Cool Companies: Alberta's Advanced Technologies 2013

Innovation Support

Excerpt from Cool Companies www.coolcompanies.caResearch and development by Cool Companies industry guides February 5, 2013
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Canada’s province of Alberta has a strong infrastructure to support research, education and help its companies with business development support. Here is a sample of the resources:


Alberta has 26 publicly-funded post-secondary institutions. Its large research-intensive, publicly funded institutions academic institutions are the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge and Athabasca University. In terms of the focus of this Cool Companies industry guide which looks at advanced technologies strongly dependent on software or hardware, the world-class research strengths of Alberta’s universities include nanotechnology (NINT p.80), wireless, geomatics (GPS), engineering, machine learning (AICML p.78), artificial intelligence, quantum computing, computer games, engineering, bioinformatics, robotics, computer vision, remote sensing and simulation. Alberta also has two polytechnic institutions, NAIT and SAIT.


Alberta Centre for Advanced MNT Products (ACAMP)
Through ACAMP, companies have access to services for product & business development, prototype packaging and assembly, manufacturing, test & characterization and marketing of micro/nano technologies enabled devices. ACAMP is a government-sponsored initiative with many platform technologies and expertise that includes sensors for harsh environments, MEMS/NEMS, optics, inertial sensors, downhole electronics, microfluidics and biosensors.
Contact:, Ken Brizel, CEO, 780.468.2443

Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning (AICML)
For business applications the AICML uses the power of advanced computing to find opportunities hidden in data that can be leveraged to optimize and enhance business operations.  One of the top three machine learning centres in the world, the AICML is looking for project work with companies who want to uncover the business intelligence locked inside their data.
Contact:, Cameron Schuler, Executive Director, 780.492.4828

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Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF)
Part of Alberta Innovates, the provincial research and innovation system, Technology Futures provides research, development and funding for Alberta entrepreneurs and early-stage, knowledge-driven technology companies. Funding programs support a variety of business and technology development services, and management personnel for pre- and low-revenue Alberta companies.

  • Alberta Innovation Vouchers: up to $15,000 or up to $50,000 vouchers to develop technology-based ideas into commercial products.
  • Industry R&D Associates Program: $55,000 per year for up to 2 years and a $7,000 annual research allowance, to support hiring recently graduated MSc and PhD researchers.
  • nanoWorks: A $15 million initiative to develop market-driven nanotechnology products.
    Contact:, 780.450.5111

Alberta/Jalisco Innovation & Commercialization
With 25% funding from the Government of Alberta and 25% from the State of Jalisco, Mexico, this program is an opportunity for an Alberta company and a Jaslisco company to partner on a technology research, development, and commercialization project. Managed by TRLabs (p.81), it is intended to assist companies in establishing partnerships and market-based alliances between the two regions. ShirWin Knowledge (p.43) is participating in this program.
Contact:, 780.441.3800

AMIF at the University of Calgary is a $10 million cleanroom facility equipped with equipment to support micro and nano technology fabrication, integration, packaging, and post-processing services along with expert consultation and training to both academic and industrial clients. In 2012, AMIF opened a unique laser fabrication centre, which can process standard and non-standard materials. In addition to being an open access facility for both academic researchers and private industry, AMIF can also do fee-for-service for companies.
Contact:, 403.210.8421, CCIT Building at University of Calgary, Calgary, Dr. Colin Dalton, Facility Manager,, 403.210.8464

AVAC invests in promising early-stage businesses focused on value added agribusiess, renewable energy, environmental technologies, agricultural bio-products and nanotechnology. Companies who have received AVAC funding include DataGardens (p.54), eThor Media (p.40), , and Wedge Networks (p.57).
Contact:  Calgary:403.274.2774, Edmonton: 780.485.2411

Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
Robotic unmanned vehicles (for air, ground and underwater environments) are designed to do dull, dirty and dangerous work. For example, electric powered unmanned vehicles can do climate monitoring and inspect structures like pipelines and airport runways. Since they are lightweight, they also use little fuel compared to manned vehicles. With a strong research program and 50% of Canada’s companies involved in unmanned vehicles, Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (CCUVS) is helping to grow the industry in Canada.
Contact:, Sterling Cripps, COO, 403.488.7208

Called a cyberinfrastructure, Alberta has one of the most advanced internet infrastructures in the world and this which has become an essential foundation for innovation in the province. Cybera is a publicly funded agency with highly skilled expertise that operates this infrastructure and pilots emerging new internet technologies.
Contact:, 403.210.5333, 780.492.9940, Robin Winsor, President

Industrial Research Support
With several advanced microscopes and trained operators, MIF can help companies get a microsopic view of electronics and other materials.
Contact:, Calgary, Dr. Tobias Fürstenhaupt, Manager, 403.220.3488

A funding initiative supported by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (p.79), nanoBridge supports the transition of innovations in micro/nano technology from idea to application and commercialization. This support includes early stage commercialization of technologies and products, and the entrepreneurial development and activities of highly trained recent graduates.
Contact:, 780.248.1621, Dr. Eric Flaim, Director,

The nanoFAB at the University of Alberta in Edmonton is a $30 million cleanroom facility for supporting research and development in micro and nano technology fabrication. It is one of North America’s premier open access academic wafer processing research facilities, catering to micro and nano electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS), microfluidics, sensor development, utilizing over 100 specialized tools. As an open access facility, the nanoFAB supports the development and prototyping activities of both academic researchers and private industry to help bring new and innovative devices to market.
Contact:, 780.492.8357, ECERF Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Dr. Eric Flaim, Director,

National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT)
NINT is an integrated, multi-disciplinary institution involving researchers in physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, informatics, pharmacy and medicine. Located at the University of Alberta campus, NINT’s 20,000 square metre (215,280 ft2) building is one of the world’s most technologically advanced research facilities and houses the quietest laboratory space in Canada. NINT can assist companies with nanotechnology or advance materials projects by providing access to research expertise and commercialization support. There are also funding sources available.
Contact:, 780.641.1600

NRC Industrial Research Assistance (NRC-IRAP)
Through technical and business advisory and financial assistance, this Canada-wide program supports small and medium-sized companies in Canada in the development of technologies and their successful commercialization in a global marketplace. IRAP has supported 3D Interactive (p.71), Acceleware (p.72), Boreal Laser (p.63), CodeExcellence (p.46), Kent ( p.29), Datagardens (p.54), and Userful (p.57).
Contact:, 1.877.994.4727

TR Labs 
TRLabs is Canada’s largest information and communications technology (ICT) R&D consortium. Even the small technology companies can share in TRLab’s ICT-based IP-sharing industry and academic collaborations.
Contact:, 780.441.3800

Alberta has a number of business incubators throughout the province, too many to list. These include Innovate Calgary and TEC Edmonton.

AITF Industrial Commercialization Associates
Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF p.79)provides research, development and funding for Alberta entrepreneurs. The Industry Commercialization Associates Program is $55,000 per year for up to 2 years (with a minimum required top up from the company) and a $7,000 annual commercialization allowance, to support hiring experienced business professionals in Alberta businesses.

Alberta Deal Generator (ADG)
ADG is a network of accredited investors actively pursuing opportunities in Alberta’s young technology companies.

Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP)
NRC-IRAP’s (p.79) DTAPP program provides advisory services and financial assistance for the adoption of digital technologies to increase the productivity growth of small and medium sized Canadian companies.Contact:

Enterprise and Advanced Education (EAE)
This Alberta Government ministry funds Alberta’s 26 post-secondary institutions and Alberta’s research and innovation system, including Alberta Innovates (p.79). It also develops programming and policy to support the commercialization of Alberta technology and to help pre-commercial companies prepare for market entry through key partner collaborations, such as the German Canadian Centre for Research and Innovation, and the
Alberta Jalisco Technology Partnership (p.79).

ASTech Awards
Innovation and groundbreaking scientific and technological discoveries are made every day in Alberta.
A not-for-profit collaboration between industry and government, Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) awards are announced each year at the ASTech gala held each Fall to celebrate excellence in science and technology in Alberta.
Contact:, Bev Jones, Executive Director, 403.220.9130

Banff Venture Forum
The Banff Venture Forum is one of Canada’s premier company financing events. Held each Fall in Banff, it showcases high tech companies across Canada pitching leading private equity and venture capital investors from across North America.

Finding exceptional science, engineering or technology professionals is always a challenge. When they don’t have typical resumes or career paths, these high potential individuals can be easily overlooked. A new non-profit collaboration between industry, government, and academia, the BESTT Program (Bridge for Engineering Science and Technology Talent) connects Alberta’s high tech companies with these innovative professionals. It is designed specifically for those at a major life transition (such as being new to Alberta or re-entering the workforce from an extended leave), and advanced degree holders. BESTT bridges the gap between employers and prospective professional employees, working with agencies and volunteer networks to support candidates with networking, resume writing, local work opportunities and internships in Alberta.
Contact: , Joy Cohen, Program  Manager,, 403.294.7324

BioAlberta Association
With over 130 members, BioAlberta advocates, promotes and facilities the growth of the life science sector. Member benefits include networking and education events as well as publications, industry reports, marketing campaigns and discount programs.
Contact:, 780.425.3804

Clinexus, a division of Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (p.79), was created to accelerate the growth of early stage health technology companies across the province. Programs include helping companies demonstrate products in clinical settings, develop regulatory programs and access global markets.
Contact:, Executive Director, Rob Beamish, 403.210.7544

Digital Alberta
Digital Alberta is an industry-led organization that promotes and connects the digital media community across Alberta, Canada. It offers professional development workshops, advocacy work, education, event and business development activity.

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GameCamp Edmonton
GameCamp Edmonton is run by a group of Edmonton game developers that has events that encourage networking among developers and game companies in Edmonton. 
Contact:, Logan Foster

Global Game Jam
Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game jam event occurring every January. It is a 48 hour marathon where people get together to build a video game. There are events in Calgary ( and Edmonton (

Quarterly networking events connect science, engineering, and technology professionals with Alberta companies, mentors and career information. Each event has a different theme, and are held in Calgary and in Edmonton.

Productivity Alberta 
Productivity Alberta is a private not-for-profit corporation that connects Alberta industry to the tools, resources, and services that will help improve their productivity and competitiveness. Productivity is about working smarter, not harder, and doing more with what you have. It’s the secret to creating more profit and being more competitive, and every type of business can benefit.
Contact:, 780.784.6000

Scientific Research & Experimental Development  
SR&ED is a Canadian tax incentive program to encourage Canadian businesses to conduct research and development.

Startup Calgary/Startup Edmonton
Startup Calgary and Startup Edmonton are non-profit organizations focused on cultivating the local tech start-up community in Alberta. Both offer programs and events such as DemoCamp and ABAccelerator. StartupEdmonton also offers downtown workspace.
Contact: Calgary:,

Technology Alberta Industry Association
Technology Alberta is an industry-led association formed by technology businesses, for technology businesses. Its initial priorities are to (1) Enhance the business success of high tech companies in Alberta by facilitating the support they need, (2) Grow public awareness of Alberta’s high tech industry on its issues, stories and successes, and (3) Increase policy advocacy on behalf of the members at a local, provincial and national level.
Contact:, Randy Marsden, Chairman. Contact Drew McNaughton 403.829.0961

Remote sensing, GPS and surveying are geomatics technologies that use geographic information or spatially referenced data to provide critical insights to improve productivity and decision-making in natural resources, disaster management, municipal services, health and education. TECTERRA helps companies in Alberta and Canada commercialize geomatics technologies. It offers a variety of programs including investments of $100,000 to $500,000 for prototyping and pilot projects and for the commercialization of innovative geomatics technology

Wave Conference
Business networking is critical for growth.The Wave Conference is a special 3-day event enabling small to medium sized companies to network with large multinational corporations and government while discovering funding opportunities and evaluating their market. Every company that exhibits also presents to the entire audience along with one-on-one opportunities for speed networking. Wave is held
every 2 years in the Spring.

Wavefront is Canada’s Centre of Excellence for Wireless Commercialization and Research. It accelerates the growth and success of wireless companies in Canada by connecting them with critical resources, partners and opportunities, and this in turn drives economic and social benefits for Canada. Wavefront products and services are available to wireless and non-wireless companies looking to leverage mobile technology. These include a comprehensive suite of accelerated commercialization and mentorship programs, international market linkages, state of the art wireless product development and testing infrastructure, and wireless training programs and events. Wavefront has locations in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

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Focused on increasing collaborative research and innovation, the WISER Network is comprised of women from industry, academia, government, who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals. With events run from the University of Alberta, WISER offers opportunities for networking, interactions with peers and mentors, information exchange, and professional development activities.


Alberta International & Intergovernmental Relations
This Alberta Government team helps international investors find and work with Alberta companies. It also help Alberta’s export-ready companies access foreign markets in several ways: providing international market information and intelligence; showcasing Alberta’s technologies, products and services internationally; facilitating networking events and programs; and making contact introductions in priority markets. Its services are offered free of charge to client companies and organizations. Staff are located both in Alberta and international offices located around the world.
Contact: /

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Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade (DFAIT) is a department of the Government of Canada that is interested in encouraging Canada’s international trade. It manages Canada’s diplomatic relations and Canada’s more than 150 consulates and embassies worldwide. DFAIT’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) helps companies navigate the complexities of international markets and make better business decisions. The TCS is on the ground in more than 150 cities worldwide, gaining market intelligence, uncovering opportunities for Canadian companies and helping reduce business costs and risks. Its services are offered free of charge to client companies and organizations. One of its programs is the Canadian Technology Accelerator which helps Canadian technology companies grow their business in Silicon Valley. It includes introductions to key corporate partners and access to unique resources in Silicon Valley..
Contact:  /

Export Development Canada (EDC)
EDE provides financing, insurance and bonding services as well as foreign market expertise to Canadian companies who are or want to export respond to international business opportunities. Self-financed, EDC Canada’s export credit agency. It is a Canadian Crown corporation  that operates at arm’s length from the Canadian Government. Much of its business is done in partnership with other financial institutions and through collaboration with the government of Canada. EDE also supports Canadian direct investment abroad and investment into Canada.
Contact:, 1.888.235.6148