Softwood and software: Prince George tech sector relies on forestry for growth

When you think about the high tech sector economy, you might think of things like social media or video games.

You probably don't think of wood.

But a group of tech leaders in Prince George, B.C. is trying to develop that city's high tech sector through tie-ins with the well-established local forestry sector.

"There's lots of new technologies being developed for or adapted for use in the forestry sector," Matt Hutcheon, executive director of the Innovation Central Society told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.

"We're seeing everything that spans from robotics to assist with harvests, looking at drones and [unmanned aerial vehicle] technology to assist mapping and of course looking at biofuels and alternative uses of the fibre itself."

Hutcheon says the high tech sector in the North Cariboo is small, but growing.

Much of the activity is tied to "traditional sectors" and innovating new solutions to challenges those sectors face.

"That's maybe a little bit different than the tech ecosystems in other parts of the province where it's maybe more traditional software development, that sort of thing," he said.

"It's happening out of necessity. People are coming across challenges in their businesses and they're looking to technology for the solution."

Hutcheon says there are early-days efforts amongst businesses and industry groups to establish the region as a global leader in applying technological solutions to forestry problems.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Softwood and software: Prince George tech sector relies on forestry for growth