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Innovation Week YYC highlights growth and opportunity of Calgary's tech sector


Hundreds of entrepreneurs, innovative companies and investors are gathering in Calgary this week to showcase the growing opportunities of the city's tech sector.

Innovation Week YYC is a chance to celebrate the industry considered to be the future of Calgary's economy through a full calendar of panels, workshops and peer-to-peer meetups from Nov. 15 to Nov 23.

The event ends with a final launch party to honour a selection of this year's top 10 tech start-up ventures.

"We've got over 30 companies that are demonstrating their technologies that people can come down and check out," said Terry Rock, president and CEO of Platform Calgary.

Rock says Calgary has emerged as the fastest-growing tech city in Canada.

"We're about to set our fifth year in a row of record venture investments. We have been one of the fastest-growing talent markets. 

"People are moving from all over the world to be part of the Calgary story."

The event is also inspiring the next generation of young talent locally at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering. 

Students are highlighting major growth in the study of new mechanical technologies, three-dimensional printing and virtual reality at the Innovation Week YYC event held at Platform Calgary.

"A lot of students are getting excited about what we have to offer, and they're getting into tech because of it," said Mathias Hamilton, a U of C mechanical engineering graduate.

"With the equipment, they have the opportunities to further themselves into the program through different courses, and some students are even building electric cars or skateboards, for example. A lot of students are doing this to learn how to innovate and make their own enterprise."

Innovation Week YYC 2023 is held from Nov. 15 to 23. Other presentations held at Platform Calgary included advancements in Alberta's Agri-tech industry as well as increased efforts to welcome Indigenous women into the tech workforce.

Shannon Pestun, a senior advisor for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, spoke about the important role the technology sector plays in Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation.

"Alberta is becoming an innovation hub, but when we look at the tech sector, we know that Indigenous people are only accounting for about one per cent of all tech talent, and Indigenous women are the most underrepresented," she said.

"Indigenous women take a very holistic look at our own views, and everything is interconnected, so when we're thinking about Indigenous technologies as how we do our traditional ways, we can bring our traditional ways into more modern systems."


Alberta's Minister of Technology and Innovation Nate Glubish says that attracting local talent is one of his top priorities and amongst the biggest challenges the province currently faces. 

He says, however, that Alberta's tech companies are growing faster than before, having gone from raising $30 million in venture money back in 2017 to raising $729 million in 2022.

At a luncheon hosted by the Calgary Chamber on Wednesday, Glubish said that more than a dozen tech companies in Alberta are now worth more than $1 billion.

"Our goal now is to deliver 20,000 new jobs in the tech sector, generating $5 billion in new revenues in tech and overhead by 2030," Glubish said.

"To deliver on this goal, we've made a number of very strategic investments including the Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC)."

AEC is a venture fund that invests in venture funds under the rules that a company has to have an office in Alberta.

Nate Glubish speaks about Alberta's plan to develop and enhance the province's tech sector at an event at the Fairmont Palliser hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Nov. 15. 2023.The province’s UCP government says that for every dollar invested into the AEC, another $5 is invested in Alberta tech companies.

"In our first four years, we recapitalize these companies with about $175 million, and we have committed in the most recent election campaign to trump that with a further $100 million, because we know that this approach is working."

In his speech, Glubish also touched on Alberta's growing Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector and a recent provincial government investment of $23 million to establish Alberta as a cornerstone of quantum research.

"Essentially, it is a next generation of technology that is going to impact how our computers are built, how our communications networks are designed and implemented, and how our cybersecurity is managed," he said.

"It is going to bring exponential increases in productivity in so many different spaces, and Alberta is leading the country as one of the top-performing jurisdictions for research in the space in Canada."


As tech investment continue to rise in Alberta, a local artificial intelligence company is returning to Calgary.

After spending several years in the U.S., Ambyint, an oil well optimization software company that uses deep-learning artificial intelligence, announced on Monday that its relocating from Houston to Calgary.

Jari Kubica, the controller for Ambyint, says the growing investment played a big role in the company's return to home soil.

"A lot of the incentives around government funding, as well as being the lead investor on the most recent round of the grants required that we move to Canada, and that was the natural place for us," he said.

Kubica added that Calgary is also becoming a hot spot for growth in the artificial intelligence sector.

"We're happy to be here, and have lots of access to good talent around this work, furthermore, there is attractiveness from a grants perspective."

Ambyint's software is currently used by several major oil and gas companies to assist in their daily activities to optimize their production and reduce carbon footprints by as much as 48 per cent, according to a recent case study on its website.

Benjamin Kemp, CEO of Ambyint adds that he's confident in the next steps for his company. 

"The tech ecosystem in Calgary is alive and well. From an innovation, talent and investment perspective, it made absolute sense for our scaling business to return." Top Stories

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