Alberta’s Tech Boom
The province’s rise on the tech and innovation scene
When it comes to tech and innovation, Canada as a country has been recognized as a leader. In recent months, big cities such as Toronto and Montreal have been heralded as innovation hubs. Yet Alberta is one province that is leading the way in AI, big data and healthcare.
Health & Research
Innovative health technology is poised to become a key economic driver for Alberta’s economy.
There are innovative startups, such as Wello, a virtual healthcare service that provides 24/7 on-call support. Mehadi Sayed’s company Clinisys was founded in 2011. He was recently approached by Microsoft with a deal to advance the field of cloud-based electronic medical records. The company now operates across four provinces.
At the centre of the health innovation movement is Health City, which is comprised of individuals working in the private and public health, economic and technology sectors. The organization works towards leveraging local expertise and supporting homegrown businesses.
In Alberta, there is no shortage of cutting-edge research facilities. Edmonton is home to the headquarters of the Alberta Health Services (AHS), the country’s largest province-wide, fully-integrated health system.
Dialog, Stantec and PCL are collaborating on a new $1.4 billion cancer care facility and academic centre in Calgary. The Calgary Cancer Centre will become the largest cancer treatment and research facility in Canada and the second largest in North America. It is scheduled for completion in 2024.
For close to two decades, InnoTech Alberta has operated a successful research and development (R&D) program on cannabis. The program provides support to Canada’s hemp industry, including the testing of new varieties, hemp processing research and development of new products. Testing for moulds, bacterial contamination, pesticides and heavy metals takes place at the Bioanalytical Laboratory in Vegreville.
The recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada is expected to create more research and development opportunities in this field.
World-Class Institutions are paving the way
The province of Alberta benefits from a highly skilled talent pool, with the highest proportion of people working in natural and applied sciences and related jobs in Canada. Universities are a driving force behind health innovation, as the province boasts world-class medical programs.
This year, The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing was named second in Canada in the latest Maclean’s rankings of Canadian universities. The school is recognized as a leader in life-sciences research. According to the magazine’s survey of best programs, a number of the school’s other programs placed in the top five: biology, business and environmental sciences, engineering and mathematics.
The University of Calgary has the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) Rockies, a mentoring and financing program for massively scalable science-based companies. The program began in 2012 at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and, since its inception, more than 1,000 founders representing more than 500 companies have participated in the program.
The AI Revolution
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one area in which Canada is excelling, and the Canadian Government offers its strong support to keep the country at the forefront of this field. This includes the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, a $125 million commitment to help retain and attract top AI talent and companies that use AI.
The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) is one of Canada’s three centres of excellence that was established through this strategy. Located in Edmonton, the Institute works in the areas of AI, human-machine interaction, medical imaging and robotics. Since its inception in 2002, more than 200 technologies have been created, including algorithms, architectures, theories, methodologies, approaches and applications. The institute is home to Dr. Richard Sutton, one of the global leaders in AI.
The world has been taking notice. In 2017, Google announced the opening of DeepMind Alberta, its first international AI research centre. One of the world’s leading AI research companies, DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014. Other major companies such as Uber, Amazon and Microsoft are looking to Canada as a viable option.
Although the country is gaining international recognition, we have an abundance of homegrown talent and benefit from support and collaboration.
Edmonton, Alberta is the future home of the 2019 SingularityU Canada Summit. Join us on April 23-24 as we celebrate tech and innovation in Alberta and across Canada. Tickets are on sale now!