Tech Successes Provide Promising Path for Calgary

Our Managing Partner James Lochrie and InceptionU's Margo Purcell talk to CTV Calgary about the opportunity for technology companies to #buildwhatsnext.

Since the start of the pandemic nearly one year ago, the way we get our food, conduct business and connect with loved ones has shifted to involve more technology, and some say that has accelerated the adoption of tech in many industries — including the energy sector.

"If we get focused on the technology side of the industry and not just the production side of the industry, I think a lot of good things can come from Alberta and I'm pretty excited," said Russ McMeekin-McLoud, CEO of mCloud Technologies Corp. The company has partnered with provincial Crown corporation Invest Alberta. The move will help leverage mCloud’s technology, which uses artificial intelligence to help energy companies reduce carbon emissions. Not only will mCloud soon open a headquarters in downtown Calgary, it already has 100 employees in Alberta and is looking for many more. "We'll probably double the number of people the next couple of years," said Meekin-McLoud. "The kind of people we hire are engineers so therefore well-paid."

It comes on the heels of billion-dollar investment deals in four Calgary tech companies, including Benevity. Calgary Economic Development expects tech hiring will double the pace of the rest of Alberta's economy. "This is all really strong bellwether signs of what the future is going to look like and that we are really starting to build our economy in a different way then we have in the past," said president and CEO Mary Moran. "The good news for Calgary is we remain opportunity rich. We haven't seen a mass exodus of this highly trained science-based population."

"Everything looks great in tech, everything sounds amazing but you have to understand where is that going to be in ten years" -- James Lochrie, Managing/Capital Partner

Both Calgary and Edmonton set records for tech investment in 2020. Experts say there are plenty of opportunities but investing in tech can be risky if you don't know what you're doing.

"Everything looks great in tech, everything sounds amazing but you have to understand where is that going to be in ten years," said James Lochrie with Thin Air Labs. "Find people that know what they're doing. Partner with them."

While some aim to capitalize on investments, others plan to pivot careers.

"There's been another round of layoffs and so on," said Margo Purcell, CEO and founder of InceptionU." A lot more people are starting to look at and hearing the good news story about technology and what we're trying to get out is that the route into technology isn't only being a software developer." Several organizations, including InceptionU, are offering courses to help people add more tech knowledge to their existing skills. In some cases, grants can help cover the cost of education.

Alberta's minister of jobs, economy and innovation says the province invested $175 million in venture capital for tech start-ups. “Jobs in tech are forecasted to continue to grow and we are excited to see these new opportunities for Albertans as we diversify our economy," said Doug Schweitzer.

With files from CTV Calgary's Alesia Fieldberg

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