The world economy is undergoing a major shift, known as the fourth industrial revolution, as technological advancements transform the way businesses function. Alberta is positioning itself to capitalize on the rapidly growing field of technology and innovation, supporting entrepreneurs as they pivot to new opportunities that have emerged from the recent economic downturn.
By the Numbers
- $15 billion Revenue generated by Alberta companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in 2016
- 33% Increase in the number of tech companies headquartered in Alberta between 2012 and 2018
- 200+ The number of life sciences companies headquartered in Alberta, collectively employing about 4,600 people
- $16 billion Amount being invested by telecommunications giant Telus to build out Alberta’s 5G and fibre optic data networks
Source: Government of Alberta
Technology was identified as a vital growth industry in the Alberta Recovery Plan — a long-term strategy to build, diversify and create jobs that was initiated during the reopening phases amid the pandemic in mid-2020. The technology sector provides benefits throughout the economy, with new technologies being applied in the export, manufacturing, energy and agriculture sectors, as well as building out new, emerging sectors. Alberta is an important player in the technology industry, with strengths in artificial intelligence, big data, geomatics and interactive digital media.
Calgary Makes Long-Term Bet on Life Sciences
In 2018, the City of Calgary established the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) to support investments within the city that would help diversify and transform the economy. By November 2020, the OCIF had announced $39 million in funding to support 12 projects—the largest of which was an $8.5 million commitment to support the Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the University of Calgary. The Life Sciences Innovation Hub was established to support turning advanced research into commercial ventures and is designed to incubate 20 to 40 life sciences companies per year. A key element of the 127,000 sq ft facility is the 35,000 sq ft of wet and dry lab space to support research with a commercialization focus for both early-stage incubator companies, as well as growing and developing companies occupying their own space in the building.
Government Commits Venture Capital to Start-Ups
In an effort to create jobs and attract investment to Alberta’s tech sector, the provincial government provided Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC) with an additional $175 million to invest over three years. The funding is expected to help create up to 4,000 jobs in the province. AEC promotes the development of Alberta’s venture capital industry by investing in venture capital funds that finance early-stage technology companies. Since the organization’s inception, AEC has committed $198 million for investment to 19 venture capital funds and three early-stage angel co-investment funds. The third of these angel co-investment funds (Accelerate Fund III) was launched in May 2020 with $10 million in funding and expanded five months later to $15 million.
Emission Reduction Projects Receive Funding Commitment
More emissions reduction projects in Alberta will be possible with funding from the industry-supported Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system and the federal Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund (LCELF). Alberta has earmarked up to $280 million from the TIER system and LCELF to fund three Emissions Reduction Alberta programs that are expected to support around 5,000 jobs and cut an estimated 13 million tonnes of emissions by 2030 — the equivalent of removing about 4 million cars off the road. Projects can include technologies like carbon capture, utilization and storage, industrial energy efficiency and geothermal to help facilities lower emissions, create investment opportunities and cut costs.