The GNWC Trust has two principal activities: operating the Centre for Digital Media, which offers the Masters of Digital Media graduate degree, and revitalizing its land parcel to bring together business, academia and the general community into an emerging district for the digital and creative sectors. Eight projects, which include both new construction and renovations of existing buildings, are underway and several businesses in the digital media sector currently rent space on the campus.
In 2001, the industrial distributor Finning International donated 7.5 hectares (19 acres) of former industrial land in the False Creek flats area of Vancouver to the GNWC Trust formed by the four academic partner institutions, though Finning retained a 20% interest in the site. No public money was spent, and the declared aim was "to cover the costs of future educational programs and buildings at the False Creek flats with revenues generated by private sector development." Beyond the tax write-off advantages, Finning also hoped that a further four-acre site that it kept for itself would now "be easier to market because of the university component." In the words of Bob Laurie, Finning's real estate consultant: "We're not philanthropists. We're looking at creating shareholder value and that's what I think we've done today."
By way of a trust deed, dated September 15, 2002, management and development of the property was delegated by the four partner institutions to a limited company to act as their trustee, Great Northern Way Campus Ltd.
A Shareholder's Agreement governs the Trustee and stipulates that one representative of each shareholder will sit on the Trustee's Board, along with up to eight other directors, to guide the Trustee's activities. The board chair is Morgan Sturdy, "a high tech entrepreneur" and director of Discovery Parks Inc. The company's president is Matthew Carter, who "has an extensive background in real estate finance and development."
In 2006 the Province gave $40 million as an endowment fund to establish the Centre for Digital Media. The Government's objective with this funding was to build Vancouver's prominence as a digital media hub. Among other things, this included launching a Masters of Digital Media (MDM) graduate degree program that would be operated by the Trustee and issue a degree credentialed by all four partners.