Calgary as a living lab
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With more head offices per capita than any other Canadian city, Calgary is the centre of decision-makers who can embrace technology and move it forward on a broad scale.
Calgary’s strong corporate presence, entrepreneurial spirit and tenacious startup culture is driving an ecosystem that embraces innovation across sectors in areas as diverse as clean technology, agri-technologies, fintech, biotech, green technology and the industrial internet of things. This ecosystem is fed by post-secondary institutions and organizations supporting the growth of the tech sector.
Startup success stories abound.
Home-grown role models influencing the next generation of tech startups include Benevity, a global leader in workplace giving, volunteering and community investment software; Chaordix, a builder of collaborative brand communities; and Zedi, a company that pivoted from oil and gas to apply to its remote sensor technology to agriculture, renewable energy and retail.
Calgary is emulating the best and brightest worldwide on how regional innovation ecosystems grow and are sustained. Several organizations exist to support the growth and success of the ecosystem in Calgary.
Startup Calgary fosters startups, connects founders and supports the local ecosystem through various activities and events.
Alberta Innovates offers an innovation support system for great ideas and technologies created by Albertans. Innovators, businesses and researchers are able to tap into cross sectoral knowledge and expertise, funding, networks and research facilities.
Rainforest Alberta is a grassroots movement aimed at improving Alberta’s innovation ecosystem. It is a collaborative approach at supporting and growing areas that are key to entrepreneurship and innovation including leadership, resources, engagement, role models, infrastructure and culture.
Innovate Calgary is the innovation transfer and business incubator centre for the University of Calgary. As part of the Office of the Vice-President (Research) portfolio, they work closely with researchers, students, faculty and University members to help bridge the gap between discovery and innovation. From ideation to commercialization, Innovate Calgary has successfully supported the innovation-driven research community for 35 years.
Calgary Technologies Inc. accelerates the impact of innovation-driven ventures by providing access to space, programs, mentorship and capital. From first time entrepreneurs to established businesses, Calgary Technologies Inc.'s advisors, coaches and partners help in each stage of startup and business development.
Calgary has a diverse and growing pool of tech talent.
Calgary’s seven post-secondary institutions feed our highly skilled workforce by turning out more than 18,000 new graduates every year. These schools contribute to a workforce that has the second highest level of educational attainment in the country. Of these, STEM programs account for 27 per cent of all bachelor’s degree or higher program completions in Calgary.
These schools offer unique and specialized programs that are creating the next generation of tech innovators. As an example, The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at the University of Calgary is aimed at creating entrepreneurs. Students, faculty, staff and the community benefit from unique programs and events, funding sources, and a network that allows them to turn ideas into practical solutions.
There are many available funding options to help technology companies hire talent, pursue research and development or find new markets.
Alberta Enterprise Corporation – invests in Alberta-focused venture capital funds that finance early stage technology start-ups
Canadian Technology Accelerators – helps Canadian companies with an existing technology, product or service explore opportunities in foreign markets
CanExport – financial support for small or medium-sized firm’s development of new export opportunities
National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) Canada – members assist Canadian start-ups with capital, expert advice and professional networks
NRC IRAP Concierge Service – provides a single access point where SME’s can find advice to help them innovate and accelerate their growth
Scientific Research & Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program (SR&ED) – provides tax incentives for applied research and experimental development for the purpose of achieving technological advancement
Seed Ups – gets companies ready to present and pitch their deal to a community of engaged investors
Venture Capital Association of Alberta – members invest capital and expertise in information and communications technology, clean and energy technologies, agriculture/bio and life sciences
For an overview of provincial and federal funding programs for technology driven companies in Alberta, click here.
Startups need a place to grow their business and the resources to make it happen. From co-working spaces that help entrepreneurs move out of the home office to accelerators and incubators that offer mentorship and support, Calgary’s entrepreneurial spirit is fostering a community for startups to succeed.
Business accelerators and incubators provide advice, guidance and other support for businesses in the startup phase. RocketSpace, the Silicon Valley accelerator, is opening its first Canadian campus in Calgary to be part of the innovation, disruption, displacement and search for new products and markets.
Click here for an online list of accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces in Calgary.
Online directory of innovation service providers
E-learning and advice from successful entrepreneurs
Advice, banking solutions and expertise for entrepreneurs
Web portal connecting innovators to funding, programs and services
Alberta’s community of tech founders & executives