Frequently Asked Questions
What is the project?
The Okanagan Centre for Innovation (OCI) is a 9,728 m2 (104,715 s.f.) state of the art facility that will house everything from small start-up companies to large technology firms and expansive public space that together will serve as a modern hub of innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, and creativity.
What is the purpose of the OCI?
The Okanagan Centre for Innovation will provide a vibrant, creative, and innovative environment designed to facilitate the growth of the technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem; create jobs, drive economic growth, and help to build Canada’s strongest, most creative and entrepreneurial technology and innovation community, right here in Kelowna.
Where is the development located?
The OCI is being proposed on a 2,025 m2 (21,800 sf) lot at the corner of Doyle and Ellis beside the downtown library, in the heart of Kelowna’s Cultural District.
What’s the rationale for creating a facility like this?
For communities striving to create sustainable economic growth, the ongoing shift from traditional resource based and manufacturing based economic development to the emerging knowledge-worker economy has proven to be extremely challenging. Providing strategic support for an innovative technology ecosystem, entrepreneurs, and startup companies offers a solution; company and job creation, economic diversification, and long-term positive economic impact.
Why build it in Kelowna?
Recognized as one of Canada’s top entrepreneurial cities, Kelowna has the third largest technology sector in British Columbia, and is poised for further growth. The city’s low business tax rate, high quality of life, central regional location, Fortune 100 organizations, world-class academic institutions, thriving arts and cultural scene, and busy international airport, make it attractive to entrepreneurs and investors, and an ideal home for the Okanagan Centre for Innovation.
Who is behind the project?
The OCI was conceived by a diverse group of entrepreneurs and community leaders, including representatives from private industry, Okanagan College, UBC, Accelerate Okanagan and the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, all of whom share a desire to leverage and extend the region’s success by building Canada’s most innovative, creative and entrepreneurial technology community.
How will the OCI work?
The OCI will offer commercial space through the for-profit Kelowna Sustainable Innovation Group, as well as public space and services to startup and early-stage companies, community members, non-profits, and social enterprises through the non-profit Kelowna Innovation Society.
What is the Kelowna Innovation Society?
The Kelowna Innovation Society is a non-profit, industry-led group created to operate the public portion of the OCI and ensure it meets the needs of a wide range of community stakeholders. The Society will be governed by a board of directors.
What other benefits are expected to come out of developing the OCI in Kelowna?
The Okanagan Centre for Innovation provides a host of economic and social benefits to the community, including:
- Expansion of the established innovation/technology sector within the Okanagan;
- Increased economic sustainability through new enterprise and job creation and the attraction/expansion of existing enterprises;
- Support, training, and space for entrepreneurs;
- Skilled worker attraction and retention within Kelowna and the region;
- Local training and experiential learning for post secondary students;
- Growth in the creative and innovative community in Kelowna's downtown;
- Revitalization of Kelowna’s downtown and enhancement of the Cultural District and increased traffic to and utilization of the downtown library;
- Opportunities to stimulate new business, transit, and housing downtown;
- Increased knowledge of, and traffic to, downtown businesses, social and cultural facilities; and
- Branding of Kelowna as Canada’s most innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial technology community.
How does a company get space in the building?
Contact us to inquire into leasing opportunities.
Why was this downtown location selected?
The proposed site, which is owned by the City, is an ideal location for this project. It is appropriately zoned and within walking distance to all of the downtown amenities and services. Utilizing this proposed location supports the City's objectives, outlined in the 2011 Downtown Plan, for revitalization of the downtown core, encouraging the creation of an Innovation Centre.
What is the timetable for the development?
Construction began in October 2014 with occupancy slated for late 2016.
Why put up a whole new building? Aren’t there plenty of spaces that could be used instead of developing this chunk of remaining downtown green space?
Experience has proven that a technology hub works very differently than traditional office space, and developing a new, purpose-built space in the heart of downtown was the best way to allow for the kind of varied functions and collaboration Okanagan Centre for Innovation will require. This kind of space does not currently exist in Kelowna or the Okanagan Valley.
What will the building look like?
The OCI is a contemporary, state-of-the-art facility designed to respect the environment and its neighbours and to honour the Okanagan’s natural beauty and landscape. A rooftop patio with trees and a walking path will enhance the location’s views and create increased opportunities for tenants & the public to enjoy time outdoors. The project will seek to adhere as much as possible to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles, and will include extensive windows, and a large central atrium to increase natural light and reduce energy use.
How tall will the OCI be?
Who designed the building?
Meiklejohn Architects Inc. in Kelowna designed the OCI.
Parking is already at a premium in this section of downtown – how will that issue be mitigated?
The Kelowna Sustainable Innovation Group is working closely with the City of Kelowna to ensure adequate parking is available to support the development of the OCI. Although there was a strong desire to see the parking incorporated into the project, that proved technically challenging and cost-prohibitive. The City was able to propose a solution by identifying an opportunity to build an additional level into the Ellis Street parkade plan, with a financial contribution from the OCI to cover the costs of creating the required spaces. OCI will lease the stalls back from the City at market rates.
How will this project affect the downtown library next door?
We are excited about the opportunities afforded the OCI by developing right next door to Kelowna’s main downtown library location. The library has expressed its excitement and support in principle for the OCI concept. The building design includes opportunities to connect the two facilities, allowing people to move easily between both buildings. We will continue to collaborate to ensure that access, and any plans for use of shared spaces, work for everyone.
How can I get more information?