Calgary’s Leading in Life Sciences

Member Spotlight: How Calgary is making significant strides
Sofia Kousa
on August 06, 2019

Calgary is a young, vibrant, and diverse city located in Southern Alberta. According to CBC and the latest forecast from Calgary’s economics team, the city is on track to have five steady years of job growth. Calgary is also seeing noteworthy success in their startup ecosystem, especially in the Life Sciences and Cleantech sectors identified in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.

Calgary is the corporate headquarters of Canada’s energy sector, with around 115 of the largest companies in Canada in residence. The city plays an important role in the production and distribution of oil and gas. In particular, Creative Destruction Labs, a seed-stage program for scalable science and technology-based startups run out of the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, has a dedicated outlet for energy startups. In the program’s first year in Calgary, they had 26 ventures start and 13 startups graduate.

Calgary is home to North America’s largest microbiome lab and in 2023 it will be the home to the Calgary Cancer Center, the largest cancer hospital in Canada. Naturally, Calgary is one of the leaders in Life Sciences. The University of Calgary has a $360 million annual research budget, which it recently used to launch a Life Sciences Innovation Hub. There are several impressive Life Sciences startups within the area, including Circle Cardiovascular, a startup that develops and markets cardiac imaging solutions. In 2018, they raised $16 million in Series A funding.

Some particularly interesting points of the Calgary ecosystem in our 2019 assessment include:

Calgary has the highest number of patents filed per capita in Canada.

  • As a high-growth ecosystem, Calgary has an Output Growth Index of 9 out of 10.
  • Calgary was named the most livable city in North America in 2018.
  • The ecosystem is in the top 5 activation ecosystems for connectedness.


Our local members in Calgary are Platform Calgary and Calgary Economic Development (CED). They are both doing great work by supporting the growth of the ecosystem. Platform Canada is looking to engage, activate and globalize Calgary’s ecosystem to build a global startup hub. The organization provides helpful resources, offerings, community support and partners fitted to each need. Calgary Economic Development is aiming to position Calgary as the place to invest and scale businesses in North America. Their mission is to foster trade and grow the local workforce.

“Calgary’s position, as Canada’s headquarter city with bench strength in key industrial sectors, provides startups with the perfect environment to plug into large enterprises in feeding, powering, and moving the world,” David Chavez, Vice President of Platform Calgary, said.

Would you like to become a startup ecosystem ambassador for Calgary? Please get in touch with us.

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