Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s deal flow report for 2021 identified that 3,083 high-tech companies were operating in the province, an increase of a whopping 149 per cent over 2018.
Alberta’s vibrant and growing tech sector is involved in the development of products and services in the areas of artificial intelligence, big-data analytics, virtual or augmented reality and geomatics, which is the collection, analysis and interpretation of geographic data.
While Calgary hosts the majority of these firms, Edmonton is home to one of the most globally recognized machine-learning and artificial intelligence research hubs in the world (Amii).
Success in the global market is only possible when companies have access to resources for ideation and through all stages of a company’s growth, including product design, marketing and capacity building. Alberta provides programs and grants to support the commercialization of Alberta-based technology companies.
Right now, the world is waiting to know how smart data can revolutionize medical research — especially in the throes of COVID-19 and its variants. That technology is being developed in Alberta right now. It may feel as if it’s the stuff of science fiction, but it will be a major driver of employment in the years to come.
This province is fertile ground for start-ups. According to AEC, 40 per cent of companies still at the “start-up” stage are earning annual revenue of $1 million or more.
High tech means high stakes in Alberta.
Number of technology companies in Alberta
6.3 PER CENT
of Alberta’s total job count is accounted for in the clean technology sector
Cleantech companies in Alberta
Amount of venture capital investment that companies in Alberta’s technology sector attracted in 2020.
Sources: Government of Alberta, Alberta Enterprise, University of Alberta, Calgary Economic Development
No Water to Waste
It can take about 200 days for waste-water to be treated. But the Town of Sundre, located 100 kilometres northwest of Calgary, is undertaking a project that could see water be treated in about an hour.
The Alberta government has contributed $7.5 million to the construction of an electrochemical wastewater plant, which is set to open in 2022. Only treated water will be released, meaning a major reduction in pollutants released into the nearby Red Deer River.
The process separates the water from the sludge. That sludge will then be made into pellets, which can be used as fertilizer.
And it only takes about 60 minutes for water to be processed through this electrochemical system.
“I am excited to see the results of this project, which is the culmination of years of hard work by local officials to provide needed wastewater treatment services while ensuring protection of the pristine Red Deer River,” said Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon when the funding was announced.
You Are Here
Located just 18 kilometres west of Calgary, the town of Cochrane is attracting start-ups by building facilities meant to improve the quality of life of those living in the area.
Garmin, the global technology giant that’s famous for creating GPS systems, is headquartered in Cochrane and is already employing hundreds in the municipality. To further demonstrate its commitment to economic development, the town will see the completion of a transit and innovation hub in 2022, The Station at Cochrane Crossing, that will improve the downtown experience and transportation links.
The $4.85 million project will offer connections to local and regional transit services. It will feature office space, including spots for a start-up/business incubator program. Space is available for a larger “innovation centre” that could be built next to the Station, but the town has put those plans on hold for the moment, opting instead to have this tech hub located within the new development.
The town’s economic development plan states that an incubator provides “opportunity for innovators, investors and mentors to connect, collide, create conversions and develop businesses.”
Billions Starts With “A”
Remember when Amazon started off as an online bookshop? Yeah, it’s hard to remember back that far, now that the Amazon brand is not only ubiquitous with online retail, but with television program-ming, web services and even space travel.
The global giant is betting big on Alberta, as it has announced a planned investment of over $4 billion in a Calgary-based centre for the Canada West arm of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business.
According to information provided by Amazon, the $4 billion “includes capital expenditures on the construction of data centres, operational expenses such as ongoing utilities and facility costs, and purchases of goods and services from regional businesses.”
The new Calgary data centre is expected to be up and running by late 2023/early 2024.
“This major investment from AWS again demonstrates that Alberta is establishing itself as a dominant player in digital technology and innovation,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.