Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region.
Startup pitch marathon builds connections across the Prairies
Almost 200 startups from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are lined up to spend three minutes each pitching their companies at the Great Prairies Pitch Marathon on Aug. 18.
The event serves as a “State of the Union” for the innovation community, service organizations, and community partners, said Zack Storms, Founder of Startup TNT, which is the lead organizer of the marathon.
“When you read about what makes for a strong, resilient startup ecosystem, one of the key factors is having both strong relationships among the players internally in the ecosystem, but also connections, relationships with other startup communities,” Storms said. “(It) just kind of makes for a more robust, resilient community long-term.”
“The expansion of the pitch marathon kind of parallels the expansion of our own organization,” said Storms. The inaugural Great Alberta Pitch Marathon in 2020 represented an expansion of Startup TNT from an Edmonton-based organization to an Alberta-based one. “And then, as an organization, we’ve grown to thinking more of ourselves as a Prairie-based organization, not just an Alberta-based organization.”
There are no judges, no winners, and no cash prizes awarded at the marathon, but the attention tends to help presenters connect with a community to grow their ideas and gain high-quality referrals, Storms said. Several pitching companies have gone on to find funding at Startup TNT’s Investment Summits. It also exposes entrepreneurs to innovations happening outside their industries or geographical areas.
“It’s honestly one of the unique and rare occurrences where entrepreneurs from all those sectors and all those stages are all in one location pitching as part of a bigger community,” Storms said.
- Granify has released its search enhancement solution, Granify for Search. The solution offers personalized search results on select partner e-commerce sites.
- U.K.-based Photonic Solutions announced it has added G2V Optics to its portfolio of solar simulator capabilities, “bringing their most advanced sunlight replication LED products to our customers here in the UK and Ireland.”
- Startup TNT published an interview with Koleya Karringten, CEO of Absolute Combustion, executive director of the Canadian Blockchain Consortium, and co-founder of the Canadian Blockchain Association for Women. Karringten spoke about her experience as a repeat founder. “You need to learn how to take care of yourself because entrepreneurship is a lonely journey,” she advised.
Climate Emergency & CleanTech
- Capital Power has released its inaugural Green Financing Framework, under which it will issue green bonds and green loans to wind, solar, and storage projects that align with its sustainability targets.
- Nanode Battery Technologies is the only Canadian startup selected to participate in the 2022 accelerator program from The Heritage Group in Indianapolis. “Batteries utilizing Nanode’s technology have 5x the energy density of traditional batteries at 40% the cost,” THG said in a news release. The program wraps up on Nov. 15 with a public pitch event.
- Hydra Energy, which converts heavy-duty trucks from gas to hydrogen, announced that its first hydrogen-powered armoured vehicle will begin making return-to-base trips around the Edmonton area. It is owned by Veteran Express Secure Logistics (VEXSL), which aims to convert almost all of its armoured fleet to hydrogen and use refuelling infrastructure at the Edmonton International Airport.
- Nanoprecise Sci Corp announced NrgMonitor, a new product intended to assist companies in tracking energy efficiency and monitoring their carbon footprint.
Digital Inclusion & Education
- The Canada-Wide Science Fair will be in Edmonton from May 14 to 19. The youth STEM event is returning to an in-person format at the Edmonton Convention Centre after two years as a virtual event.
Food Security & AgTech
- Applications 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.
- The Little Potato Co.‘s new custom-designed and fully automated production facility has been hailed as a sign of economic diversification in Nisku, which has traditionally focused on the energy service sector. “To have an agricultural processing facility there, it’s a welcome new use,” said CBRE Vice-President Trevor Schmidt, who helped broker the expansion.
- Edmonton Made highlighted the craft kombucha brewery Boocha. “Before making kombucha, I’ve been really into home brewing wine and beer, so kombucha was kind of this evolution of it,” said head brewer Byron Hradoway. “I went from brewing it just for myself to giving it away to friends, and then literally four weeks later, someone jokingly said that we should sell on the market, so me and Jen put together a brand one day, and we hit the ground running.”
- Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Michael Houghton has joined the advisory board of Future Fields to help guide the biomanufacturing company as it works to expand the applications of the recombinant protein it produces. “His expertise and experience with recombinant protein production, particularly for clinical applications, will be incredibly impactful to the trajectory of Future Fields,” CEO Matt Anderson-Baron said in a release.
- KemNet, an e-commerce platform to distribute reformulated medications to pharmacies, has been accepted into Y Combinator. Founder Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ọláòṣebìkan is now looking for patients, prescribers, and investors.
- The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories (AS AB/NT) has partnered with Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) to launch a competition for innovative research concerning dementia. The society has committed up to $5 million over five years to be distributed through an annual research competition administered by CAN, launching on Sept. 21, which is World Alzheimer’s Day.
- Amy Porter of the 1in100 Hearts Foundation spoke to the Health Innovation Hub about what health innovation means to her.
- True Angle Medical has begun an Alberta Innovates-funded research project exploring how to use its Mobili-T system in combination with Varian’s Noona platform, which was originally created for use in oncology, to improve patient outcomes in the treatment of dysphagia.
- Edmonton’s Chelsey Reschke of Voran Group Ventures is one of four Albertans chosen for the Canadian delegation to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance’s 2022 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in October.
- Kello Inclusive aims to change the fashion world as an agency that only represents disabled and neurodiverse talent. “It didn’t take us very long to think that the world needed one of these,” Founder Katie MacMillan told CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active.
- AAWEAR (Alberta Alliance Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly) and Habitus Collective are co-ordinating a peer-led study investigating cannabis use and mental health among in-risk populations, involving people who use drugs at every step of the way.
- Parity YEG is collaborating with Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) to hold a virtual policy competition to help get historically underrepresented women and gender-diverse people involved in the municipal decision-making process. Twelve winners will get a paid internship with city councillors to further develop their policy chops and make connections.
- Earth’s General Store Founder Michael Kalmanovitch has retired after 31 years in business. The store is now owned by the Ethical Community Organizations of Edmonton (ECOE).
- After more than 10 years of work, the Boyle Street community now has an inclusive neighbourhood playspace, which incorporates the seven sacred teachings of Indigenous knowledge into its design.
Arts & Culture
- Extended-reality artist Evan Pearce benefited from a creative reset during the pandemic, allowing him to develop his art and find new opportunities, including an ambitious video project with the band Bloodslide and a collaboration with a York University professor on an augmented-reality manual on liver transplantation.
- Edify featured Cross Cut, a group exhibition at Latitude 53 featuring video and animated work emerging from the Art From Here program. It runs until Aug. 20.
- Digital Alberta is set to host their Edmonton meetup on Sept 28. It’ll take place in-person at Innovate Edmonton, on the third floor of the Mercer Warehouse. Attendees will have a chance to learn about Digital Alberta, meet their team, along with other interactive digital media companies and organizations.
Bits & Pieces
- Submissions are open to host an event during Edmonton Startup Week. Your event could be a panel, workshop, discussion, social or even a podcast episode. Get creative, this is an opportunity to give back, share knowledge and inspire the community around the culture of innovation in Edmonton! Apply before August 19th to be included in the first schedule release!
- The thirteenth annual edition of Launch Party, Edmonton Startup Week’s flagship event that celebrates and showcases the hottest startups in town takes place on Thursday, October 20, at the Edmonton Convention Centre Hall D. Applications for Launch Party are open until August 19.
- The founders of The Edmonton Project, which led to the creation of Prairie Sky Gondola, are thinking about reviving the competition after city council decided against endorsing a land deal for the gondola in the river valley. Edmonton Project Co-Founder Aziz Bootwala suggested a smaller scope and more buy-in from residents would help future ideas succeed.
- The Edmonton Urban Farm celebrated its ninth Alberta Open Farm Days, allowing Edmontonians to watch weed-eating goats in action, admire the honeybees, and see about 120 different food-producing plants. The farm remains open to visitors on Saturdays until Oct. 8.
- TEDx Talks shared “Why Public Speaking Matters”, the talk delivered by Innovation Growth Council member Ghalia Aamer of TalkMaze at TEDxOldSconaAcademic.