While the Kamloops tech community is no stranger to the Startup Canada Awards, this year marked the first time the event was held in the Tournament Capital.
In fact, it was the first time it has been held outside of Vancouver -- and it all came down to an after-party.
"We hosted an after-party [at last year's event in Vancouver] where we impressed the event organizers," said Kamloops Innovation Centre executive director Lincoln Smith. "That opened up talks to move it to Kamloops."
The regional awards were held on Friday in the Rex Hall downtown. The awards highlight excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation in British Columbia. Regional events are held across the country, culminating with a grand finale national awards ceremony at Shaw Centre in Ottawa on Oct. 19.
Award categories range from environmental and cultural advancement to outstanding impact in entrepreneurship, with 17 awards handed out to individuals, organizations and networks.
This year's winners were:
o Lynda Brown-Ganzert, founder and CEO of Curatio, Entrepreneur of the Year; o Catherine Dahl, founder and CEO of Beanworks, Woman Entrepreneurship Award; o Vicki Collet, co-owner of Harper's Trail Winery, Senior Entrepreneur Award; o Manny Padda, founder of New Avenue Capital, Entrepreneur Promotion Award; o Accelerate Okanagan, Entrepreneur Support Award; o Hummingbird Drones, Innovation Award; o BroadbandTV, High-Growth Entrepreneurship Award; o Keela, Social Enterprise Award; o Hootsuite, Global Entrepreneurship Award; o Collet and Hummingbird Drones are from Kamloops.
It's not the first time Hummingbird Drones has received accolades at the Startup Canada Awards as company co-founder Robert Atwood was named Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur of the Year back in 2015.
Other past winners from the River City have included: John Zubak, 2016 Startup Canada Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award; iTel Networks, 2016 Startup Canada Award for High Growth Entrepreneurship both regionally and nationally; and Kamloops Innovation, 2015 Startup Canada Award for Entrepreneur Support.
While the technology industry has long held a foothold in Kamloops, Smith said it is growing, along with a sense of community he said will lead to more companies popping up in the area in coming years thanks to a new partnership between Thompson Rivers University and Kamloops Innovation and events like the Startup Canada Awards.
"It speaks to the tightness and sense of community we have, as well as we're growing and getting on the radar of the larger entrepreneurial support networks across Canada," he said.