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Edmonton: A Darkhorse City On The Rise

StartupBlink has launched the Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report 2019 that now ranks 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide and is available for download here.

Edmonton is one of Western Canada’s most dynamic startup ecosystems, being home to over 394 tech companies that excel at developing businesses in the fields of AI and Machine Learning, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Web and Mobile Apps, Video Games, Health Technology and Big Data.

Edmonton succeeds through a combination of a strong entrepreneurial culture and the backing of top-five-inworld research institutions. Individual action is alloyed through strong community teamwork and a bottom-up approach to problem-solving.

Edmonton is one of three Canadian AI superclusters, along with Toronto-Waterloo and Montreal. The University of Alberta (UAlberta) is ranked third globally for AI and Machine Learning research according to the global Computer Science Rankings. It is just slightly behind Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and ahead of places such as Stanford and MIT.

In 2018, as part of a PanCanadian AI Strategy, the government of Canada invested a portion of a $125 million government investment to build on and grow AI strengths at UAlberta. The provincial government also pledged $100 million to this field over the next five years.

Edmonton is Western Canada’s foremost health care centers and home to some of the country’s top research hospitals, including the Cross Cancer Institute, the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and the Stollery Children’s Hospital. The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (a nationally funded facility) and the National Institute of Nanotechnology (a joint initiative between the U of A, The National Research Council of Canada and the Government of Alberta) are also located in Edmonton.

Edmonton has some of the lowest taxes in the country, with no provincial sales tax, no payroll tax, no health care premiums, and some of the lowest personal and corporate income taxes in Canada. Paired with, an affordable cost of living — including low home prices compared to Toronto and Vancouver — Edmonton lets you get further with each dollar invested in your business.

Edmonton’s six publicly funded postsecondary institutions and numerous private training schools specialize in health, biotechnology, manufacturing, and machine learning and artificial intelligence. Each year, these institutions graduate more than 95,000 students — more than 550 of those are tech-sector graduates. They also attract 10,000 international students from over 140 countries each year.

Though the ecosystem benefits from layers of support from all levels of government, it was truly built from the ground up, through programs such as the entrepreneur-founded Startup Edmonton. Together with the community, Edmonton’s service providers have started building an ecosystem that supports the commercialization of the knowledge and research coming out of our post-secondary institutions and engaged citizens. Edmonton counts 11 co-working spaces, three accelerators and 20+ organizations offering incubation programs and services; and is home to the third best university incubator in the world (TEC Edmonton).

As Canada’s northernmost metropolis, Edmonton isn’t the first place people look to when thinking about technology and innovation. It’s a dark horse. But the growing ecosystem is already solving some of the world’s most complicated problems — from closing the global radiology gap (Medo) to eliminating unplanned downtime for manufacturing and petrochemical companies (Nanoprecise Sci Corp).

For those looking to innovate, Edmonton’s innovation ecosystem is poised to return more than people expect of it. The talent and tech are there, ready for business.

Written by Michelle Ferguson, Content Specialist, Innovate Edmonton.