Calgary: Opportunity Knocks for Innovative Companies

In today’s uber-competitive world for investment attraction and economic development, a city needs world-class business and lifestyle attributes. In some cases, it also takes a final piece of the puzzle to complete a relocation or expansion that will be a catalyst for growth in a key sector.

The City of Calgary’s $100 million Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) is an important tool in the vision to be the city of choice in Canada for entrepreneurs to embrace technology to resolve global challenges: cleaner energy, safer food, better health and efficient movement of goods and people.

Funding is available to companies or institutions with projects that have potential to expand and diversify the economy of Alberta’s largest city. The priority sectors are identified in the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy and include, agribusiness, energy, health/life sciences, and transportation and logistics.

Calgary by the Numbers

• Incorporated as a City: 
 January 1, 1894
• Current Mayor: Naheed Nenshi
• Population (2016): 1,267,344
• Population Change 
 2011-2016: 13%
• Land Area: 826 sq. km
• Major Project Investment: 
 $24.3 billion
• Annual GDP per Capita 
 (2018): $83,490
• Median Household Income: 
Sources: Statistics Canada, 
Calgary Economic Development

Applications are assessed by a Board of Directors comprised primarily of local business leaders using criteria that includes innovation, as well as economic or social benefits. To date, eight organizations have been approved to earn up to $23.4 million in funding if they achieve pre-set metrics.

Finger Food Advanced Technology Group will receive up to $3.5 million in support to accelerate the incubation of advanced new digital technologies and ecosystems.

“There were many compelling reasons to open a technology centre in Calgary,” says Finger Food CEO Ryan Peterson, whose company will create more than 200 high-quality tech jobs in Calgary. “With the talent pool, appetite for growth, and partners like the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, it was the obvious city to launch our first advanced technology centre.”

OCIF support has also been used to retrain workers for careers in tech. NPower Canada opened its first location outside Toronto to provide tech training for underserved youth.

“There are few things as transformative for someone who is unemployed and underemployed as a chance to acquire the skills…to start a career in the tech sector,” says Jeff Davison, city councillor and a member of the OCIF Board.