Summit-bound CEO sees promising future for Edmonton region

· The Pulse

A Sherwood Park-based business leader is headed to Germany this week with a delegation of young entrepreneurs eager to put energy transition and supply-chain security on the agenda of global leaders.

Chelsey Reschke, CEO of Voran Group Ventures, is one of 47 Canadians attending the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance summit in Hamburg from Oct. 27 to 28. The summit is "an incredible opportunity" to share with leaders of the G20 nations "what they should be thinking about to help enable young entrepreneurs to do better and to be more successful," she told Taproot.

Voran Group manufactures and distributes Canadian-made antimicrobial solutions. One such product is Bacoban, a disinfectant cleaner that the company has licensed from Germany. It recently obtained Health Canada's clearance to claim a SARS-CoV-2 kill time of 30 seconds, putting it on a list of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19. The company has customers in the aviation industry and is ready to scale up to sell across Canada and eventually the U.S.

Voran also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Calgary's Biosenta to explore commercializing its Tri-Filler anti-microbial products, which can be used in manufactured building materials. Reschke puts the market for low-cost filler at about $60 billion per year. "And we have the ability to substantially transform that market through bringing this unique Tri-Filler product to market successfully."

That's just the beginning of what Reschke hopes to accomplish with Voran Group, and the Edmonton region is a great place to do that from, she said, given the logistics and transportation infrastructure available and the proximity to talent at the University of Alberta.

Beyond her own business, Reschke sits on the board of directors of Alberta Innovates and she considers herself "an unofficial champion" of Alberta's Industrial Heartland. The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line and the Hydrogen Centre of Excellence are signals that the region is poised to seize "a key opportunity of our lifetime to really build out a world-class centre for carbon capture utilization," she said.

"We're right here, front row, watching all that happen from Sherwood Park," she added. "And so I don't foresee any need for us to move for a very long time (as we) see a lot of interesting projects and global players come to Edmonton and Calgary and Alberta."

A portrait of Chelsey Reschke

Chelsey Reschke joined Voran Group Ventures in August 2020 to help the company become a leader in the development and commercialization of advanced antimicrobial solutions. (Supplied)

The Edmonton region offers Voran Group strong infrastructure for logistics, Reschke said, citing the Edmonton International Airport and the road network connecting Strathcona County to the rest of Canada. Meanwhile, the University of Alberta is graduating "incredible scientists" and there's plenty of support for health sciences, she added. "So I think that we're looking at a pretty strong talent pool right here close at home, where we don't have to go to the other side of the country to find key leadership for our business."

A lot of Canadian manufacturing moved south of the border through acquisition during the pandemic, which created gaps in our ability to supply people with high-demand products such as disinfectant sanitizers, she said. Voran wants to fill the gap.

"I think we're well-positioned to garner some attention because there's such a shortage right now," she said. "We need to strengthen Canada's ability to manufacture."

Addressing global supply chains will likely be part of the discussions in Hamburg this week at the YEA summit. Delegates will put together a communiqué on the theme of "harbouring peace and sustainability through entrepreneurship" that will be shared with the leaders of the G20 nations before they attend the G20 Leaders' Summit in Indonesia in mid-November.

Reschke's fellow Alberta delegates are Chad Midnight of Aqueduct Water Systems, Jordan Hanna of Linked Digital Services, and Lorne Blesse of Kiwetin Clothing. The delegation was assembled by Futurpreneur, a national non-profit that provides financing, mentorship and support for aspiring business owners between the ages of 18 and 39.

Hear more from Chelsey Reschke on Episode 35 of Bloom, Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton, to be released on Oct. 27.