John Geddes: A story behind the cover story

Maclean’s | John Geddes

overing federal politics, certain phrases have lost rhetorical impact on me: “create jobs,” “raise middle-class incomes,” “boost competitiveness.” Yet I sympathize with the politicians who reflexively reach for these worn-down terms. How else to sum up the goals of economic policy?

Here’s another way. Maybe the goal should be to make whatever happened in Ben Sparrow’s Vancouver apartment in 2008—just before he was evicted—occur much more often. Sparrow recently told me about how he got the boot for building the prototype of a new kind of purification system for salty industrial wastewater in his residential unit.

That year, he co-founded Saltworks Technologies with Josh Zoshi, and they moved to more appropriate space in an old fish-processing plant at the Port of Vancouver. Only seven years later, Saltworks has 52 employees and sells from Australia, to Mexico, to the U.S….

…He was full of praise for the BCIC-New Ventures Competition, a contest designed to give would-be British Columbia tech entrepreneurs training, mentoring, and—for those who win, like Saltworks did a few years back—a potentially invaluable injection of seed financing. Sparrow enthuses that the competition should be replicated nationally.

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