🌊 The BC ocean tech sector is 1,000 companies strong | The Sunday Briefing

A spotlight on the people and organizations building technologies to care for our oceans and strengthen our food systems.

Good morning and welcome to the new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this Sunday. Make sure to stay engaged all week by connecting with us on TwitterLinkedIn and the 1,200-member Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse app. If you’re not already on Clubhouse but want to be, please get in touch for an invitation.

  • Trust me, you don’t want to miss this week’s conversation with Vivian Chan, global head of digital sales at Nextech AR. Join our weekly show, Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee, to hear from her on Tuesday at 9am PST. Add this to your calendar. Done? ✔️ Great, let’s move on.

This week, I’m excited to highlight four BC-based aquatech leaders, a company that raised $6 million to connect engineers with startups, and how BC is working to give people from diverse backgrounds a chance to ride tech’s tidal wave.

By the way, today’s Briefing is 1,641 words, a 5-1/2-minute read. Enjoy!

- William (@notionport)


Cover Story: Meet the people making waves in BC’s aquatech space

Last week, to celebrate World Oceans Day, VTJ reporter James Matthews reached out to BC-based innovators who are transfixed by our oceans, not just one day, but every day of the year.

The result was an inspiring four-part series that chronicles the journeys of aquatech leaders right here in our backyard. Of the tetralogy, Matthews writes, “Think of it as a limited series on Netflix. I hope you enjoy it. May you even have it high enough on your limited series power rankings that it rivals The Queen’s Gambit.” ➝ Jump in.

  1. How Plastic Bank went from 0 to 1B bottles recovered
    We caught up with David Katz to learn the origin of his company and entrepreneurial spirit.

  2. This.Fish is digitizing your seafood
    This Vancouver-based company is revolutionizing quality in aquaculture.

  3. Poseidon Ocean Systems wants fish to breathe better
    The Campbell River-based company is revolutionizing how aquaculture uses compressed air.

  4. Come hurricane or high water
    Open Ocean Robotics is leaving no ocean unmapped.


Commit raises $6M seed round to connect engineers and startups

Greg Gunn and Beier Cai—former Hootsuite employees—publicly launched Commit, a platform to connect senior developers to startup opportunities, with $6 million in seed funding.

The company already has a roster of more than 50 high-profile startups that want to work with Commit engineers, including Dapper Labs, Certn, Procurify, Patch, and Georgian Partners. ➝ Get the full story.


With $15M skills initiative, BC hopes to increase tech sector diversity

The BC government is investing $15 million in the Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) to prioritize under-represented people in the technology sector.

As part of the program, Brenda Bailey, Parliamentary Secretary for Technology and Innovation, is leading stakeholder engagement with people and organizations from under-represented communities to hear how the BC government can prioritize inclusion through the ISI program and help people get their first job in the tech sector.

“I've worked in the sector for almost 20 years. It’s vibrant and exciting and creative,” said Bailey. “It's important that those jobs are accessible for everyone, not just people who look a certain way or have unique training.” ➝ Get the full story.


⏩ Quick takes.


💵 Local funding and deals.

Version One Ventures announced the close of two new funds worth a combined $120 million: Fund IV ($84 million) and Opportunities Fund II ($36 million).

The two new funds come off the heels of a blowout year for Version One in which the firm’s bet on Coinbase became a multiple fund-maker, producing a 25x return. Recent notable investments for the firm also include Ada, Dapper Labs, Headout, Jobber and Shippo. ➝ Get the full story.


DeFi Ventures Inc. announced the closing of its previously announced private placement in which the startup raised aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $17.7 million.

Strategic investors in the offering include Kevin O'Leary, Leonard Latchman, Argo Blockchain, BIGG Digital, Josh Richards and Animal Capital. The firm also announced that it’s rebranding to “WonderFi Technologies Inc,” a nod to major investor Kevin OLeary’s nickname Mr. Wonderful. ➝ Get the full story.


Trulioo, a Vancouver startup that provides global electronic identity verification, raised $476 million CAD (394 million USD), valuing the company at $2.1 billion.

The round was led by venture capital firm TCV with participation from existing investors Citi Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Mouro Capital and American Express Ventures. Approximately $181 million of the funding will go directly to Trulioo, with the balance going to existing investors selling their holdings. ➝ Get the full story.

  • With Trulioo’s evolution to Unicorn status ($1-billion-plus valuation), Vancouver has produced seven billion-dollar companies in just seven months.

  • Can you remember who they are? ➝ Check your answers.


  • Semios, a BC agtech company that raised $100 million last year, announced that it’s acquired California-based Altrac, developers of an agriculture automation platform that enables farmers to monitor and control agricultural systems from their computer or mobile device.

  • In its 26th acquisition since the beginning of 2020, WELL Health Technologies, has agreed to purchase MyHealth Partners Inc. for at least $206 million.

  • The Ontario government awarded Vancouver’s Nextech AR (and partner Ryerson University) $150,000 to develop and deliver AR learning experiences for use within post-secondary education institutions.

  • BioMark Diagnostic Solutions Inc. announced that it received $825,000 to develop an early-stage lung cancer screening test using its proprietary liquid biopsy platform.


🗞️ More Vancouver tech news to know.

Dapper Labs, the digital collectibles startup behind CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot, has hired Scott Shipman, a former top lawyer for mobile gaming company AppLovin Inc. as its first chief legal officer.

In a busy week, the company also unveiled Flow USD (FUSD), a 1:1 USD-backed stablecoin issued by Prime Trust. “With FUSD, financial institutions and wallet providers alike will be able to offer easy fiat on-ramp globally to the broad Flow ecosystem,” the company announced.


The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) announced a Collaboration Centre for Clean Energy Transition.

Researchers from the NRC's Energy, Mining and Environment Research Centre, and key faculty members and students from the UBC Applied Science and Science faculties will work together to develop innovations in hydrogen and carbon technologies across the value chain of clean energy development. This includes materials, systems, technologies and industrial applications. ➝ Get the full story.


Anthonia Ogundele was recognized by the Globe & Mail as one of five ‘Black tech founders to watch in 2021.’

Last year, Ogundele launched Ethós Lab, a Black-led organization (and New Ventures BC accelerator client) that offers STEM and culture-focused programming for Black youth with the slogan: where Hogwarts meets Wakanda. “I think Ethós is important to the overall landscape of Canada because it is a Black-led organization positioning Black people as leaders in spaces of innovation,” Ogundele says.


💡 Ideas and insights.

Ryan Wong, CEO of workforce analytics company Visier, shares ‘Three Ways To Provide 'Phased Certainty' To Your Team In A Time Of Crisis.’

  • “Acknowledging unknowns and being transparent as leaders not only preempts issues like burnout and anxiety, but it builds a foundation of trust. In changing times, that kind of trust can make all the difference,” he writes.


Netcoins president Mitchel Demeter shares ‘Three Reasons Your Company’s Mission Is Your Best Retention Tool.’

  • “When your company isn’t built around a shared value — an animating purpose that keeps employees passionate about your company’s professional offering — it’s easy to lose sight of things like customer needs,” he writes.


10 Questions with Dr. Tom Waller—A conversation with the senior VP, advanced innovation and chief science officer at lululemon.

  • “I’d say that the skill that I’ve worked hard to acquire, based on talent that I enjoy expressing, is to not wear many hats, but to speak many languages. And I think all great innovators are able to have a high degree of empathy for all of the people that they interact with,” Waller says.


👔 People going places.

  • Former TELUS executive Shane Sabatino joined WELL Health Technologies as Chief People Officer. Before TELUS, Sabatino was SVP of human resources at The Brick.

  • Dooly, the Vancouver-based software outfit leading the CRM automation space, announced a quartet of hires to their C-suite, including a VP of product, VP of revenue, head of people and culture, and director of finance. ➝ Full details.


🧰 Startup toolbox.

Have you checked out our Vancouver innovation ecosystem guide? Explore 150+ groups, events, accelerators, and funding opportunities we’ve highlighted to help you connect with the tech community and grow your startup. ➝ Check it out.


🎧 A/V: Watch & Listen


📅 Upcoming events.


🔥 Never gets old.


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