The Pulse: Jan. 21, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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Essentials

  • -5°C: Mainly cloudy. Snow beginning late in the afternoon. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the morning. Temperature falling to minus 8 in the afternoon. Wind chill near minus 13. (forecast)
  • 1,101: Alberta has 1,131 patients in hospital due to COVID-19, including 108 in intensive care. The province reported eight new deaths on Jan. 20. (details)
  • 6-0: The Oilers (18-16-2) lost against the Panthers (27-8-5) after giving up four goals in the third period. (details)

A portrait of Kristina Milke

Sprout Fund II nears $10M target to put into seed-stage tech companies


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

Sprout Fund is quickly approaching the goal for its second fund, which will eventually provide momentum to a new group of seed-stage tech companies in Western Canada.

Fund II, the only one of its kind headquartered in Edmonton, is aiming for a minimum first close target of $10 million before moving into the investment phase. Its deal flow will consist of software-as-a-service companies in Western Canada in the business-to-business space, said Kristina Milke, one of the four managing partners of Sprout Fund.

They'll invest about $150,000 to $250,000 in each company, with an eye for early-stage traction and a diverse founding team.

"We know that diversity plays a fundamental role in helping making good decisions for our organization ... we want to see it on the founding teams of the companies we invest in," Milke told Taproot.

Sprout Fund's initial endeavour of Fund I led to investments in 10 companies, including DiveThru, Dryrun, and EZOPS. It also helped Milke and her partners narrow their focus.

In the lead-up to building Sprout Fund, the four managing partners were all A100 members and had angel investing experience.

"We decided that we wanted to try to see what kind of deal flow we could get in the region as well as trying to get investors into our first fund that were not typical investors in this asset class — we wanted to see if we could get more people interested in investing in technology," Milke explained.

In addition to involving non-tech investors, their goals were to learn about fund management through a small pilot fund and determine what kind of deal flow was possible. Two and a half years out from the first investment, Fund I's portfolio is 2.5 times its initial value. Now, about 50% of investors from the first fund have come back for the second.

"It feels really great that we have investors that went in on Fund I at a $20,000 investment that are now coming into Fund II at a considerably higher investment level," Milke said.

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Headlines


By Mack Male Mack Male and Doug Johnson Doug Johnson

  • Coun. Anne Stevenson wants to cancel a plan to spend $26.5 million from the downtown Community Revitalization Levy on the 103 Avenue Pedway, as well as $10.6 million on the first phase of development on public amenities at Qualico's Station Lands project. Stevenson said in a memo explaining a notice of motion that she was unable to support the borrowing bylaw, and urged her colleagues to consider whether the idea "aligns with our public investment and city-building priorities."
  • Edmonton police chief Dale McFee defended his retweet of a video featuring a small business owner in Portland who claimed progressive political policies are contributing to rising crime. "I think we'd be missing the point if we didn't think some of those business concerns aren't coming from the citizens of Edmonton," McFee said. Michael James, director of communications for the Edmonton Police Service, said the force is reviewing its social media policies.
  • With Edmonton's first year of waste sorting and cart collection complete, the city is hoping to build on its success by adapting the program to feedback from residents. The city said early estimates show the new curbside cart collection system diverted 30% of single-unit residential waste from landfill in 2021.
  • Demand for tutors is growing in Edmonton, as local parents attempt to bring their children up to speed after the pandemic disrupted their education. While some local tutoring companies are seeing more business, some parents are having trouble affording the service.
  • A 14-year-old epileptic golden lion tamarin named Jack who lived at the Edmonton Valley Zoo has died. The zoo is collecting donations in his name for Build Our Zoo, an organization that helps raise money for development and planning.
  • The federal government has announced $17.3 million in funding to build 83 new homes in Fort Saskatchewan for low-income families and individuals in need. The Muriel Ross Abdurahman Court project is intended to achieve net-zero energy performance and will incorporate modular elements like shipping containers.
  • The province has axed nearly $650,000 in yearly grant funding for the Alberta School Councils' Association, a group that trains and represents volunteers serving on school councils. Some parents allege this is a way for the UCP to silence them.
  • Nearly 500 of 1,400 unvaccinated AHS staff will be returning to work after opting in to frequent testing. The province allowed this to meet the demand the healthcare system is seeing in the wake of the Omicron variant.
  • Premier Jason Kenney said that Omicron infections in Alberta may have peaked, pointing to wastewater testing and the provincial positivity rate, which has dropped from 41% to 33% this week. Hospitalizations, however, are expected to surpass 1,500 in the coming weeks.
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A paper sculpture of a mammoth at Deep Freeze

Weekend agenda: Jan. 21-23, 2022


By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

This weekend's events include a mix of outdoor and indoor fun, with a few virtual events if you're not ready to venture out.

Photo: Deep Freeze attendees admire a glowing, frozen mammoth. (Deep Freeze Winter Fête/Marc J. Chalifoux)

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