Pat Bell

Langford company a model of success for British Columbia’s high-tech industry

The province predicts more than 100,000 people will have jobs in high-tech in B.C. within two years.

An established Langford company served as the backdrop for the province’s announcement last week of a new plan to invest in B.C.’s high tech sector.

The actual announcement by Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell happened a day later. But Bell made an early visit July 12, to Forest Technology Systems (FTS) on Henry Eng Place. FTS was founded in 1980 and is global leader in manufacturing rugged equipment that can be used to record environmental data.

“We’re a bit of a quiet success,” said FTS director of marketing Eric Embacher. “What we really do is help government organizations save lives, save money.”

Bell chose FTS in part because the company specializes in equipment that can monitor forest fire conditions – a topic on many people’s minds during a time of year when fire hazards are at their highest.

FTS employs about 60 people. There are roughly 12,000 people working in the high tech sector in Greater Victoria.

The province predicts more than 100,000 people will have jobs in high-tech in B.C. within two years. Bell’s announcement focused on four ways that government plans on helping the sector.

Making it easier to commercialize technology, building on regional strengths, developing talent  for a knowledge-based economy and expanding the market for B.C. high tech were keys to Bell’s plan.

FTS, which has 220 remote fire/weather monitoring stations across the province, also makes equipment that monitors water conditions.

Since its inception, FTS has deployed more than 3,500 environmental monitoring systems.

They’re most often used by government agencies to gather data but Bell said, by sharing that information, there’s an opportunity for new jobs to be created.

“What will happen is a smart young (person) will look at that data and think of interesting ways to use it,” the minister said.

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