Year in review: Police, proteins, packages

In 2023, Taproot reported on several stories that continued to evolve after we published them. Here are some updates:

Deeleeo offers same-day delivery to help local businesses compete (Jan. 10, 2023)

The original story: Deeleeo founder and CEO Jackson Payne told Taproot that he created the company to make the last mile of delivery for local merchants easier. Deeleeo had also been accepted into The Alberta Innovates Revenue Accelerator powered by GrowthX.

Then what? After progressing through several accelerators throughout 2023, Deeleeo now appears to have shifted its value proposition to same-day delivery that's both local and between cities. It is now operating in Calgary, Red Deer, Toronto, Vancouver, and Kelowna as well as in Edmonton. Over the course of 2023, Deeleeo made the top 20 for Startup TNT's Investment Summit VII and Investment Summit VIII. In September, Payne was a panellist with Prepr's 2023 Industry Future Challenge discussion on the future of retail. Asked what autonomous delivery will mean for the industry, Payne noted Deeleeo's merchants and consumers still value humans. "I believe there'll be a day when there's a lot of robots doing deliveries for a lot of non-perishable items that may be not as important to bring that personal touch," Payne said. "But there are a lot of deliveries still that a person doing them brings a lot of value, especially when that person has a great presence about them." — Tim Querengesser

Future Fields gets funding to scale fruit-fly-powered biomanufacturing (Feb. 23, 2023)

The original story: In February, Taproot reported that Future Fields had secured $15.1 million and was working to build the world's first production facility for recombinant protein derived from genetically engineered fruit flies in Edmonton.

Then what? In April, Foresight Canada named Future Fields the Venture of the Year at its first Alberta Cleantech Awards. "Cleantech is the present and the future," Future Fields posted on LinkedIn after the win. In June, co-founder Matt Anderson-Baron spoke with AgFunder News about using fruit flies to generate recombinant protein. Anderson-Baron also discussed the new Edmonton facility. Also in June, the company announced it was starting to work with gene-editing company Jenthera Therapeutics to manufacture a "first-of-its-kind cancer-fighting protein." In September, the company launched a contract development and manufacturing organization service to help small- to medium-sized biopharmaceutical companies produce proteins. Looking ahead to 2024, Anderson-Baron told AgFunder News that Future Fields will be able to produce "kilogram quantities" of proteins in its new facility. "We've broken ground (on the facility) now. We have the space. It's in progress. We'll be operational in there probably by January (or) February (2024)." — Tim Querengesser

Edmonton Police Service sees jump in departing officers in 2022 (March 10, 2023)

The original story: In March, Taproot reported that more Edmonton Police Service officers had left the service in 2022 than in previous years. As of Dec. 14, 2022, 50 officers had resigned and 47 had announced their retirement. A spokesperson for EPS said some officers had resigned "citing a negative political environment that made the job less enjoyable."

Then what? In the wake of a person gunning down EPS officers Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan in March, Edmonton Police Association president Curtis Hoople drew attention to the negative effects policing has on officers and their families. At the same time, a senior police official said the agency saw an increase in people interested in becoming a police officer after the killings. An EPS media advisor confirmed the police service received a marginal rise in interest but said it's impossible to pinpoint the cause. A spokesperson told Taproot that from Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 22, 2023, 34 sworn EPS members resigned and 42 retired, for a total of 76 officers. That total is lower than 2022, when 97 members left the force, but is higher than every year since 2014. — Stephanie Swensrude

A photo collage of six pictures, in order: A person stands in a blue T-shirt that reads "Deeleeo"; two people stand looking at the camera with their hands in their pockets; an Edmonton Police Service cruiser parked on a downtown street; a crowd listens to a speaker at an event at the Advanced Technology Centre; a person rides a bike past a building with a sign that says "CO*LAB"; two people stand beneath a sign that reads "Vietnamese submarine".

Clockwise from top left: Jackson Payne, CEO of Deeleeo, which has now expanded to five cities beyond Edmonton; Matt Anderson-Baron and Jalene Anderson-Baron, co-founders of Future Fields, which is opening a production facility in 2024; resignations at the Edmonton Police Service were up in 2022, but new numbers suggest they were down in 2023; Gail Powley addresses attendees at a March 2023 event at the Advanced Technology Centre, co-hosted by the Edmonton Research Park Business Consortium; a person rides a bike past CO*LAB, which struggled in 2023; William Chen and Wilson Wong took over Chinatown restaurant Van Loc in January 2023.

Edmonton Research Park businesses encouraged by city moves (March 16, 2023)

The original story: In March, Taproot reported some members of the Edmonton Research Park Business Consortium had moved from frustration to cautious optimism after the city proposed an advisory group to address criticisms that followed its decision to sell two buildings there.

Then what? The city followed through on creating the advisory group, which will submit a report to council in mid-2024. In March, Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation received $80.5 million in federal funds to be used for a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and an upgrade of the 72,000-square-foot Biotechnology Business Development Building at the park. In July, news of Hermay Labs's expansion came via Edmonton Global, after the company bought Research Centre One at the park. "We will be sharing our collective technologies on a more expansive and broad basis to serve Edmonton and surrounding areas. Our goal is to grow and thrive in collaborative partnerships as Alberta entrepreneurs," Boris Djordjevic of the consortium and Frontech said on LinkedIn. In November, the Edmonton Research Park Business Consortium became a society to serve as the "voice" of the park, an announcement reads. The Advanced Technology Centre at the park remains for sale, though its status is listed as pending. — Colin Gallant

CO*LAB seeks to cover pandemic shortfall (April 12, 2023)

The original story: In April 2023, Taproot reported that The Quarters arts venue CO*LAB launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover its pandemic debts. When Taproot checked in, the organization had recently cancelled its flagship Glow Festival and had raised just $2,170 of its $50,000 goal. Its future was in question.

Then what? The venue ultimately raised $19,175 through GoFundMe. In August, the city served the group an eviction notice but quickly reversed course when CO*LAB grew its board and announced it could pay its debts. In September, as Boyle Street Community Services closed its headquarters and splintered, CO*LAB offered a community space for clients. Right now, its GoFundMe is still up but directs to a campaign for tenant Nék̓em, an organization serving unhoused people. In October, CO*LAB unveiled a change-management process. That month, tenant TeePee Treats decided to close for dine-in service for the winter. CO*LAB's marquee event, GLOW Festival, returns this spring. "There have been questions about volunteers not treated well, emails not responded to, seemingly simple tasks not done — excellent questions and please continue to ask them," reads an Instagram post from August. "Moving forward, changes have already been made to address capacity burnout." — Colin Gallant

New owners of Van Loc hope to breathe new life into Chinatown (May 9, 2023)

The original story: The owners of Van Loc in Chinatown told Taproot that they bought the restaurant because they want to contribute to efforts to revitalize the neighbourhood.

Then what? In August, Van Loc participated in Chinatown After Dark, and this January they will be part of the next Chinatown Dining Week. In the summer, Van Loc's owners collaborated with Alokin to host a rooftop DJ set. For Chinatown at large, there is no shortage of work aimed at improvement. Last February, the province deployed Alberta sheriffs to Chinatown and other inner-city neighbourhoods. Boyle Street Community Services runs Hiregood, which employs people who experience barriers to employment and sends people to pick up needles and clean Chinatown's streets. This year, the city has Chinatown slated for neighbourhood renewal. The city is also launching a $481,000 grant for Chinatown projects. — Stephanie Swensrude

Watch for more updates on Jan. 5. Want to know what happened next on any other Taproot stories from 2023? Email your suggestion to