CEO Catherine Warren reviews the work that's been done and what's to come
Since Catherine Warren took the helm as CEO of Innovate Edmonton last December, she's been working to establish the organization as a leading voice for the local innovation community, and on a broader scale position Edmonton as a preeminent innovation city that can tackle global challenges.
Warren has been busy getting everything up and running over the past four and a half months, and she said Innovate Edmonton is still "very much in startup mode," which means establishing funding, plus working on legal, banking, hiring, governance planning — even getting IT set up.
"I would say that the additional challenge for us is we're also expected to meet innovators while we're doing that," she explained. "So it's sort of like building a house in an earthquake zone."
Innovate Edmonton is a not-for-profit corporation formed with city council's approval last May, with a mandate to make innovation a major economic driver in Edmonton. As of 2021, the organization has a budget of $5 million per year, redirected from the former Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.
In the first quarter of this year, Warren met with hundreds of business and community leaders and investors.
"My intentions have been to draw people out on their innovation expertise, their needs for support, and their hope for what Innovate Edmonton can contribute," said Warren, who is the former CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission.
That work has helped shape a vision for the future of Edmonton's innovation sector, including plans to improve startup and scale-up supports such as access to capital, mentorship, makerspaces, and activities that will help entrepreneurs build their networks and reach international markets. Near the top of Warren's list is preparing to launch an open research library in partnership with Edmonton Global, which will help build a comprehensive list of innovation, investment, talent, assets and needs for the region.