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!

Photo Credit: (Supplied)

Setback on hiking trail leads to innovative food business

Lisa Bélanger found herself in need of innovation partway through her attempt at hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

“My body was starving to death, I couldn’t move the energy from food into my cells while I was hiking this trail,” she said of the aborted 2019 trip. “It was quite a shock and I ended up having to come home and deal with that.”

It turned out she had Type 1 diabetes. To continue her active lifestyle while keeping her blood sugar under control, she would need low-carb backcountry meals. She couldn’t find what she was looking for, so she made them herself — Flat Out Feasts was born.

Bélanger learned just how rare it was to create freeze-dried meals out of meat and vegetables when she applied for a food handling permit. Alberta Health Services had no precedent for such a food process. But she and her husband managed to overcome that challenge, and they developed the product in Ocean Odyssey Inland‘s commercial kitchen.

The product launched in January, and Bélanger is returning to the Pacific Crest Trail on April 13, armed with the fuel she made herself.

″(Remember) that every challenge you encounter in setting up a new business is essentially a barrier to entry for somebody else,” Bélanger told Bloom, Taproot’s podcast about innovation, sponsored by Innovate Edmonton. “If you’re facing that barrier, and you can get over it, then you’re more likely to be successful and unique in doing that. Good things are hard, otherwise everybody would be doing it.”

Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship

  • Applications are open until 5:00 PM MDT on April 19 for the 2022 AccelerateAB Roundtables happening on May 12 at the Edmonton Convention Centre. They are an opportunity for scaling or growth-stage tech companies to get in-depth advice from experienced entrepreneurs.
  • After graduating from Y Combinator, Wyvern‘s co-founders are getting ready to apply the lessons they learned as they prepare to launch their first satellites. “The four of us definitely have engineer and physicist brains that are really excited about tech,” Callie Lissinna told Taproot. “(Y Combinator) got us back into the mindset of focusing on what metrics are going to show that Wyvern is successful.” Fellow YC alumnus Matthew Anderson-Baron of Future Fields advised the company to go hard to take full advantage of the program’s benefits.
  • Sara Aghvami, Director of Best Buy Health, is among the panellists speaking at the April 28 session of Companies Growing Companies, a series put on by Health Cities and Invest Alberta.
  • Isaac Ben-Israel, a globally renowned expert on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, will be a keynote speaker at Inventures 2022 in Calgary, an event hosted by Alberta Innovates to collect “the world’s brightest, minds, angels, venture capitalists, and industry leaders.” Ben-Israel is speaking June 2.


Climate Emergency & CleanTech

Digital Inclusion & Education

Food Security & AgTech

  • Alberta Innovates and SVG Venture | THRIVE announced the new THRIVE Academy, a pre-accelerator program to support Alberta entrepreneurs and researchers in the agri-food technology sector. The program, which is also supported by PrairiesCan, will provide hands-on training at the Olds College Smart Farm and other applied research facilities.
  • The Canadian government announced $419,000 in funding to help Mojow Autonomous Solutions Inc. develop an AI-powered “Data Recording Kit” to improve data collection related to farming resources. According to a release, the technology will improve efficiency and alleviate pressures caused by the agricultural labour shortage.
  • Post-secondary institutions, technology companies, and farmers are collaborating to create agricultural innovations, says Business in Edmonton. “We’ve got a rich history in terms of really developing the manufacturing sector,” said Brad Shapka, President of GrainFrac. “We have a very strong academic community, a very strong farming community, and we also have a lot of government support to innovate and diversify the economy.”

Public Health

Social Impact

  • The Ribbon Rouge Foundation has launched the Black Equity in Alberta Rainforest (B.E.A.R.) program, a new community initiative that aims to secure health equity for African, Caribbean, and Black people. It will be collaborating with NorQuest College, the University of Alberta, The King’s University, and Mount Royal University on research to better3 understand how anti-Black racism affects access to health, wealth, and well-being.
  • Samdesk has launched The Breakdown, a video series stitching together “the anatomy of events that force us to rethink our own security and safety in an unforgiving world.” Episode 1 is on the Marshall fire in Colorado.

Bits & Pieces

Other Mentions

The Blast is curated by Taproot Publishing and published by Innovate Edmonton.