Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region.
Startup veteran welcomes influx of accelerators
“The program has just helped me clearly identify what our customer is, what they need, and now it’s just a matter of me going after the first five or 10,” he said on Episode 26 of Taproot’s Bloom podcast. “It doesn’t seem like some crazy mountain that I have to climb now.”
It’s been great to see the influx of accelerators to Alberta, said Suriano, a member of the Innovation Growth Council. He didn’t have access to such programs when he started his first company, Rocketfuel Games, in 2010.
“I think it’s awesome that they all exist,” he said. “I just think that entrepreneurs like me have to be more focused on interviewing the accelerators, not just accepting them for who they are, to see if they are a fit.”
Here’s what’s happening with other accelerators available to local innovators:
- TELUS Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator: Applications are about to close for Cohort 2, which launches on Sept. 1.
- Plug and Play Alberta: Applications are open for the second batch, which is kicking off in September.
- Alberta Accelerator by 500: Applications are closed, but expressions of interest are invited.
- Alberta Catalyzer: Applications are open on an ongoing basis for three learning streams in this pre-accelerator.
- SVG Ventures|THRIVE: THRIVE Academy, which offers hands-on training and access to testing sites to validate early-stage ideas, kicks off this September with its first cohort; THRIVE Venture Studio, which focuses on forming new companies, is currently accepting applications.
- Ordr, which makes an app that lets fans order food to be delivered to their seats, has announced an integration partnership with SpotOn, which provides hospitality technology to sports stadiums. The partnership will kick off with the Gwinnett Stripers, a minor-league baseball team in Georgia.
- Players of Microsoft Flight Simulator can now learn to fly at the Edmonton International Airport while exploring terminals, runways, and surrounding scenery. The pack can be purchased online from the developer for US$16.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- PCL Construction is expecting its solar revenue to be close to $800 million by the end of 2022. “It’s an exciting time for Canada, we’re seeing a country that is very diverse in how we generate our electricity,” PCL’s Director of Solar, Andrew Moles, told SustainableBiz.
- Invest Alberta highlighted Inter Pipeline‘s work at the Heartland Petrochemical Complex northeast of Edmonton. The complex aims to be the first facility in North America to integrate propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production.
Digital Inclusion & Education
- Tracy Folorunsho-Barry, the Founder of the Gradual Rising of Women (GROW) Foundation, is among the winners of the 14th annual Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. She told Postmedia she is working on a digital talent platform to connect educated immigrants with companies that want to diversify their workforce.
- Canada is facing a labour shortage in the skilled trades, and education is the key to solving the problem, says an op-ed co-authored by Kevin Clark of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) District 14, Matt Lindberg of NAIT, Jennifer Flanagan of Actua, and David Primrose of Finning Canada. Addressing the issue “demands innovative thinking, challenging outdated mindsets, removing stigmas and stereotypes, and tapping into a wider, underrepresented, talent pool to mend the gap,” they wrote.
- The University of Alberta’s business administration program was ranked the best in Canada and 30th in the world, according to the 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. “We are delighted to see our world-class research highlighted in this prestigious global ranking,” said Kyle Murray, interim Dean of the Alberta School of Business. The university also jumped 12 spots to rank 113th in the Rankometer 2022 World University Rankings, which combines results from five global rankings.
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,” sheApplications close Aug. 26 for the THRIVE Global Impact Challenge, which invites startups at the seed to Series A stage to pitch solutions related to soil health and biodiversity, increasing food security, or reducing and offsetting emissions.
- Future Fields, a company that pivoted from growing meat in the lab to making the necessary growth factor, is seeing additional opportunities in recombinant protein for industries other than cellular agriculture. “We truly believe that industry has so much potential in terms of sustainability,” Co-Founder and COO Jalene Anderson-Baron told Episode 25 of Bloom. “But we also realized that our platform has incredible potential to do a lot more things.” The company isn’t ready to jump into pharmaceutical manufacturing, she said, but there is other low-hanging fruit to capture with its biomanufacturing platform, which uses fruit flies instead of energy-intensive bioreactors.
- The results of a collaborative project between Ceapro and University of Alberta researchers will be published in The Journal of Supercritical Fluids, the company announced. The peer-reviewed research is related to the use of an extract of brown algae as a delivery system.
- The natHACKS 2022 hackathon organized by NeurAlbertaTech led to the creation of 38 projects, seven of which were declared winners. Among the winners was Sleep Apnea Guardian, which provides instant feedback when a sleeping person stops breathing.
- Researchers at the University of Alberta under the direction of Mahdi Tavakoli at the Telerobotic and Biorobotic Systems Group, are combining AI and exoskeleton technology to aid those with mobility issues. Machine learning helps the exoskeleton “learn” to walking patterns of each individual to provide a fully personalized experience.
- A new report from the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health may be the first effort to analyze data concerning unhoused people in emergency rooms in Alberta. Drawing on Alberta Health Services records of more than 11,600 cases from 2019 to 2020, the report found that the leading reason for visiting the ER was poisoning at 25%, followed by violence at 19%, and fall-related injuries at 13%. Laurence Braun-Woodbury with the Bissell Centre told Postmedia the report “confirmed so much of what we see year in and year out as service providers.”
- The online wastewater data tracker, led by a partnership between the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, now offers insights on COVID-19 variants and seasonal flu across Alberta.
- The Robert Tegler Trust Outreach Service at the Edmonton Public Library is helping to get resources into the hands of at-risk Edmontonians. Outside the office is a phone that connects people to one of three social workers, who offer help in accessing housing, navigating the justice system, finding mental health supports, and more. The service saw 1,084 interactions in 2021 and has had 1,057 so far in 2022.
- City council’s community and public services committee voted unanimously to recommend an increase to the operating budget for the C5 North East Community Hub, CTV News reports. The organization is seeking a $200,000 increase in annual city funding, to $500,000. “We are not recreating the wheel or duplicating services. We are really making every dollar stretch,” said Hannah Storvold, the organization’s director of strategy and advocacy.
- CBC took a look at DeadEyes.NoLies, a St. Albert business started by former prisoner Darin Edwards and business partner Amy-Rae Goodman to provide consulting services to people entering the correctional system.
Arts & Culture
- Hungry Zine was cited by Eater in a piece on the appeal of indie food zines. “Hungry centers Indigenous people in a way I haven’t seen in mainstream American food media, and is printed at Yolkless Press in Calgary because it’s a newer institution run by nonwhite individuals,” writes N.A. Mansour.
- IndieWire named Before I Change My Mind, the latest from filmmaker Trevor Anderson, to its list of 10 must-see movies at the 2022 Locarno Film Festival. The Swiss film festival runs until Aug. 13.
- Edmonton Made highlighted the work of Neil Martin, the creator behind Neon Guy.
Bits & Pieces
- Joshua Kirsch and Dustin Bajer have launched a project to map the trees given to Alberta first-graders over the past six decades. The Alberta Grade 1 Tree Register has so far mapped ranging in age from one to 66 years old.
- Board member Aaryn Flynn of Inflexion Games spoke to Gamereactor about his studio’s Victorian-tinged fantasy game called Nightingale. “This is our own universe that we’ve created, taking some lessons from our experiences working on games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age and others,” he said. “But this is our chance to create a new universe.”