BC budget's tech spending touches on clean energy and skills development

A $500 million strategic investment fund was re-announced with few details.

In StrongerBC for Everyone, a budget that projects an $8.1 billion deficit this year, the BC government proposed investments in public services, infrastructure, and training, as well as other measures meant to spur economic growth and tackle major challenges like mental health and climate change. Tech and innovation made a few cameos in the form of cleantech and digital skills training investments.

Once again, Vancouver Tech Journal has read the full document so you don’t have to. For anyone working in BC’s innovation ecosystem, here are the key points you need to know.


Crown agency Innovate BC was not mentioned, but the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation saw its budget increased to $78 million this from $63 million in 2020-21.


Business support

The budget features ongoing funding for StrongerBC initiatives, including $195 million this year to continue the government’s Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program.

  • It also includes previously announced a $44 million for digital marketing training and the Launch Online program; $7.5 million for B.C. agri-tech companies; $6 million in supply chain grants; and $10 million to support small- and medium-sized manufacturing businesses commercialize new technologies.


Employment tax credits

The budget allocates $150 million to support the Increased Employment Incentive tax credit for private sector employers, which was already announced as part of the fall StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan.


Agrifood innovation

The budget invests $10 million over three years to expand the Grow BC, Feed BC, Buy BC strategy launched in 2018 (!) to strengthen B.C.’s agrifood and seafood sector and expand the domestic market for B.C. food and beverage products.

  • This funding is in addition to the $7 million provided as part of the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan to expand the B.C. food hub network and support farm innovation and food processing.


Indigenous skills training

The budget also provides $32 million in one-time funding for training initiated through the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan.

  • It includes $17 million in 2021/22 to support skills training for Indigenous people, which builds on the $19 million provided in 2020/21.

  • It’s meant to support 1,250 Indigenous people to gain new skills and contribute to economic recovery in their communities.


Micro-credentials

The government is allocating $5 million in 2021/22, on top of the $4 million invested in 2020/21, to support micro-credential training in B.C., which provides options for those looking to retrain for new career opportunities.

  • Initial funding is being used to deliver 25 micro-credential courses for an estimated 2,000 students.

  • The new funding will be used to develop an additional 30 courses.


Work-integrated learning

The budget also allocates $6 million in 2021/22 to support work-integrated learning placements for 3,000 students.

  • The funding is meant to allow post-secondary institutions to work with employers to connect them with students and support the recruitment process.

  • There is also $4 million allocated in 2021/22 to continue short-term skills training programs to support unemployed or underemployed individuals.


Co-op and digital skills training

The budget commits $15 million to expand the Innovator Skills Initiative program that provides up to $10,000 in funding for businesses to hire a post-secondary student, or non-student youth who has completed industry-approved certification or training, into a technology or tech-enabled position.

  • The Province is also providing $9 million to expand co-op positions in the natural resources sector to create employment opportunities that improve knowledge and data about the land base, create fieldwork experience, and advance public education and public safety objectives.


Climate solutions

There are investments totalling $506 million over three years to support the province’s climate change plan, CleanBC. This includes $269 million in new operating and capital funding for clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings and communities, and other cleantech and climate change initiatives.


Clean transportation

Budget 2021 also includes a new PST exemption on electric bikes, estimated to save British Columbians $7 million per year.

  • It also provides $123 million in operating funding and $7 million in capital funding over three years to support cleaner transportation through financial incentives, greener infrastructure, technological advancements, and electrification of school buses, ferries, and government fleets.

  • There is also $10 million over three years to develop policy on reducing the carbon intensity of fuel and develop the hydrogen economy.


Clean energy innovation

The Budget also provides $60 million in one-time funding for 2021/22 to support
the Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy
and for cleantech investments to support partnership opportunities with the federal government.

  • The federal committed to providing up to $35 million for this centre.


Investment fund

Initially announced in—*checks archives*—September as part of the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan, Budget 2021 will provide InBC Investment Corp. with $500 million over three years to establish a new strategic investment fund.

  • The fund is meant to attract and anchor high-growth businesses and will make investment decisions independent of government but will be guided by criteria set by the government.

  • The government expects that InBC will start making invest ments later in the 2021/22 fiscal year.


Internet connectivity

The includes $40 million to invest in the Province’s connectivity strategy.

  • Providing reliable high-speed broadband to rural, remote and Indigenous communities supports a more inclusive society, improves access to health care and education and helps unlocks opportunities for businesses to better reach and access local, regional and global markets.


Join our Clubhouse show on Wednesday, April 21 at 7 pm PST where local tech leaders will debrief on the federal and BC budgets and what they mean for innovation in BC.

Read the full budget document online: StrongerBC for Everyone. Subscribe to receive updates like this directly in your inbox.