Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region. Let’s begin!
YEG Startup Community Awards honour champions of all kinds
The second annual YEG Startup Community Awards recognized a dozen individuals and organizations for outstanding contributions to the startup ecosystem.
The May 19 event at Poppy Barley reached its crescendo with the announcement of DrugBank as the Most Edmonton Startup of the Year, but leading up to that were three other startup awards: Future Fields won for Best Startup Workplace; Islamic Family won for Pivot of the Year; and Ruth was the People’s Choice for New Startup.
Individual contributors were also recognized for their outstanding efforts: MacEwan Entrepreneur-In-Residence Colin Christensen as a Community Champion; Mawji Centre Co-ordinator Cecile Wendlandt as a Connector; Rainforest Alberta champion James Keirstead as a Volunteer; Startup Edmonton’s Allan Waine as a Mentor; and TalkMaze’s Ghalia Aamer as a Student Entrepreneur.
Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship
- Flying Fish Partners is expanding to Alberta, with former Startup Edmonton CEO Tiffany Linke-Boyko tapped to lead the organization’s Canadian operations. “It has been incredible to see the growth in the Alberta tech community over the last decade, and I am excited to continue to contribute to that trajectory,” she said. Flying Fish has secured US$7.5 million from the Alberta Enterprise Corporation.
- Ayo Aiyeleye, Director of Capital Access for Alberta Innovates, spoke about how the agency seeks to help people with big ideas leading into the Inventures conference.
- AI Week has kicked off with more than 2,000 registrants from around the world. Alona Fyshe delivered a keynote on May 25 on what AI can tell us about the brain and vice versa.
- The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) has named three new Fellows to its team: Jonathan Schaeffer, who was a founding member of the organization that would later become Amii; Linglong Kong, a specialist in robust statistics and quantile regression; and Bei Jiang, who uses statistical analysis and machine learning to decode complex health data. Meanwhile, Amii CEO Cam Linke spoke to Global News Morning about what to expect during AI Week.
- The City of St. Albert has received a provincial award for transportation innovation for its adaptive signal technology on traffic lights.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- The opportunity and promise of hydrogen in the Edmonton region will be highlighted this week at the f-Cell Canada conference at the Edmonton Convention Centre, a month after the Canadian Hydrogen Convention ignited interest and investment. Taproot Edmonton published a look at what the current situation is and what has to happen to execute on this momentum.
- Mayor Rod Frank of Strathcona County addressed the “ground floor opportunity” hydrogen could bring to the area in an open letter to the Sherwood Park News. The county is participating in the Alberta Zero Emissions Hydrogen Transit project as it looks to possible investments, jobs, and clean energy.
- Students at Lillian Osborne High School won Junior Achievement’s Big Pitch competition with their company, called Gaia, which turns disposable masks into unique jewelry. They’re donating 10% of their earnings to Waste Free Edmonton to support sustainable initiatives.
- In Episode 91 of Amplify Your Business, Myrna Bittner of RUNWITHIT Synthetics discusses how her team creates a digital environment that can simulate any city resulting in “synthetic populations” to provide an invaluable tool to planners who want to see how their plans will function in real-life situations.
Digital Inclusion & Education
- SkillsTrader CEO Fadi Smaidi spoke to Canadian Occupational Safety about the post-pandemic investments that organizations are making in technology to support e-training and safety training aided by virtual reality and artificial intelligence. He cited an organization that does crane training in VR: “Instead of having an individual sitting in a crane – which is a very big piece of equipment, the training is time-consuming and there are safety considerations to worry about – now you can do (80 or 90%) of the actual training inside a headset,” he said.
- NAIT will assist in the development of a charter school focusing on STEM in south Edmonton but has stepped away from a proposed collegiate focused on science, technology, engineering, and math that it had planned to build with Edmonton’s public and Catholic school boards.
Food Security & Agtech
- The food-waste prevention app Too Good To Go has made Edmonton its sixth Canadian city. Local partners include Neo Juicery, Kinnikinnick, Meuwly’s, and Sugared & Spiced among 80+ stores connecting consumers with food that would otherwise go to waste. The app has also partnered with Edmonton’s Food Bank.
- 7 Summits Snacks has been named a semifinalist for the Startup Global Pitch Competition, an opportunity that Co-Founder Kristyn Carriere hopes to parlay into a worldwide customer base for the company’s chocolate-based endurance bars for athletes.
- Jim Philpott of West Grow Farms in Acheson spoke to Collisions YYC about the potential for vertical farming to create a more environmentally friendly way to get fresh produce.
- Alberta Innovates has announced it will invest over $4.5 million in eight early-stage health research projects. The projects are part of the Accelerating Innovations into CarE (AICE) Concepts program for health innovators to use technology to solve urgent health challenges.
- Dr. James Shapiro, who led the team behind the islet cell transplant procedure known as the Edmonton Protocol, has published a paper in The Lancet showing improved outcomes for patients with difficult-to-control Type 1 diabetes over 20 years. “This long-term safety data gives us confidence that we are doing the right thing,” Shapiro told Folio.
Bits & Pieces
- Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s minister of jobs, economy, and innovation, announced he will not run to be leader of the UCP nor will he run for re-election, saying he wants to spend more time with family.
- James Neufeld and Ashlyn Bernier of samdesk spoke about the company’s origins and subsequent pivots on the Entrepreneurs of Edmonton podcast.
- Startup TNT has posted the videos from its Investment Summit V Top 20 pitch night.
- Innovate Edmonton has partnered with Synergy Projects Ltd. to develop and construct its new space. “They are committed to bringing the vision for Edmonton’s newest innovation destination into reality and we can’t wait to reveal some of their fantastic work.”
- Innovate Edmonton is searching for new team members to join its ranks. The company is looking for a “passionate city builder to lead our Capital City Pilots program” and a founder liaison and technology lead.
- Innovate Edmonton board member Nicole Janssen, who is also co-CEO of AltaML, will be a guest speaker on June 4 at the Tech Spark event in Fort McMurray. “I am a very community-oriented person. I’m born and raised in Fort McMurray, so this community is very near and dear to me,” she said. “If you talk about your passions and you talk about your interests, you might be able to spark something within a young person.”