An innovative partnership between the University of British Columbia and BC’s wine industry has received $630,000 from Western Economic Diversification Canada to help strengthen cooperation in the industry, enhance export readiness and develop global identity.
“The BC wine industry enjoys strong local demand but an enhanced international presence is critical for future sustainability and growth,” said Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, in announcing the funding Friday afternoon at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna. “Through today’s funding, the Government of Canada is helping BC’s diverse wine industry come together to increase competitiveness and to showcase its own unique character on the world stage.”
The Government of Canada funding, which is matched by UBC and industry funding for a total of $1.3M, will enable:
- Establishment of task forces on wine labeling and presentation, and on the industry’s identity
- Use of research and industry knowledge to identify and assess options for organization, modeled from other advanced wine regions in the world
- Analysis of intelligence from international trade shows
- Development of online tools to strengthen collaboration and industry stakeholder relations
- Hosting of forums, workshops and town halls
“UBC is committed to engaging with our partners in the BC Interior and throughout British Columbia to drive economic activity and innovation,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Arvind Gupta. “This partnership illustrates the direct link between the future of the Interior and UBC and is a powerful example of how our unique learning and innovation environment is contributing to the long-term success of an important BC industry.”
“Universities have a fundamental role to play in driving economic development, including through knowledge creation and transfer in partnership with industry,” said Deborah Buszard, UBC Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Okanagan campus. “Working with the BC wine industry, UBC will serve as a convener for the sector and international experts to come together to create an expanded, globally competitive wine region.”
The project will be undertaken as part of UBC’s new Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada and builds on work we have been doing over the last three years or so, said Roger Sugden, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Management.
“UBC has developed a very strong relationship with KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, one of the world’s leading centres for wine management,” said Sugden. “We have established the annual UBC/KEDGE Wine Leaders Forum, bringing together wine producers from BC and international wine management expertise. Supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, we will continue to host Wine Leaders Forums over the next three years, enabling open collaboration across the industry. “We’re creating an independent and challenging space to identify strategic issues and discuss ideas, where actions can be tailored to drive growth for the entire industry.”
BC Wine Institute Director Ezra Cipes was among the speakers at the announcement. “Having the neutral, academic setting provided by UBC Okanagan and KEDGE, which brings a world of international experience to our doorstep and engages the whole BC wine industry, will help us set ourselves up for the next level of success,” said Cipes, who also chairs the BC Wine Appellation Task Group and serves as CEO of Summerhill Winery.
“To work with UBC/KEDGE in an academic environment offers the BC wine industry the important opportunity to solve industry issues with neutral and objective guidance, so we can direct future energies to growing our industry with focus and a shared vision,” said John Skinner, chair of Terroir BC, and proprietor of Painted Rock Estate Winery.
The project to position the BC wine industry for international growth begins this summer.
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