The Ecosystem Studio - A New Type of Venture Builder

by our Head of Story, Leah Sarich (May 2021)

At Thin Air Labs we have a big, bold mission to build an innovation ecosystem that ignites venture growth for greater human impact. That means, supporting ventures that produce jobs, benefit more people and the planet and result in a thriving economy for the future.

But to realize this bold vision we had to design a new type of venture builder. It’s called the Ecosystem Studio.

Quite simply, Community Partner Jim Gibson explains, "an ecosystem studio is the new way to help build large numbers of globally successful companies."

When you look at the healthiest tech ecosystems in the world, says our Chief Growth Officer Mitchell Gillespie, they’re made up of two specific kinds of organizations that are impacting the growth of the ecosystem.

  1. The actual founders / ventures building businesses that make a global impact in the market

  2. The dedicated ecosystem partners: investors, industry, community, government, non-profit organizations, media

Our Design Partner Greg Hart explains, by supporting both the founders and the ecosystem partners synergies are encouraged and more opportunity is created.

And as with any ecosystem, says Greg, when connections are made, a richness emerges creating velocity for innovation. “More becomes possible when there are more connections between things.” And this increased velocity is required, particularly in Western Canada. “We need exponential growth of the innovation community and the tech ecosystem - we cannot afford to follow a linear path of incremental growth. We don’t have the time.”

Mitch dreams of Thin Air Labs, “finding itself in the middle of discovering and executing unthinkable partnerships: collaborating and building the next version of a scaling venture, the next version of impact definitions, the next version of venture-investor relationships.”

We are building an innovation ecosystem to intrigue the rest of the world. It’s a sort of counter intuitive play that will rewrite the narrative for the West. Greg says we plan to “establish Calgary and the Prairies as a source of meaningful global impact for the kind of future we need. We want people to look at this and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that’s coming from Calgary. I can’t believe they’ve put these companies together here and they're doing all these things.’”

‘All these things’ include supporting ventures and the ecosystem in what we like to call the Four Pathways. We have developed a series of Venture Impact Services, like our popular Funding Catalyst Service, that helps ventures find early capital in the form of non-dilutive funding. It also means actively supporting the infrastructure of the innovation ecosystem by nurturing its growth locally and by bringing in global partners to expand growth into the future.

With the ecosystem studio model, “we are only one player in a fantastic community of innovators,” says Mitch, “I can't wait to see what we all build together.”

And when we’re #BuildingWhatsNext together, says Greg, “the whole planet gets what it needs and the local innovation ecosystem gets what it needs and that’s when everybody wins.”