City Council has approved $5 million in funding for Innovate Edmonton, meant to support and attract technology accelerators to the city.
The $5 million accelerator fund is in addition to the $5 million per year that has been promised to Innovate Edmonton following its creation as the new provincial innovation entity last year.
“Edmonton has a rich foundation on which to build the next generation of business accelerators.”
The new fund aligns with Alberta’s province-wide push for more business acceleration. Last month, Alberta Innovates, the crown corporation for the Government of Alberta that promotes innovation in the province, issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the development of new business and technology accelerators in the region. Up to $25 million in funding is available to the three or more accelerators that come to the province, based on a three-year contract.
Innovate Edmonton is responsible for evaluating the “Edmonton-specific performance measures” within successful bids and allocating funds. The new $5 million from City Council will go towards supporting Edmonton’s portion of the RFP and be put towards enhancing coaching, investment readiness and sales channels for Edmonton’s tech companies.
“Edmonton has a rich foundation on which to build the next generation of business accelerators that will nurture and expedite start-ups as well as small and medium-sized innovators,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “City Council’s vote underlines a commitment, through Innovate Edmonton, to support job creation and business development, and we stand ready to help diversify the province’s economic base.”
“City Council acted decisively to provide this critical $5M for innovation, diversification and growth,” said Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren, who was appointed in December. Warren was tasked with building a team for Innovate Edmonton after the new organization was established by Edmonton’s City Council in May. The move formed the new innovation entity independent of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) and was part of a restructuring of the EEDC, which operated the old Innovate Edmonton, Edmonton Tourism, the Edmonton Convention Centre, and the Edmonton EXPO Centre.
“Our city is demonstrating to the local start-up and scale-up community that their businesses remain paramount to our economic future – and to Edmonton’s future accelerators that they merit significant local investment,” said Warren.
Alberta is on a mission to create 900 new companies, 20,000 new jobs, and $5 billion in technology firm revenue for the province by 2030. The province had a record year for venture capital investment in 2020, pulling in $455 million. A recent report from Alberta Enterprise Corporation noted significant growth in the innovation sector over the last few years. It identified 3,083 tech companies in Alberta in 2021, compared to 1,238 companies in 2018 and found almost 40 percent of local tech companies surveyed have revenues exceeding $1 million, a 66 percent increase since 2018.
Speaking with BetaKit recently, Alberta Minister of Innovation Doug Schweitzer cited hopes for the province to “become a dominant player in the whole innovation space in Canada.”
Speaking to Edmonton’s role in that, AltaML co-CEO and Innovate Edmonton board Nicole Janssen said, “This [$5 million] funding news couldn’t come at a better time. Edmonton’s tech community is set to be a cornerstone for post-pandemic recovery, and this new fund will accelerate local companies and spark downtown vibrancy.”