Government of Canada invests over $3 million to grow British Columbian businesses and build a skilled workforce

News release

A technician works in a lab. Text reads: Government of Canada invests over $3 million to grow British Columbian businesses and build a skilled workforce

The University of British Columbia and Small Business BC are among the organizations receiving funding to help B.C. businesses grow locally and compete globally

October 16, 2023 – Vancouver, British Columbia – PacifiCan

British Columbia’s small businesses are the heart of our communities and the economic engine of our province. To continue fueling the entrepreneurial spirit of British Columbians, the Government of Canada is making investments in organizations that help businesses grow.

Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), announced over $3 million in funding for four projects that will support small and medium-sized businesses and help workers improve their technical skills.

Minister Sajjan made the announcement while visiting the Composites Knowledge Network at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Network is receiving over $1.7 million in PacifiCan funding to help small and medium-sized businesses become leaders in composites manufacturing. Composites, materials made of two or more different materials, are transforming industries from health care to construction. However, composites can be costly and complex to create. The Composites Knowledge Network is reducing these barriers for businesses. With this funding, the Network will expand its operations and provide training for businesses across B.C.

This announcement marks the beginning of Small Business Week, an annual celebration of entrepreneurs, dreamers and do’ers across Canada. As part of today’s announcement, Small Business BC is also receiving $695,000 in PacifiCan support for two initiatives. This funding will allow Small Business BC to expand its digital services and provide more visibility for businesses that are led by members of underrepresented communities.

For the full list of projects, please see the backgrounder here.

Today’s announcement is expected to support over 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses, provide training for over 600 professionals and create over 80 jobs.


“Small businesses are the backbone of British Columbia’s economy, employing two in every five workers. Today’s investment reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to helping British Columbian businesses grow locally and compete globally. To achieve this goal, PacifiCan is collaborating with partners like the University of British Columbia and Small Business BC, who share our ambition for our province.”   
- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

“The University of British Columbia is a keystone of innovation in British Columbia and today’s investment of $1.7 million in Composites Knowledge Network and UBC is a key example of this. When industry and academia come together to innovate, new sustainable jobs and technologies are created and advanced.
- The Honourable Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra

“We are grateful for this PacifiCan investment in the Composites Knowledge Network. This funding will deepen connections with SME partners in many industry sectors, help drive new discoveries and technologies, and train the next generation of researchers and innovators. This investment will play an important role in supporting the network to develop new advanced manufacturing solutions that position Canada as a global leader in composite materials research and applications.”
- Dr. Gail Murphy, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, University of British Columbia

“The Composites Knowledge Network (CKN) is proud to be supporting a wide range of innovative BC small and medium enterprises (SMEs) working with composite materials and technologies. This PacifiCan funding will enable us to better support even more SMEs in the BC and Pacific region, leading to exciting opportunities for their sustainable growth in sectors that reflect our local and national values and priorities.”
- Dr. Anoush Poursartip, Co-Director, Composites Knowledge Network

“The generous funding received from PacifiCan underlines their critical support for small businesses throughout British Columbia. The funding will help connect rural and lower mainland businesses to their customers and allow Small Business BC to enhance their digital services, which will benefit entrepreneurs in every region of the province.”
- Tom Conway, CEO of Small Business BC

Quick facts

  • PacifiCan is the federal economic development agency dedicated to British Columbians. PacifiCan works with partners who are building innovative businesses, creating quality jobs, and supporting inclusive growth throughout our province.

  • Funding announced today was provided through PacifiCan’s Regional Innovation Ecosystems program. This program aims to grow and nurture priority sectors across British Columbia, building an ecosystem that includes under-represented groups and allows these priority sectors to innovate and compete globally.

  • The Composites Knowledge Network works to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and industrial practice, enabling people at the forefront of composites manufacturing to innovate, compete and grow towards a net-zero future in Canada and globally.

  • British Columbia’s half a million small businesses accounted for 33% of GDP in 2021.

  • Small business exporters in B.C. shipped almost $18.1 billion worth of goods abroad in 2021 (32% of all goods exports).

  • Small businesses employed over 1.1 million people in B.C. in 2021, or 43% of all workers.

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Haley Hodgson
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Pacific Economic Development Agency (PacifiCan)

Jillian Glover
Communications Manager

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