Startup Edmonton receiving $250,000 to retain student talent

startup edmonton

The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), which runs Startup Edmonton, is receiving $250,000 from the City of Edmonton to help it hire recruiters for local campuses.

“We hear time and again that talent retention is a problem Edmonton needs to overcome.”

Startup Edmonton offers mentorship, programs, workspace, and talent to help Edmonton-based startups. The organization claims its members and affiliate companies have raised more than $100 million since 2009 and have seen over 70,000 attendees at its various events, programs, and workshops, including its 1,500 members since opening its campus in 2012.

Cheryll Watson, vice president of Innovate Edmonton, a branch of the EEDC, told city council that companies from other cities are hiring graduates, snagging local tech talent from Edmonton-based companies.

“Edmonton has some of the world’s greatest post-secondary institutions,” Watson told BetaKit. “With this funding, we’ll be able to help post-secondary students navigate the ecosystem, bring their ideas to life, and work for some of our city’s leading tech startups. We hear time and again that talent retention is a problem Edmonton needs to overcome. We have some of the best and brightest students and look forward to harnessing their potential.”

There are currently 100 people working out Startup Edmonton’s space at the Mercer Warehouse, and the organization boasts 175 alumni companies, some of which include SaaS company Granify, a revenue optimixzation platform that raised a $9 million CAD Series A in 2015.

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“Before founding Granify, I was CEO of two other technology companies between 2002 and 2008,” said Jeff Lawrence, founder and CEO of Granify. “The level of readily available support for startup and growth stage entrepreneurs is truly night and day between then and now. Startup Edmonton has been the major driver of this change.”

A study from the Alberta Enterprise Corporation found Alberta’s tech sector is maturing at a rapid rate, even though the net growth in the number of tech startups appears to be slowing down. In November 2018, the Canadian government announced nearly $21 million to help Alberta tech startups scale.

Not everyone was happy about the recent spend to Startup Edmonton though. Councillor Aaron Paquette stated that although $250,000 is not a large request, he question why the work can’t be done by universities, tech companies, or with the EEDC’s current resources, according to CBC News. Paquette suggested during Tuesday’s council meeting that the city wait for a pending audit of EEDC before approving more funding.

“I don’t understand why we need three full-time employees to let students know that Startup Edmonton exists,” Paquette said. “I think that for an organization that’s all about innovation, maybe it would be nice to see some of that in action.”

The funding was among several additions to the city’s $3 billion 2019 operating budget, totalling an additional $3.5 million in spending for the Alberta city.

Image courtesy Startup Edmonton via Twitter.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast