Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region.


DeepMind celebrates five years in Edmonton

DeepMind Alberta, the first international research office of the UK-based AI arm of Alphabet, celebrated its fifth anniversary at its newly completed office space in downtown Edmonton.

“It was a really big step for DeepMind, which is very London-centric, to come all the way to Edmonton to open an office,” DeepMind research board member Doina Precup said at the July 28 gathering. “And our presence here today, and being at the fifth anniversary of this office, is a testament to the vibrancy of the Canadian AI ecosystem.”

Precup remarked that the unique collaboration between government, academia, and industry has fostered the site’s success since it was founded in 2017, and it’s a model researchers have tried to replicate elsewhere.

DeepMind’s research has helped machines understand challenging games like chess and go, and more complicated problems in the realms of mathematics and quantum chemistry. The company chose the Edmonton anniversary date to announce the release of its AlphaFold Protein Structure Database, an open-source project that has expanded to include over 200 million structures, representing nearly all proteins known to science.

Canada was the first country to develop a national AI strategy in 2017, the same year that DeepMind established its Edmonton office, and it has committed $443 million over the next 10 years for the second phase of its Pan-Canadian AI strategy.

DeepMind’s arrival in Alberta “was significant because it reinforced our status as a worldwide leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Elan MacDonald, Vice-President of External Relations at the University of Alberta.


Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship


Tech

  • Net tech employment in Alberta is projected to be 99,633 in 2022, a year-over-year increase of 743, says CompTIA’s latest State of the Tech Workforce report. Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal dominate tech hiring, with smaller job gains expected in Edmonton and Calgary, the organization said in a release.

Climate Emergency & CleanTech


Digital Inclusion & Education

  • Ryan Jones, Vice-President of Software Engineering at Jobber, commented on what companies are looking for from technology professionals besides just coding skills. “There’s an expectation for software engineers to have worked with a cloud provider, have an understanding of the services and how they interact with each other,” he told ZDNet. “If you’re moving to a true DevOps model, your software engineers are building and supporting the infrastructure as much as they are building the applications for your customers.”

Food Security & AgTech

  • The National Observer profiled Isha Datar, the Edmonton-based Executive Director of New Harvest, a donor-funded American non-profit that connects and funds researchers working in cellular agriculture. The organization recently raised $1.3 million at a conference in New York and has embarked on a campaign to raise $18.5 million more.
  • Faaiza Ramji spoke to Canadian Business about the birth of Field Notes, her Alberta-based spirits company, whose first product is a pea-derived liqueur called Don’t Call Me Sweet Pea. “Now that we’ve got the liqueur on the shelf, we want to go after some investment to see how we can scale,” she said. “As we move forward, I want to stay focused on the mission, which is to figure out how we can build a more complete food ecosystem in the Prairies.”

Public Health


Arts & Culture


Bits & Pieces


Other Mentions


This Blast is brought to you by Innovate Edmonton in partnership with Taproot Publishing.