They work in a second floor space above my 2013 provincial election campaign office in Brentwood Bay. Their footprint is very light, but the work they are doing could revolutionize rural and remote medicine around the world.
They are Caffeinated Turtle Enterprises and the Canadian office of 19 Labs, a Silicon Valley tech company. Together they engineer a line of mobile health devices called Gale. From a smart first aid kit, a healthcare briefcase and a full kiosk, they are connecting patients with practitioners anywhere in the world.
President and CEO, Ram Fish, has a long resume working in the Valley, he has the who’s who of tech giants on his resume. Ram got his idea for Gale during a family vacation. His child needed medical attention in a remote tourist town in Mexico. Like every tech CEO I have met, he jumped on the opportunity to find a solution for the problem. He pitched it to the right people and built a company.
Ram needed an engineering team with expertise in mobile devices. Enter Gerald Horel, and Caffeinated Turtle Enterprises. Gerald and his team have designed the products, working through regulatory, security and privacy challenges to innovate the digital healthcare space.
These kits replace the large carts costing around $80,000 that have to be run by a medical professional alongside the patient. Instead the Gale kits can be used by almost anyone, and the cost is a fraction at just a few thousand dollars.
This is yet another example of the incredible companies in Saanich North and the Islands, many of which we drive past each day and don’t even know they are there.
A competitive advantage…
Our established business districts on the Saanich Peninsula are an incredibly important part of the regional economy. And, we have a competitive advantage. The obvious question to Gerald and Ram is, why Brentwood Bay?
A few reasons quickly came to mind. The unbelievable quality of life, a qualified workforce and easy access to the Silicon Valley.
Those of us that live on the Saanich Peninsula know that our communities are safe and we have great schools. Our universities produce quality engineers without the high cost in the Valley. And, we have an international airport making the Valley just a couple of hours away. It is an attractive formula.
With all the benefits of Brentwood Bay, there are definitely drawbacks. Even though the Capital Region has a lower cost of living, housing and transportation are a challenge here. Transit service to Brentwood Bay could be much better. There is growing pressure for the provincial government to invest in transit all throughout the region, but, increasing frequency on the Pat Bay highway and neighbourhood routes is long overdue on the Saanich Peninsula.
I have visited many incredible companies, investors in our community and the people who create jobs. I am thankful when they open their doors to me and show me the work they do. Each time it reaffirms the need to understand why? When a business owner could operate anywhere, why here?
Supporting job creators…
Taking time to understand why provides the details on how I can work with my colleagues in the local, provincial and federal governments to improve our competitive advantage and address our gaps. We need to support and encourage the innovators and risk-takers who have invested in our community, and employ our friends and neighbours.
In addition, we must build well-planned, accessible and well-serviced communities that will attract new companies. I am excited that the provincial government has appointed an Innovation Commissioner and is rolling out the Emerging Economy Task Force. These are key planks in our election platform from last spring.
By embracing the emerging economy we can develop and refine tools to make natural resource extraction more sustainable and strengthen and diversify our economy for the future. I look forward to continuing to meet our business leaders, so I can better represent their needs and the needs of their employees.