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Success in the west: British Columbia.

SUNRISE INDUSTRIES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA are creating new products, new markets and technological breakthroughs in areas such as information technology, biotechnology, entertainment and the environment.

During the last five years, WD has fostered innovation in key industry sectors to diversify B.C.'s large and rapidly changing economy. To date, more than 1,200 projects have received funding totalling $240 million -- the largest caseload of the Western provinces.

"We tend to be a quiet partner," says assistant deputy minister Robin Dodson, "operating at the margin of major investment decisions in this province to get the maximum leverage on our investment."

B.C. business people are penetrating markets worldwide. Says Dodson: "We're working with the brightest and the best, in areas where the risks and rewards tend to be the highest."

One company that's getting a revolutionary product out on the road because of WD is Pyrotech Asphalt Equipment Co. Ltd., manufacturer of a patented asphalt recycling machine that creates new pavement from old.

With revenues projected to reach $10 million this year due to recent sales of the $2-million system to North American contractors, company president Al Rorison says, "We wouldn't be as far down the line as we are, if hadn't been for WD's help."

Another B.C. innovator moving toward world prominence is Ballard Power Systems Inc., which is commercializing a non-polluting hydrogen-powered fuel cell. The three-phase WD-assisted project is keeping the company at the forefront of a global drive to develop an environmentally safe alternative to the internal combustion engine.

WD has been very active with a number of cutting-edge companies that supply sophisticated computer systems and electronic equipment. Experts predict knowledge-based businesses could be the third-largest industry in B.C. by the year 2000.

It's not all machinery and microchips. B.C. is strengthening its post-production capabilities for the motion picture industry, with an eye to boosting today's $350-million foreign film production budget in B.C. to $1 billion by the end of the decade.

Last year, Sharpe Sound Studios Inc., with the assistance of WD, opened a world-class sound mixing facility in Vancouver. The project was launched by the husband-and-wife team of Paul Sharpe and Jacqueline Christianini (Academy Award nominees for their work in Dick Tracy).

WD was also instrumental in helping Victoria-based IVL Technologies Ltd. hit some high notes in the music industry with a loan for inventory build-up of its first commercial product. Company president Phil Scott says: "Without their support, IVL would have been history."

The company now exports 98 per cent of its products to 45 countries, and 1991 sales of $3.8 million are expected to more than double this year. Last January, its latest musical effects product -- a voice harmonizer -- won the Most Innovative Product of the Year Award in an international industry competition.

As Scott says, this spectacular success is "what every investor, bank and government hopes for, and an example of how a Canadian company can compete in an almost impossibly competitive market."

About WD

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) -- the only federal government department based in the West -- works with business to diversify a regional economy traditionally based on natural resources.

Its role is to provide interest-free financing to help entrepreneurs get innovative ideas off the drawing board and into the marketplace. But the department is far more than a source of funding -- it's also a facilitator and an advocate, ensuring that western business people get the full benefit of federal program and have their views heard in Ottawa.

For more information about the WD program in British Columbia, contact: (604) 666-6256 or call toll free: 1-800-663-2008
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Title Annotation:Advertising Feature; includes related article on Western Economic Diversification Canada
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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