Alberta is home to one of Canada’s largest technology and startup hubs. The Calgary region in particular breeds top-notch startups who receive substantial funding from a supportive local ecosystem.
Despite a “notable impact” of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Alberta’s economy, the province’s digital economy “remained resilient and thrived,” concluded a recent report from the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada. From February 2020 to May 2022, participation in Alberta’s digital economy grew by nearly 18%, according to the report—titled A Resilient Recovery: Alberta’s Digital-Led Post-COVID Future—and employed an additional 30,000 Albertans.
This was well ahead of overall economy growth.
There are now more than 2,800 technology companies in Alberta as of last year, according to research from PwC. This is a massive increase from 2016, when just 1,500 were counted. In the first quarter of 2022, Alberta experienced its highest quarterly investment on record, according to data from the Canadian Venture Capital Association.
There is much to celebrate in the city. For example, Platform Calgary’s Launch Party took place recently and three startups walked away with hardware: NanoTess, Propra, and Caret each won an award.
Sharing in the region’s momentum and excitement, Calgary.Tech has identified six local startups that made waves in 2022.
Canadian challenger bank Neo Financial raised a financing round earlier this year valuing the Calgary-born fintech at over $1 billion. The Series C round led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures made Neo one of the fastest Canadian companies to reach the coveted “unicorn” status.
Neo Financial offers a variety of products to its customers, including cash-back rewards and savings. It expanded into investing in April with a private wealth management product, and plans a mortgage offering for later this year as part of its effort to be a “one-stop shop for all financial services for Canadians and retailers.”
Neo was included on LinkedIn’s 5th annual Top Startups list that features 15 Canadian companies that are rising to the challenges of the moment and continuing to innovate and gain attention in 2022.
Fillip claims to be the first digital payment platform built for business fleets. Through the Calgary startup’s platform, business owners can empower drivers to pay for fuel and maintenance expenses with a secure digital wallet, spend controls, and real-time transaction notifications.
The Alberta fintech has raised capital from local investors, including Thin Air Labs and 51 Ventures. The company believes its products and solutions can benefit a range of potential customers, from small businesses to major fuel retailers.
The startup was a finalist in the inaugural Digital Commerce Bank Calgary Fintech Awards.
“Calgary’s innovation ecosystem is one that enables entrepreneurs to start, scale, stay, and succeed,” believes Alice Reimer, chief executive officer of Fillip. “We also have access to some of the best and brightest minds here, and many generations of remarkable talent that gives back and leans in.”
According to Reimer, as one of Canada’s major tech hubs, Calgary possesses the infrastructure and talent “to support every stage of growth.”
This Calgary-based agricultural technology company is focused on innovative hemp processing and product creation. It recently completed an equity crowdfunding round on the FrontFundr platform.
HEMPALTA was created to be at the forefront of the next evolution in agriculture by utilizing advanced technology to produce hemp-based products for a healthier planet.
The startup’s flagship product Hempcrete was recently approved as a material for use in construction with the regulatory change in the U.S. to take full effect by 2024. Hempcrete is an environmentally friendly alternative to concrete, made from a mixture of hemp stalk hurds and lime binder.
“The optimized hemp hurd input for hempcrete is our latest offering but we expect more in the future as we innovate and as new markets open up,” stated CEO Darren Bondar this year.
Bondar was the founder and CEO of Spiritleaf, a major Canadian cannabis retail brand. He sold the chain in 2021.
Helcim is on a mission to be the world’s most loved payments company by giving small businesses every possible edge to thrive and enrich communities. Earlier this year Helcim closed a $16 million Series A funding round with the capital earmarked to launch new products that make it easier for businesses to get paid and adopt the latest payment technology that they want.
“We built Helcim to provide the payment tools that allow small businesses to thrive by combining our payments-first approach, accessible and easy to use software, alongside our knowledgeable and helpful customer service,” said Nic Beique, Helcim CEO and Founder.
Helcim has been actively hiring for a while. The company, which recently landed a partnership with Xero, was named as one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2021.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce capped Small Business Week by naming Goodlawyer the ATB Small Business of the Year on at its annual awards gala.
Founded in Calgary in 2019 by Brett Colvin, Goodlawyer is a Calgary-based Canadian legaltech startup on a mission to disrupt the traditional method of obtaining legal services. Goodlawyer achieves this by offering a platform that connects clients with lawyers quickly and efficiently at a fraction of firm rates.
Colvin was inspired to start the company after working for one of Canada’s largest law firms and realizing how few people could afford the legal services they need, and has since helped 4,500 entrepreneurs.
“Calgary’s small business community continues to advance our city’s economic future with innovative solutions, and Goodlawyer is a shining example of a small business challenging and disrupting the norm,” said Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
If you’ve been on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve experienced influencer marketing.
A hybrid of old and new marketing tools, influencer marketing takes the concept of celebrity endorsements and places it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign. The main differentiator in the case of influencer marketing is that the results of the campaign are collaborations between brands and influencers.
Until now, it has been challenging for smaller businesses to get a foothold in the influencer marketing space.
Calgary adtech startup Embold wants to change that and recently launched Canada’s first free influencer marketing platform. Free for both influencers and brands to join, Embold’s platform offers the simplest way for advertisers to engage their customers online.
Brands large and small connect with a network of 7,000 local and micro influencers by inviting them to a campaign or having influencers apply to a campaign on the marketplace. Embold’s platform provides access to influencer audience data, as well as a suite of campaign management tools and campaign analytics.