UpRow bags second Inventures win

UpRow bags second Inventures win

· The Pulse

UpRow, an Edmonton-based app marketplace that assists newcomers, won a pitch competition on May 31 at the Inventures conference by Alberta Innovates in Calgary. It's the second win for UpRow at Inventures in as many years.

"Between last year and this year, we have grown a lot — we've made some really big, significant strides," company founder and CEO Kelise Williams told Taproot at the event. "We have launched the second version of our app, we are onboarding new partners, and we're really extending our reach."

Williams and her company got $10,000 in the Tech Triathlon: Quantum + AI + IoT track of the main Inventures pitch competition. Last year, UpRow was one of five winners in The51's HerStory competition at the conference.

UpRow was the lone Inventures winner from the Edmonton region in 2024 across six main pitch tracks and five ancillary tracks. "I'm happy that there was at least one," Williams said, through a laugh.

The closest to taking a win was one young innovator in the ancillary Student Pitch Competition. MacEwan University's Sujit Velmurugan came second for his marketing automator, Workflow. Meanwhile, Aryan Panchal of InterviewPal from the University of Calgary placed first. Though based in Blue Sky City, Panchal is basically an honorary Edmontonian because of his time working with AltaML and that company's ongoing advisory to his interview-coaching startup.

UpRow was joined in the Tech Triathlon: Quantum + AI + IoT track by bio-sensing company Fringe Field Technologies.

Edmonton also-rans in the Inventures pitch competitions included iClassifier, Golu Hydrogen Technologies, Standard Field Systems, and Wound3, as well. Nanoprecise served as an alternate.

On May 30, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi joined Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a conference forum to speak about civic government's role in innovation. "I want to talk about why some folks are not in this room, how our society excludes people," Sohi, a former newcomer to Canada, said. "Innovation is about people. If people's capacity to innovate is not built, then society suffers … We have a fundamental responsibility (with) the programs that we provide to unlock their potential."

Sohi's remark was somewhat prophetic for Williams's win a day later, given her work with UpRow is also focused on unlocking potential. "When newcomers settle quicker, we all benefit," she said. "The quicker we can get newcomers into their dream careers, the quicker they can contribute back to society."

Williams will next travel to London Tech Week as part of a delegation by Edmonton Global, Calgary Economic Development, and the province. Inventures returns to Cowtown in 2025. Taproot will continue coverage of Inventures in this week's roundup newsletters.

Photo: UpRow CEO and founder Kelise Williams won $10,000 from the Inventures startup pitch competition. (Colin Gallant)