Red Deer played host to the Canadian Finals Rodeo for the first time in 2018, marking the first of a 10-year run for the central Alberta city as the backdrop for the major national competition. The rodeo brings six days of pancake breakfasts, bucking broncos and live concerts. Along with the cowboys and cowgirls, visitors will now also find a group of eager entrepreneurs and start-ups looking for capital to grow their businesses at the Edge Investment Forum.
The inaugural Edge Investment Forum event took place in February 2019. A second event took place in conjunction with the Canadian Finals Rodeo in October 2019, and this new investment forum will coincide with the rodeo for the next eight years.
“The ultimate objective is to create a drawing platform for an international audience, so we’ve paired it with an activity that is authentically Canadian,” explains Pam Steckler, chair of Central Alberta Access Prosperity, a not-for- profit economic development organization focused on promoting growth in central Alberta.
In addition to timing the Edge Investment Forum with the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the location in central Alberta provides an opportunity to draw investors from the province’s two largest cities. Red Deer sits along Alberta’s main north-south highway, approximately equal distance from Calgary to the south and Edmonton to the north.
During the Edge Investment Forum, entrepreneurs present a seven-minute pitch to an audience that includes the business community, municipal leaders, angel investors and venture capital firms. Pitches come from a variety of industries and sectors.
“There’s anything from agriculture or tech-based to commercial and retail businesses. Anything that is unique and different and for which the entrepreneurs are looking for their next step,” says Steckler.
The Edge Investment Forum provides another setting for entrepreneurs to connect with resources to help take that next step. Both Startup Calgary and Startup Edmonton – not-profit organizations dedicated to growing the tech sector in their respective cities – put on pitch events; meanwhile the Banff Venture Forum has grown to be one of Canada’s biggest financing events since its beginnings in 1997.
In addition to generating investment opportunities, the Edge Investment Forum aims to connect entrepreneurs with resources and connect investors with each other to discover what opportunities are emerging in the province.
“The Edge is for businesses, entrepreneurs, municipalities and anybody else who is interested, because you never know who is going to be on that stage and what they may have to offer,” says Maureen Easton, manager of business development for Catapult Entrepreneurs, a business incubator and accelerator serving central Alberta.