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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Alberta now home to 3,000 tech companies; new report shows an industry hittingits stride## Breadcrumb Trail Links 1. Local Business# Alberta now home to 3,000 tech companies; new report shows an industryhitting its strideWilliams said while it may appear that the local tech sector is suddenlybooming, the reality is that the groundwork for the recent growth was laidyears agoAuthor of the article:Amanda Stephenson•Calgary HeraldPublishing date:Apr 22, 2021•9 hours ago•4 minute read•9 CommentsSymend founder Tiffany Kaminsky in Calgary on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Photoby Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia## Article contentAlberta is now home to more than 3,000 technology companies, a 233 per centincrease since 2012, according to a new report.The report — conducted by Alberta Enterprise Corp. in partnership with PwC —also shows that Alberta’s tech sector, once made up largely of early-stagestartups, is showing signs of maturity. According to the report, almost 40 percent of tech companies in the province now have annual revenues of more than$1 million, a 66 per cent increase since 2018. Over the past two years, thenumber of tech companies with 25 or more employees has increased by 12percentage points to 25 per cent.Fundraising, another key indicator of growth for technology companies, is alsoon the rise, with almost a quarter of Alberta tech companies having raisedSeries A or later stage financing. And 40 per cent of tech companies inAlberta have now achieved profitability, the report says.The new statistics appear to confirm what sector advocates, as well asgovernment and economic development officials, have been saying for months —the growth in Alberta’s tech industry over the past several years has beendramatic.## AdvertisementThis advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.## Article content“For years we’ve been talking about an emerging tech sector but this reportestablishes that it’s really maturing at this point in time,” Jobs MinisterDoug Schweitzer said in an interview. “I do believe we’re that maturingmarketplace now where this is a big part of our strategy long-term fordiversifying Alberta’s economy.”## Article contentAccording to the report, the majority (58 per cent) of tech firms in theprovince are in Calgary, with 30 per cent in Edmonton and almost 13 per centin other regions of the province. In Calgary alone over the past two years,there has been a flurry of high-profile activity in the tech sector — fromBenevity Inc. landing a $1.1-billion deal with international investors thatvaulted the local company to coveted “unicorn” status, to startup fintechcompany NeoFinancial’s $50-million funding raise.## Article contentDowntown office towers are seen in Calgary on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Photoby Gavin Young/PostmediaJust this week, Calgary company Absorb Software received a valuation of morethan US$500 million in a deal that will see it acquired by a major U.S.private equity firm.Perhaps one of the most startling stories to come out of the city’s techsector in the past two years has been the exponential growth of Symend. TheCalgary-based software firm, which was founded in 2016, had just 50 employeesin January 2020 and now has more than 260, with plans for additionalexpansion. The company has caught the eye of national and internationalinvestors, successfully raising more than $100 million so far.“I think we (Alberta’s tech sector) are finally starting to build somemomentum in gaining a bit of that scale,” Symend co-founder Tiffany Kaminskysaid in an interview Thursday. “Being able to bring in institutional or VCfunding from out of country really says a lot about how we are starting tobuild momentum and how people are starting to pay attention to Calgary andAlberta on a global scale.”## AdvertisementThis advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.## Article contentKaminsky said she and co-founder Hanif Joshaghani chose to build Symend inCalgary because “it’s home.” But she said tech entrepreneurs are increasinglyrealizing that starting a company in Alberta makes sense from a businessperspective, not just an emotional one.“In my opinion, there’s very much a competitive advantage to building abusiness here as opposed to Silicon Valley, if you just think about how faryou can take that funding and how far you can go with it while still competingon a global scale,” she said.Kristina Williams, president and CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corp. — a Crowncorporation that invests in venture capital funds to help spur the growth ofAlberta’s technology sector — said while it may appear that the local techsector is suddenly booming, the reality is that the groundwork for the recentgrowth was laid years ago.“People ask, why is this suddenly happening now? Well, this is a decade’sworth of growth. This is a 10-year overnight success,” Williams said.The Calgary downtown skyline. Thursday, April 15, 2021. Photo by BrendanMiller/PostmediaShe added that a decade ago, venture capital for tech companies in thisprovince was scarce. Today, AEC has 20 VC firms in its portfolio, and venturecapitalists are “actively looking” for investments to make in Alberta.“There’s been a very conscious effort by the government and by a lot ofindividuals on creating access to that capital,” Williams said. “Companies nowhave access to resources to be able to stay here and grow in the province.”## AdvertisementThis advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.## Article contentAs companies grow and mature, so do their hiring needs, and many local techentrepreneurs have highlighted access to skilled talent as one of the biggestimpediments to growth. Alberta still has a systemic shortage of softwareengineers and other high-tech professionals, and Williams said if the techsector is going to continue to expand, the province will have to invest ineducation and retraining, as well as attract talent from outside its borders.Last month, the province announced it will make up to $25 million availablethrough Crown Corporation Alberta Innovates to at least three businessaccelerators to “vault Alberta’s promising startups and small and mediumtechnology companies through scale-up” and foster growth. Efforts on the partof the City of Calgary to grow the local tech sector are also underway, notthe least of which is the $100-million Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund,which was created by city council in 2018 and aims to support projects thatpromise to create jobs and grow the city’s tax base.Schweitzer said Alberta is now unarguably a “player” on the Canadian techscene, and the next challenge will be taking the sector one step further.“We don’t want to just be a player, we want to become a dominant player inCanada and one of the leaders for the country,” he said. “I do think that withso many of these companies that are hitting their stride, I wouldn’t beshocked if we got the next Shopify right here in Alberta.”[email protected]: @AmandaMsteph## Share this article in your social network

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