The Pulse: May 26, 2023

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

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  • 22°C: Sunny. High 22. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • Teal/Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit teal and blue for the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History, which is being marked with events across Canada on May 28. (details)
  • 2pm, May 27: The Edmonton Elks play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a pre-season game at Commonwealth Stadium. (details)

Two women wearing lanyards stand beside True Angle's booth at a trade show, displaying the Mobili-T device

True Angle's pivot to clinician market paid off, says CEO

By Nathan Fung

After changing its business model, product, and customer base, True Angle is now in a better place to grow and expand, says the Edmonton health-tech company's CEO.

Instead of selling directly to patients with swallowing disorders, the company now sells to clinicians. That switch in 2022 from a direct-to-consumer model to a business-to-business one earned True Angle the "Pivot of the Year" award at the third annual YEG Startup Community Awards.

"It was really rewarding for us to get recognition for the effort that the whole team put in," co-founder and CEO Jana Rieger told Taproot.

The company's main product is the Mobili-T device and app. It helps people with dysphagia, which is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. The biofeedback device attaches to a patient's chin, allowing a clinician to monitor a patient's swallowing exercises remotely instead of needing them to go to a clinic in person.

"We knew that there were really millions of people in North America who had this problem," Rieger said. "We knew that people have been prescribed these exercises and that they needed something to be able to keep them on track and let them know how they were doing."

When the device first went to market in 2020, the idea was to sell directly to patients with dysphagia, Rieger said. But she noticed that of the inquiries they were getting, about 30% were from patients while 70% were from clinicians. In the summer of 2022, the company decided to pivot, implementing the new business model within six months.

"If we're looking at a hospital system that has, let's just say, 200 hospitals within that one system, selling into that system would allow us to scale so much more quickly than the D2C model, which tended to be a one-off model," she said. "It really came down to economics (for) why we wanted to pivot."

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Headlines: May 26, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The city has sent out its 2023 property tax notices, which Edmonton property owners can expect to see soon in their mailbox or inbox. This year, the city also sent out an educational insert that breaks down what property taxes support and the per-day amount that goes into different municipal services. The deadline to pay is June 30.
  • Postmedia published a piece on Edmonton-South West, which is considered the city's most contested provincial electoral riding. NDP candidate Nathan Ip seeking to unseat UCP incumbent Kaycee Madu, who is currently deputy premier and Edmonton's only UCP MLA. The riding, which is young and well-off, elected NDP candidate Thomas Dang in 2015 before a change in the electoral boundary put the area's eastern half into a separate riding. In 2019, Madu defeated NDP candidate John Archer by 715 votes.
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) has hired 31 new firefighters from across Canada. According to a release, three of them identify as women, including two who participated in the Camp Inspire program, which aims to attract historically marginalized communities to a career in firefighting. EFRS also announced dates and locations for its fire station open houses this summer. From June to September, eight stations will invite Edmontonians to meet personnel, see fire trucks, and learn about fire safety.
  • The Conference Board of Canada's latest Major City Insights report suggests Canadian cities will continue to see slow growth throughout 2023 due to high borrowing costs and inflation, even if they have largely recovered from the impacts of the pandemic. Edmonton's GDP growth is forecast to reach 1.8% this year. "Despite the city's existing housing market being in full retreat, Edmonton is still seeing an influx of prospective home buyers from British Columbia and Ontario," the Conference Board said in a release.
  • The Edmonton City as Museum Project published an article exploring the history of Streetcar #33, one of three active High Level Bridge streetcars operated by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society. Streetcar #33 was among a group of electric streetcars the city bought from a Missouri company in 1912, a time that saw high demand for public transit in growing urban centres across Canada. It remained active until 1951, spending its last few years on the routes that served the Calder area, which had no paved roads and couldn't accommodate buses. The streetcar was then scrapped, deteriorating on a farm until its eventual restoration. Streetcar #33 returned to the tracks in 2010.
  • The privacy commissioner offices of Canada, British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta have launched a joint investigation into OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, in response to a complaint that ChatGPT is collecting and using personal information without consent. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which launched its investigation last month, said the provinces have joined the effort "given the broad scope and significant privacy impact of artificial intelligence and its relevance to all Canadians."
  • The Court of King's Bench denied a request by former premier Jason Kenney to throw out a defamation case brought against him by five environmental groups that he accused of using foreign money to conspire against Alberta's oilsands. Kenney made the remarks on social media in 2021 after receiving the results of an "anti-Alberta activities" inquiry, which found no conspiracy. Justice Avril Inglis disagreed with the argument from Kenny's lawyer that a reasonable person wouldn't know whom Kenney was referring to in his post because he didn't directly name the groups.
Twelve people express joy with big smiles and arms stretched high. Behind them is a wall of paintings at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts.

Weekend agenda: May 26-28, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers a Ukrainian festival, outdoor adventures, homegrown plants, free fun for pooches, a showcase of African cultures, a joyful show about life's tempos, and a celebration of Chinatown.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup and the Food Roundup.

Photo: Rising Sun Theatre, a non-profit theatre company that provides adults with developmental disabilities a chance to create and perform plays, is putting on We Got Rhythm at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. (Rising Sun Theatre)