Innovate Edmonton and Urban Living Futures are joining forces to work on a database platform and map of Edmonton's innovation ecosystem, which will aim to help local companies connect with customers and investors.
The Edmonton Great Innovations portal, EDGI, "will provide innovation ecosystem members with personalized dashboards to maintain their organization's profile, view emerging commercial and funding opportunities, and log their progress and achievements," a press release explained.
"Mapping the innovation ecosystem allows us to better see who is working on what solutions, which solutions target global mega-trends and global challenges, what the needs of the ecosystem may be, and to see what funding opportunities might exist - creating connections for innovators, investors and potential strategic partners," Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren told Taproot.
While there have been other attempts to map the ecosystem, like A100's recent initiative to generate a graphic of Edmonton companies or Start Alberta's mapping initiative, Warren explained that this current project is crucial to moving forward.
"Technology to map the system has evolved, we have willing and able partners to help us make it happen, and it is critical for us to get current data collated and out to the world," she said.
"There are companies and groups doing impressive, ground-breaking innovation work in our community and we don't want to miss any of them - we want to build the best mapping system we can to show off our community's innovators - big, small, tech, and other."
Warren also said she believes that initiatives like the Start Alberta project and EDGI are complementary.
"Where the Start Alberta project is primarily tech-focused, and links Alberta-wide ecosystem partners, the EDGI platform is specifically Edmonton-focused, but more broadly defined beyond tech to innovation of all stripes, and incorporates more than scaleup and startup community members that may be innovating," said Warren, pointing to emerging and established innovators, investors, and those who support the ecosystem through programs.
A work-in-progress capture of a portion of the map the A100 is creating to map Edmonton's startup ecosystem. (Courtesy of A100)
When asked about why this is Innovate Edmonton's next step, Warren explained that the city's innovation sector needs to map its strengths and develop this data to be competitive in the global marketplace.
"The type of real-time data a dynamic digital mapping tool provides is part of how we ensure that our community has the opportunity to advance on the global stage," she said.
"Investors want to know what opportunities exist ... and want to work in a dynamic system with the opportunity to collaborate and collide with others who are doing incredible work. This allows the ecosystem to see itself in action. It allows us to better craft programs and supports, and it allows us to work with policymakers on needs for ecosystem boosting."
Innovate Edmonton plans to host a learning webinar in the next couple of weeks, and those interested can sign up on its website.
The pilot will not cost Innovate Edmonton any money for the time being, as both entities have agreed to a no-cost pilot licence for the platform as a development partnership.