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
- Alberta Catalyzer welcomed the next cohort of startup founders in its Engage stream, including Steven Pierson of Vino AI, Trevor MacDonald of A Safer Walk, Guanzhi MacDonald of Sollar Protocol, and Serbi Braru of uLearnify.
- Three Edmontonians were chosen to partake in the Canadian delegation to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance’s 2022 summit in Hamburg, Germany in October. Among the 500,000 young international entrepreneurs to attend the event will be Chad Midnight of Aqueduct Water Systems; Chelsey Reschke of Voran Group Ventures, and Jordan Hanna of Linked Digital Services.
- The Quad published a Q&A with Luke Butterworth, the Executive in Residence with the Technology Transfer Services Team at the University of Alberta and one of the people behind JustCook, which built the 5th Street Food Hall and is working on a similar space called Station Park on Whyte Avenue.
- 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
- Cleantech startup Aurora Hydrogen has raised US$10 million in Series A funding to help it build a demonstration plant for field trials of its emission-free hydrogen production technology. “Aurora touts its offering as highly scalable, as units can be installed everywhere—from small fuelling stations to large industrial applications,” reports BetaKit. The round was led by Energy Innovation Capital, with participation from Williams, Shell Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Strathcona County residents will have access to the Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) in the summer of 2023 after council unanimously passed a bylaw permitting the program. It allows eligible residential property owners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades through their taxes.
- Funding from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre is bringing 10 new electric vehicle chargers to St. Albert. City council is now deciding where to put them.
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.”
- Mental health care and psychedelic therapy innovator PsiloTec Health Solutions, operating as Zylorion Health, has filed a provisional patent for a novel psilocybin-based compound. The compound, ZYL-314, is to be used in the treatment of mental health disorders as well as other conditions and disorders related to the central nervous system, the company said. PsiloTec Health Solutions is an Edmonton biopharmaceutical company founded by Dr. Peter Silverstone, interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta.
- Of the five buildings in Alberta with some level of Well certification from the International Well Building Institute, three are in Edmonton: HSBC Place and Manulife Place, which are gold-certified, and the Edmonton CBRE office, which is silver.
Arts & Culture
- Story City has announced its latest batch of interactive stories set in Edmonton, which are to be available in the app as of Aug. 5.
- Digital Alberta is inviting its members, interactive digital technology companies, ecosystem partners and service providers supporting the industry to answer an ecosystem survey. The industry association says the responses will help inform their priorities and programming over the coming months.
Bits & Pieces
- 2S Water has been named as a semi-finalist in the KPMG Tech Innovator in Canada competition, CEO Anthea Sargeaunt announced.
- The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) recapped its July 2022 AI Meetup, highlighting technical and non-technical career paths in AI.
- Abi Ajibola of Memoirs Photography spoke about her entrepreneurial journey in Episode 139 of Amplify Your Business.