Calgary: Investing in tech and innovation on the path to economic transformation

June 14, 2023
Innovation New Economy Technology

This article first appeared online on June 8 in London Tech Week news.

Calgary, Alberta is a home for people who embrace technology to solve global challenges. It is a city where you can have a rewarding career in tech and afford to live your best life. 

Calgary has emerged as one of the top markets for young tech talent in North America with 22 per cent growth in tech talent and total tech jobs over the last five years. Bright minds with big ideas are solving the world’s greatest challenges through the creation and adoption of transformative technologies. Innovation is happening across diverse sectors in Calgary, and companies are moving to the city every day to be part of it. 

With a robust economy, growing tech sector and quality of life out of reach in other cities, business leaders and talent see Calgary as a place of opportunity. As a result, the city has the highest concentration of head offices per capita in Canada and is experiencing the largest population growth in over two decades, welcoming a record-breaking 49,754 new migrants in 2022. 

Ranked the third most livable city in the world and first in North America, Calgary attracts national and international talent. The city’s vibrant cultural scene, inclusive neighbourhoods, affordable real estate and low taxes create a unique blend of large metropolitan city with the warmth of connected community.

A hub for business with a thriving startup ecosystem valued at $5.2 billion, the city is on track to grow by 1,000 new tech companies by 2030. Calgary broke records in venture capital investment as the only major Canadian city to see venture capital investments increase in value from 2021 to 2022, attracting $647 million across 64 deals. 

As part of the city’s international business and talent attraction efforts, Calgary companies will be attending London Tech Week. In anticipation of the conference, Chelsea Hallick, Business Development Manager, Enterprise Technology at Calgary Economic Development, joined the Wing Podcast to share why Calgary has the ideal business climate for tech companies to scale to global heights.

“Decision-makers and global companies are taking notice of the exponential opportunities to grow, scale and expand their organizations here. Multinational firms are drawn by the city’s business friendly environment, connectivity to the world, affordable office space and low corporate taxes. Not only are they opening headquarters here, organizations are also creating professional development hubs to further enhance Calgary’s tech talent pool with in-demand skills,” said Hallick. 

Calgary’s businesses, post-secondary schools and community leaders are creating talent hubs and initiatives like upskilling and reskilling programs to further develop the tech ecosystem with in-demand skills and to meet the increasing demand for tech professionals. The University of Calgary is also building a first of its kind master’s degree program in quantum science as well as quantum city, a technology hub designed to expand research and talent capacity in the region.

Technology is a catalyst for growth across multiple sectors and local game-changers are driving innovation and new solutions.

In recent years, global tech giants Mphasis and Infosys have opened regional headquarters in Calgary with plans to hire thousands of employees. De Havilland started building an advanced manufacturing centre and is adding 1500 jobs to its workforce. IBM launched its Client Innovation Centre in Calgary and AWS has begun construction of its data centre in the region.

Companies in Calgary know they can scale to global heights here. In fintech, Neo Financial achieved a billion-dollar unicorn valuation only three years after its inception. Recognized as a top 30 hub for Fintech in the world, Calgary serves as headquarters to over 150 financial companies, a growth of 275 per cent over the last four years. 

With a strong focus on economic diversification and on the Pan-Canadian AI strategy, the Calgary and Alberta region is now a top three centre of excellence for Artificial Intelligence research in the world and a global leader in AI talent development. Alberta is also a key part of Canada’s Quantum Strategy which represented a $360 million investment from the Federal Government. 

“As leaders look to expand their talent pool into more affordable markets and top tier two cities that have that world-class tech talent environment, Calgary has strong advantages for being that potential offshore home for international companies,” said Hallick.

Meet Calgary at London Tech Week

Over 25 startups and scaleups are representing Alberta in London Tech Week, all on global expansion journeys ranging from health tech, ag tech, legal tech, AI and more. 

“London Tech Week is a great platform for Calgary decision makers to connect, start to and in some cases continue to grow their businesses in the UK thanks to the strong partnerships with the government and agencies there, and the big focus on innovation in both cities,” explained Hallick.

Calgary's rapid growth as a tech talent market is a testament to the city's commitment to fostering innovation, diverse sectors and collaborative business community. A thriving tech ecosystem with meaningful career opportunities and a vibrant lifestyle make Calgary easy to call home.

Connect with Calgary at London Tech Week to learn more about Calgary’s growing tech sector.

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