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!
Several Edmonton startups accepted into Uniting the Prairies
Uniting the Prairies, a conference in Saskatoon connecting startups with investors and tech leaders, will see a big contingent from the Edmonton area on May 4 and 5. Among them are some companies that have made news recently:
- Areto Labs, a “troll-busting” company that is part of the Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator;
- Birdie Break, an app that helps parents find babysitters and tutors;
- Environmental Material Sciences, which won Startup TNT’s cleantech summit earlier this month;
- Ruth, which makes sustainable menstrual pads
- Wyvern, the space-data company that just wrapped up Y Combinator and has raised millions to develop its technology.
Other Edmonton-area startups among the 100 accepted into the conference include Correct-AI, an industrial robotics company; EZ Ops, which makes oil-and-gas software; Fly and Fetch, which combines shipping and the sharing economy; Gru Organics, a food-growing platform; Pegasus Imagery, a data-collection and analytics company; The Public Food Hub Co., which unites food lovers and food makers; and What’s the Deal?, a daily deals app for restaurants.
Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship
- The TELUS Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator has given birth to the ScaleGood Fund, a $10-million social impact fund that aims to bring venture capital to companies solving complex social issues with the promise of a strong financial return. The fund’s first investment is Areto Labs, which used AI to make digital communities more positive and inclusive. The Edmonton-based company, led by Lana Cuthbertson, Kasey Machin, and Jacqueline Comer, was part of the accelerator’s first cohort, which held its demo day on April 19.
- Applications are open until May 31 for the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) Kickstart Program, which offers training and guidance to women and gender-diverse people seeking careers in AI.
- April 26 is the deadline for companies to apply for the Startup TNT Investment Summit V, as it looks to raise over $1.5M for prairie startups on June 23.
- Start Alberta noted $223 million in funding rounds in the first quarter of 2022. There were 24 companies involved, ranging from $50,000 in seed funding to a $43 million Series B round.
- The provincial government’s Alberta at Work program aims to strengthen Alberta’s labour market, with $23 million for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant program, $41 million for the Training for Work programs, $235 million to support post-secondary enrolment and opportunities, and $20 million to help unemployed Albertans. “Labour shortages across sectors remains a critical concern for many employers in the Edmonton region,” said Jeffrey Sundquist, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. “Investment into programs like “Alberta at Work” will ensure businesses of all sizes can source skilled employees and those jobs stay in Alberta.”
- Artificial intelligence is fuelling Alberta’s diversification, writes Jared Smith, an advisor to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) heading into its first-ever AI Week on May 24-27. Global News also looked at practical applications of AI developed through Amii, including improvements in artificial limbs.
- Cole Rosentreter, CEO of Pegasus Imagery, spoke to Aerospace Xelerated about how the company is using aerial imagery to equip wildfire fighters with real-time information. “Our approach is really simple,” he said. “Connect all the limited resources — the humans, the hardware — with the information and real-time intelligence that they need to be safer and smarter.”
- Cybera has launched three cybersecurity services for Alberta’s research, education, and public sectors. These are a “threat intelligence feed platform” for schools to up their protection against cyber threats, a tool providing an overview of potential security compromises, and a resource hub for organizations addressing cybersecurity gaps.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- The Black Gold School Division board of trustees approved the use of $280,000 for the installation of solar panels on the roof of West Haven Public School in Leduc. The division has been approved for $235,000 of grant funds from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre Solar for Schools Program. The school is expected to reduce its carbon footprint by 75% once the 251-kilowatt, solar-powered system is installed.
Digital Inclusion & Education
- The TELUS World of Science has received federal funding to develop the Northern Coding Academy to provide digital learning opportunities for teachers and underserved students in rural Alberta, high-needs urban areas, and the northern territories.
- The federal government announced $2,594,903 in funding for the Getting Ready for Inclusion Today (The GRIT Program) Society of Edmonton, which will be used to support 12 other early learning service providers across Canada adapt to its Access, Support and Participation (ASaP) program.
- To celebrate the opening of its new robotics facility in Hamilton, Ontario, Amazon Canada has donated $25,000 to FIRST Robotics Canada, which will fund mentor-based STEM and robotics programming at ten schools across Canada, including Edmonton’s Ross Sheppard High School.
- Alberta Computers for Schools, which refurbishes computers and other devices for schools, libraries, and community organizations across the province, announced it will be receiving donated end-of-cycle technology from Servus Credit Union. “Donating technology is another way that Servus is helping to reduce our carbon footprint and support Albertans to improve their financial fitness,” said CEO Ian Burns.
Food Security & Agtech
- Emergence Global Enterprises Inc. has purchased the technology created by O’Grow Investments for automated vertical farming to expand production at its aquaponics vertical farm in Strathcona County.
- Sturgeon County council will need to change land-use rules to accommodate future growth in agribusiness and agritourism, says a task force report tabled April 12.
- Health Cities CEO Reg Joseph dug deeper into LinkedIn’s Workforce Insights report and BioTalent Canada’s LMI report to call for investment in health-tech talent. “Alberta is home to some of the cities with the fastest pace of tech workforce growth, even ahead of many cities in the US. And the fastest-growing tech jobs are in the field of data (where Alberta is already demonstrating its leadership),” he wrote. “Now is a critical time for the province, and for the country, to take advantage of this opportunity.”
- DrugBank shared the details of its Thriving Lifestyle Compensation Philosophy, which includes a healthy living wage, rewards for exceptional performance, and equal pay for equal work.
Arts & Culture
- Shining a Light, an interactive art and light display on the 16th floor of the EPCOR Tower on June 16, 18, and 19, offers an opportunity to raise money for the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital while showcasing its innovative equipment and technology.
- University of Alberta librarian Peter Binkley is part of a global team of librarians and archivists volunteering to save Ukraine’s cultural digital archives from destruction due to Russian bombing. The Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online project is crawling thousands of websites to uncover and save “digitized historical documents, art, music, images, oral histories and other digital exhibits.”
- Score G Productions, an Edmonton-based production company focused on inspiring real-world stories, has launched the Creative Hustler Key, a non-fungible token (NFT) that allows buyers lifetime access to the company’s exclusive community and content. There are 999 keys available, and the company stated it will not produce more.
Bits & Pieces
- Bitcoin Well CEO Adam O’Brien spoke with Alberta Impact about the future of cryptocurrency, the decentralization of bitcoin, and the growth of his company.
- Board member and Inflexion Games CEO Aaryn Flynn spoke about his upcoming game Nightingale in a new interview. He also touched on recent corporate changes. “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster here these past eight months since we reimagined ourselves out from Improbable and are now invested in by Tencent,” he said.
- Innovate Edmonton shared a blog recap of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the city last week, promoting the federal budget in support of small businesses and innovation. The Prime Minister met with almost a dozen local innovators and the Innovate Edmonton team.