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Alberta's tech industry making a big comeback

Last Updated Jan 13, 2022 at 7:39 pm MDT

Calgarys skyline with its skyscrapers and office buildings. Bow river and centre Street Bridge in the foreground. Alberta - Canada

After the UCP scrapped some incentives for tech investors and companies, critics of the government weren’t sure if the tech sector could thrive in the province.

However, we’ve been seeing an increase in tech-related investments year over year.

“Alberta is hitting its stride in the tech sector,” Jobs, Economy, and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer told CityNews in an exclusive interview.

“The tech sector is a big part of our economic recovery. Last year we had 130,000 jobs created in the province of Alberta, and thousands upon thousands of those were in the tech sector.”

Several companies are either moving into Alberta or expanding their footprint.

On Wednesday, Neo Financial announced it would be moving into 113,000 square feet of office space in Calgary’s downtown core.

They’ll be taking over the fourth floor of the Hudson’s Bay building on 8 Ave. SW, and leasing more space at the Edison office tower on 9 Ave.

Schweitzer says companies like Neo Financial are creating a lot of new jobs in the province.

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“We’ve got some of these amazing companies like Neo Financial, you’ve got Benevity, you’ve got Symend, you’ve got Athennian, Attabotics, Helcim. All these companies are hiring and scaling and growing rapidly, they’re home-grown Alberta names,” he added.

“Right now there’s thousands of positions in the tech sector just in the city of Calgary alone that need to be filled. Plus, when you add on top of that some of the major international announcements we’ve had in 2021, they’re just starting to ramp up their hiring.”

According to briefed.in — an organization that analyzes the Canadian tech space — Calgary received $256.8M of investments in its tech space in Q1-Q3 of 2021. The same time period in 2020 saw Calgary get around $300.1M of tech-related investments.

“We’re just starting to see the start of what’s happening, there are a few more announcements coming in the next quarter or two that I think will reinforce the momentum of what’s happening,” said Brad Parry, interim CEO of Calgary Economic Development.

He says the tech sector is starting to boom in the province.

“It’s been building for a number of years, and now we’re starting to see that coming to fruition, you’re starting to see those big names who have been around the corner looking around Calgary finally going ‘it’s time for us to step into this marketplace,’ so, it’s a great opportunity for us and I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”

According to the Government of Alberta, the province saw $480M of investments in its tech sector.

They clarify that the numbers only reflect capital venture — funding given to start-ups and other new businesses. It does not include private equity.

“We’re seeing a huge amount of deal-flow coming into Alberta right now. We’re aware of a handful of big international companies that already want to announce new investments in Alberta,” Schweitzer said.

The province plans to make several more announcements regarding Alberta’s tech sector.

On Thursday, the government will discuss details of a new initiative aimed at attracting global tech-sector workers to immigrate to the province.