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Edmonton’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Shines Through

Innovate Edmonton is fostering and pushing the startup ecosystem forward with funding, spaces, and new ideas.
Sean Ludwig
on June 24, 2019

While Edmonton might be known for many things including being home to North America's largest mall ⁠and a cultural and governmental center in the Alberta province, the city is building a reputation for its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Startups based in Edmonton chose to build there for its quickly growing technology innovation community, support and fostering of startups, and availability of new tech graduates. Another incentive is that the Alberta Investor Tax Credit (AITC) offers a 30% tax credit to investors who provide equity to Alberta’s small businesses that are doing research and development of new tech or products, meaning investors around Alberta may want to fund startups in Edmonton.

When it comes to startup sub-sectors, AI, Big Data, & Analytics and Life Sciences are finding traction in Edmonton. When it comes to AI, Big Data, & Analytics, one of the top Edmonton-based companies is Drivewyze, a smart mobility services company for the transportation industry that operates in two provinces and 45 U.S. states. Drivewyze raised $7.5 million in 2013 and an undisclosed investment in 2015. Another neat AI startup based there is Medo, which makes AI-powered software that “eliminates the need for an expert to perform or analyze ultrasound scans.”

Edmonton leads in the Life Sciences startup sub-sector for multiple reasons, but chief among them is the strong research arm at the University of Alberta. In fact, the Edmonton Protocol ⁠— a treatment for Type 1 diabetes ⁠— was developed at UA. One notable startup in this area is OncoQuest, a biopharmaceutical company that is developing new therapies to activate the human body’s immune system and raised $7.5 million in 2018. Another novel company is DrugBank, which has created an online database of free drug information used by millions around the world.

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Some of the most interesting highlights about Edmonton’s startup ecosystem, as featured in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, include the following:

  • Ranked as a top five activation ecosystem for talent.
  • Ranked as a top five activation ecosystem for market reach.
  • Research-intensive startups can claim a 40% tax credit on R&D expenses.

Our local Member there is Innovate Edmonton, a division of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC). Innovate Edmonton takes a dynamic and strategic approach to support the creation of new tech-enabled businesses, facilitating the acceleration of high potential companies and founders, and inspiring action to fuel economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship communities. This directive is fulfilled through a mix of business units, programs and marketing programs, including Startup Edmonton, Advanced Technology Centre EdmontonMade and InnovateYEG.  

These communities are focused on creating forward-thinking tech-enabled businesses, helping businesses scale up, and inspiring action to grow innovation and technology in Edmonton. For example, Edmonton Research Park (ERP) houses 1,500 members at more than 50 companies working in diverse fields from biotechnology to energy. 

Startup Edmonton, founded in 2009, brings together entrepreneurs, developers, students, founders, mentors, and investors to transform ideas into some of Canada’s most exciting and successful startup and scaling companies. More than $111 million in funding by Startup Edmonton members and alumni has been raised since 2009, and the team has welcomed more than 70,000 attendees at events, programs, and workshops.

In addition, Innovate Edmonton works collaboratively with municipally funded organizations  in the innovation space including - TEC Edmonton - a joint venture between the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta - and Health City. In addition, the division supports community initiatives that are led by entrepreneurs including Rainforest Alberta - Edmonton and the Edmonton Advisory Council on Startups (ECOS). 

“The depth of our innovation community paired with the best environment in Canada for the knowledge-economy workforce makes Edmonton uniquely poised to turn the promise of our AI and machine intelligence research strength into global solutions,” Cheryll Watson, Vice President of Innovate Edmonton, told us.

Want to develop and promote Edmonton’s startup ecosystem in a bigger way? Please get in touch with us about becoming a startup ecosystem ambassador!

*Main Photo Credit - Art Gallery of Alberta

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