Alberta Catalyzer is the name of the Alberta-based pre-accelerator that Platform Calgary and Innovate Edmonton have just created in collaboration. On January 11, the pre-accelerator welcomed its inaugural batch of 35 businesses.

Around 150 startup owners submitted name suggestions for the pre-accelerator, with the winning name receiving $1,000. Nancy Mandaher, the CFO and co-founder of Sarcomere Dynamics, a robotics firm located in St. Albert, was awarded the prize for her idea.

“The name, Alberta Catalyzer, refers to the program’s ability to supercharge our innovation ecosystem throughout the province — it’s a catalyst for the economic diversification and job creation that comes with strengthening our tech-focused economy,” said Catherine Warren, CEO of Innovate Edmonton.

Applicants from anywhere in Alberta, as well as qualifying worldwide corporations, are welcome to apply for the free programme, which offers online programming to individuals who are unable to travel.

The inaugural cohort of the pre-accelerator includes entrepreneurs from food and beverage, solar energy, FinTech, and artificial intelligence firms from both urban and rural locations around the province.

Platform Calgary’s CEO, Terry Rock, told BetaKit that the first cohort is larger than planned, but that all of the entrepreneurs fit the criteria they were looking for at the outset.

“The teams go through a comprehensive screening process, but at the end of the day, the most essential element at this level is the founder’s coachability,” Rock added. “The most important thing we want are individuals who are prepared to go in, use the tools we provide, and do the job, since it’s really difficult to determine the sustainability of a concept at this level.”

In addition to the Alberta businesses, the initial cohort includes one from Vancouver. Platform Calgary and Innovate Edmonton selected an out-of-province startup because they expect that entrepreneurs may opt to transfer their businesses to Alberta over time, according to Rock.

“We believe our founders need to think globally from the outset,” Rock added, “so the more people we can bring in, the better we’ll be able to strengthen their relationships.”

Alberta Catalyzer plans to help 180 eligible entrepreneurs with a programme focusing on prototyping, ideal client profiling, establishing a minimum viable product, and testing business models over the course of the year.

Alberta is in the midst of a plan to expand its technology industry. Global accelerators will be stationed in Edmonton and Calgary as part of this approach.

Alberta Innovates has been given funds to oversee and administer the accelerator effort by the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation and Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan). Innovate Edmonton provides funds to the city.

Alberta Innovates is a Crown Corporation of the Government of Alberta tasked with fostering innovation in the province.

The Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program (Scaleup GAP) intends to help early-stage Alberta digital firms develop by offering coaching, networking, finance, and other services. It also aims to attract more international enterprises to Alberta. The Scaleup GAP initiative has received a commitment of up to $35 million CAD from governments.

Alberta Innovates has been entrusted with launching 900 new businesses, creating 20,000 new jobs, and generating $5 billion in income for technology firms in the province by 2030.

Alberta already has a number of accelerators and innovation groups, like Creative Destruction Labs’ (CDL) Rockies, thanks to its developing digital sector.

With a $4 million investment in 2021, the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), which is funded by the City of Calgary, will also bring Prairie venture building programme Harvest Builders (founded by SkipTheDishes creator Chris Simair) to the province.

Platform Calgary has raised $5 million toward the $7 million it expects to contribute to the cost of its $80 million innovation hub, in addition to getting the pre-accelerator off the ground.

Platform Calgary announced in late December that the 9th Avenue Parkade & Platform Innovation Centre will open in early 2022, owing to a $5 million donation from key members of Calgary’s IT sector and investment community.

Calgary Technologies Inc. founded Platform Calgary, an independently maintained hub for entrepreneurs and innovation. It was renamed Platform Calgary in March 2019 to serve as a community for entrepreneurs and startups to collaborate.

The Platform Innovation Centre will be a one-stop shop for tools, assistance, programming, and events aimed at helping startups begin and expand their businesses.

The structure is being built in conjunction with the Calgary Parking Authority and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation in Calgary’s East Village neighbourhood. The facility, which will house the innovation centre, is being constructed around a 510-stall, seven-level parking garage.

The 50,000 square foot centre has been in the works for several years, with an initial opening date of 2021. The Canadian seed accelerator The Accelerator, Alberta Enterprise Corporation, InternGen, Thin Air Labs, BDC, and Lighthouse Labs are among the twenty-eight community groups that have already committed to be a member of the Platform Innovation Centre.

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