Midway through the year, Alberta has already hosted several successful tech events.
For example, Alberta Innovates hosted the popular INVENTURE$ 2023 in June, which lit up Calgary’s innovation scene over three days of buzz.
“Inventures 2023 was our most successful event yet,” stated Alberta Innovates chief executive Laura Kilcrease following the event. “Our attendance numbers were up, the programming covered more tracks than ever, and that all contributed to creating positive collisions between entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, academics, and policymakers.”
There was also mesh, which patiently waited years to host in Calgary after originally targeting Calgary in 2020 before the Pandemic sideswiped plans. This year’s mesh theme was digital transformation.
The June event took place at the Platform Innovation Centre, which was “designed to facilitate collisions that lead to innovation, new ideas, and meaningful connections,” according to Jen Lussier, COO of Platform Calgary.
And everyone perked their heads up in May when it was revealed that the Digital Commerce Calgary Fintech Award is now nationwide. The award application, initially open only to Calgary-based startups, was broadened to include all Canada-based fintechs.
“Embracing the spirit of innovation, we are thrilled to announce the Canada-wide expansion of the Digital Commerce Calgary Fintech Award,” Jeffrey Smith, CEO of Digital Commerce Bank, announced in May. “Fintech entrepreneurs from coast to coast have the opportunity to showcase their brilliance and disrupt the financial technology landscape. Let’s come together, unite our expertise, and redefine the future of finance on a national scale.”
Events attached to the annual Fintech Award will surely ramp us as a result of this ambitious expansion.
The learning and networking is far from over. Let’s take a quick look at some of the fun that still lies ahead for techies and entrepreneurs in Alberta.
Calgary Tech Thursdays
Mixing the old with the new can be a wonderful exercise in synergy and beauty. In Calgary, each Thursday a buzz of tech energy fills one of the city’s oldest buildings, creating an inspiring backdrop for education and networking.
Within the sandstone and red brick exterior of The Pioneer, Calgary Tech Thursdays shine a spotlight on relevant topics—such as “Artificial Intelligence in Business-to-Business,” “Product Management in FinTech,” and “Raising Capital in the Prairies.”
Tracing its roots back to Calgary’s founding years, The Pioneer is a testament to the city’s vibrant past. Once home to the Calgary Cattle Company and the Calgary Milling Company, the complex became famous as a Meat Market, a venture by Canadian entrepreneur Pat Burns.
An adjacent building, where The Garret resides, was originally the residence of Calgary Herald, the oldest running newspaper in the city. And it is in here the event takes place. This juxtaposition of innovation in a heritage-rich locale adds a unique charm to Tech Thursdays, blurring the lines between history and the future, between tradition and innovation.
Inside the 3,300-square-foot Garret, an intimate loft-style venue, attendees will next learn about Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies. The panel is set to be graced by Tim Wong, Sr. Manager of real-time 3D solutions strategy at Unity, and Rosalinda Hernandez, CEO at Red Iron Labs.
Under The Garret’s exposed brick arches, panelists intend to lead a discussion on the tantalizing potential of AR/VR technology.
The event takes place on Thursday, July 20, at 4:30pm.
Partners of the event series include UXCalgary, Rainforest Alberta, and YYC DataCon.
Intersection of Tech and Construction
Even as digital transformation sweeps across the Western world, trades remain as topical as ever.
It’s obvious why—with unprecedented levels of immigration stacked on top of unaffordable housing, the need to build in Canada is tremendous. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, Alberta gained over 50,000 net residents, according to the June 2023 Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. Everyone needs somewhere to live.
The intersection of technology and construction is a major one. On one hand, tech is streamlining building approval—digitizing paperwork for efficiency. In another way, tech aims to cultivate accessibility and affordability of homeownership for Canadians, as well as open up new avenues for investors to maximize their capital. Other technologies target building materials and the construction process itself, innovating the physical act of building a house.
In fact, there is so much intertwining occurring that “intersection” may no longer be accurate. It is perhaps better to say that tech and trades are now enmeshed.
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology has long recognizing this trend of enmeshing. It launched The School of Construction to provide students with a foundation to build a rewarding career in the construction industry without ignoring the impact of tech.
The key at SAIT’s School of Construction is an intentional blending of tech and trade. On campus is a Trades and Technology Complex, which at over 700,000 square feet is the largest expansion in the century-long history of SAIT.
In addition to the Tech Complex, the Thomas Riley Building houses the Founding Builders Home Lab. Located at the west end of the U wing, the Lab provides students in Civil Engineering Technology and Architectural Technologies the opportunity to put theory into practice through the construction of a residential home.
SAIT hosts regular information sessions for those interested in riding the line between tech and trade. The School of Construction offers degrees and diploma programs such as Architectural Technologies, Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems, Bachelor of Science Construction Project Management, Civil Engineering Technology, and Geomatics Engineering Technology.
The next info session is August 1 at 6pm on the main floor of the Aldred Centre.