Calgary has a history of successful entrepreneurs and innovators.
Even for the most inspired entrepreneurs, going it alone in a startup business can be a daunting experience.
The same can be said for the entire startup ecosystem.
To better serve early-stage entrepreneurs in the city as part of the overall support for the local business community, Calgary Economic Development has brought Startup Calgary into the organization.
Since its launch in 2010, Startup Calgary has connected with hundreds of local entrepreneurs through its networking activities and programming. Largely driven through volunteers, it helps develop early stage entrepreneurs, facilitates collaboration to foster startups and supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem with activities and events.
“Startup Calgary was a critical factor in our company getting started,” said Stuart Kinnear, co-founder of Calgary-based Interface Fluidics. “Starting a company is a difficult and lonely journey at times and the guidance given freely by the Startup Calgary community helped us navigate the difficult journey that was the first year of Interface.”
Calgary Economic Development worked closely with Startup Calgary and Innovate Calgary to support the innovation ecosystem.
Startup Calgary will retain its name and brand identity.
“Startup Calgary can focus on assisting the diverse and talented people with creative ideas in this city and onboarding them into our innovation ecosystem,” said Alice Reimer, the former Chair of Startup Calgary, who joins the Board of Directors at Calgary Economic Development. “For the people we work with, nothing has really changed with our events and programs.”
More than 350 people attended its workshops and lunch-and-learn events last year and 700 attended the annual Launch Party last November where top startups pitch their ideas and concepts to potential investors.
Calgary Economic Development was charged with developing a local innovation framework when City Council approved the Opportunity Calgary funding initiative in February 2016. The three-year pilot project which transfers Startup Calgary’s programs to Calgary Economic Development was approved by City Council in April 2017.
“The structural changes in our economy and technological shifts are changing the way we do business,” said Calgary Economic Development President & CEO Mary Moran. “The ability of an ecosystem to generate and accelerate talent, ideas and capital is crucial and with Startup Calgary under our umbrella it will help provide greater support for local entrepreneurs.”
The move follows a recent trend. Edmonton Economic Development acquired Startup Edmonton in January 2014. That same year, The Economic Development Office of the City of Seattle acquired Startup Seattle.