2017 brought new opportunities to Canada’s early stage companies and the investors looking to support the space. Entrepreneurs have more and more opportunities to find mentors, collaborate with other stakeholders, share co-working spaces, educate themselves and find capital to grow and scale their businesses. Here’s some highlights of this year.

Alberta adopts an Investor Tax Credit – after years of watching our neighbors to the west reap the benefits of an investor tax credit, the government of Alberta announced our own 30% investor tax credit to spur investment into innovative companies that have the potential to diversify our economy, increase exports and add much needed jobs to our economy. The program has rocketed to a fast start with only $5 million of tax credits left in the 2017 budget ending in March of 2018. With another $60 million in credits available over the next two years, that equates to another $180 million of investment dollars for Alberta companies.  Learn more.

The Rainforest is in full bloom – 18 months in, the Rainforest continues to gain momentum. The mission …  to support Alberta’s entrepreneurial eco-system by creating an environment that means Albertans don’t have to move away to invent, prosper, and move their ideas forward.  Learn more about the Rainforest and sign the Social Contract.

Creative Destruction Labs, Rockies (“CDL”) – launched its first cohort of 25 companies in the “Prime” stream. The Prime stream is industry agnostic, with startups tackling problems in healthcare, finance, energy, chemical, media, transportation, and agriculture sectors, amongst others. Technologies in the Prime stream include advanced engineering, electronics, blockchain, nanotech, neuroscience, and general IT applications. CDL has assembled a list of impressive advisors and partners to mentor the teams through the program. Learn more here.

Google’s DeepMind comes to Canada and sets up shop in Edmonton – DeepMind, in collaboration with the University of Alberta opens its first ever international AI research office in Edmonton. Known for its AI talent, the new office will continue to train the next generation of AI researchers and help keep the much needed AI talent right here in Alberta. DeepMind Edmonton.

RocketSpace is coming to Calgary – in 2017, RocketSpace, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful co-working campuses focused on scaling tech start-ups, announced their first campus in Canada and named the Edison as their home in Calgary. RocketSpace recognized that Calgary has everything that RocketSpace startups are looking for in a headquarter city. It is a city of solutions-first thinkers, engineers, and entrepreneurs — and we’re here to support them every step of the way. Their new state-of-the-art tech campus in Calgary will provide velocity — both speed and direction — to Canada’s top tech startups so they can scale up even faster. Learn more.

Alberta’s co-working trend continues to grow  – Calgary and Edmonton continue to see new co-working spaces opening, serving all types of entrepreneurs and professionals looking for convenient and flexible office space to grow their businesses and network with peers. Check out Calgary’s Co-working spaces, Incubators and Accelerators and the Co-work Edmonton for space that fits your culture and budget.

Canada’s New $100-Million Procurement Program for Technology Startups

Sandi Gilbert, Mike Tremblay, Minister Bardish Chaggar, Minister Navdeep Bains at Invest Ottawa, December 14, 2017

I was pleased to be part of the $100 million Innovative Solutions Canada announcement in Ottawa on December 14.The New program has over $100 million dedicated to supporting the scale up and growth of Canada’s innovators and entrepreneurs by having the federal government act as a first customer. Twenty participating federal departments and agencies will set aside a portion of funding to support the creation of innovative solutions by Canadian small businesses.

Under the program, federal departments and agencies will fund up to $150,000 for a proof-of-concept study and $1-million to fund development of a prototype.

We often say that “first customer” goes a long way to validate a company’s products or services, making it easier to enter markets, both nationally and globally. We encourage all entrepreneurs to regularly check the program’s site at Innovation Solutions Canada to review contract opportunities and submit their proposed solutions.

BDC launches Women in Technology Fund – BDC wants to foster the creation of the next generation of millionaire Canadian women technology entrepreneurs. With $70 million to be invested over 5 years, it’s the largest venture capital fund in North America dedicated solely to investing in early stage Canadian women led technology companies across sectors. The fund will support women-led tech firms in equity at the seed stage, Series A stage and sometimes at the Series B stage, alongside accelerator partners, investors and other corporate venture partners, as part of a syndicate or as a lead investor. Learn more here.

No excuses entrepreneurs and investors – get out there and take advantage of the opportunities. 2018 looks to be a good year indeed!