Platform Calgary is set to take over the operation of innovation organization Startup Calgary from Calgary Economic Development (CED).
The transition of Startup Calgary was announced Tuesday, with Platform noting it is set to take effect on January 1, 2021. Startup Calgary’s two staff members, employed by CED, will be moving over to Platform and continuing to run Startup Calgary programming under its existing brand name.
“2021 promises to be a powerful year for Calgary’s tech and innovation sector.”
– Terry Rock, Platform Calgary
A spokesperson for Platform confirmed to BetaKit that the deal did not include the sale or transfer of intellectual property or branding rights. Rather, Startup Calgary, which was partially funded by the City of Calgary as part of CED, will continue to receive government funding to support its initiatives.
Startup Calgary was founded in 2010 as a grassroots initiative focused on providing programming and events for the city’s early-stage tech community. It became part of CED in 2017, which is a not-for-profit corporation funded, in part, by the City of Calgary.
Startup Calgary ran programming like the city’s largest tech community event, Launch Party. However, the size of its team has dwindled over the last couple of years. Following the departure of its manager, Danielle Torrie, in July, Startup Calgary sat at two full-time staff.
Platform cited the decision to take over Startup Calgary as a way to create better alignment around programming and resources for Calgary’s startup community. Over the past year, Startup Calgary and Platform have been working more closely to offer joint programming and collaborate on events in order to reduce repetition in the city’s ecosystem.
“We’ve been pleased with the impact Startup Calgary has had on the ecosystem of tech-enabled entrepreneurs in our city while it’s been part of our organization and expect it will be even greater at Platform Calgary,” said Mary Moran, president and CEO of CED. “We will continue to work closely with Startup Calgary at its new home at Platform Calgary and collaborate in our support for our innovation ecosystem and early-stage entrepreneurs.”
Platform is an independently operated hub for startups and innovation. It sprung out of Calgary Technologies Inc., which was founded by the late Alastair Ross almost 40 years ago. It is meant to serve as a community where entrepreneurs and startups can work together, and it officially became Platform Calgary in March 2019.
The organization is currently in the process of building what is set to be Calgary’s new home for its startup ecosystem, the Platform Innovation Centre. The 50,000 square foot centre has been in development for a number of years and is set to open in Fall 2021.
Twenty-eight community organizations have already agreed to be part of the Platform Innovation Centre, including Canadian seed accelerator, The Accelerator, Alberta Enterprise Corporation, InternGen, Thin Air Labs, BDC, and Lighthouse Labs.
“2021 promises to be a powerful year for Calgary’s tech and innovation sector,” said Terry Rock, president and CEO of Platform Calgary. “As we open the Platform Innovation Centre, we continue to bring together the resources and partners of Calgary’s tech startup ecosystem to create shared prosperity that will benefit all Calgarians. Startup Calgary is a critical part of our ecosystem; by coming together, we form an even more powerful champion for startups.”
While operating independently, Platform receives a portion of its funding from the City of Calgary. The City is also a minority shareholder in Platform, with seats on its board of directors. The organizations’ other shareholders and board members include the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the University of Calgary.
Since its founding, Startup Calgary has hosted approximately 100 events and launched several new initiatives while at CED, including Startup Essentials programming, the Game Changers Speaker Series, and the Startup Calgary podcast. It also helped to organize the annual Start Alberta Tech Awards.
“The economic future of Calgary is being driven by entrepreneurs and their ideas, and Startup Calgary has been lifting that community up for the past decade,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Calgary Economic Development has been supporting the organization these past four years and has done a remarkable job. Now, Platform Calgary will welcome this part of the startup ecosystem into its organization and into our new Platform Innovation Centre. The momentum is growing, and this is the next step in helping local companies realize big dreams.”
With the combination of the two organizations, the goal is to triple the size of the city’s tech startup sector over the next 10 years with more than 2,000 startups and over 1,000 tech companies.
“Startup Calgary was able to expand its ambitions for what it could do to help early-stage entrepreneurs while at Calgary Economic Development,” said Alice Reimer, co-founder of Startup Calgary and site lead for CDL-Rockies. “The move to Platform Calgary will enhance their reach within the community to support more startups and founders.”