After years of planning, funding applications, feasibility studies, and community engagement, the Nelson Innovation Centre, managed by KAST (Kootenay Association for Science & Technology), opened July 14, 2020.
Nelson Innovation Centre (NiC) is a true community hub: a place for tech and tech-enabled entrepreneurs and businesses to connect with one another and get the support they need through programming and referral services to take their businesses to a new level.
“We can’t wait to welcome people to this incredible space; a stunning community hub that visually merges the wild, rugged, and earthy Kootenay landscape with modern technology,” says Nelson Innovation Centre Manager, Karen Kornelsen. “With nearly 7,000 tech and knowledge workers within an hour of Nelson, NiC provides our tech community with a professional place to meet a client, network with like-minded people, hold an event, and so much more.”
NiC serves tech companies, innovators, and professionals in the West Kootenay, from Nelson to Kaslo, Salmo to the Slocan Valley, and Castlegar to Trail and Rossland. It also serves the entire Kootenay region with virtual concierge support. Access to true high speed internet is a must for remote workers, and NiC is here to connect our tech community to the global digital economy.
“2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses in our community, and in response, Nelson City Council developed an economic stimulus plan that includes funding existing organizations that directly support recovery,” says Mayor Dooley. “The City is pleased to have partnered with KAST and our economic development partners to create this unique space and provide support for our growing tech community. We have seen some big tech companies open offices in town, such as Traction on Demand, and it is initiatives such as the Nelson Innovation Centre that send a clear message to these companies, that we are open for business and here to support them.”
“KAST is focused on creating inclusive economic opportunities and building strong communities across the Kootenays through technology development,” says Kailyn Skuban, Interim Executive Director at KAST. “The NiC will serve as the physical hub for the Nelson and area tech sector, with KAST’s virtual programs and services connecting tech and tech-enabled businesses throughout the region with the training, capital, and talent they need to thrive.”
NiC features a state-of-the-art boardroom, The Station, for the delivery of technology training and workshops, a custom private workbooth for video conferencing, as well as leasable office space for tech and tech-enabled companies.
The Hub is a flexible space where people can get work done on their laptops, meet with clients, network, and collaborate on projects. The lounge area functions as an event space with a high-tech projector, sound system and more. The Station boardroom is available to book by the broader community.
NiC is a culmination of years of hard work by Nelson’s business and technology community. Located in Nelson’s historic CP Railway Station, the project has come to life as a partnership between KAST, the City of Nelson, Community Futures Central Kootenay, the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce, the Nelson & Area Economic Development Partnership, the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, B.C Rural Dividend Fund, community stakeholders, and local industry.
“The Nelson Innovation Centre started off as a true grassroots effort by some highly engaged individuals like Brad Pommen and Nichola Lytle and it’s great to see it finally come to fruition,” says Andrea Wilkey, Executive Director of Community Futures Central Kootenay. “We’re looking forward to watching the NiC put the Nelson and area tech sector on the global map as our tech community continues to grow and thrive.”
“The Chamber Board of Directors is extremely pleased that the NiC chose to be located in the Chamber building,” says Tom Thomson, Executive Director of the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce. “It fits perfectly with the overall vision as a business opportunity centre for tourism, economic development, technology, and other private sector businesses.”
KAST has implemented practices to ensure the health and safety of employees, clients, and visitors as preparations are made to welcome the public into this new community hub. NiC will open at reduced, limited capacity and by reservation-only due to COVID-19. A booking system is available on the website (www.nelsoninnovationcentre.com) to secure time in The Hub flexible work space or The Station boardroom.
NiC will be free for all users in July and August. Beginning September 1, 2020, there will be a daily flat rate fee of $10. KAST members will have free access. For those interested in a KAST membership, please visit www.kast.com/membership.