AltaML has received a Deloitte Fast 50, Companies-to-Watch award. The award spotlights emerging companies that exhibit strong growth and show potential to be a future candidate of the Technology Fast 50 award. It includes new companies headquartered in Canada that are demonstrating superior technology, effective management experience and common traits of Deloitte Technology Fast 50 award winners.
The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program is Canada’s pre-eminent technology awards program.
“We’re extremely proud to recognize this year’s Companies-to-Watch winners, not only to celebrate their early-stage growth in these uncertain times, but also their staggering potential moving forward,” said Erica Pretorius, partner and national leader for the Technology Fast 50 program at Deloitte Canada. “These outstanding companies demonstrate tremendous courage, the ability to take calculated risks, and notable skills to exploit opportunities. They are key to the future success of the technology sector.”
Headquartered in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, AltaML helps business leaders understand how applied artificial intelligence can redefine competitive advantage and develop powerful software applications that create efficiencies, mitigate risk and drive revenue. Their goal is to impact 1 billion decisions by 2030.
AltaML has grown rapidly and has expanded from their headquarters in the Edmonton region to include offices in both Calgary and Toronto. Their Co-CEOs, Nicole Janssen and Cory Janssen, credit a long-term view to relationships with industry partners and a commitment to delivering exponential value through applied AI with the company’s early-stage success.
“The opportunity for AI is now, so we knew we had to grow fast,” say Cory and Nicole. “To scale our AI experimentation and to mitigate technical risk we built a platform that allows us to work across industries with a vast range of structured and unstructured data. From Edmonton we expanded to Calgary to consolidate regional strengths in AI talent and corporate offices, and from there we grew to Toronto as a first step toward becoming a national company.”
AltaML is working with businesses from a variety of sectors to help solve business problems including healthcare, financial services, energy and agriculture.
“AI is a key strength that exists in the Edmonton Metropolitan Regions,” says Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global. “It’s a horizontal enabler that can have a huge impact on all industries and any organization that has a large amount of data. These tools can even be applied to traditional sectors to improve business functions and expand traditional business models.”
AltaML has completed over 50 projects with over 30 companies. Announced partnerships include PCL Construction, AIMCo, DynaLife, Williams Engineering, Kleinfelder, ProtXX, Food-X, as well as Suncor, ATB Financial, Spartan Controls and TransAlta, the four founding industry partners of the AltaML Applied AI Lab.
As AltaML continues to grow, Co-CEO Cory is adamant that the Edmonton region is still the right place for them to be headquartered due in large part, to the talent pool that exists here.
“Edmonton is the absolute best place in the world to start an AI company,” said Cory. “This might actually be the only place in the world that has a surplus of data scientists.”
Edmonton region company’s product named top ingredient & ranked fasted growing
What began as a struggling start-up in the Edmonton Research Park is now one of Edmonton’s fastest growing companies, with a five-year growth rate of 1,378% and a ranking from Canada Business magazine as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies for the 3rd consecutive year.
BioNeutra is a company that is focused on both the research and development, and the production of ingredients for nutraceutical, functional and mainstream foods – and it’s one of the region’s success stories. In fact, their VitaFiber IMO sugar alternative, has just been named the world’s top beverage ingredient by FoodBev, a leading food and beverage industry publisher.
Dr. Jianhua Zhu, founder of BioNeutra, came to Edmonton in 1998 as a visiting professor at the University of Alberta. While Jianhua’s original intention was to return to China after completing his appointment at the University, he decided to stay and began his career as an Edmonton-based entrepreneur. “Before coming, I didn’t know where Edmonton was,” says Jianhua, “but I knew about the University of Alberta because of its strong reputation outside of Canada.”
Jianhua has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top Immigrants on the Royal Bank of Canada’s Top Immigrant List in 2018 – and for good reason.
Jianhu comes from a family of doctors and has always had a passion for helping people improve their health. After working as the senior scientist for two Edmonton-based biotech companies, Jianhua decided it was time to take a risk and launch his own company and he felt that the Edmonton Metropolitan Region was the perfect place to do it.
“This is an entrepreneurial region,” said Jianhua. “There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit.”
Starting a business requires support and while Jianhua knew the science behind his products was solid, he first needed to find the money to commercialize his idea – and while he was ultimately successful in securing the funding he needed from friends, family, and academic associates – it wasn’t easy. As Jianhua says, “You can’t imagine how many presentations I made.”
One investment from a fellow professor for a sum of $5,000 particularly humbles Jianhua. “He told me, ‘I might never see this money again, but I believe in you,’” remembers Jianhua.
After raising the necessary capital, and securing some initial government grants, Jianhua founded BioNeutra in 2003. In 2012 it first became profitable and has steadily grown over time with The Financial Times, recently including it on its list of the fastest 500 growing companies in the Americas. BioNeutra’s 135% three-year growth rate earned them the 364th place on the exclusive list, joined by other recognizable companies such as Tesla, Netflix, and Uber
Needless to say, BioNeutra is not a start-up anymore.
BioNeutra continues to build on their success and has developed patented processes to leverage manufacturing technology to produce a range of nutraceutical products that function as a sugar replacements. Nutraceuticals are part of a large and growing market in natural health products representing $16.4 billion annually in Canada alone. Nutraceuticals have demonstrated exceptionally high growth globally with a compounded 10% year over year growth from 2010-2018.
BioNeutra’s innovative processes have led to them receiving a number of other coveted titles and awards, including the ASTech award in 2017 for Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology.
BioNeutra sells its products worldwide in markets such as the U.S., EU, India, and SE Asia, and is doing it all from the Edmonton Metro Region. Its award-winning product, VitaFiber is made using a patented process that naturally and enzymatically converts starch molecules from plant-based starches such as pea or tapioca into healthy, functional molecules. The conversion process does not involve any chemical modification making VitaFiber a natural food and beverage ingredient which has been authorized for sale by the world’s top health regulatory bodies
Recently they’ve also secured a spot as a finalist for 2020’s Alberta Business Awards of Distinction. “We have a lot of community, government, and industry support from Edmonton,” says Jianhua. “Combine that with the innovative nature and abundance of agricultural material, we have everything we need right here.”
New report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force Builds on Previous Finding that Canadian Hydrogen has a Market Potential of up to $100 Billion a Year.
Released November 16, 2020, the new report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force lays out a roadmap for how to implement a hydrogen as fuel economy in the Greater Edmonton Region. The Task Force was organized by The Transition Accelerator and led by Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur, Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and Lamont County Reeve David Diduck. With the release of its report, the Task Force has completed its mandate. The final report is available to read here.
Titled “Building a Transition Pathway to a Vibrant Hydrogen Economy in the Alberta Industrial Heartland,” the report has found that the Greater Edmonton Region is well-suited to become Canada’s first hydrogen node, defined as an initiative to accelerate the development of a regional hydrogen economy that can later be connected to other nodes across the country to achieve sufficient scale for a vibrant Canada-wide hydrogen economy. In particular, the region is a good place for Canada’s first node because of its access to low-cost natural gas, existing experience in hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage, a vast network of pipeline infrastructure, a large talent pool of engineers and tradespeople, and engaged industries, governments, First Nations and university and college academics. The report also complements the Government of Canada’s upcoming hydrogen strategy and the Government of Alberta’s recently released Natural Gas Vision and Strategy, which lays out a future vision for Alberta hydrogen production, use and export.
Among the main findings in the Task Force’s report are that heavy transport and heating are key to building demand for zero-emissions hydrogen. For instance, heavy-duty commercial and municipal vehicles such as fleets of trucks and buses are vital to creating demand in the region because they use large amounts of fuel and travel the same routes every day, requiring the construction of only a limited number of strategically-placed fueling stations. Heating residential and commercial buildings could also drive demand, as hydrogen can be blended with natural gas to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The report recommends that this demand for hydrogen be met through centralized large-scale hydrogen production potentially moved through repurposed abandoned or discontinued pipelines, which are crucial to reducing capital costs and reaching both key transportation corridors and neighbourhoods. Government investment may be required in the short-term, but the objective of the node is to drive the implementation of a hydrogen economy where the scale of supply and demand ensures that the full economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen will be realized without sustained public investment.
The Task Force’s report is supported by findings from a recent Transition Accelerator report, which establishes hydrogen as a vital component of Canada’s future clean energy system and the fuel of choice to decarbonize heavy freight, shipping, planes, space heating in cold climates and heavy industries such as steelmaking. The Transition Accelerator’s report also projects that Canadian hydrogen has a wholesale market potential of up to $100 billion a year, factoring in both domestic earnings and international export opportunities, and reveals that hydrogen can be made in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland for about half the wholesale price of diesel.
“Hydrogen will be a critical part of the future clean energy system, and the race is on to innovate value chains and business models to implement a vibrant Canadian hydrogen economy,” said Dan Wicklum, CEO, The Transition Accelerator. “Canada’s low-cost hydrogen offers a significant competitive advantage, and convening groups like the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force to implement regional hydrogen economies across Canada will allow us to join global leaders.”
“The synergies our region possesses through industry expertise, our educated and skilled workforce, carbon capture and storage and a supportive municipal alliance puts Alberta’s Industrial Heartland at a great advantage to build Canada’s first hydrogen node,” states Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “It’s a win-win not only for Alberta, but one that will reap many benefits for Canada nation-wide as the world continues moving toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re ready.”
“The natural resources, pipelines, talent, leadership, and innovative spirit that made Alberta an energy powerhouse are the same aspects that will allow us to be a leader in the clean energy future,” said Mayor Don Iveson, City of Edmonton. “The regions that figure out how to quickly scale up the use and production of hydrogen as a fuel will win economically and environmentally in a quickly changing world.”
“Alberta’s government applauds the work of the Alberta Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force in exploring the enormous potential of large-scale commercial hydrogen production in the province and for creating a well-thought out roadmap on how hydrogen could be integrated into our economy,” said Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity. “We have the resources, talent and experience to reap significant long-term economic benefits from this clean-burning fuel source, and we need to be ready to leverage them in the coming years. We are proud to partner with the Task Force on their work, which will be invaluable as we build our province’s roadmap for advancing a strong and profitable hydrogen economy.”
“We’re a vast country, and when it comes to producing hydrogen, there are advantages in every region,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This announcement is great news for Edmonton. This is how Canada will lead a global hydrogen economy.”
For a full list of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force members and advisors, click here. To read the Task Force’s final report, click here.
Edmonton-based companies MACH32 and Andau Medical bring to market an aerosol containment device to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure for healthcare personnel and patients.
Canadian Innovators at MACH32 have vowed to build better protection for healthcare personnel as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. The Public Health Agency of Canada acknowledged last week that the COVID-19 virus is spread through aerosols, small droplets which linger in the air. As a result, the risk to healthcare personnel and patients is higher than originally anticipated and greater precautionary measures are needed. MACH32 says negative pressure patient isolation for high risk procedures is the key to making hospital environments safer.
Dr. Marc Curial and the MACH32 team have developed a device called the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT). The ACT is designed to create a negative pressure zone around a patient’s head during critical airway procedures such as intubation and ventilation. “Airway procedures are the most high-risk procedures for exposure to aerosolized COVID-19 particles,” says Dr. Curial. “The ACT needs to become the standard for care in hospitals now and after this pandemic for all aerosol-generating procedures.”
The ACT device uses negative pressure and a HEPA filter to contain 99.97% of particles, rather than allowing the particles to escape into the surrounding environment. It is the only portable device on the market that enables clinicians to perform procedures while the patient is under negative pressure, providing an additional layer of protection to healthcare personnel.
In partnership with Edmonton-based medical device distributor Andau Medical, MACH32 is actively pursuing adoption in hospitals across Canada. While negative pressure isolation rooms are widely used in healthcare, the ACT provides portable, patient-specific negative pressure isolation that provides healthcare personnel with equivalent or better protection at a fraction of the cost.
“Clinicians performing high risk aerosol generating procedures are better protected when procedures are performed under negative pressure,” adds Sandi Wright, Founder & CEO of Andau Medical. “PPE is not enough, and we need to think beyond face masks to keep our health systems functional and the risk to healthcare personnel and patients as low as possible.”
Healthcare facilities impacted by COVID-19 infections and exposures lead to staff shortages and procedural delays. Staff exposure leads to loss of resources, increased overtime and staff burn-out. “We no longer have to risk delaying or cancelling elective procedures,” says Dr. Curial. “I’m proud of my dedicated team for rising to the COVID challenge and building this innovative solution.”
MACH32 Inc was founded in 2019 by Dr. Marc Curial and Chris Terriff, P.Eng, two Edmonton-based entrepreneurs intent on developing practical solutions for the healthcare market. MACH32 is a start-up company, determined to create safe, reliable, and functional tools to save lives in urgent situations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea for the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT) was rapidly designed and developed to protect healthcare personnel from infectious aerosols. MACH32 product portfolio also includes drug-delivery systems for pre-hospital trauma care.
About Andau Medical
Andau Medical is a Canadian Medical Device and Dental Device company focused on providing the market with quality technologies that improve patient outcomes and enhance the clinical experience in delivering exceptional patient care. With expertise in sales, marketing, regulatory and distribution Andau Medical actively collaborates with manufacturers who have unique products that drive value in the delivery of patient care in Canada. The ACT is a Catalyst4care Project.
Affordability and high salaries – a major draw for attracting top tech talent
Edmonton has been earning high marks when it comes housing affordability in a number of recent reports.
RBC Economics recently released its Housing Trends and Affordability Report which ranks Edmonton as the most affordable in Canada among major housing markets. The study measured the percentage of the median household income needed to purchase a home. According to the report, Edmonton buyers need to spend approximately 29% of their gross income to afford an average home – that’s well below the national average of about 47%and significantly less than Calgary at 36%. Vancouver represents the highest amount of income needed to purchase a home at 75%.
“We’re seeing an influx of people returning to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region after moving away,” said Malcolm Bruce, Edmonton Global’s CEO. “Almost every day we’re hearing from individuals and businesses who were once based in the US, particularly the Silicon Valley and parts of Texas, who are returning to our region for quality of life, for high quality education and health care, but also because they want to build a life and a future where they can afford to lead a full and prosperous life.”
Another important, but sometimes overlooked piece to the housing affordability puzzle is how municipal processes, approvals, and charges affect housing affordability. In a recent report commissioned by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), Edmonton was ranked 2nd (1st among major markets) in its overall scorecard demonstrating that the city is leading in key performance indicators that affect both housing affordability and availability.
Housing affordability is key to attracting skilled labour into a region and a major part of the price is the cost to develop and build. Municipal processes, approvals, and charges all have a direct effect to the cost building housing. Often, inefficiencies and long processing times contribute to higher prices – ultimately eroding affordability – but Edmonton’s ranking demonstrates the region’s commitment to ensuring there is a stable and affordable supply of housing available for its residents.
The CHBA study compared 23 Canadian municipalities, examining how their processes, timelines, and fees contribute to housing affordability and supply issues and then assigned a ranking, showing which municipal governments are leading in which of the three pillars of the study—planning system features, approval timelines and government charges.
These rankings are useful tools for businesses who are looking to attract the skilled talent that they need – and there’s another piece of data that makes the Edmonton Metropolitan Region even more appealing from a talent attraction perspective – particularly when it comes to attracting skilled workers in the technology sector. According to a recent salary guide from Robert Half, a global human resource consulting firm, tech workers in the Edmonton region also benefit from salaries that are 1.5% higher than the national average of their counterparts. This means that employees who chose to relocate to the Edmonton region to work in its burgeoning tech sector enjoy the benefits of larger-than-average disposable incomes, contributing to a high quality of life, making it easy for companies to retain talent.
“Our low cost of living, including home ownership, combined with higher-than-average incomes make our region really attractive and super competitive,” added Malcolm. “While that’s great for employees, it still works out really well for employers too.”
Alberta’s corporate tax rates are among the lowest in North America and the Edmonton region is consistently ranked among the top 10 communities in North America for affordability of tech talent. “Especially for firms selling products into the US and other foreign markets – the Canadian dollar can enhance a company’s bottom-line by a good 30% and in today’s world that’s a significant advantage.”
A new program to turn Alberta into a top global producer of petrochemicals is launching with an aggressive industry-driven strategy to spur long-term international investment and thousands of jobs to the province.
The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP), part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, will help attract billions in petrochemical project investments and continue to diversify the province’s economy while drawing directly on our abundant reserves of natural gas. The goal is to aggressively compete with several jurisdictions across Asia, the Middle East, and those in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, many of which also offer similar incentives for petrochemical manufacturers, to become a global destination for petrochemical investment.
“Today we’re adding another incentive to Alberta’s already world-class opportunities for petrochemical development. On top of our existing petrochemical producers and all the companies that feed in and support them, we have a multi-generational supply of natural gas, an experienced workforce, and one of the lowest tax rates in North America. By launching this program, Alberta moves towards achieving the goal of becoming one of the most attractive investment opportunities for petrochemicals in the world.”
Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity
The program is one of the key pillars of the Natural Gas Vision and Strategy, which outlined the province’s goal of becoming a top global producer of petrochemicals. According to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, there is an opportunity to grow Alberta’s petrochemical sector by more than $30 billion by 2030, resulting in more than 90,000 direct and indirect jobs over the construction and operations of new facilities, and more than $10 billion in revenue for the Government of Alberta from corporate and personal income taxes.
To encourage additional investment in the sector, Invest Alberta and Alberta international offices will be courting petrochemical companies and investors by highlighting the many benefits of investing in Alberta’s growing petrochemical industry. Alberta’s industrial associations are also doing their part, working with current members and leveraging contacts within the petrochemical industries to share the opportunities available. Hydrogen-producing facilities will also be eligible for APIP, ensuring continued interest from investors in the province’s nascent hydrogen economy.
“Diversifying our energy industry is key to ensuring Albertans will have good-paying jobs and careers to get excited about in the future. Alberta has the potential to become a major player in low-carbon hydrogen and sustainable plastics production, but we’ll only get there if we have a competitive edge over other jurisdictions. Petrochemical companies have dozens of factors to consider when choosing where to invest, and we’re putting together a winning formula to ensure Alberta is at the top of their lists.”
Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation
APIP offers a direct financial incentive on new petrochemical or fertilizer facilities, or on expansions to existing ones. High-level details include:
Once a project is up and running, companies that have successfully applied will receive grants worth 12 per cent of their eligible capital costs.
The grant will be issued in the final step in the process, ensuring that only projects already built and employing Albertans receive funds.
Prior to the grant, companies will need to show their project meets the program requirements by detailing the scope and expected cost of the project.
The application window for small projects (between $50 million and $150 million in capital costs) will be open for five years. Applications for larger projects will be open for 10 years.
“The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program is a meaningful incentive program that will strengthen Alberta’s value proposition for large-scale petrochemical investments. As Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region and a critical partner in Canada’s energy future, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is focused on capturing a potential $30 billion in new, diversified, value-add investments by 2030. As an investment attraction tool, APIP will increase our region’s competitiveness and enhance our ability to attract petrochemical investment projects that diversify Alberta’s economy.”
Mark Plamondon, executive director, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association
“Low-cost, low-carbon and abundant – Alberta’s natural gas and natural gas liquids make it a global player in industrial chemicals manufacturing. The Alberta government recognizes this potential and the Petrochemicals Incentive Program goes a long way to level the playing field with other jurisdictions competing for new investment. The opportunity for growth in this sector exists in the province and that is good news for jobs, new global-scale investment, and Alberta’s economy.”
Bob Masterson, president and CEO, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada
“We have heard directly from companies that they have been looking at Alberta for greater chemistry investments, but that we are also competing with the best locations around the world. The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program helps to provide the necessary incentives to grow Alberta’s burgeoning petrochemical sector, which in turn will provide thousands of good jobs and sustainable economic growth while continuing to diversify our resource and energy sectors. I’m particularly excited that this program will incentivize hydrogen and fertilizer production. These are key growth and diversification opportunities for our province in a lower-carbon future.”
Adam Legge, president, Business Council of Alberta
“Alberta’s petrochemical industry competes globally with many other jurisdictions that are determined to bring new investment to their part of the world. This program will attract new value-added investments which will bring much-needed jobs and prosperity to the province. The Resource Diversification Council is confident that APIP will garner international attention and thanks the Government of Alberta for its collaborative approach in developing a meaningful and world-class investment attraction program.”
Denis Painchaud, executive director, Resource Diversification Council
“The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program will help bring much-needed investment to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, diversify our petrochemical sector, create jobs, and boost our economic recovery. This program is great news for our many energy producers, processors, fertilizer producers, and the construction and service companies who work closely alongside them.”
Janet M. Riopel, president and CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
Projects eligible for the program must have:
A minimum $50 million in capital investment
Consume natural gas, natural gas liquids or petrochemical intermediaries
Create new and permanent jobs in Alberta
Meet the federally set definition of a manufacturing and processing facility
There is no cap to the program, but the government will report on expected costs each fiscal year, based on applications received and projects approved.
Full details on the eligibility and requirements for projects are available on alberta.ca, where companies can also register to begin the application process.
Alberta is already among Canada’s largest hubs for petrochemicals manufacturing, and global demand for petrochemical derived products is expected to continue increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the continued need for petrochemicals to support the development of personal protective equipment, plastic food packaging and cleansing agents. A growing petrochemical industry will continue to feed into these integral products.
Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefiting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth.
The program was developed based on best practices in competing jurisdictions, including several American states with large petrochemical industries. The program was also refined with the input of stakeholders and interested companies.
Alberta has the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada at eight per cent, and compares favourably with the lowest tax rates in the United States.
Alberta has one of the most established petrochemical industries in Canada, with potential growth in existing centres like Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, Grande Prairie, Joffre and Medicine Hat.
Every day, people around the world use dozens of products that are made with petrochemicals, including:
Medical supplies, such as computers for X-rays and MRIs and personal protective equipment, including disposable masks and gloves
Polyester fabric couches, HD televisions, phones, bicycle helmets, coffee makers and computers
Car tires, engine hoses, gasoline, radio components and AUX cords, and car seats
Desks, chairs, computers, carpets, cellphones and other office supplies
Food packaging that keeps food fresh and safe during transport and storage
According to the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, Alberta’s chemicals sector, comprised predominantly of petrochemicals, was valued at $12.1 billion and employed about 58,400 people directly and indirectly in 2019.
New networks seen as boon for attracting investment
Access to 5G networks is now available through a large part of the Edmonton region, allowing municipalities to leverage those connections and remain competitive in a global market increasingly turning to smart technologies.
Major providers like Telus and Rogers began connecting 5G infrastructure this summer and fall, beginning with Edmonton’s downtown core and recently expanding into surrounding municipalities like St. Albert, Leduc, and parts of Parkland County.
The fifth generation of broadband cellular networks promises faster connection speeds, up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, with a higher capacity for connected devices.
Accessing that kind of connectivity is crucial to attracting and expanding investment in the region, according to Edmonton Global’s vice-president of strategy and innovation, Lynette Tremblay.
“Broadband is critically important for a basic level of access across communities, but 5G is that next generation of connectivity, speed, access reliability, and it just takes it to a completely different level,” she says.
Tremblay says establishing the region as a 5G leader would set it apart from other jurisdictions in Canada for investment as companies develop strategies for Industry 4.0, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that leverages automation and data exchange in manufacturing and industries.
“I think it’s all about future-proofing our economy,” says Edmonton Councillor Michael Walters, who has voiced his support for 5G exploration at council.
“(Albertans) have talked a lot about the viability and the success of our oil and gas industry as our primary economic driver,” he says. “But preparing for a different kind of world, where we’re going to have a different kind of economy, is even more important to me.”
Walters says innovation and technology can also be leveraged to help with the city’s corporate objectives: public engagement and safety, transportation, and developing resilience to climate change. He uses the example of 5G-enabled sensors monitoring temperature data in the river valley to respond to any potential fire hazards.
“5G offers the kind of speed and access to big data that really helps us make better decisions,” Walters says.
The speed and low latency of 5G is being touted as an important enabler of the Internet of Things, a term used when talking about objects with sensors that can connect people and environments in ways that weren’t possible until recent years.
Areas that could capitalize on the possibilities of 5G exist throughout the region, Tremblay says.
The city’s burgeoning technology sector can use 5G to develop machine learning and artificial intelligence that other companies can use for their operations. The Edmonton International Airport in Leduc County and the Villeneuve Airport in Sturgeon County could use the technology for its day-to-day operations and as a hub for innovation testing happening in aerospace, defence, and autonomous systems.
In more rural areas, Tremblay says 5G also enables crop and soil management and autonomous vehicles used in precision agriculture.
“It really does go beyond the downtown core of the city, and it’s relevant to the entire region and every sector,” she explains.
Mayor Gale Katchur says access to 5G is also important for the mid-size city of Fort Saskatchewan, the gateway to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. Light and medium scale industries can tap into that connectivity while operations centres in the energy sector can better monitor pipelines.
“With wireless communications and technology advancements, it’s really important that we are connected to the rest of the region and to Canada,” says Katchur.
In Stony Plain, where many residents commute to Edmonton for work, Mayor William Choy says 5G is another tool for telecommunication that has proven crucial during COVID-19.
“It just adds a little extra service and speed for our customers and residents that allow them to be more connected to the community and be able to provide work from home,” he says.
But 5G is only one part of a larger digital infrastructure. Karen Wichuk, chief executive officer of the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board, says it is working alongside Edmonton Global and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce to advance broadband as a critical utility.
“We also have to think about what is at the foundation of some of this, and that it’s ensuring that we think about connectivity and the capacity, specifically, at the heart of that broadband as a utility,” she says.
“That’s some of the work that we’re doing.”
Broadband speeds vary throughout the region, making some areas more competitive for businesses than others. A broadband situation report released in August recommends creating a regional strategy for how it should be developed in the future.
The report found that improving broadband connectivity across the region could increase GDP by up to $1 billion per year.
Direct consultation with Federal Minister Navdeep Bains identifies greater role for Canada’s leading cities/metro regions
The Consider Canada City Alliance (CCCA) has concluded its annual Fall meeting and announced a set of recommendations to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) activities for Canada’s leading cities/metro regions. Amongst the ideas shared with Federal Minister Navdeep Bains, the CCCA is advocating for a consistent and predictable funding formula for regional economic development agencies, a critical focus on the race for global talent as part of Federal FDI efforts and the necessity of including Canada’s leading cities as part of the nation’s economic recovery through strategic FDI efforts.
“Clearly, FDI investments land in cities and surrounding metropolitan regions,” said CCCA Board Chair Malcolm Bruce. “Over these past two days, the CCCA consistently advocated that Canada’s economic recovery requires a strong FDI focus on attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones and that the CCCA is the organization to do this in partnership with the Federal Government.”
In addition to meeting with Minister Bains at their Fall meeting, the CCCA also had extensive meetings with senior management from Invest in Canada and Global Affairs Canada that will lay the groundwork for joint FDI efforts in the remaining months of 2020 as well as a template for joint efforts in 2021. Leading this is the newly elected CCCA Executive Committee consisting of Chair Malcolm Bruce (CEO, Edmonton Global), Vice-Chair Dayna Spiring (President and CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg), Stephen Lund (CEO, Toronto Global) and Jens-Michael Schaal (Vice-President, Invest Ottawa) who will assist Niloo Boroun, CCCA Executive Director, in working with Federal and Provincial Governments to advance CCCA FDI goals and priorities on a global scale.
“The ideas shared with Minister Bains are of utmost importance to Canada’s regional municipalities and we are greatly encouraged with the overwhelmingly positive response from the Minister,” said Ms. Boroun. “The CCCA is fully engaged with our partners at Invest in Canada and Global Affairs Canada in pivoting Foreign Direct Investment to accelerate job growth and recovery for Canadians from coast to coast. We believe FDI will be a key economic driver over the next year which warrants a leading role for the CCCA and its members.”
The Consider Canada City Alliance (CCCA) unites 12 of Canada’s largest municipal regions – Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax – build a sustainable and globally competitive national economy built upon the collective strength of each member’s ecosystem.
As an established network of Investment Promotion Agencies from coast to coast, the CCCA works with national and international networks of partners to make Canada the preferred location for foreign investment and trade.
Entos Pharmaceuticals Working with Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation to Enable In-house Development and Manufacturing Capability
Entos is working with Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) to ensure secure supply of inputs for its vaccine production and the ability to expand its Edmonton facilities.
API has been providing Entos with enhanced capacity to support its growing team.
Entos Pharmaceuticals (Entos), a Canadian biotechnology company developing genetic medicines with its breakthrough Fusogenix nucleic acid delivery platform, is pleased to announce its work with Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation in enhancing its Alberta-based vaccine production capacity.
Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation is a Canadian not-for-profit institute focused on providing translational capacity for life sciences companies. With a broad expertise and a network of over 11 institutions and centers of excellence, API provides capacity for companies at all stages of the drug development pathway. API’s engagement with Entos started in May 2020, providing the rapidly growing team at Entos with enhanced space as they expanded their presence in Edmonton with the rapid development of their Fusogenix DNA vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2.
Entos is pleased to announce that API has now begun local GMP production of inputs for Entos clinical trial manufacturing, adding supply chain resiliency to Entos’ manufacturing platform components for the clinical and commercial production of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. This is the first step as Entos works with API to secure enhanced Canadian-based capacity including fill and finish for the local and global market as part of API’s broader security of supply facility development initiative.
“We’re thrilled to be working with API on this.” said John Lewis, CEO, Entos Pharmaceuticals. “Combined with our Fusogenix genetic medicines platform, we are developing a robust, cost effective pathway to produce millions of doses of our COVID-19 DNA vaccine as well as future vaccines and therapeutics.”
“We see Entos as a company with a very bright future,” said Andrew MacIsaac, CEO, Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation, “Working with them to enhance their efforts addressing the COVID-19 crisis is a very meaningful investment of energy and effort. The potential for our region and Canada, as we secure manufacturing resiliency with them, is tremendous.”
API is in the process of establishing a 40,000 sq. ft manufacturing plant in Edmonton that includes active pharmaceutical ingredient production and fill-finish capacity for sterile products to secure gaps in the Canadian pharmaceutical supply chain.
About Entos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Entos develops next generation nucleic acid-based therapies using its Fusogenix genetic medicines delivery platform. Fusogenix is a proteo-lipid vehicle (PLV) formulation that uses a novel mechanism of action to deliver nucleic acid, intact and unmodified, directly into the cytosol of target cells. The technology applies a wide range of therapeutic types including gene therapy, mRNA, miRNA, RNAi, and CRISPR. For more information, visit www.entospharma.com.
About Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation
Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) is a federally incorporated Canadian not-for-profit institute based in Edmonton, Alberta. API provides a wide range of services for industry and innovators who are pursuing the commercial development of life sciences discoveries. From GMP manufacturing to assays and analysis, API provide comprehensive pre-clinical and clinical development for companies on both a contract and capacity building basis.
Project Increases Data Accessibility While Maintaining Patient Privacy
The health innovation community has one more approach towards increasing the timely and safe utilization of health data thanks to a research project co-sponsored by Health City and the Institute of Health Economics (IHE) in partnership with Alberta Innovates, Replica Analytics, and University of Alberta. Unique in Canada, this project was initiated to provide insight into the value and validity of synthetic (simulated) data in health services research. The promising results have been submitted for publication.
Health City and its partners identified synthetic data generation as one approach to leverage the region’s capacity and partnerships in data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to fuel health system innovation. Synthetic data accurately simulates patient-derived datasets and, although generated from real world data, is not linked to the individuals from whom the data were derived. Because synthetic data contains no real patient health information, the datasets have the potential to be shared freely among investigators or those in industry without raising patient privacy concerns or contravening the Alberta Health Information Act. The project engaged the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta to ensure synthetic data can be used in a way that respects the privacy of citizens.
“It was important we demonstrate not only that we protect the data privacy of Alberta,” said Mark Diner, Director at Alberta Innovates, “but that the OIPC understands how the process works as well. Albertans must have confidence in game-changing, data-driven innovation.”
“Alberta has the largest regional health authority in Canada, and the opportunity to use data to drive improved health outcomes is immense. Complex healthcare datasets can support research, policy development, and quality improvement projects across the province, but we need advanced tools like synthetic data to make use of these data sets safely. Due to its complexity, the notion that synthetic data would be able to sufficiently capture and simulate real world data in Alberta was unlikely,” said Dr. Dean Eurich, Professor at University of Alberta. “Remarkably, I was somewhat shocked to observe the research results could be replicated with a fairly high level of precision within synthetic data. These synthetic datasets will be extremely beneficial for researchers to share data across jurisdictions. They will also allow academics and students easier access to health data and support more efficient training of the next generation of health data scientists.”
Demonstrating the viability of synthetic datasets creates further opportunities for innovators to work alongside the health system while preserving patient privacy. Creating further opportunities for health innovation to occur in Alberta is a component to driving economic development for the province.
“Better data analysis techniques lead to better healthcare. Synthetic data provides a safe way for talented data scientists from community, academia, and industry to work alongside the health system to drive improved health and validate novel solutions developed in Alberta for Albertans,” said Reg Joseph, CEO, Health City.
“Alberta has a rich repository of health data that can provide important insights to support improvements in health care and improved use of health care resources,” stated Dr. Chris McCabe, CEO of IHE. “Synthetic data is a promising way to address the challenges of using personal health data directly. We look forward to testing this out and providing lessons on how we can use it for improved health and economic benefit for Alberta.”
About Health City
Health City is a Canadian not-for-profit Corporation that works with clinicians, innovators, philanthropic organizations, and companies to develop new pathways of care that can drive better health outcomes and economic development in the health sector. Our focus is on transforming innovations from our health sector into solutions that have commercial application and global relevance, adopting them for impact locally and scaling them for export to global markets.
Institute of Health Economics (IHE) is a not-for-profit health research organization providing expertise to provincial and national stakeholders from the public and private sectors in evidence production, synthesis and application; economic analysis; and policy engagement. It was founded in 1995 on the belief that the best solutions to healthcare problems are the result of a collaborative approach, with all stakeholders at the table sharing insights and information in support of improved health outcomes and a thriving economy.