Earlier this year, a report from national law firm Osler uncovered “impressive signs of growth, renewal, and resilience in the ecosystem” in Alberta, who saw the highest growth for venture capital deals in Canada since 2020.
The Canadian Venture Capital Association found that “Alberta, for the fifth year in a row, attracted a record amount of investments in 2022.”
There has “never been a more exciting time to be in tech in Alberta than today,” believes Nate Glubish, the Minister of Technology and Innovation for Alberta.
The region’s many signals of strength confirm the minister’s position.
Below, Calgary.tech highlights a small handful of the myriad local startups igniting innovation in Alberta midway through the year.
Global sportswear brand adidas recently tapped a Calgary-based startup to contribute carbon-tech to a line of shoes.
The Terrex footwear line is to be infused with captured carbon ink into over 400,000 pairs of shoes, slated for an autumn release, according to a statement from Oco, an Alberta enviro-tech firm.
This collaboration is the latest move in adidas’ strategy to incorporate more recycled and circular materials into their products, and a sizeable customer score for the fledging Oco.
The Terrex footwear line, known for resilience in severe conditions, will now integrate Oco’s proprietary CO2-enhanced ink. This ink merges screen printing with captured carbon material, creating a decal that can withstand harsh elements.
According to Savilow, Oco’s captured carbon materials are “mechanically sound” with “higher tensile strength” than traditional materials and their process enables more thorough recycling of hard plastics.
Born from Carbon Upcycling Technologies, Oco’s primary objective is to facilitate the production of goods that enhance the planet’s health.
Carbon and capital
Speaking of Carbon Upcycling, the Calgary scale-up recently closed a US$26 million Series A funding round co-led by BDC Capital’s Climate Tech Fund and Climate Investment.
This new funding will be utilized to deploy multiple commercial projects, including two co-located directly at cement plants.
Carbon Upcycling’s commercial project deployments with CRH in Canada and CEMEX in the United Kingdom will be the first to integrate carbon capture and utilization at a cement plant.
The company’s projects and research are also being supported by grants from the Government of Canada, UK Research and Innovation, and the US Department of Energy through work with the Colorado National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“Closing this round is a major milestone on the road to becoming the most impactful carbon tech company of this decade,” said Apoorv Sinha, Founder and CEO of Carbon Upcycling. “Over the next year, our mission is to demonstrate our technology’s versatility, scalability, and operational elegance.”
Sinha is aiming to build proof that “cost-effective decarbonization potential in the cement industry is possible without a green premium.”
On a mission to be the world’s most loved payments company, Helcim knows that simplicity and affordability are of paramount to the Calgary fintech’s customer base.
To that end, Helcim now offers ACH bank transfers through an app integration with global small business platform Xero.
Building on an existing partnership with Xero, the latest update replaces a need for traditional payment methods like checks and wire transfers, which are often time-consuming and less favourable among consumers.
By making ACH payments available through their Xero integration, Helcim has made it easier for small businesses to offer a streamlined payments solution to their customers and clients.
With a rate of 0.5% + 25 cents, and capped at $6, businesses can experience a reduction in expenses. This new offering particularly benefits businesses handling high transaction volumes.
Sizzle and steak
Manji-Savin was one of three entrepreneurs selected to pitch to a VC panel that included Wesley Chan of FPV Ventures, Mary D’Onofrio of Bessemer, and John Ruffolo of Maverix.
Syzl is a platform hoping to revolutionize the food industry by connecting food makers with under-utilized commercial kitchen spaces.
Their mission is to empower culinary entrepreneurs with accessible, cost-effective kitchen solutions, fostering innovation and growth in the food gig economy.
The company currently has 70 kitchens in the platform.
Syzl was part of the ALPHA stream, a home for startups in the pre-investment stage with under $1 million in funding.
And although the company is headquartered in Toronto, Azrah is proudly based in Calgary .
IrisCX was founded in Calgary in 2018 to disrupt the customer service industry’s status quo using the latest emerging technologies such as video streaming and artificial intelligence.
To pursue this mission, the firm secured USD$4.6 million in seed funding from Arthur Ventures.
Through IrisCX’s smart video platform, brands can own their consumers’ purchasing and customer support experiences virtually. Powered by computer vision, conversational intelligence, and machine learning, IrisCX’s self-guided and live video sessions provide brands with the context-driven consumer behaviour insights needed for intelligent decision making.
At the heart of this technology is a new AI-based tool dubbed Session Score, which IrisCX claims measures customer satisfaction in real-time during a video call—an audacious proposal when contrasted to traditional post-call surveys which have been the norm for decades.
“By analyzing every interaction, we can provide a comprehensive score that truly reflects the customer’s actual experience,” says Eradj Khaidarov, CTO of IrisCX. “This allows customer experience leaders to make better decisions based on real-time data.”
Session Score casts its net wide, roping in a customer’s tone of voice and sentiment analysis, along with measuring performance of standard operating processes. IrisCX’s assertion is that their system isn’t just faster, though—according to the Alberta-based innovator, it also offers a more accurate reflection of a customer’s experience than conventional methods.
Gartner projects that contact centre investment in customer service will escalate to $39 billion in 2027, a wave which IrisCX is positioning itself to ride by elevating customer service agents into such “experts”—which is a “step change in how contact centres operate,” believes Khaidarov.