone of the Southern Interior region. This model could significantly improve the quality of the information and minimize the carbon footprint associated with traditional data collection methods.

E-Rec Tech Innovation and Test Centre in East Kootenays

Post-Secondary Partner:  COLLEGE OF THE ROCKIES/SELKIRK COLLEGE
Industry Partner: Kootenay Outdoor Recreation ENTERPRISE Society (KORE), Kimberley BC
Project Type: Business Strategy Internship

Kootenay Outdoor Recreation Enterprise Society (KORE) explores sustainable economic and lifestyle opportunities for its members in the outdoor gear manufacturing sector. With the rapidly increasing interest in electrification of off-road recreation vehicles, KORE will partner with College of the Rockies to help match infrastructure development and deployment with e-recreational vehicle uptake and adoption in this rapidly growing industry.

Social Entrepreneurship Training for Persons with Disabilities

Post-Secondary Partner:  THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY
Industry Partner:  The Kelowna & District Society for People In Motion, Kelowna BC
Project Type: Accelerate

People with disabilities (PWD) represent an increasing yet underserved group of the adult population, experiencing lower labour market participation rates than people without disabilities. These lower participation rates are costly economically and psychologically for PWD, for their families, and for society. This study examines the potential for social entrepreneurship training to help PWD who are unemployed and underemployed. There is reason to think that helping PWD to become social entrepreneurs will benefit them economically and psychologically, and that success in creating a social enterprise will bring additional benefits to the PWD involved, the organizations that currently support PWD and the community overall.

Challenges of Scaling Social Enterprise in Canada

Post-Secondary Partner:  THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY
Industry Partner:  PURPPL, Kelowna BC
Project Type: Accelerate

This research will explore the organizational and leadership challenges of Social Enterprises (SE) attempting to scale their social impact through qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews with leaders, contributors, and beneficiaries of SEs that have gone through or are going through a social enterprise accelerator. Learning from analysis of this data will create new knowledge about how to better support and advance SE in Canada, making theoretical contributions to the critical scaling stage of SE development, an understudied area. The results of this study will also help practitioners to better scale their SEs and thus strengthen the overall social enterprise sector.

Multi-Channel User Acquisition Marketing System

Post-Secondary Partner:  OKANAGAN COLLEGE
Industry Partner:  ShopHopper, Kelowna BC
Project Type: Accelerate

Through this project, Okanagan College interns will develop Multi-Channel User Acquisition Marketing System for technology start-up, ShopHopper to help it achieve its user acquisition and sales goals. This research will involve the development of detailed processes for each type of marketing initiative, testing and re-testing different content strategies and channels, consistent creative content development specialized to each marketing channel, strategic community development on social media, and the successful execution of blitz public relations and legacy media campaigns. With a well-researched and fully developed marketing system, ShopHopper will be able to reach its user acquisition milestones and will also provide its local retailer partners the growth marketing sales channel they need to scale their eCommerce business, allowing them to compete with big-eCom/big box stores, and sustain themselves as independent retailers.

Developing Travel Behaviour Models, and Transportation and Emissions Simulation Tools for a Small Canadian Municipality

Post-Secondary Partner:  UBC OKANAGAN
Local Government Partner:  CITY OF WEST KELOWNA
Project Type: Accelerate

Smaller, rural, and newly incorporated municipalities are often challenged by a lack of data when making policies and infrastructure investment decisions. For the City of West Kelowna, the project will collect data and develop innovative econometric models and simulation tools to understand the travel behaviour of rural residents and quantify vehicular emissions for alternative transportation and land use scenarios. It will investigate travel patterns of rural residents, explore demand for alternative modes of transport, and analyse service and emissions impacts of a major revitalization plan. The City of West Kelowna will use the results to develop alternative land use and transport investment plans that ensure equitable access to alternative modes for all age cohorts (e.g. elderly) and reduce vehicular emissions.

Skier Demand and Snow Conditions in British Columbia

Post-Secondary Partner:  UBC OKANAGAN
Industry Partner:  THOMPSON OKANAGAN TOURISM ASSOCIATION (TOTA), Kelowna BC
Project Type: Accelerate

Rising winter temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will affect future demand for resort skiing and destination choices. This project will investigate how skiers react to changing snow conditions by correlating daily records of rental apartment revenues surrounding ski resorts, snowfall levels and temperatures at four BC resorts. Potential climate scenarios will be simulated to estimate future conditions. Resorts and industry stakeholders will be able to use this data to plan for trends in customer numbers, environmental conditions, and estimated impacts of climate change.

Ungulate Knowledge Gathering Forum

Post-Secondary Partner:  UBC OKANAGAN
Industry Partner:  ABMI and the SPLATSIN FIRST NATION, Enderby BC
Project Type: Accelerate

Indigenous-led caribou recovery efforts are emerging as the best approach to increasing population growth of endangered mountain caribou in Western Canada. This project builds upon information obtained during a three-day Ungulate Knowledge Gathering Forum held in February 2022. While fostering an ethical space for sharing Indigenous and Western knowledge, the information is being used to archive the histories and cultural values related to caribou and non-caribou ungulates in Splatsin traditional territory and determine a population goal for caribou for the next 100 years.

“For more than 20 years, Mitacs has worked with academic institutions, companies, not-for-profits, federal, provincial, municipal, and territorial governments to build partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada,” says Dr. John Hepburn, CEO of Mitacs. “This partnership with ETSI-BC helps support innovation in the Southern Interior utilizing the Trust’s extensive connections and expertise.”

“ETSI-BC is committed to encouraging stronger economies and stronger communities through collaborative research that connects the region’s businesses, local governments and First Nations with our public post-secondary institutions,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of ETSI-BC. “This funding in collaboration with Mitacs will help advance ETSI-BC’s target sectors, help new and emerging industry clusters grow and innovate, and build economic development opportunities in rural and Indigenous communities.”

For more information, please contact:

Laurel Douglas, ETSI-BC laurel@etsi-bc.ca
Mike Kennefick, Mitacs mkennefick@mitacs.ca

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