Local tech sector welcomes 'massive gift' of new global accelerators for startup and scaleup businesses

· The Pulse
By Emily Rendell-Watson
in the Tech Roundup
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Edmonton's tech innovation community is welcoming the news of three new top global accelerators coming to Alberta, as well as a new pre-accelerator partnership between Innovate Edmonton and Platform Calgary.

Alberta Accelerator by 500, Plug and Play Alberta, the Community Safety & Wellness (CSW) Accelerator powered by Alchemist, and the Alberta Pre-accelerator, were announced on Sept. 23 as the successful candidates chosen for the $35 million Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program (Scaleup GAP).

Alberta Innovates, which is funding the accelerators in partnership with Innovate Edmonton, the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, and the provincial and federal governments, said in a news release that the accelerators would support entrepreneurs and startups at different stages with mentoring, networking, and access to capital. While the Alberta Accelerator by 500 will focus on seed-stage tech companies, the pre-accelerator will offer support to early-stage entrepreneurs.

Chris Lumb, the former CEO of TEC Edmonton which shut down in June 2021, said the new accelerators are a good addition to what was in place previously.

"(The accelerators) bring targeted mentoring to select companies, international exposure to high potential opportunities, and they highlight Alberta as a good place to build a company," Lumb told Taproot. "They also demonstrate a good partnership between the province and the two major cities."

"We are in a much stronger tech economy both here and worldwide at this time than there has been for over a decade," he said. "This means that promising Alberta companies will have more opportunity to raise funds and build international businesses. These accelerators, if delivered well, can help make that happen."

Startup Edmonton

(Startup Edmonton/Flickr)

Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN) co-chair Zack Storms was also pleased to see the news and called it a "massive gift for our local entrepreneurs."

"I've heard consistent feedback that one of the biggest gaps in our local programming is access to high-quality mentors and advisors that can help startups address very specific problems as they scale," Storms said.

He credited the City of Edmonton for providing $5 million in funding, suggesting that it "helped ensure Edmonton headquarters for at least some of the winning bids."

The accelerators are expected to create 270 new emerging technology firms, 6,000 new jobs, and $1.5 billion in technology revenue by 2030.

Despite these projections, Lumb expressed that new accelerators could and should have come sooner.

"The innovation systems in Calgary, Edmonton, and the province overall have been in flux for several years. These types of investments need consistent and common vision," he said.

Meanwhile, Storms acknowledged that while only time will determine the success of the new programs, it's important that the startup ecosystem is built from within.

"It is our job to build the startup community that we want. As entrepreneurs, we will now have direct access to top global accelerators at our doorstep – we all need to work to leverage those resources, expand our networks, raise our collective game, and build an awesome startup community for ourselves."