Edmonton is home to some world class post-secondary institutions, from the University of Alberta, known as one of the world’s top schools, to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) which offers a wide array of technical training. We also have a number of smaller respected schools like MacEwan, Concordia, Kings, and many more than can be mentioned here. Ensuring that we work with them as a City is one of my top priorities as a Councillor.
SUPPORTING ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH TEC EDMONTON
In addition to our post-secondary institutions, Edmonton is home to a burgeoning entrepreneurial scene anchored by organizations like TEC Edmonton, a not for profit business incubator that in 2014 was ranked as Canada’s #1 business incubator. TEC Edmonton works to partner with communities and young businesses to create a culture of innovation in Edmonton, putting our city on the map as the place to start a business, particularly of the technology-based kind. We are also fortunate to have organizations like our Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Junior Achievement, and Make Something Edmonton among many others. These all serve to create an Edmonton that does not lag behind in the new world economy but leads it.
TEC Edmonton works by first connecting with businesses and analyzing their companies to see if they can help. If not TEC Edmonton will recommend the organization to someone else. After that first step, TEC Edmonton builds a team to assess the needs of that company and from there works comprehensively to help accelerate that company’s plans. Their 5 year client outcome report serves as positive proof of the remarkable work that they have done. In 2011-12 TEC Edmonton worked with 77 clients and those clients had an annual gross revenue of $73.4 million. In 2015-16 they were working with 161 clients who had an annual gross revenue of $207.7 million. A quick scan of their client stories provides great insight into what they do for nascent innovation businesses in Edmonton.
BETTER SUPPORTS FOR INNOVATION
In 2016 I was privileged to be one of the judges for the TEC VenturePrize Awards. As a judge I had an incredibly challenging decision to make in determining the best among a raft of excellent start ups all based in Alberta. The winner of the DynaLIFE Dx Health Competition grand prize was MagnetTx Oncology Solutions, an amazing health innovation firm that has created a guided MR device that specifically locates tumours and can therefore use highly focused radiation to destroy it. This not only greatly increases the accuracy of radiation treatment, ensuring that patients aren’t overexposed and more importantly that the tumour is actually destroyed, but it also cuts treatments from 40-50 trips to less than 10. Amazing innovations like this need our full support as a City and a Province. However, MagnetTx has had difficulty breaking into Canada and has taken much of its business to the United States. If we are going to walk the talk on fostering innovation we need to become better supporters of innovations like this that will leave everyone better off.
By working with all of these aforementioned organizations, we as a City have adopted a reputation as an innovation economy, with terrific leadership from Mayor Iveson on this front. Partnering more deeply with our post-secondary institutions means that we provide more work experience and support for students while also providing top end City amenities for schools to keep them highly competitive. Working with our entrepreneurial organizations, providing more support in the form of financing and expertise among other forms will help keep our trajectory towards an innovation economy. Moving forward, I commit to championing further integration and to working with these organizations and our great city.