Metal Tech Alley Company i4C Innovation Nominated for Award
i4C Innovation Centre has been nominated for the 2018 Inspirational Latin Awards in the Innovation and Sustainability Category
Read More on i4C Innovation and CEO Pilar Portela:
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION
i4C Innovation was conceived around October of 2016, an idea birthed on the possibility of developing economic diversification in rural areas while collaborating with existing traditional industry. There were 3 main factors to ensure it opened: secure the 46,000 sq ft state-of-the-art building that had been sitting empty for over 5 years across the Trail airport, arrange a collaborative funding model between a private organization and local not-for-profit organization and procure strong, healthy business relationships with Latin America to support continued growth. This unique and innovative approach ensured a sustainable business model that could be transferred to other rural or under-developed communities around the world that would not depend solely on grants. Today the i4C Innovation Hub sits proud as one of the fastest growing companies in the area and its model is being replicated in neighboring communities.
HISTORY, CHALLENGES AND MILESTONE
Incorporated in April of 2017, i4C Innovation open doors on May 24, 2017. During that short period of existence, it had already accomplished some major milestones, including securing the building through an alliance with a regional trust fund (Columbia Basin Trust), was awarded a $1M fund in a joint collaboration with the regional economic development office (LCIC) and had established the first links to Latin America.
The numbers expected during the first 2 years were: create 5 Full Time jobs, support the creation of 20 indirect jobs, relocate 3 growth stage companies and secure a $1M VC fund available for the companies within the i4C Hub. Just one year later, i4C had created 11 new jobs, 17 indirect jobs and hosts 9 growth stage companies that have relocated from countries like Brazil, Colombia and Mexico as well as Canadian and US companies. And a $20M fund was secured through an Alberta corporation to support i4C’s hub members.
Through its hub i4C was able to support Astra Smart Systems which in turn was acquired, after only 2 years since its creation, for a staggering $2.3M with only $125K investment. Astra is now one of the largest hub members and has opened another 4 new jobs in the area.
In Latin America, i4C keeps evolving with representatives in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. Currently it is negotiating a deal to open a large facility in Paraguay.
However, all of these has come with its own set of unique challenges, including being one of the very few female-led and solely owned technology companies in Canada, with the added difficulty that its owner is also a clear visible minority. An immigrant that has forged her way during the past 30 years to prove that through collaboration, with a clear business model, one can have a sustainable and innovative organization.
i4C Innovation proudly has 75% of its employees as visible minorities, primarily Latin Americans, with over 5 languages spoken, including Spanish and Portuguese, 38% are female employees, 13% have visible disabilities, 38% are over 50 years old and over 80% live in a rural area.
i4C is focused on growth and sustainability. Our technological advances in the Industry 4.0 era include development of environmental, water and waste water sensors, naturally air cooled and controlled environments for our servers, and the development of analytics platforms aimed at solutions for complex industrial and municipal problems.
All these careful orchestrations allowed i4C to sell over $1.5M in the first year, allowing for a continued growth plan over the current year.
i4C Innovation has been a leader in rural economic development. A $250K matching fund was what allowed the local economic development office to obtain the $1M fund. These collaborations allowed not just the growth of i4C but the region as a whole. An extremely successful campaign called “Metal Tech Alley” has placed Trail, BC in the map, not just in British Columbia, or Canada, but through out Latin America. Owner and employees alike have delivered multiple presentations to local schools, colleges and not-for-profits, on the jobs of the future, how to collaborate with Latin American companies, and strategies on growth of diversity and inclusion at levels.
See the other nominees here: http://inspirationalawards.ca/nominees2018/#prettyPhoto[ajax]/18/