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 Regional Innovation Network secures $4.9M in funding
The Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN) has secured $4.9 million over three years from Alberta Innovates to help ensure that Edmonton-based founders have free access to the programs and services needed for growth.
Innovate Edmonton has been selected by the ERIN Steering Committee to serve as the lead proponent for the grant. The funding is part of a three-year, $18.7 million investment into Alberta Innovates that the province announced on May 10 for regional innovation networks across Alberta.
“Innovation is a team game, and it takes all levels of government working in concert to establish internationally competitive businesses and position Edmonton as an inclusive global innovation capital,” said Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren.
“Together with our funders and Edmonton’s innovators, we develop and sustain a globally recognized and relevant urban innovation ecosystem that creates jobs and contributes to the enduring resilience, vitality and identity of Alberta’s capital,” Warren said. “We thank ERIN for the confidence that they place in our inclusive approach and Alberta Innovates for this generous ecosystem funding.”
Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship
- The Kickstart Program from the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), which is running for the second year, is meant to diversify the pool of entry-level AI talent by providing exposure to companies, awareness of crucial technical knowledge, and access to mentors working in STEM-related organizations. Applications close May 31.
- Finalists for the Inventures 2022 pitch competition include DeepBlue Greens and GrainFrac in “Cultivating AgTech”; BLive Music and Gaze and Movement Analysis in “Futurcasting Work”; and Zero Point Cryogenics in “Mission-Critical Moonshots.” Inventures takes place in Calgary from June 1 to 3.
- Alberta IoT has received $1.57 million in funding from PairiesCan and Alberta Innovates for the advancement and support of Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging technologies across the province, including the Fast Track Business Accelerator and Alberta Science Park initiative.
- Nanoprecise Sci Corp has been honoured by Plant Engineering Magazine for its MachineDoctor, an IoT device that captures information about the health and performance of machines wirelessly and in near real-time.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- “As global markets and economies shift to reduce emissions, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region is poised to be a world leader in renewable energy in solar, geothermal, and particularly in hydrogen,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi during his first State of the City address. Sohi touted positive things happening in the Edmonton region, including investments from companies such as Air Products and HCL Technologies, as well as the recently concluded Canadian Hydrogen Conference.
- The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) hosted the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Sustainable Flight Challenge, an idea that was initiated by KLM employees to highlight the need for more sustainability in aviation. It was “eye-opening to witness the impact of many seemingly minor changes that compound into a significant transformation,” EIA’s Adrian Warchola reflected after the event.
- John England, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, has been invested into the Order of Canada for his research on the impact of climate change on Canada’s arctic. England, described as “a true force of nature,” told Postmedia the recognition is significant. “Especially when you put your heart into 50 years of Arctic research that really allows you to get to know a part of the country very few people have any experience with.”
Food Security & Agtech
- In the search for sustainable ways to feed the masses, lab-grown meat and dairy products need to become more than a “VC-bankrolled curiosity”, says a Canadian Business article. Price is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome with cellular agriculture, said Jalene Anderson-Baron, Co-Founder of Future Fields: “Growth factors are primarily used for biomedical research, so there’s never been a need for this type of volume or a demand for it to be at a lower price point,” she said.
- Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation has partnered with a team of scientists from the University of Waterloo to find and develop therapeutics and drugs for the treatment and prevention of coronaviruses. “By working closely and facilitating similar partnerships in drug research for infectious diseases, we are developing a highly qualified personnel workforce that is skilled and ready in vaccine drug development now and for future pandemic scenarios,” said API CEO Andrew MacIsaac.
- The Alberta government has announced a $2-million program to better coordinate organ donation and transplantation in the province even as innovators are working to someday make such efforts unnecessary. For instance, Dr. Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta is working on research that could someday eliminate transplant waitlists by putting organs into a kind of hibernation, according to a talk he delivered for the University Hospital Foundation. This would create the possibility of “organ banks” similar to blood banks.
- New technology developed by GLC Medical Inc. to rapidly detect COVID-19 may have the potential to detect other diseases such as HIV, malaria, and Ebola virus disease. The company said its Biosensor Test Platform can produce results in under one minute.
- Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen spoke to three scientific innovators, including virologist Lilly Pang, who has been studying COVID-19 in wastewater, and AI expert Ross Mitchell, who is working on how artificial intelligence can help physicians and other health-care workers manage vast amounts of information.
Arts & Culture
- Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing has collaborated with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) on its May Long Double IPA. The cans are adorned with AI-generated label art in celebration of AI Week, which is happening in Edmonton from May 24 to 27. “AI Week is a perfect time to launch this hop-filled beauty – and now the artwork on the outside of the can is just as beautiful as what’s on the inside,” said Kirk Zembal, Co-Founder of Blindman Brewing, which has also been working with Amii to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Bits & Pieces
- NAIT CEO Laura Jo Gunter will serve on the proposed Rogers THINKLab Advisory Council.
- Justin Riemer, formerly Assistant Deputy Minister at PrairiesCan, will take over as CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta as of June 6.
- Sturgeon County is hosting three open houses for residents and businesses to learn more about the $7.55-million project to bring high-speed internet to the Villeneuve, Calahoo, and Rivière Qui Barre regions.
- Vancouver-based software company Alida has announced it is expanding to Edmonton in June with plans to hire over 100 employees by 2025. “Edmonton is a fantastic city with a fast-growing population and an equally booming tech industry — perfect for establishing and growing long-term roots,” said CEO Ross Wainwright.
- Growing Greener Innovations is among 26 companies that will share in seed funding of $2.6 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada. The startup was nominated for the funding by Innovate Edmonton.
- Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren met with Belgium Ambassador Patrick Van Gheel on Wednesday about inclusive innovation in all of its forms. That included his Excellency sharing Belgium’s story, which included their vibrant ecosystem that attracts talent in areas like comic books, fashion and esports.
- Edify Magazine hosted their Innovation Event this week at NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC). Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren was one of the panelists and spoke about positioning Edmonton on the global stage.