On Episode 43 of Bloom, Taproot co-founder Mack Male joins co-hosts Karen Unland and Faaiza Ramji to look back at some innovation-related highlights of 2022 and look ahead to 2023.
Alberta saw a record year of investment, with multimillion-dollar raises for Edmonton companies such as Wyvern, Aurora Hydrogen, DrugBank, Copperstone Technologies, Direct-C, and Truffle Systems, among others.
That's a decent crop and a significant achievement for the companies involved, said Male, but the amount of investment in Edmonton is dwarfed by that seen in other cities, noting the $185 million that went to Calgary's Neo Financial alone in 2022.
"On the one hand, it feels like Edmonton had a pretty good year in terms of fundraising — companies getting to the next stage, ideas becoming companies, and then startups becoming scale-ups," he said. "On the other hand, we're constantly behind Calgary and other cities ... If we compare ourselves to our past selves, we had a pretty good year in 2022. Maybe compared to other places, it was just OK."
Male also reflected on the huge impact that accelerators made in bringing more attention to local startups and helping them on their journey to the next stage.
"For me, this really was the year of the accelerators in Edmonton and in Alberta," he said. "We write about the cohorts for Propel and (Alberta) Catalyzer and all of them. There's a handful of companies that I've heard of in there, but there's lots and lots of new ones ... Maybe they're not investable, and they've got a long way to go still, but even just to know that that top of funnel is this rich is an encouraging sign from 2022 that I don't think we felt in the same way in previous years."
Looking ahead, Ramji wondered whether Canadian humility will serve local companies well as they seek investment in what is expected to be a tighter market in 2023.
"We want to wait until we have traction on something, or we have real value, and then we go after an investment," she said. "I think that investors are actually going to really appreciate that at this time ... It's always going to be a bet, but the more it can feel like a calculated bet, the better."
This is Ramji's swan song as co-host of Bloom, as she's stepping away to focus on ventures such as Field Notes. So don't miss your chance to hear her insights on nurturing startups and scaleups in 2022, as well as where things might go in 2023 on the Jan. 5 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.