Alberta’s more tech-y than you probably think

Last week, Alberta Venture published an article called “You’ll be surprised by the global influence of Alberta’s homegrown tech industry.”

That headline is actually pretty accurate, and though the article doesn’t delve very deep into Alberta’s tech industry, it showcases some great innovations. For most people who work outside of the tech industry in Alberta, they might not know that many tech successes have their roots in the province. I admit that I used to be part of this group when I first started working at The Agency. My first few months were not only a crash course in our clients, but also on the current players in the Alberta tech industry and how they got there.

The tech industry is often overlooked in Alberta. That of course is mostly due to the prominence of the energy industry in the province. However I have also found that even within Canada, our startup community is also overlooked – Canadian startups are almost always associated with Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver, or maybe Toronto or Montreal.

But the Alberta tech community’s influence does span far and wide. In the comments section of the Alberta Venture article, Sharon McIntyre lists several more success stories, particularly from Calgary: iStockphoto, CoolIT Systems, Chaordix (of which Sharon is the Chief Social Scientist), Dynastream, Palantir Solutions, and Benevity. In addition, Shawn Abbott of iNovia Capital holds an early patent on the USB key and helped pioneer CD-ROM locking technology. In Edmonton, startups like LoginRadius, Showbie, Innovative Trauma Care, and Granify have all found success on a global scale.

Alberta is also home to a vibrant startup ecosystem. Startup Edmonton, TEC Edmonton, Startup Calgary, and Innovate Calgary are just a few organizations that offer services to founders and early-stage startups. The A100, which is composed of tech veterans in the province, offers mentorship and support. Funding is also abundant in Alberta, with angel investors and groups like VA Angels, to venture capital groups like AVAC Ltd./Verdex Capital, iNovia Capital, Avrio Capital, and McRock Capital, investing in Albertan companies. Many of these VC groups operating in the province are thanks to the work of Alberta Enterprise Corporation, the government funded group that invests in Alberta-focused venture capital funds that finance early stage, technology start-ups in Alberta and beyond. The Government of Alberta also has resources for startups, from SR&ED credits, to a full research and innovation system in Alberta Innovates.

Alberta has long been regarded for the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. From the early pioneers of the west, to the self-made oil barons, Albertans have long been striking out on their own and creating new ventures. The Alberta Advantage is not just a tax break; it is a real entrepreneurial culture that draws founders to making this place their home. The tech companies in this province know that too.