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. Let’s begin!
Edmonton ranks third in Canada for VC-backed employment
Edmonton is one of the top three cities in Canada for venture-capital-supported employment, says the VC year-in-review from the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. More than 7,000 employees in Edmonton are employed by venture-backed companies, with only Toronto and Montreal ranking higher. The vast majority are in information and communications technology, with a few in life sciences and agribusiness.
Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, said Alberta saw record levels of venture capital investment in 2021, with 87 deals totalling $561 million.
The Alberta Enterprise Corporation noted that this is the fourth year in a row for record-breaking VC activity in Alberta, with more than twice as many investments in life sciences as the previous year.
Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship
- Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced another $3 million to help small businesses in Alberta develop an online presence and adopt e-commerce. The Digital Economy Program is delivered through Business Link in partnership with Digital Main Street.
- Samdesk is offering its real-time, AI-powered crisis monitoring and alerts at no cost to people and organizations who need to stay informed about what’s happening in Ukraine.
- Taleana Huff of the University of Alberta was awarded the 2021 CMC Microsystems Douglas R. Colton Medal for Research Excellence for groundbreaking research that lays the foundation for computers and mobile phones that use 100 times less energy.
- Space Engine Systems, an Edmonton-based aerospace company, has developed airbreathing hypersonic ramjet engines that can power its reusable unmanned technology demonstrator, which is called Hello-1 Experimental, at Mach 5 speeds. The company says its technology will be able to defend against hypersonic missile attacks against Canada within 18 months. Last December, the company’s technology was also mentioned in a year-end review by Aerospace America.
- Last weekend, youth from Sherwood Park, Edmonton, Lacombe, and Red Deer competed in the Cyber Eagles invitational, a robotics competition run by the Strathcona County Robotics Association (SCRA). The event was disrupted in recent years due to the pandemic.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- Two University of Alberta projects will get a share of more than $2 million in funding from Emissions Reduction Alberta for research into the commercialization of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). The four Alberta CCUS projects receiving the funding announced March 3 were selected through a partnership with Accelerating CCS Technologies (ACT), an international consortium involving eight countries working together to reduce emissions through carbon capture and storage.
- The Business Council of Alberta has released a low-carbon industrial strategy for Alberta, which calls for “substantially more investment” to help Canada meet its climate goals. The recommended policy actions include aligning Alberta’s carbon pricing with that of the federal government, federal funding for carbon capture and transportation infrastructure, and developing the Edmonton region into Canada’s first major hydrogen hub.
- The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN), a Canada-wide network focusing on sustainable hydrocarbons, announced over $44 million for 17 oil and gas tech projects taking part in its Reducing Environmental Footprint competition. Two InnoTech Alberta projects are among the 14 Alberta-based projects funded.
- Calgary-based Keyera and Shell have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on low-carbon projects in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The two companies will “leverage existing assets, adjacent lands, and strong leadership to support industry’s journey to a lower-carbon future and attract new investment opportunities to the region.”
Digital Inclusion & Education
- The Alberta government announced $1 million for bursaries to help women pursue STEM learning. Edmonton’s NorQuest College will receive $400,000 and Yellowhead Tribal College will receive $200,000.
- Joseph Filiplic, a junior high teacher in Edmonton, wrote an article for CBC about how his classroom adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic including online learning. “COVID has not destroyed education, COVID has not destroyed student learning and COVID has not destroyed teachers,” Filiplic wrote. “What it has done is challenge teachers to do what they do best — respond, adapt, change and succeed in the current times. It’s what we do.”
Food Security & AgTech
- The Edmonton International Airport’s Ag-celerator program, which aims to develop local food and beverage companies, made it possible for Calgary-based vertical farming company groHERE to open the first commercial strawberry facility at the airport. Hear more in Episode 6 of Bloom, the podcast about innovation in Edmonton.
- MACH32 is one of the five companies chosen to pitch at the inaugural Life Sciences Investment Summit finale on March 17. MACH32 creates innovative medical devices such as its Aerosol Containment Tent to protect health-care workers and the Savior autoinjector for delivering medications to victims of trauma. In his Pitch Night presentation in February, Dr. Marc Curial spoke of a new product called IMSAFE, an autoinjector for pre-hospital hemorrhage management.
- Bio-Stream Diagnostics spoke to the Alberta Machine Learning Institute about how it used machine learning to design better COVID-19 tests.
- Leduc’s PBG BioPharma announced it has received a controlled drug and substances dealer’s licence from Health Canada, allowing it to possess, produce, sell, and transport psilocin and psilocybin, two psychedelic compounds that have shown promise in the treatment of mental health disorders.
- Alberta Precision Laboratories and Roche Diagnostics have joined forces to upgrade lab equipment at 16 sites across the province, including in Edmonton.
- Since opening in Aug. 2021, Edmonton’s New Canadians Health Centre has provided care to almost 700 refugees through an innovative cross-sectoral partnership of academics, settlement agencies, healthcare providers, and the provincial government. The centre’s goal is to improve the wellbeing of refugees through culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare delivery.
- The Edmonton Queer History Project has launched its new interactive website, walking tours, and podcast series. A new map marks 27 historically-significant landmarks. The first episode of the From Here To Queer podcast features Michael Phair. “We want young people to be able to learn this history,” he told CTV News. “To be able to understand that the rights and the privileges that they enjoy today as queer young people were only here because of the brave and courageous people who fought for them.”
- Birdie Break is an Edmonton-made app that connects parents to pre-screened babysitters in their area. It is now available in Edmonton, Calgary, Banff, and Canmore – plus, as of February, Toronto. “We saw that there was just a glaring hole in the support system for parents to find conveniently, high quality sitters,” co-founder Cressida Raffin told CBC.
Arts & Culture
- Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, wearing a blue cape emblazoned with “Super Sohi” on the back, joined students at City Hall School to read The Builders, a comic book about how everyone is a city builder and “how everyone who builds our city is a superhero.” The comic book is available free in PDF.
Bits & Pieces
- Chris Micetich of Brass Dome Ventures and Fedora Pharmaceuticals shared his story on the Entrepreneurs of Edmonton podcast.
- Stephanie Enders of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) was interviewed by Alberta Impact with Bryce Lambert about the power of machine learning in the workplace.
- The Canadian Women’s Network spoke with RUNWITHIT Synthetics founder Myrna Bitner about lessons learned on the road to success.
- The Kitchen, a learning and community kitchen facility located on the second floor of the Stanley A. Milner Library, is opening to the public this month and will offer courses in cooking, baking, and other food-related matters either directly or through partner organizations.