Calgary: Accelerating innovation to solve global challenges

November 16, 2022
Innovation New Economy Research & Reports
Innovation Briefs

Calgary is becoming a leading centre of innovation in North America, attracting record-breaking venture capital investment over the past five years across industries. To accelerate the momentum, Calgary Economic Development conducted research with RSM Canada on pathways to expand the innovation ecosystem and help local companies scale to the size of their ambitions.

The latest report in the three-part series Lessons for Calgary’s Innovation Ecosystem lays out key insights to take advantage of emerging opportunities to create long-term prosperity and become a top creative hub, where cutting-edge research meets real-world application to solve global challenges.

The final installment draws on the first two reports The State of Calgary’s Innovation Ecosystem and Global Innovation Ecosystem Review, which explore characteristics of competitive innovation centres, including Austin, Greater Helsinki, Tel-Aviv, Montreal and Toronto-Waterloo.

Key insights for Calgary’s innovation ecosystem

  1. Innovation districts foster collaboration and creative collisions.
    Proximity and concentration of assets in innovation districts are characteristics of thriving cities, where talent is pooled and leads to collaboration.
  2. Role model firms serve as visionary influencers.
    Homegrown success stories and role-model organizations can re-invest resources back into their ecosystems and help others leapfrog and accelerate growth.
  3. Ecosystems thrive by collaborating to solve industry challenges.
    Collaboration by major corporations, startups, entrepreneurs and post-secondary institutions accelerates real-world application and commercialization of solutions to complex issues.
  4. Embracing Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Accessibility unlocks new possibilities.
    Having a diversity of experiences, perspectives and education leads to more creative solutions for business, post-secondary institutions and government.
  5. Governments can de-risk early-stage investments.
    Governments have an important role to play to de-risk early-stage high-growth companies through tax incentives and other policies or investment vehicles.
  6. Incubators and accelerators create a pipeline for startups and increase scale-up success. 
    There needs to be enough incubators, pre-accelerators and accelerators to nurture innovation, ideate solutions and help founders grow their startups into scaleups.
  7. Mature ecosystems have a critical mass of scale-up investments.
    Significant late-stage and long-term investment is needed to attract more investment and confidence and build mature sectors.
  8. Storytelling builds momentum and changes perceptions.
    A strong narrative told widely creates a snowball effect, building excitement and helping enhance perceptions.

Innovation is one of the key drivers of the economic strategy Calgary In the New Economy that sets the vision for the city to be a place where bright minds and big ideas come together with an unmatched spirit to help solve global challenges. 
The study supports a proactive, coordinated and inclusive approach by industry, governments, post-secondary institutions and the community to accelerate the growth of Calgary’s innovation ecosystem. 

Save the date and stay tuned to our events page to register for the next New Economy LIVE: Advancing Calgary as an innovation hub, Thursday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To learn more about the innovation driver of the economic strategy, visit

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