Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region. Feel free to share it and let us know how we can improve the Blast. For now, let’s begin!
A banner year for tech & health innovation in Edmonton
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Edmonton’s technology sector flourished this year. According to Start Alberta, there are currently more than 930 startups and scaleups in the region. Some of which are working on era-defining issues such as clean energy, health, digital equality and recovery from the pandemic.
This year, CBRE ranked Edmonton’s tech ecosystem the fastest growing in North America, as well as one of the top three cities globally for affordable tech talent, with over 50% growth in our talent pool in the past five years. The city also saw a slew funding announcements, totaling many millions of dollars. For instance, Showbie announced that it raised an additional $7.5 million in Series A financing in February; G2V Optics secured $2.6 million in growth capital; QuoteToMe raised $2.5 million to scale up and dealcloser secured $1.75 million.
Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship
- The Narwhal Project has created a new index ranking accelerator programs in Canada. There are 21 groups on the list, including the Advanced Technology Centre in Edmonton and Startup Edmonton, which ranked second.
- The Avatar Program, an annual shark tank-style pitch for cleantech companies, will run in 2022 by Alberta-based oil and gas incubator Avatar Innovations in partnership with a venture capital firm created by Boeing. The first phase begins in February.
- The51, a woman-focused investment firm, has launched its new Food & AgTech fund in partnership with venture capitalists Alison Sunstrum and Kookai Chaimahawong. The fund looks to raise $25-30 million and will be focused on food and agriculture technology innovation across the country.
- The University Hospital Foundation and Roche Canada are accepting research proposals for the Alberta Roche Collaboration in Health competition, an opportunity to support research and health innovation for Alzheimer’s disease. The deadline for proposals is Jan. 7.
- Edmonton-based Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), is a partner in two projects selected for funding by SCALE AI. The first, “industrial video analytics for manufacturing efficiency”, received $1 million in funding, while the second, AloT fulfilment, received $2.5 million and also involves Alta ML.
- NAIT’s Techlife Today wrote about Fly & Fetch, exploring whether the local startup is the “next major shared-economy disruptor.” The modern shipping company provides international shipping that it says is 80% cheaper and twice as fast as conventional international shippers.
- Ottawa-based AutoGuardian has installed sensors in Beaumont that detect pedestrians and cyclists and automatically trigger intelligent lighting to alert drivers. The project is part of the Safe x Connected Cities Accelerator powered by Highline Beta.
- B.C., Alberta, and Quebec have ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to cease collecting and using images of people without their consent. In February 2020, reviews were launched against three Edmonton Police Service officers for using the tech without approval.
CleanTech & Climate Emergency
- Edmonton will host the annual f-cell Canada International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell conference on May 25-26, 2022. The event will focus on hydrogen blending, power generation and storage, transportation, export markets, and industrial processes.
- 2S Water has been selected for the fourth cohort of a Scale for ClimateTech program that helps companies take technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions into mass production. The company was selected for “single and multi-element sensors providing real-time water quality data for industrial and municipal applications.”
- Scientists, technology startups, and fossil fuel giants are racing to become lead suppliers of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which are made from renewables such as used cooking oils, organic municipal waste, or even algae. “It’s a bit of the Wild West. You’ve got companies trying to get going, you’ve got companies maturing technologies, you’ve got technologies trying to make the leap to commercial before they’re quite ready,” University of Alberta professor David Bressler told the Canadian Press.
- Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a new dataset and map of northern wetlands that, they say, will aid in the tracking of methane emissions from the region. This will, in turn, allow for better accuracy in future efforts to predict greenhouse gas emissions.
Food Security & AgTech
- A University of Alberta team is testing existing technology from around the world, like GPS ear tags and pedometers, to track cattle at the university’s Roy Berg Kinsella Research Ranch. The project will help researchers learn more about the cattle’s individual behaviour, which could in turn “help ranchers customize their cattle to the type of pastures they have, creating economic and environmental benefits along the way.”
- SkipTheDishes is launching a grocery and household item delivery service, and plans to roll out 38 Skip Express Lane locations across Canada by mid-2022. Edmonton and Calgary locations are expected to open up next week.
- Hungry Zine has partnered with local BIPOC food makers to sell holiday boxes. Inside, you’ll find a curated assortment of tasty treats, a copy of Hungry Zine’s Issue 00 or Issue 01. Each box is $65, plus GST. A few ways to purchase include Hungry Zine’s online shop.
- Aurora Cannabis is licensing its biosynthesis IP to Cronos Group Inc. to help advance the development and research into biosynthesizing cannabinoids. Biosynthesis involves using microorganisms to produce complex substances, in this case various rare cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC and CBN.
- Medo.ai has announced a partnership with Medical Imaging Consultants aimed at revolutionizing diagnostic imaging. The first collaboration between the two is an application that simplifies thyroid examinations.
- Pacylex recently presented the data from the first-ever clinical trial using PCLX-001, a once-per-day pill, as a treatment for patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and solid tumours. The trial was conducted at the Cross Cancer Institute, and additional studies will soon take place in Toronto and Vancouver.
- University of Alberta research links living near natural environments with a better quality of life for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. People with the disease living more than 500 metres from water or a green space, and those living near sources of air pollution, often have worse health.
- A quarter of all online COVID-19 misinformation comes from the United States and India, according to a new study out of the University of Alberta which analyzed 9,657 pieces of COVID-19 misinformation between January 2020 and March 2021.
Bits & Pieces
- Dealcloser has moved into the Mercer Warehouse. The workflow transformation platform has a team of seven there, with six others across Canada and one person in the U.K. They plan to grow further in 2022.
- DeepMind is hiring a research scientist to lead efforts “in developing novel algorithmic architecture towards the end goal of solving and building artificial general intelligence.” Apply here.
- Dr. Lorne Tyrrell was honoured with the 2021 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research. He will receive $35,000 and deliver a series of public talks across Canada next year.
- Innovate Edmonton board member Nicole Janssen was profiled by the City of Edmonton’s Transforming Edmonton blog.
- Innovate Edmonton spoke with Kevin Mpunga and Jean Bruce Koua, co-founders of Elev Homes, a platform that connects students with a place to live. Watch the recording here.
- Katrina Ingram of Ethically Aligned AI was showcased and highlighted as part of Innovate Edmonton‘s It Starts With One campaign.
- Innovate Edmonton‘s Tristan Ham co-hosted the fourth Propel Showcase. The event ran on Dec. 9, and was a joint effort between Startup Edmonton and Startup TNT.
- Previously of BioWare, Arynn Flynn and Inflexion Studios — formerly Improbable — announced their first game, Nightingale. The game is a survival crafting game with a Victorian-era-like setting.
- Keenan Pascal of Token Naturals was interviewed on Faded Living’s podcast on Dec. 2.