Vancouver’s Innovation
Economy Clusters

Vancouver’s economic vision: a high-performing economy that successfully levers the City’s global profile and its momentum as a centre of innovation and entrepreneurship.

— Vancouver Economic Action Strategy

Economy Clusters

  • Downtown
  • Yaletown
  • Gastown
  • Railtown
  • Broadway Corridor
  • False Creek Flats
  • Mount Pleasant

Q/A with Vancouver Innovators

  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Sony
  • Telus
  • Avigilon
  • Apple
  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Enter Noc
  • Industrial
    Light Magic
  • Trulioo
  • Microsoft
  • Spaces
  • WeWork
  • Bensen Manufacturing
  • Herschel Supple Co.
  • Union Wood Co.
  • Commvault
  • Idelix
  • SAP
  • Microsoft
  • Pay by Phone
Broadway Corridor
  • VCH Research Institute
  • Centre for Brain Health
  • Digital Domain
  • Bardel
  • VGH
  • ESG
Mount Pleasant
  • Zymeworks
  • Hootsuite
  • Relic / Sega
  • Double Negative
  • Abcellera
  • Titmouse Animation
False Creek Flats
  • Centre for Digital Media
  • STEMCELL Technologies
  • Blackbird Interactive
  • Cinesite Studios
  • Axiom Zen
  • MEC


We have lived and worked in Mount Pleasant since the early 1980’s – it has evolved to be stylish but still approach-able and authentic.

Your grandmother ran a restaurant in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) that was a draw for artists and a gathering place for the city. How do you think elements of that have appeared in Anh and Chi?

We opened with a vision that Anh and Chi would be like grandma’s cafe, gathering people from all walks of life to connect over good food, music and drinks. We have brought in lots of warm wood and wicker into our design and plating just like grandma had in her Saigon district one shop.

Why did your family choose this particular location on Main Street to launch your first family restaurant,Pho Hoang (back in 1994) and then Anh and Chi?

I think our family chose Main Street back in the day because it was the only area they could afford to establish their little noodle shop that would support our family. Pho Hoang was actually established in 1983 on Main & 20th. At the time it was a very humble neighborhood that has since grown into a gem in BC.

How would you describe the connection between art and food? How does that reflect in the indoor space of your restaurant and the streetscape?

Food, like other forms of art, is a channel for expression. We want to share our Vietnamese heritage, hospitality, and the importance of community and connection through food. It was important for Anh and Chi to design a restaurant that made the neighborhood proud, and people feel warm and at ease when inside. We wanted to create a gathering place where relationships could be strengthened.

What has been the most interesting evolution of the neighbourhood you’ve seen, since your family immigrated to Mt Pleasant?

We have lived and worked in Mount Pleasant since the early 1980’s. We are pretty happy with how it has evolved to become a place that is stylish, and approachable but still authentic.

What are some of your favourite dishes at your restaurant?

It’s hard not to say all of them because each dish reminds us of a particular family member, an area in Vietnam, or a warm meal that mom made for us siblings, despite struggling to run a business and raise a family as new immigrants to Canada. We can tell you what people rave about — our spring rolls for sure (!), street-side platter, vermicelli bowl, caramelized arctic char and beef & water spinach salad. Oh and our chicken wings and the number 37. We brought some classics from Pho Hoang, ones where when you have it once, you will remember it forever. If you have the opportunity to join us with a few people, try our family style dishes... it’s sometimes not what you eat but how you eat it — shared with the people you love at the table.

In your perfect world, how would you spend your day in Mount Pleasant?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have any fires to put out, and would enjoy a nice stroll up the street for a morning coffee. We would spend some time creating our next menu or strategizing for our next project. We would take our time to browse the amazing shops along Main Street — from natural soaps, home decor, to baby clothes. Next, we would be stopping in to help our team with the afternoon and dinner rushes. Once the team is in rhythm, we could only dream of breaking away to a fitness or yoga class, then dine / grocery shop at one of our many favourite eateries / grocery stores along Main Street.

What would you add to this community if you could?

Rather than adding to the community, at times. it may be more important to preserve what we have. Main Street is the perfect size and pace, and we appreciate it the way it is. If we are to add anything, be it development or businesses, we ought to be mindful of vehicular traffic and make sure we have plans to prevent congestion. We think this is the most liveable / walkable neighborhood in the city and we would love to keep it that way.

I see enormous opportunity in this neighbourhood to envision how we, as designers, artists and researchers, can explore concepts of neighbourliness, reparative duty, social and environmental justice, inclusivity and innovation.

How many students are enrolled at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in your False Creek Flats campus?

Emily Carr University is home to almost 2000 undergraduate and graduate students with an additional 2000, full and part-time students in our continuing studies and certificate programs.

Can you share the approximate mix of where your students originate reside from (local / domestic / international?)

In the 2017/18 academic year, 545 of our students were international students from 50 countries around the world. They hail from countries including China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, Belarus, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Japan, Indonesia, The Philippines, and across Western Europe.

You were located at Granville Island for over 25 years – how has the relocation to your new building in a new neighbourhood changed the University? How has the University impacted the neighbourhood?

With the move from Granville Island to Great Northern Way in 2017, ECU has been given an opportunity to model how a university can support and advocate for its local neighbourhood. Universities have an ethical and social obligation to support the development of open, equitable, and just cities — not merely smart and creative cities that reproduce monoculture and heighten inequity. I hope to see more collaborations between the university and its local environments that can then challenge our academic and creative communities in thinking about our responsibility to urban change. Creating equitable cities requires us to conceive of urban development as more than a means of driving profit and economic growth. Development is also about community wealth building and providing space and support for marginalized and excluded communities.

How does the Mount Pleasant / East Vancouver neighbourhood inspire your students’ work and their thinking?

Mount Pleasant’s history is something of a microcosm for Canada’s broader colonial history. It is marked by the displacement of Indigenous residents to make way for settlers; building practices which produced habitable land out of the swamps and tidal flats, but also created risk for future generations who reside there; squatters marginalized by a rapidly changing cityscape; and the east-west divide which reflects the ideological tensions in parts of the city — a mythos which continues to play out in Vancouver even today.

How do we make these histories visible? How do we question the glossier or more oblique versions of Mount Pleasant’s story? How do we, as contemporary artists and designers, think of these conflicts in our interactions with the city? These questions provide incredibly rich territory for students to explore and imagine future cities where social and environmental justice flourish.

How does Emily Carr create a sense of community with their students?

Fostering student agency is a priority for ECU staff and faculty. We encourage our students to view their communities as dynamic ecosystems, in which they are active participants. This can mean facilitating sustainability actions, providing resources to support communities, or giving a sense of what it means to live on unceded territories. Emphasizing student agency helps create a generation sensitive to their responsibility to the world they live in, who feel empowered to create more inclusive and ethically informed spaces.

ECU is also home to research centres that create dynamic and socially urgent work, and several public galleries that host lectures and exhibitions to promote intellectual rigour and care for others.

How does Emily Carr support students in finding careers and job placements after graduation? Can you share examples of companies with connections to the neighbourhood that have hired graduates from your University?

We have a number of initiatives to connect students to professionals whose livelihoods are built on the creative and critical thinking skills that students come to Emily Carr to learn. Our Art Apprenticeship Network program places students as paid assistants to professionals in the cultural sector. This helps build and strengthen the local arts ecosystem, creating opportunities for paid work and experience for emerging practitioners. ECU’s Career Development + Work Integrated Learning Office regularly organizes professional development opportunities, to connect students with companies such as Microsoft, Google, EA, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Many ECU art and design students have become advocates for thinking about ethics and questioning the status quo in tech. The capacity to think, build and dream, are really important for the future of the field.

What do you find is the most interesting aspect of the Main Street / Mount Pleasant neighbourhood?

I see enormous opportunity in this neighbourhood to envision how we, as designers, artists and researchers, can explore concepts of neighbourliness, reparative duty, social and environmental justice, inclusivity and innovation.

The Mount Pleasant neighbourhood has a rich history of artist centres, workers’ associations and community organizations in the heritage heart area. For instance, the “Triangle Building” at Main and Kingsway has provided affordable retail and office spaces for independent businesses, arts and community organizations for the past 70 years. This area also bears traces of history beyond the time of colonization. Kingsway roughly follows a pre-colonial First Nations foot trail, which linked New Westminster with English Bay. Main Street loosely echoes the path of a waterway, named Brewery Creek by settlers, that ran down to Burrard Inlet. I hope that as the city continues to change, these historic areas and buildings are also preserved and given the proper visibility.

In your perfect world, how would you spend your day in Mount Pleasant?

Western Front and grunt gallery are two of my very favourite places to spend a day in Mount Pleasant.

Westbank is the co-owner and operator Vancouver’s district energy system, Creative Energy, which will own and operate the district energy system at Main Alley. A large part of our focus going forward will be on using this system to instigate a massive reduction of Vancouver’s carbon footprint and on integrating district energy into other cities in which we practice.

What is district Energy and who is Creative Energy?

District energy is the centralized generation and distribution of thermal energy to a group of buildings within a neighbourhood. The thermal energy is then delivered to customers through a network of interconnected underground pipes, and heat exchangers at each building.

District energy systems are designed to provide low-cost, low-carbon, and reliable heating, offer considerable capital cost and space savings for developers and owners and enable extraordinary environmental performance by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Creative Energy is the owner and operator of one of the largest district energy systems in North America, serving more than 215 buildings in downtown Vancouver through 14 km of underground network of pipes with a peak generation capacity of 280 MW.

Formerly known as Central Heat, Creative Energy has been serving over 45 million sq.ft. of connected space, to clients including St. Paul’s Hospital, BC Place Stadium, Rogers Arena, Amazon’s new Canadian headquarters, and numerous commercial and residential buildings in Vancouver with a 99.99% reliability rate for over 50 years.

What does the future of Creative Energy look like?

Never before has sustainability been as important an attribute of energy systems as it is today. Creative Energy is embarking on a major renewal and redevelopment of its core downtown Vancouver facility that will lower the energy system’s greenhouse gas emissions by 6,500 tons each year. In addition, Creative Energy is developing eight other neighborhood energy systems, where low carbon energy sources include geo-exchange, combined heat and power, ocean loop exchange, and heat recovery from chillers. Creative Energy is driving sustainable growth through technology and innovation while achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

What are some of the benefits of district energy? To the owners of the buildings but also for the tenants who operate in buildings with district energy?

Benefits of developers and owners:

  1. Avoided thermal energy capital
  2. More useable area in the building by reducing requirements for mechanical equipment
  3. Exceptional environmental performance and carbon emission reduction
  4. Municipal Green Standard compliance and support from municipal and community stakeholders
  5. Opportunity to earn revenue from leasing their energy centre to a district energy utility

Benefits to tenants and end users of energy:

  1. Thermal energy costs that are at or below market
  2. An energy system that has outstanding environmental performance, is highly reliable and resilient, is quiet and unobtrusive, with long-term cost certainty
  3. Focus resources for core competencies and avoids operations and maintenance costs
  4. Ease of expansion
  5. Reductions to strata reserve funds

Main Alley will have a district energy system for its campus. What are Creative Energy’s long-term plans for district energy in Mount Pleasant? What do you think the role of the City is in advancing sustainable behaviours in a community?

Neighbourhood energy systems can help municipalities and other governments in fulfilling their climate action policies and Vancouver has been especially quick in recognizing this. We hope the district energy system at Main Alley is another step forward for Vancouver’s global leadership towards a more sustainable future.

Sustainability has become an increasingly important attribute of today’s energy systems. What is Creative Energy doing to make its systems more sustainable and less reliant on traditional fuel sources?

Sustainability does not only apply to environmental standards. Successful sustainable energy systems must also be cost effective for users while complying with government policies. As mentioned earlier, we are already starting to incorporate low-carbon energy sources into every one of our systems.

Main Street is more eclectic and alluring than ever and so are the people that frequent there.

You have performed around the world, but came back to Canada – can we ask why?

Canada was where I learned my first steps and where the dream began. Here I would take classes every day after school and now it is important for me to be able to give back to the community that supported me and gave me these opportunities.

Your parents founded Goh Ballet Academy Canada in 1978 at the corner of 8th & Main – why did they select this location, and in particular this part along Main Street?

It was actually the building that had caught their eyes. My father would drive by this heroic heritage building and say to us, “This looks like a ballet academy and it would be a great place for our school.” About a year and dozens of car rides later, there was a for sale sign on the building and that dream became a reality.

In your eyes, what defines Main Street for Vancouver and for the world?

For me, since I associate much of my teenage years training at Goh Ballet Main, Main Street is defined as a place that I can’t wait to get to. Besides the draw of all my dance classes, the street housed the bakery where I would save up all my calories for a coconut bun, the German delicatessen that had the best Kobassa, the grocery store that had imported mango juice from Thailand and the Dairy Queen for that peanut buster parfait! It had everything I craved as a teen and now as a woman who has been to every major centre of the world, Main Street’s charm is just as impulsive. One can go back in time or step up to the coolest and latest, Main Street is more eclectic now but alluring as ever – so are the people that frequent there.

Approximately how many people come through the Main Street Studio every week?

On any given Saturday, our busiest day of the week, we will have over 500 people come through our building from 9am to 6pm. It is the most invigorating and vibrant day, which we look forward to every week. Hosting classes for students as young as 3 years old to our post-graduate vocational students, all 5 studios are in “Full Systems Goh”.

Why do you believe culture and arts are so important in Vancouver (for example, as a founding member of the Vancouver Arts and Culture Policy Council)?

It is important because without it, our existence is diminished. For a city so fortunate to be blessed by natural beauty and clean air, we need to continue to cultivate and foster Arts and Culture in our communities; to make Art a part of our everyday and embrace and celebrate Culture in it’s many different voices of expression. We need to continue to build and support productions and artistic ventures as well as to educate or learn, to grow to the city’s potential.

What would you like international students to experience being part of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood?

Experience humanity. I hope they will find themselves as individuals and as a part of this evolving neighbourhood.

What do you think is the most interesting thing about Main Street / Mount Pleasant?

Nothing and Everything. It really depends on how deep you are looking but spend a few minutes there and you might wish to quickly pass by or get to your other destination, take some time there and you will find that it gives back as much as you put in.

What would you add to this community if you could?

Well now – let there be more parking! But in all seriousness, I continue to add to my appreciation for the resilience and adaptability that it has enabled in me each day.

Mount Pleasant is the confluence of every-thing that is Vancouver. It crosses activity and urban outdoor life-style with art and food. It’s eclectic, rich with ideas and full of space for creativity.

MEC has been in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood since 1982 and its new location will be on 2nd and Quebec. How do you think MEC’s presence has contributed to the community?

MEC has been present in Vancouver since 1971. Our original store was actually a VW Van, (a similar replica will be in the store on 2nd and Quebec) with our first official Vancouver store opening in 1972. We started small, as a few young climbers and we’ve grown up and evolved in this community, opening our third store on Broadway in 1995. We’ve been the place to go for outdoor enthusiasts in Vancouver as well as a hub for community for nearly 50 years. MEC is and will continue to be the place to start almost any adventure, whether in the backcountry or in an urban setting. Whether it’s meet ups for running or learning a new skill or our Community events, we aim to continue to contribute to the vitality of Mount Pleasant and teach people the skills they need to get outside in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

How does MEC create community within its stores?

We like to think of our stores as Community Hubs with an outdoor activity ecosystem. Since 1987 MEC has contributed over $44m to organizations getting people outdoors and active. This means we have an incredible network of friends in the outdoor community who offer programming for the public and members to attend. For example, in-store programming includes: Weekly running meet-ups; ‘How to’ sessions on camping, climbing, backpacking, hiking and cycling, a Race Series (road running / trail running), local (and international) adventure speakers and film screenings. In the MEC store you can also meet organizations like:

  • Parkbus, a non-profit bringing urban dwellers to local parks and nature
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (National & B.C. Chapter)
  • Climbers Access Society of BC, a group that facilitates access to, and supports the conservation of, B.C.’s cliffs and mountains.
  • Forest and the Femme Society, a non-profit outdoor recreation program to empower the DTES’s most vulnerable and isolated women.
  • HUB Cycling, a non-profit focused on the improvement of cycling conditions in Metro Vancouver.
  • North Shore Mountain Biking Association, a non-profit concerned with maintaining and establishing a strong network of biking trails in the community.

As Director, Community - what do you find most rewarding in your role and why?

My role is incredibly rewarding! Through MEC All Out, we build relationships with incredible organizations making our outdoor spaces and activities more accessible. We work with knowledgeable and passionate staff to create experiences that introduce the novice to a new outdoor activity or skill, help them overcome a barrier or a fear, and connect them to a community of outdoor enthusiasts. Our goal is to help make Canada the most active country in the world. Seeing this come to life through a new program or project in the community, watching someone run their first 10km, or try camping for the first time is more energizing than one can know.

What does Mount Pleasant say about Vancouver?

Mount Pleasant is the confluence of everything that is Vancouver. It crosses activity and urban outdoor lifestyle with art and food. It’s eclectic, rich with ideas and full of space for creativity. It’s my favourite area in Vancouver and the first I introduce new visitors to.

What are some of the best activities to do around Mount Pleasant/the MEC store that people can take part in? (Season by season?)

Mount Pleasant is well-designed urban cycling – cyclists can use the many bike routes that intersect the neighbourhood and hop right on to the seawall. Paddlers can push off from Habitat Island and runners can test their gear around the False Creek-Olympic Village pathway. We designed some incredible running routes to tour the murals in Mount Pleasant during the 2019 Vancouver Mural Festival. In Mount Pleasant our new store on Quebec and 2nd has a beautiful climbing wall where you can test out the newest climbing shoes. In the winter you can come by MEC and have your skis/snowboards tuned up and waxed before heading up to the North Shore mountains. Yoga is everywhere in Mount Pleasant as well. Our friends at Mat Collective offer free outdoor classes in Mount Pleasant in the summer!

What do you think of the bike culture of Mount Pleasant?

MEC (unsurprisingly) has a solid bike culture. We participate in bike to work week and Bike The Night with HUB Cycling every year. Mount Pleasant’s protected bike lanes and cycling routes make it an easy place to cycle, much easier than driving and parking! It’s a welcoming space for cyclists and continues to improve in its accessibility. Our new store on 2nd and Quebec will help enable bike culture too! Pop in to learn how to get started fixing or maintaining your bike, grab a new accessory or lock, and register with 529 Garage!

What do you think is the most interesting aspect of Main Street / Mount Pleasant?

I love the diverse food options mixed with access to all kinds of activities. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s my favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver! I love the different community engagements that take place, the Vancouver Mural Festival being a great example.

What would you add to this community if you could?

More! More art, more cycling, more people meeting up and creating connections. Mount Pleasant is a hub of activity and community and I just love how it continues to grow!

In your perfect world, how would you spend your day in Mount Pleasant?

I would have breakfast at Fable Diner, hop on my bike and cycle across the 10th Ave bike route to do a loop around UBC. On my way back I would take the seawall and re-energize with a smoothie at the Juice Truck. I’d pop home at Kingsway and 11th to freshen up before having lunch and a coffee at PureBread. If it was a market day, I might check out the market at Dude Chilling Park, or pop up to see what’s on at Heritage Hall on Main Street. I’d finish the day with tacos at Tacofino Mount Pleasant and a Serious Chocolate ice cream at Earnest before heading across the street to a film screening at MEC.

The vibe in the neighbourhood is a fascinating collision of multiple stakeholder use cases, which makes for some interesting combinations.

What makes Ocho different than the rest of the Tacofino locations. How has Tacofino evolved to produce Ocho?

Ocho is a charcoal grill concept. We’re inspired by fire cooking and wanted to do some char cook-ing. Tacofino is not a typical chain - each restaurant builds on our past and evolves the menu and interior design. We consider what a neighbourhood needs, rather than trying to plug in a square block to a round hole.

What elements from your roots in Tofino show up in Mount Pleasant?

The food is approachable, fun to share and could be cooked over a beach fire.

Why did you choose this particular location within Mount Pleasant to launch Tacofino Ocho?

I live in the neighbourhood and we all love the fabric of it - a great mix of industrial, arts, and maker communities. The Lightworks building embodies all of this and our design sought to honour the history of it. Our corner is the heart of the area... the nexus of two bike paths crossing 5th and Ontario.

We understand that you live in the neighbourhood. What do you think reflects the essence of Lower Main?

Living in lower main requires an equal amount of grit, humour and street smarts. I have four young kids that are growing up fast and I hope are resilient enough to handle the rigours of a very urban lifestyle but who will also appreciate being just blocks from an ocean that can set them free.

What do you think is the most interesting aspect of Main Street / Mount Pleasant?

The vibe in the neighbourhood is a fascinating collision of multiple stakeholder use cases, which makes for some interesting combinations. You can easily find a coffee shop, tech startup and metal-working studio all in the same building here. Homogeneity kills a neighbourhood, and we’re not at risk of that here and I suspect won’t be for a long time to come.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in the neighbourhood [in restaurant or other industries]?

The main trend is that software development, tech and gaming firms, are starting to feel a grav-itational pull to the area. Unfortunately I think this is sometimes happening at the expense of artists’ maker space and small gallery space. So we need to find ways to preserve the spaces as well.

In your perfect world, how would you spend your day in Mount Pleasant?

Wake up early, jog the seawall and come home past Solly’s to bring back fresh bagels, cream cheese and lox for breakfast on our front stoop. Walk up to Mt Pleasant park to play some basketball with family and friends and BBQ something for lunch. Explore Science World then play soccer in that new park there with the family... ditch the kids and grab some drinks at the Narrow on our way up to Como for dinner, check out some live music atthe Fox…

What would you add to this community if you could?

A better park for the kids with some play-courts, basketball, hockey, tennis. Jonathon Rogers needs an overhaul given the amount it gets used. Clean ocean water in False Creek so we can swim in it…

Mount Pleasant is a unique and cultural neighbourhood in Vancouver. Over the years it has become a crossroad, where east and west meet.

Why did you decide to use the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood as your canvas for VMF?

Mount Pleasant has a long tradition of being an arts and performance hub. Over the last decade, the addition of tech and other independent professional creative organizations in animation, fashion, film, video games and craft brewing has further solidified this identity. The area shares a kinship in our minds to neighbourhoods like Saint Laurent in Montreal or Wynwood in Miami, which host their respective world renowned mural festivals.

I’ve also lived and worked in the area for 10 years and most of our team is based here as well.

What stories have been told to the public through the murals?

Every mural has a different story to tell. That’s what we love about the medium. Rather than one mural trying to represent the diversity and identity of the city, we produce projects by hundreds of artists, each expressing their own vision and story. That could be funny, socially charged, or just beautiful to look at. It can be focused on our history, current events, or the future. For our Indigenous artists, transforming existing urban structures and environments can help them visually reflect their cultures, histories, and experiences.

Do the murals attract people beyond Vancouver?

Aside from the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our festival each August, there are hundreds of thousands more who visit throughout the year. These visitors include international artists looking to work in and connect with the Vancouver art scene. Last year we had more than 800 applications to paint in our festival, with almost half of those coming from every corner of the globe.

How do you continue to engage with the art / artists / community throughout the year?

We’re a non-profit organization dedicated to a vision of a society that deeply values and prioritizes art and culture. We do this by creating experiences that connect art and people. Though planning our festival takes all year, we have been fortunate to also work on other projects in the city and Lower Mainland. We call these VMF Special Projects and have produced public art by hundreds of artists with organizations like Westbank, Capilano University, UBC, YVR, CMHC on Granville Island and local Business Improvement Associations.

Which mural was the most challenging to pull off?

Most people don’t realize how much goes into every single mural. There are considerations around location, permitting, funding, curation, artist relations, building owner relations, technical issues, insurance, training… The most difficult project fresh in my mind is a 15 story mural by Australian artist Fintan Magee for Mural Festival 2019. This mural is the most visible from the intersection at Kingsway and Broadway. Executing this project required access to residents’ patios, as well as the rooftop of the adjacent building. Five or six artists worked around the clock to finish before Fintan had to fly out for his next project. Painting only took a few weeks, but months of planning and clean-up went into this mural.

What happens at the Mt Pleasant Street Party and Beer Garden?

Our festival consists of 10-days of painting and events, however it all leads up to the Mount Pleasant Street Party, which makes us Western Canada’s largest free celebration of public art. More than 150,000 people come to see the murals, especially curated live art, dance, music and markets.

One of the longest standing and most popular areas at the street party is the Main Alley VCBW Craft Beer Garden presented by Westbank. It celebrates the art of brewing with more than 25 local craft breweries and plenty of other memorable activities.

Tell us a little bit about the murals on the Main Alley site?

There are currently five permanent murals and an additional five rotating murals by 13 artists at Main Alley. The most prominent are by celebrated Vancouver artist Andy Dixon and South African artist, Faith XLVII. Andy’s work has been described as renaissance meets Matisse with punk-rock sensibilities. Most recently he collaborated with Versace for an exhibition at Milan Design Week. Andy’s mural is an enlarged recreation of a painting depicting his former studio space in Mount Pleasant, only a few blocks away.

Faith XLVII’s mural depicting an African oryx is titled, The Progress Of The Truth Of Men. An internationally-acclaimed visual artist from South Africa currently based in Los Angeles, Faith is considered one of the world’s most renowned and prolific muralists.

Other murals on the Main Alley site include work by street artist iHeart as well as local artists Lani Imre, Bronwyn Schuster, Amanda Smart, and Tia Rambaran. The parking lot off of 5th Avenue is home to our festival’s recurring Holden Courage Memorial Graffiti Jam which features a mural created by Holden’s friends for VMF 2017, alongside five annually rotating pieces by cele-brated and emerging Vancouver graffiti artists.

What do you think is the most interesting thing about Main Street/Mount Pleasant?

Mount Pleasant is a unique and cultural neighbourhood in Vancouver. Over the years it has become a crossroad, where east and west meet, at the junction of three of the city’s most substantial arteries: Kingsway, Main St, and Broadway. It carries deep history and is home to many significant heritage structures like the Lee Building and Heritage Hall. Simultaneously, it is fostering a vibrant new economy of local successes in the creative and maker industries and continues to host key emerging music/art studios and venues.

What would you add to this community if you could?

I hope to see the addition of more affordable art and performance spaces to help maintain the strong presence of emerging local artists in this area as it continues to grow. To benefit from the next stage of Mount Pleasant’s creative economy it will be key to invest in the area’s existing artist community. Support from companies that value culture, like Westbank for these types of locally focused arts spaces will be integral to the ongoing vitality of the neighbourhood as a whole.

Collaboration is a core value of our company and underlies the work we do to develop impactful scientific technologies and medicines that help patients every day.

For the layperson, can you inform us of what Zymeworks has been working on to drive successful growth?

Zymeworks is recognized as a global leader in the field of next-generation therapeutics, includ-ing bispecific antibodies and antibody drug conjugates. Think of us as the marriage of a ‘tech’ company and a biotherapeutics company, where we use computational modeling and protein engineering approaches to develop a pipeline of innovative medicines. This has resulted in our two lead product candidates, ZW25 and ZW49, which are being evaluated in clinical trials for people living with cancer, including breast, gastric, and biliary tract cancers.

When Zymeworks started in 2003, how many employees were there? How many are there now?

Zymeworks began as a two person start-up and has grown into a publicly listed company employing over 270 people across Vancouver and Seattle.

Collaboration is embedded in Zymeworks – how do you cultivate this and why do you value this trait?

It takes dedicated, persistent teamwork to envision and deliver bold solutions for our most pressing health problems. Collaboration is a core value of our company and underlies the work we do to develop impactful scientific technologies and medicines to help patients every day. In addition, Zymeworks has partnered with nine leading biopharmaceutical companies to develop medicines based on our therapeutic platforms, Azymetric™, ZymeLink™, and EFECT™, with the potential for nearly 50 novel treatments for people and families living with cancer and other diseases.

Can you share some of what Zymeworks has been able to achieve to date?

Our motivation is simple yet bold: we are committed to creating disruptive and impactful medicines that allow patients to return home to their loved ones, disease free. We’ve developed multiple novel therapeutic platforms which are the foundation for a deep pipeline of potential medicines, two of which are being evaluated in clinical trials. We also have a deep pipeline of earlier stage therapeutics and partner with other leading biopharma companies to create more treatment options for patients. We’ve built a company with strong financials to execute on our goals. Zymeworks went public with a record IPO in 2017, and has raised over US $500M in public equity financing over the past year. We are currently the largest public biotechnology company in Canada.

How will proximity to the new St. Paul’s Hospital and the Digital Technology Supercluster enhance the work that Zymeworks and its employees conduct?

Being in this high-tech, cutting edge, patient-centric environment will help inspire our employees to think outside the box in developing bold solutions for patients in need.

Will relocating to the Main Alley campus benefit your retention and hiring practices?

Yes, the creative, well-designed campus as well as our offices will provide space for our rapidly growing organization and help to maintain our strong collaborative, innovative culture. Access to great restaurants, cafes and shops within walking distance will support work-life balance and help attract great talent.

Your company works with global biopharmaceutical companies – what do you want them to experience when they connect with your team in Vancouver and specifically the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood?

We want our partners to recognize that Zymeworks is a progressive, high-science biopharma-ceutical company. Our success continues to grow due to our unwavering commitment to patients, ground-breaking science, and entrepreneurial spirit. Our new location in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood reflects our drive to help build an innovation ecosystem in Vancouver and beyond.