The Pulse: May 6, 2022

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  • 14°C: A few showers ending in the afternoon then mainly cloudy with 30% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Wind west 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 14. (forecast)
  • 4-0: The Oil Kings defeated Red Deer Rebels in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series at Rogers Place. (details)
  • 8pm: The Oilers (1-1) will play the Kings (1-1) in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in Los Angeles. (details)

Portraits of Nicole Sanchez and Gillian Thomson

Non-tech entrepreneurs call for more inclusive innovation ecosystem

By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

It's challenging for innovative companies that aren't tech startups to access the funding and programming they need in Edmonton's innovation ecosystem, say two founders of non-digital businesses.

"There are so many new tech startups that are getting funding and so much that is being put into our province for innovation, but there just needs to be a bit more conversation about what innovation means," Nicole Sanchez, co-founder of Ruth, said on Taproot's Bloom podcast.

Ruth, which makes sustainable menstrual pads, decided in 2020 to pivot from its initial plan to use hemp, in part because of the cost. "It's a lot easier for a startup that has some sort of tech or digital thing involved within their business. And because we don't have that, it was a little harder for us to access (funding)," Sanchez explained.

Gillian Thomson faced similar challenges while building Skipper, a company that has redesigned the traditional shower cap with an eye on sustainability. When it came to business incubators or grant money, many of the offerings Thomson considered required the company to have a technology component and to already have a product on the market. But Skipper's shower caps took more than 18 months to develop, and Thomson ended up funding that process with her own savings.

"I think it would be really difficult if I didn't already have some money set aside to find other options that would be applicable to my product," Thomson said.

Money from pitch competitions helped the Ruth team initially get off the ground. Both Thomson and Sanchez have also been able to access the University of Alberta's ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service. The volunteer-based program offers mentorship for new entrepreneurs that focuses on business guidance rather than preparation for investment.

"I'm not seeking investment funding at this time, so I don't really qualify for a lot of the programs that would help me grow my business," Thomson said. She'd like to see "more programs that are just about helping entrepreneurs navigate the ups and downs of everyday entrepreneurship."

Innovate Edmonton, a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2020, has a mandate to make innovation a major economic driver in Edmonton. Part of that work involves a commitment to delivering inclusive innovation.

Catherine Warren, CEO of Innovate Edmonton, noted that the programming the organization acquired from Startup Edmonton and the now-defunct TEC Edmonton came with "certain standards and requirements based on the funding we receive for delivery of the programs." Federal funding was recently announced for Capital City Pilots and an Innovation Gallery, both of which provide opportunities to non-tech-enabled companies and ideas.

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Headlines: May 6, 2022

By Kevin Holowack Kevin Holowack

  • The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) is seeking a low- or no-cost space for a new donation centre to replace a "bootstrap operation" at 82 Street and 117 Avenue that has run out of space. "Our city needs a permanent home for donations intended for refugees, victims of emergencies, and others needing to make a fresh start," said executive director Megan Klein, noting that the current building filled a vacuum when the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society closed last August, but it's not suitable for the task at hand.
  • Michael Oshry spent $223,250 of his own money on his failed mayoral campaign, according to his recently released campaign disclosure statement. The Local Authorities Election Act limits candidates to $10,000 of their own funds to reduce a deficit. Oshry's disclosure indicates a deficit of $9,967.49, and he told CBC he believes his campaign was compliant with the legislation. The disclosures made public so far indicate that successful city council candidates spent an average of $38,000 on their campaigns.
  • Edmonton offers the best work-life balance in Canada, according to the Work/Life Balance Index created by the British holiday-themed search engine The index measured cities based on hours worked, commute time, paid holidays, hours slept each night, and more. Edmonton was ranked 53rd and Calgary 54th in the world, with other Canadian cities trailing after. Last March, Edmonton was also named the most affordable city in Canada by PC Magazine.
  • The Edmonton Elks announced that their June 3 pre-season game against the Stampeders will be designated Stand With Ukraine night. Tickets for the game at Commonwealth Stadium are $15, and net proceeds will go to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. "As a community-owned team, we have a responsibility to give hope, inspiration, and provide action to Edmontonians on important issues," said Victor Cui, president and CEO of the Elks Football Club.
  • At least 700 south Edmonton residents have signed a petition to oppose the erection of fences and signs around the Bearspaw Off-Leash Area near 109 Street and 11 Avenue. The proposed changes are part of the city's Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy, which seeks to reduce conflicts and encourage dog owners to clean up by separating off-leash parks from nearby areas. The city is running a public survey on the issue until May 11.
  • The Edmonton Public Library branches in Capilano and Jasper Place made Architizer's list of eight modern libraries to check out in Canada.
  • A new study by British researchers published in the journal Science Advances suggests that the heat wave last summer in western North America was "among the most extreme ever recorded globally" since the 1960s. The study also projects that by 2080, similar heat waves could have a one-in-six chance of occurring every summer unless greenhouse gas emissions decrease.
A baby zebra nuzzles its mother

Weekend agenda: May 6-8, 2022

By Karen Unland Karen Unland

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is offering special activities for Mother's Day as well as opening weekend for the Nature Connects Lego display. Other possibilities for your weekend include an art auction, a craft fair, neighbourhood walks, free comics, and more.

Photo: Animal moms and visiting mothers will get special treats at the Edmonton Valley Zoo on Sunday. (City of Edmonton)