EDAC 2020 Marketing Canada Awards
Submission from the City of Campbell River
Category: Promotional Event
NexStream Tech Competition
City of Campbell River
Economic Development Department
What happens when people collaborate?
In 2019, the City of Campbell River’s Economic Development Department partnered with the Campbell River Area Angel Group (CRAAG) to create the NexStream Tech Competition.
NexStream is an international technology competition with a focus on generating real-world solutions to real-world challenges — inspired by Campbell River, British Columbia.
NexStream features four challenge categories. The challenges are inspired by regional industries, but are globally relevant. Sustainability is emphasized. Challenges are subject to change with each new competition. The 2019/2020 challenges were: Energy, Wildlife Monitoring, Food Security and Wildcard.
Prizes for the 2019/2020 competition ranged from $45,000–75,000. Participants also benefitted from valuable mentorship and support to help them move their businesses and ideas forward.
CRAAG administers and funds the competition, with support from the City of Campbell River. Other partners and experts are invited to join the selection panels and provide mentorship opportunities.
A website, nexstream.is, features high-quality photography and video, and branding such as the NexStream logo. Marketing activities include promoting the competition via social media content and media releases. The competition requires broad communication, because it is both locally and internationally focused.
Purpose of Project
Typically found in larger urban areas, a competition such as NexStream is an unusual undertaking for a city the size of Campbell River. It is one of several Economic Development initiatives (including TECHatchery and the CRadvantage municipal broadband network) that support Campbell River’s growing technology ecosystem. Economic Development’s goal is that NexStream will strengthen Campbell River’s economy by attracting new businesses to the region and supporting the growth of existing ones.
NexStream accepts applications from individuals, academic institutions and businesses with fewer than 100 employees. These are the competition’s primary audiences; they can be further refined based on each competition’s challenges.
NexStream’s audiences also include industry professionals who are interested in the technology and products that arise from the competition; participants’ social networks and communities; and the local community of Campbell River and area.
Challenges & Changes Made
This was the inaugural NexStream competition, so there were learning opportunities and adjustments along the way. The biggest challenge that organizers and participants faced was the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for an in-person demonstration and awards ceremony changed to an online announcement and video showcase of the finalists and prize recipients, for example.
Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives
NexStream attracted international attention. Applications were received from Canada, the United States, Sweden and Ireland. Thirty-seven teams entered the competition; five of those teams were shortlisted as finalists. Two winners were announced on September 9, 2020: Brandon Pirie (Wild Isle Ferments) and Mark Rabin (Portable Electric).
Website traffic increased leading up to the finale. During the weeks of September 1–15, 2020, for example, the number of unique visitors to nexstream.is increased by 394% month-over-month and page views increased by 699% month-over-month.
“NexStream has been an amazing experience that has changed my life,” Pirie said. “The competition has allowed me to use my training to create an innovative product and be a part of the rural economy, while allowing me to be close to family and the lifestyle that I love.”