The $100 million Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) was established by the City of Calgary in 2018 as a catalyst to attract investment, drive innovation and spur transformative economic development. As OCIF celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2023, $76.5 million of the fund is committed to 25 investments projected to create up to $900 million in economic activity – that’s more than 11 times the return on funding committed.
Support from OCIF has also led to the creation and retention of more than 2,900 jobs, 2,700 training opportunities and the start up or scaling of over 500 companies.
Led by an independent volunteer Board of Directors comprised of local business and community leaders, initiatives chosen for OCIF’s milestone-based funding are selected based on the greatest potential impact to the city.
“OCIF has evolved through the years to help Calgary seize opportunities for growth as we navigate changing economic conditions nationally and globally,” said Michael Brown, Board Chair, OCIF.
“As we look ahead to the next five years, we are committed to building upon this strong foundation to move our city forward.”
Administered by Calgary Economic Development, the OCIF team and board has steered the course for the fund through several years of economic disruption, from a drop in energy prices, to a looming recession and a global pandemic.
This past year, OCIF investments focused on helping Calgary seize opportunities for growth. Allocated funding prioritized high-skills job creation through attraction of experienced talent, innovation initiatives that help scale local early-stage companies, initiatives to strengthen Calgary’s position as a leader in cleantech innovation and talent development initiatives prioritizing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility.
The five recipients of OCIF funding in 2022 were Thin Air Labs Fund I, IBM, Avatar Innovations, Mphasis and Combine Venture Builders.
“Calgary is emerging as a leading centre of tech and innovation in North America because we support the growth of companies, capital and talent in our city through ground-breaking funding initiatives like OCIF,” said Brad Parry, CEO, OCIF and President & CEO, Calgary Economic Development.
In 2022, Calgary attracted its fifth consecutive year of record venture capital investment, with $647 million across 64 deals – an increase of 29.4 per cent more dollars than the year prior. Nationally, Calgary ranked the fourth highest city for venture-capital investment.
Included in this count is one of OCIF’s first recipients, Attabotics, which has raised $200 million since it received OCIF funding including $95 million in its Series C funding round this past November.
“We’re the second OCIF recipient and grew from 22 people to over 300. My job is to deliver on the support that it was intended for, build skilled jobs, develop IT and build on the opportunity to be a part of the flywheel effect and help spin out more startups,” said Scott Gravelle, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Attabotics and panelist at Calgary Economic Development’s Report to the Community event held April 18th, 2023.
Another Calgary-based company to attract investment in 2022 is one of Canada’s fastest billion-dollar valued unicorns, Neo Financial. Founded in 2019, the fintech scaleup graduated from the OCIF-backed venture builder, Harvest Builders.
To continue its impact as one of the city’s most powerful tools to accelerate progress of the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, OCIF supports a diversified economy that is accessible for all Calgarians.
“OCIF stepped up and was one of our first funders to help us catalyze further investment from the community,” said Salima Shivji, Director of Movement51, a non-profit educational platform targeting women-identifying investors, and a 2021 OCIF recipient.
With the vision for Calgary to be the place where bright minds and big ideas come together to help solve global challenges, OCIF will continue to focus on emerging key sectors, talent development and the growth of a community underpinned by innovation.
In partnership with the City of Calgary and Platform Calgary, OCIF and Calgary Economic Development commissioned a scoping study for an innovation district. The study explores how Calgary can further unlock innovation in the city for people and ideas to converge and spark creative collisions. Findings from the report will include input from the community and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Continued collaboration and community engagement will help guide OCIF investment decisions and build a bright future in the new, digital economy for Calgary.
For more information on the impact of OCIF, visit opportunitycalgary.com, and read the 2022 OCIF Highlights report.