Business beat followups: Downtown, development, and dog treats

· The Pulse

Just because a story is written doesn't mean it's over. Here are some updates on business stories we covered in 2022:

Downtown daycares in danger of succumbing to pandemic (Jan. 14, 2022)

The original story: The prolonged closure of downtown offices due to the pandemic was making it increasingly difficult for daycares in the heart of the city to stay open.

Then what?: The provincial work-from-home mandate expired in early March, and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association was expecting 70% of downtown office workers to return by the end of 2022, based on a survey it commissioned. But workers did not return at the expected pace, and downtown office vacancy exceeded 11% by the end of the third quarter. Even if they had returned, the EDBA survey indicated that the availability of downtown childcare was not key to most workers' decisions on whether to return to the office. It's All About Kids Daycare, which was featured in Taproot's story, has indeed closed.

Sprout Fund II nears $10M target to put into seed-stage tech companies (Jan. 21, 2022)

The original story:'s Sprout Fund II was nearing its $10-million target, with plans to invest in B2B software-as-a-service companies in Western Canada.

Then what?: The firm announced the first close of the fund in May. "We expect to see even more growth in the quality and quantity of high-quality startups in (Western) Canada as a result of the maturing of our ecosystems and the launch of major accelerators in Alberta," partner Shaheel Hooda told Betakit. The fund went on to invest in B.C. startups LetHub, Swede, and Frontly, followed by Victoria's Care2Talk in June, and it participated in Truffle's $2.3-million round in July.

Future Fields co-founder Lejjy Gafour joins CULT Food Science (Feb. 2, 2022)

The original story: Lejjy Gafour left the Y-Combinator-backed Future Fields to join CULT Food Science, an investment platform working to advance cellular agriculture.

Then what?: In December, CULT signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alberta and New Harvest to establish the Institute of Cellular Agriculture. This followed the launch of Open Cell Agin June. Meanwhile, co-founders Matt and Jalene Anderson-Baron have shifted Future Fields towards sustainably creating growth factors for all kinds of science, including but not limited to cellular agriculture, using its fruit-fly-based EntoEngine platform. Nobel Prize laureate Michael Houghton joined the board in August.

A downtown daycare play area, four partners in, a portrait of Lejjy Gafour, a carbon capture facility, a dog looking at a treat dispenser, two women wearing VR headsets

Catch up with the rest of the story on downtown daycare,'s investments, cellular agriculture, carbon capture, a popular gadget, and VR for HR.

Tax credits for carbon capture expected to fuel development around Edmonton (April 8, 2022)

The original story: The federal budget included $2.6 billion in tax incentives over five years to companies using carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), which was expected to boost several projects in the works in the Edmonton region.

Then what?: In June, Capital Power partnered with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group and Kiewit Energy Group on a front-end engineering and design study for the Genesee carbon capture and sequestration project west of Edmonton. In October, Alberta Carbon Grid secured an agreement to move to the next phase of the carbon sequestration evaluation process on a 900,000-hectare parcel of land north of Fort Saskatchewan. Edmonton Global published a piece on CCUS innovation in the region, and the Carbon Capture Canada convention is returning to Edmonton in September.

Ventrify rides high on client's crowdfunding success (April 20, 2022)

The original story: Product design company Ventrify was ecstatic about a client's successful crowdfunding campaign for a dog-treat dispenser that it helped develop, and was looking forward to coordinating the manufacturing.

Then what?: Vancouver-based Tails Design ended up raising just under $70,000 on Kickstarter and almost $72,000 on Indiegogo. The devices arrived in late December and the company is preparing to fulfill orders. Ventrify is now working on the SilentWakeUp by Chancellor DePaul, an alarm clock with a difference that also had a successful Kickstarter and is about to start manufacturing.

AlignVR helps employers get real by going virtual (July 14, 2022)

The original story: AlignVR, a spinoff of escape-room company vrCave, was looking to get more business leaders and HR professionals aware of the power of virtual reality to make better hiring decisions and build teams.

Then what?: AlignVR was accepted into the second cohort of Plug and Play Alberta's accelerator in the sector-agnostic stream. At the Expo Day in November, the company presented its technology for measuring soft skills to big corporations looking for innovation. Meanwhile, vrCave was part of the revived Game Discovery Exhibition at K-Days.

For ongoing updates on business in Edmonton, subscribe to the Business Roundup.