It seems like overnight Alberta has emerged on the global scene as a heavy-hitter in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, with a strong cluster of innovative startups powered by these technologies. Alberta’s transforming tech ecosystem might be different than you would expect. While energy and industrial technology are ongoing pillars, the province is also deep in software-enabled startups, with SaaS enterprises accounting for 40% of the province’s dealflow (according to the Alberta Enterprise 2018 Tech Deal Flow Study of 1,238 tech startups).
Alberta’s tech landscape has a distinct female presence with a remarkable 30% of tech startups being founded or co-founded by women – more than double the Canadian national average. This is according to the 2017 Move the Dial Benchmark Report, which cites that only 13% of companies have a female co-founder, and only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a solo female founder. Alberta’s strong female tech founder and co-founder representation of 30% also shines in comparison to the US national average of 17%, as reported by Crunchbase’s 2017 Study of Female Founders.
Additionally, Alberta’s tech ecosystem is bolstered by its highly educated workforce, as well as its proximity of several well-respected academic institutions with longstanding R&D reputations and abundant expertise in Energy, Life Sciences and Artificial Intelligence. Curious young minds and mega corporations alike are flocking to the University of Alberta’s Artificial Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) to be closer to the world-class experts in reinforcement learning and natural language processing (NLP).
Furthermore, the opening of Google Deep Mind’s first North American office in Edmonton, Alberta was not by coincidence. The concentration of AI talent and strategic corporate labs is spurring a new wave of innovative startups. 34% of Alberta technology firms are already integrating AI into their offerings, and this number is expected to increase exponentially (according to the Alberta Tech Deal Flow Study).
Meanwhile, programs like the Creative Destruction Lab Rockies, based out of the Haskayne School of Business, are welcoming Energy and Prime (industry agnostic) Startups for the 2019/20 cohort. Eager for the exceptional mentorship and opportunities to raise capital, the program has received over 430 applications for the 50 available spots from around the globe. Companies that have participated in the CDL program have raised over $14 million (CAD) in seed funding. CDL-Rockies Alumni include Ingu Solutions Inc., SensorUp, Neuraura, Zept, and Vivametrica – find more CDL companies in the Crunchbase Hub.
Alberta’s startup ecosystem is rapidly gaining momentum, and global investors are taking notice. With twelve funds now with offices in Alberta (four of which also have offices in Silicon Valley), the growing venture capital industry is prompting increasingly impressive raises and exits. One such example is Drivewyze, which secured CDN $20 million from investors, including Alberta Enterprise’s VC fund Inovia Capital. Here are a few more examples of recent VC activity for Alberta startups:
A flurry of mergers and acquisitions have also taken place recently in Alberta, including a CDN $1.1 billion exit for Solium, a publicly traded SaaS company headquartered in Calgary recently acquired by Morgan Stanley.
2019 has started off with great momentum with several notable VC deals taking place in Alberta.
Early Stage (Angel and Seed):
Series A and Series B:
StartAlberta is a free and open source dealflow directory that provides an ideal medium for international investors to connect with Alberta entrepreneurs and identify investment opportunities. A new strategic partnership between StartAlbertaand Crunchbase expands Alberta’s richest database for the startup community – giving Alberta entrepreneurs even greater exposure to national and international investors. Under this partnership, StartAlberta’s database will be directly linked to Crunchbase – which reaches over 50 million investment professionals worldwide.
The StartAlberta platform is stewarded by the Venture Capital Association of Alberta (VCAA), with the express mandate to connect investors to a diverse pool of startups, fostering connections that otherwise could not be made.