The Pulse: Feb. 4, 2022

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

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  • 1C: Periods of snow ending late in the morning then cloudy with 60% chance of flurries. Risk of freezing rain late in the afternoon. Snowfall amount 2 cm. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 1. Wind chill minus 22 in the morning. (forecast)
  • 1,584: Alberta reported 1,584 patients in hospital with COVID-19 on Feb. 3, including 112 patients in ICU. AHS also reported 16 new deaths. (details)

Kevin Dahl

Plug and Play Alberta eager to help Edmonton companies scale

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Plug and Play Alberta's new provincial directors say they'll be keeping a close eye on Edmonton from their headquarters in Calgary.

"We do want to focus on building out relationships in the Edmonton region, having events and things like that," said Lindsay Smylie, who was hired last month along with Kevin Dahl to direct the Alberta outpost of the Silicon Valley-based innovation hub. "It's always easier when you have boots on the ground, so we'll be tied closely to the universities and to Innovate Edmonton."

Plug and Play Alberta was one of four accelerators announced last fall as part of the Alberta Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program, run by a consortium led by Alberta Innovates.

"I think there's a huge opportunity for us to help accelerate that globalization of local startups," Dahl told Taproot.

"(Plug and Play) has over 500 different corporate partners around the world in our playbook ... and 22,000 companies that we've worked with. Companies in Alberta who have ... taken advantage of all of the local programming, we can now help them take that step to grow their business beyond Alberta."

The Alberta team will initially concentrate on three verticals: digital health, clean resources, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. They've been working to source companies within the Plug and Play network that may be considered for the first cohort, and they are putting out an open call in hopes of finding startups that aren't on their radar.

Companies that are chosen will be invited to individual pitch days between Feb. 22 and 24, and the first cohort begins on March 15. While the first batch of programming will be virtual due to the pandemic, Plug and Play Alberta plans to run at least one of its cohort streams in early 2023 in Edmonton.

"We recognize that there's a huge centre of excellence in Edmonton around artificial intelligence and machine learning. We are looking at forming partnerships with several players that are based in Edmonton just like we are also doing here in Calgary," Dahl said.

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By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

  • Edmonton is lifting its extreme weather response this weekend. The last night of operation for expanded overnight bus service will be Feb. 5; temporary shelter at The Mustard Seed will continue to operate at a capacity of 150 beds until the end of March.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Feb. 3 that Alberta is shifting to an endemic approach to COVID-19. Premier Jason Kenney said a date for scrapping the Restrictions Exemption Program and other public health restrictions will be announced next week.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi told reporters that he wants public health measures to remain in place to ensure health and safety. "I certainly hope that we don't have to implement our own measures, but we will explore options that are within our authority if we have to," Sohi said. In a Facebook Live broadcast late on Feb. 3, Kenney indicated he would look into changing the Municipal Government Act to prevent municipal governments from enacting stronger measures. "This is not their normal field of responsibility, they don't have access to the same data we do," Kenney said. "I think that would be a matter of great concern."
  • Edmonton improved in C.D. Howe's Fiscal Responsibility in Cities report. In last year's report, the city received a failing grade, but this year's score went up as it quickly and clearly passed a budget.
  • Prairies Economic Development Canada is providing the Flying Canoë Volant festival with $130,000 in funding to help tell "the stories of French-Canadian, First Nations, and Métis cultures," while boosting Edmonton's tourism sector. Over the past eight years, the festival has grown to attract more than 60,000 visitors from across Western Canada. The 2022 edition of the festival will run March 1-5.
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has released a list of provincial budget recommendations, which include creating affordable housing solutions and ensuring flexible debt repayment schedules for businesses so they don't need to close down.
  • The University of Alberta Students' Union said that the quality of online courses are causing grades to lower, and student mental health to suffer."We've seen issues like unauthorized, highly invasive and discriminatory online proctoring … and a lack of accessibility measures being taken for students who are stuck in other time zones or have weak internet access, by no fault of their own," Rowan Ley, the student union president, told CBC.
  • Environmental groups Environmental Defence, West Coast Environmental Law,, Dogwood, and the Wilderness Committee are suing Premier Jason Kenney and the provincial government for defamation. The groups argue that Kenney should have apologized for or retracted statements he made about environmental groups, and which went against the findings of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.
Magnifying glasses and other instruments arranged in anthropomorphic shapes, examining plant materials

Weekend agenda: Feb. 4-6, 2022

By Karen Unland

This weekend's calendar offers fire and ice, opera and artisans, coffee and wonder — something for everyone!

Photo: A Hole in the World in the Shape of a Seed (installation view) from Refugium by Julya Hajnoczky (Art Gallery of St. Albert)