Much celebration was witnessed on Nov. 21, 2014, when the Hon. Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, came to the TEC Centre in Edmonton’s Enterprise Square to announce funding to TEC Edmonton and Innovate Calgary for two major initiatives that can justly be expected to influence the economic future of Alberta.
The Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program, part of the Government of Canada’s Venture Capital Action Plan, has allocated $6 million over five years for TEC Edmonton to set up and run the TEC Health Accelerator and for Innovative Calgary to do the same with its Kinetica Ventures.
The small-to-medium sized technology-driven enterprises ((SMEs) that will be helped, Minister Ambrose said, were “the beating heart of the Canadian economy: 98% of our businesses are SMEs, nine of 10 jobs in this country are created by SMEs.”
The TEC Health Accelerator will assist promising startup health-care companies throughout Alberta to grow. Kinetica Ventures will work with new companies with technologies applicable to the provincial energy sector.
The Government of Canada, to encourage innovation and productivity within small to medium sized Canadian technology-based companies, turned to the country’s leading business incubators/accelerators and asked for proposals to best put the $100 million allocated to the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) to work.
A joint proposal was submitted by TEC Edmonton and Innovate Calgary through the University of Alberta, to build on the strengths of each region and agency.
Because of health research commercialization at the University of Alberta, TEC Edmonton has expertise in building health-care companies.
Innovate Calgary is highly experienced working with energy-based new technology companies.
Both organizations are not-for-profit, Innovate Calgary a partnership between the City of Calgary,the University of Calgary and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, TEC Edmonton being a joint venture of the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta.
The Alberta partnership was rewarded $6 million over five years from the NRC-IRAP administered CAIP program, split between the two partners.
At the Friday press conference, Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions CEO Cy Frank announced a provincial consortium
will co-develop with TEC Edmonton, Innovate Calgary, BIO Alberta and other partners a sustainable Health Small-to-Medium Enterprise innovation strategy for the province with specific services to be delivered by TEC Edmonton. The strategy, CEO Frank said, will help build a health-care industry eco-system ‘second to none.’”
City Councillor Michael Oshry announced further funding would be coming from the City of Edmonton, through the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, to ensure the success of the TEC Health Accelerator.
“Health care is one of the last sectors not being completely disrupted by technology,” remarked EEDC CEO Brad Ferguson. “We all know it is coming, and it’s exciting (through the TEC Health Accelerator) to be a part of it.”
TEC Edmonton CEO Chris Lumb reviewed the on-going collaboration and partnering between the two Alberta city-based business incubator/accelerators, leading to the joint CAIP funding proposal.
Each technology-based incubator/accelerator has “deep expertise in specific sectors”, Lumb said. The partnership will bring that specific expertise to startup companies throughout the province.”
Both Lumb and Innovate Calgary’s Henry Kutarna are confident this seed capital will produce excellent results down the road.
The CAIP funding, Kutarna said, will be the “a spark to ignite” the growth of new, world-leading energy technology companies from Alberta.
In the health-care industrial sector, Lumb predicted, in 10 years time, that Alberta should be a leading region in the world for health-care companies.
“We’re already good,” he said, “but by 2024 we’ll be way further ahead than we are now.”