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Author: Emily Rendell-Watson

Beamdog: a business with ‘unimaginable’ potential for global reach

Trent Oster, chief executive officer and co-founder of Beamdog. (Photo by: Emily Rendell-Watson) 

The growth of the global video game industry continues to outpace many traditional industries. The ability to develop local talent and draw people in from around the world has helped spark the development and growth of a number of gaming companies in the Edmonton metro region.

“Video gaming is a truly diverse industry,” says Trent Oster, chief executive officer and co-founder of Beamdog, one of the largest game studios in Alberta. “We are a strong exporter, and we’re diversified — 95 plus percent of our sales are outside of Canada,” he says, explaining that they’ve sold games to people in all but two countries.  

The Edmonton-based company of close to 60 people is known for remastering popular role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment for desktop and tablets. 

Planescape: Torment

“The gameplay itself, the length, the hard coded rules … is the same. Everything around that is changed: how it plays sound, how it sets up the video screen, how it displays graphics, how it does everything,” Oster says. 

And it’s paid off — Baldur’s Gate is so popular that it has been translated into 19 languages.  

Baldur’s Gate

“We actually did a Turkish version by working with people in Turkey out of the fan community. They helped us translate it and get the game represented there,” Oster says. 

Beamdog is currently actively developing its own original game and there are about half a dozen other potential concepts the team is working through. 

According to GamesIndustry.biz, the global games market was valued at close to $150 billion by the end of 2019 and is poised for continued growth. Oster worries about how the provincial government’s move to remove the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the Alberta Investor Tax Credit will affect game studios in Alberta, but thinks the industry as a whole is still poised for continued success. 

“It’s currently one of the largest forms of entertainment on the planet … the potential for growth is unimaginable. It’s going to be feeding so many other industries going forward,” says Oster. 

‘A gateway’

Oster views working in game development as “a gateway” to the augmented reality and artificial intelligence industries. Especially in artificial intelligence, the Edmonton metro region has a significant competitive advantage. The University of Alberta ranks among the top five institutions in the world for AI research, is a national leader in high performance computing, and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) is helping turn that expertise into practical industry applications – including in the gaming industry. 

“If you look at fields that require a lot of concentration on high performance computing, performant code, user interface and user attraction optimization — video games is right in the mix,” says Oster. 

He explains that the skills his team has in visualizing and interacting with large datasets will be invaluable for the next generation of AR and AI companies. 

“You put augmented reality plus artificial intelligence together and we’re going to be able to do amazing things with computers,” Oster says. 

“I can’t imagine an industry that won’t be impacted by it.” 

Greg Zeschuk – a modern renaissance man

It’s mid-morning on a Tuesday and Ritchie Market at 76 Avenue and 95 Street is bustling. People are lined up to order pour-overs from the coffee bar. The bakery does a brisk business in pastries. Butchers break down fresh meat. A pleasant din rises from tables in a central open area and the adjoining restaurant, Biera.

Greg Zeschuk owns the market, Biera and Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, the market’s anchor. As he arrives, sporting jeans, a t-shirt and a salt-and-pepper beard, several people greet him by name. 

“I don’t come in and feel excessive pride or anything. I just kinda go, ‘OK great, it’s busy, back to work.’ I kind of have a relentless pursuit for the next thing,” Zeschuk says.

His modest demeanour belies a sensational career: Zeschuk is the co-founder of famed video game company BioWare, and is a retired family doctor with a medical degree from the University of Alberta. In 2018, Zeschuk was named a member of the Order of Canada, the nation’s top civilian honour.

His foray into brewing began with The Beer Diaries, a YouTube show he hosted while living between Edmonton and Austin, and running Bioware’s Texas studio.

“I’d met a lot of the brewers and entrepreneurs that were making beer, and I really fell in love with the concept of it. It was a very creative and dynamic field.” 

By 2007, Zeschuk and co-founder Ray Muzyka had sold Bioware to Electronic Arts (EA), one of the world’s largest video game companies. They both exited BioWare in 2012 and remain in Edmonton.

“I thought, if I’m staying, I’m going to do something fun,” he says. He knew he wanted to build something, and was intrigued by small, neighbourhood breweries he’d seen in Denver and elsewhere, and by the piazzas of Italy.

Ritchie Market came together in a “complex, organic manner,” Zeschuk says. Local, independent businesses heard what he was doing and signed on. It opened in spring 2017.

On this Tuesday morning, Zeschuk is still pumped from the recent launch of Blind Enthusiasm’s latest beer, Measure of Patience. Around 200 people lined up to sample the offering – a barrel-fermented sour beer nearly five years in the making. It spent a year in Sicilian Marsala barrels and six months in the bottle prior to its release.

“It comes out as a more acidic, more wine-like beer. It’s a rare thing, and what’s different for us is, it’s our primary thing, all these unique barrel-aged, barrel-fermented beers,” says Zeschuk.

“The idea of having high-end food with really fine beer is in a handful of places across North America. We’re doing stuff that you would typically find in Toronto, or Chicago, or New York. It shows what you can do here.”

Despite Zeschuk’s technical background, Blind Enthusiasm is an artisanal endeavour.

“There are automation systems that can make 100 times the amount of beer we make in a year in one day, and never touch any ingredients, but that defeats the purpose from our perspective.”

As an example, he points to the Measure of Patience label. “This cutout doesn’t come out right all the time, so sometimes we manually take it off with a razor and place it on again. Stuff like that, which is not good from a business perspective, but it’s part of the love of the process.”

The success of the brewery and the market are intertwined. Zeschuk’s creative streak has tapped into a community ethos hungry for public space to embrace collectivism, and beat back isolationism.   

He’s noticed more regular customers – young and old – and a spinoff effect in the neighbourhood that he hopes will expand to other parts of the city.

“At least a couple hundred people showed up to get this beer on a Sunday in Edmonton. That wouldn’t have happened five years ago. It kind of makes you realize hey, there’s great potential.”

Hiring: Marketing and Communications Strategist

Opportunity

Edmonton Global is seeking a marketing and communications strategist to help develop and execute its digital marketing strategy, regional communications, and social media presence.

Responsibilities

Reporting to the Director, Marketing and Communications, the Marketing and Communications Strategist will be involved in all aspects of promoting and protecting Edmonton Global’s reputation by assisting in the development and execution of strategies and plans for brand building/innovation/corporate promotions, regional and corporate communication initiatives.

 Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Persona Development – collaborate in developing personas to aid the investment and trade team, the innovation and strategy team, and Edmonton Global as a whole in understanding target audiences and targeted marketing and communications
  • Journey Mapping – develop and maintain journey maps for personas to help direct the flow and priorities of marketing and communications activities
  • Web content and SEO – develop content for Edmonton Global’s website and social channels that support SEO goals
  • Social media – collaborate in developing and implementing Edmonton Global ‘s social media strategy
  • Email marketing – collaborate in developing and implementing an email marketing and segmentation strategy for Edmonton Global
  • Media development – support the development of multiple forms of media (photography, video, maps, etc.) for use across platforms including collaboration with partners on content creation and usage
  • Events – participate in the creation of events and activities that advance Edmonton Global’s brand awareness and engagement
  • Project management – coordinate the design and production of materials for Edmonton Global, which may include brochures, displays, one-pagers, info graphics, and swag
  • Metrics and reporting – track and prepare reports on Edmonton Global’s marketing and communications KPIs
  • General – participate in the activities of Edmonton Global (we’re a small shop and everyone chips in)

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Activities will be added or removed dependant on priorities, capacity, and the incumbent’s interests.

Qualifications

The successful candidate will be adaptive, fast-paced, incredibly passionate, hardworking and embody Edmonton Global’s corporate values: integrity, collaborative, empowered, transformative, and invested. The following skills, experiences and aptitudes will also be required.

Education and Experience

  • Undergraduate degree or diploma, ideally with a focus on marketing, public relations, or business
  • Minimum 2 years of related experience creating or executing marketing and communications plans
  • Experience with developing or executing both inbound and outbound digital marketing strategies including social media, content marketing, and audience segmentation
  • Experience with graphic design is considered an asset
  • Proven analytical and critical thinker, comfortable with finding innovative solutions to problems
  • Proven track record of collaboration on initiatives, hitting goals, succeeding in a high performing team environment and delivering to tight deadlines
  • Experience working with stakeholders within the international/economic development sector an asset
  • Experience working with or coordinating contractors and freelance content creators
  • Fluency in languages beyond English is highly desired

Skills & Knowledge

  • A highly adaptive and dynamic individual comfortable working in a start-up organization, willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to execute Edmonton Global’s Strategic Plan and mission
  • Ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams, consultants and external stakeholders
  • Demonstrated ability to write, edit and analyse reports, and convert into action
  • Ability to be innovative and imaginative in solving problems
  • Ability to communicate clearly in face to face meetings and build consensus
  • Ability to work independently and manage competing priorities with tight deadlines
  • Experience working within the Adobe Creative Suite of products and WordPress is highly desired

Behavioural Competencies

  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent oral & written communication skills
  • Results driven
  • Creative
  • Flexibility/adaptability to change
  • Teamwork/cooperation

Work Conditions

  • Travel may be required
  • Ability to attend and conduct presentations
  • Manual dexterity required to use desktop computer and peripherals.
  • ifting or moving up to 20 lbs may be required.
  • Normal hours will be 8:30 to 4:30, Monday to Friday, however, support for events, investor visits, and other initiatives will require occasional evening and weekend hours

Application Process

Please email us at aborman@edmontonglobal.ca noting “Application: Marketing and Communications Strategist” in the subject line, with your cover letter and resume attached by January 24, 2020. 

In your cover letter, show us: 1) your personality – we want to know you’re not a robot (and if you are a robot, why you’re a special robot!); and 2) why you’re the right fit for Edmonton Global and this position at this time. We want to know your experience and specific track record that makes you the right person for us.

We thank all applicants for their interest but only short-listed applicants will be contacted. If you have questions about the process or the position, please filter them through Amanda Borman at aborman@edmontonglobal.ca.

Edmonton Global is an equal opportunity employer and we value the diversity of people and communities. We are committed to an environment that is inclusive and barrier free. If you require accommodation during the hiring process, please inform us in advance to arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

Compensation Package

Edmonton Global provides a total compensation package including fixed annual salary and professional development, paid vacation, , shared premium health benefits, and RRSP matching contributions. The starting salary for this fulltime position is expected to be in the range of $40,000 to $45,000.

Hiring: Manager of Policy and Advocacy

Opportunity

Edmonton Global is seeking an experienced Manager of Policy and Advocacy to lead the organization’s competitiveness work and execute strategies that effectively influence governments and institutions to adopt policies and practices that will increase the region’s, the province’s and the country’s competitiveness for foreign direct investment and export. 

The manager of policy and advocacy will be a strategic thinker and a thought partner for leaders throughout the organization.

Responsibilities

Reporting to the VP, Strategy & Innovation, the Policy & Advocacy Manager provides leadership for, and oversees the planning, development and implementation of Edmonton Global’s policy and advocacy programs; to monitor legislative and public affairs developments, to conduct research on competitiveness, public policy and global best practices; and to develop and coordinate advocacy strategies in collaboration with partners and stakeholders.

Responsibilities included, but are not limited to:

  • Research and Policy Work
  • Monitor legislative developments at the local, provincial and federal levels and provide substantive briefs and strategic analysis to inform staff, board and partners on issues that relate to Edmonton Global’s mandate and our global competitiveness
  • Conduct research into public policy that relates to best practices for FDI attraction and export promotion, write reports and make recommendations for removal of policy barriers or policy change to increase our global competitiveness
  • Provide expert advice to leadership as needed.
  • Advocacy
  • Lead the strategic development and implementation of Edmonton Global advocacy initiatives, ensuring Edmonton Global can respond to strategic opportunities and influence the development of relevant provincial, national and international practices and policies.
  • In collaboration with the communications team, lead the creation of a range of communications tools and tactics that enable Edmonton Global to achieve advocacy objectives.
  • Collaboration and Relationship Building
  • Collaborating with Edmonton Global’s partners and allies on policy matters, organizing coalitions and joint efforts where strategic.
  • Building and maintaining strategic relationships with governments officials, public policy experts, NGOs and other key partners critical to success of Edmonton Global’s competitiveness and advocacy goals

Qualifications

The successful candidate will be adaptive, fast-paced, incredibly passionate, hardworking and embody Edmonton Global’s corporate values: integrity, collaborative, empowered, transformative, and invested. The following skills, experiences and aptitudes will also be required.

Education and Experience

  • Undergraduate degree (MBA or advanced degree an asset)
  • Minimum 5-8 years of related experience
  • Experience with public affairs, public policy and research (communications, stakeholder relations experience an asset)
  • Proven analytical and critical thinker, comfortable with finding innovative solutions to problems
  • Proven track record of leading initiatives, hitting goals, succeeding in a high performing team environment and delivering to tight deadlines
  • Experience working with stakeholders within the international/economic development sector an asset
  • Experience working with and managing consultants and external teams

Skills & Knowledge

  • A highly adaptive and dynamic individual comfortable working in a start-up organization, willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to execute Edmonton Global’s Strategic Plan and mission
  • Ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams, consultants and external stakeholders
  • Demonstrated ability to write, edit and analyse reports, briefing notes, and policy documents
  • Ability to be innovative and imaginative in solving problems
  • Ability to communicate clearly in face to face meetings and build consensus.
  • Ability to work independently and manage competing priorities with tight deadlines

Behavioural Competencies

  • Self-motivated
  • Oral & written communication skills
  • Results driven
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility/adaptability to change
  • Teamwork/cooperation

Application Process

Please email us at aborman@edmontonglobal.ca noting “Application: Policy and Advocacy Manager” in the subject line, with your cover letter and resume attached by January 21, 2020. 

In your cover letter, show us: 1) your personality – we want to know you’re not a robot (and if you are a robot, why you’re a special robot!); and 2) why you’re the right fit for Edmonton Global and this position at this time. We want to know your experience and specific track record that makes you the right person for us.

We thank all applicants for their interest but only short-listed applicants will be contacted. If you have questions about the process or the position, please filter them through Amanda Borman at aborman@edmontonglobal.ca.

Edmonton Global is an equal opportunity employer and we value the diversity of people and communities. We are committed to an environment that is inclusive and barrier free. If you require accommodation during the hiring process, please inform us in advance to arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

DeZURIK opens Rapid Fulfillment Center

DeZURIK Opens Rapid Fulfillment Centre in Leduc To Provide Industrial Valves to Alberta Facilities

SARTELL, MN – DeZURIK, Inc. announced the January 6, 2020 opening of a new 15,000 sq. ft. Rapid Fulfillment and Service Centre in Leduc, Alberta, Canada. The new Rapid Fulfillment and Service Centre will inventory a variety of valves, actuators and accessories required to meet the needs of facilities in the oil sands and mining industries of Alberta. In addition, the facility will offer full repair and rebuild services.

“We are very pleased to welcome DeZURIK, a leading industrial valve supplier to the oil sands industry, to the City of Leduc,” says Leduc Mayor Bob Young. “DeZURIK chose our community to invest in for its Alberta Rapid Fulfillment and Service Centre, and we are honoured to be part of this exciting chapter. DeZURIK has been exemplary in developing this project, and the city has been happy to work with them on getting the business up and running quickly and efficiently.”  The new DeZURIK Rapid Fulfillment and Service Centre is located at 7610 42nd Street, Unit 7-8 Leduc, Alberta, Canada T9E 0B5; telephone 780-465-3110.

DeZURIK valves are successfully applied on slurries, oil sands, process fluids, corrosive media/acids, steam, water, air and dry solids applications. Popular valve styles include the ASME Class Severe Service Knife Gate Valve, Urethane Lined Knife Gate Valve and the Extended Service Knife Gate Valve. In addition, DeZURIK also manufactures top-quality eccentric plug valves, high performance butterfly valves, resilient seated butterfly valves, rotary control valves, rubber flapper check valves, and air valves.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide next-level service to our customers in the Alberta province,” said Bryan Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer of DeZURIK, Inc. “Our mission is to apply our exceptional flow control expertise to the development of vital industrial infrastructure, and the opening of this Rapid Fulfillment Centre is an additional way we can meet the needs of our customers through expedited delivery.” he said.

DeZURIK, Inc. is a market leading valve manufacturer in the industrial and municipal markets, that include the DeZURIK, APCO, Hilton and Willamette brands. DeZURIK was founded in 1928 and is headquartered in Sartell, Minnesota. Granite Equity Partners, a St. Cloud, MN based private investment firm that governs and grows companies in Greater Minnesota, is the majority owner of DeZURIK, Inc.

For more information, please contact:
Jean Dockendorf, DeZURIK @ 320-259-2277                                               

Update: EY Report on EEDC, Edmonton Global, and Tech Innovation

This afternoon, the EY report on EEDC, Edmonton Global, and Tech Innovation was presented to Edmonton City Council. The report’s recommendations were approved earlier this afternoon.

Edmonton Global supports the direction taken by Edmonton’s City Council in response to the EY report. The recommendations considered across the innovation ecosystem will breathe new life and fresh energy into this important sector. This is very positive. 

Edmonton City Council is reinforcing Edmonton Global’s responsibility for international trade and investment. This will add clarity for investors, international partners, and local businesses.

The following motions were put forward by Councillor Hamilton and supported with a 12:1 vote in favour:

That Council approve the recommendations as generally outlined in the EY report, and further:

A.      That Admin develop a recommended structure and governance, including a change management plan, for a distinct entity with a clear mandate to advance the innovation ecosystem within Edmonton, in consultation with relevant agencies, stakeholders and partners, including EEDC, and return to Committee for public input on the recommended model in Q1.

B.      That Admin create a change management and resource plan to consolidate and appropriately resource the City’s business retention and expansion functions, and return to Executive Committee March 16, 2020.

C.      That the Mayor, on behalf of Council, request an Edmonton Global Shareholder meeting be called in the new year to discuss ensuring adequate resources are in place to fulfill, and potentially enhance, Edmonton Global’s foreign direct investment and trade functions in the region.

D.     That Admin bring budget adjustments in spring of 2020 to reallocate budget to align with the above and realize any efficiencies gained over the medium term.

The ultimate purpose of Edmonton Global is to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region – to harmonize efforts and our story, and to be globally relevant and prosperous for generations to come. No organization can do that alone. 

We believe that City Council has shown considerable leadership on this and we are committed to work collaboratively on building a new framework capable of facilitating transformative change.

Edmonton Global

Contact:

Chris McLeod, MBA
Director, Marketing & Communications
+1.780.499.4517
cmcleod@edmontonglobal.ca

EY Report on Economic Development and Innovation

Earlier today, the City of Edmonton released a report from EY regarding Edmonton Global, the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and Tech Innovation.

Edmonton Global’s comments on the report:

  • The report reinforces Edmonton Global’s mandate: regional foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade.
  • Edmonton Global supports changes that add clarity to the investor community, to our partners around the world, and to businesses within our region.
  • Global competition for investment is incredibly fierce. Right now, international investors and local businesses are uncertain about who does what. Uncertainty has a cost.

The ultimate purpose of Edmonton Global is to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region – to harmonize efforts and our story, and to be globally relevant and prosperous for generations to come. No organization can do that alone. We believe that City Council is showing considerable leadership on this and we are committed to working collaboratively on building a framework capable of facilitating transformative change for our region. These are complex and important issues. Decisions shouldn’t be rushed.

We will support Edmonton City Council’s decisions on next steps and continue to work collaboratively with partners across the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.

The EY report is available on the City of Edmonton website (http://sirepub.edmonton.ca/sirepub/agdocs.aspx?doctype=agenda&itemid=75630).

Edmonton Global will be available for comment on the report once Edmonton City Council has completed its deliberations and a path forward is identified.

Edmonton Global

Contact:

Chris McLeod, MBA
Director, Marketing & Communications
+1.780.499.4517
cmcleod@edmontonglobal.ca

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