Alberta Municipalities ‘Incubating’ New Businesses

Following in the footsteps of venture and start-up programs, municipalities across Alberta are creating their own incubators to encourage innovation, economic and local business development.

Cochrane, as part of its Station At Cochrane Crossing Project, is repurposing an old single-story facility to create a Transit Hub that will feature a co-working space for town administration and its business start-up program. While the town has successfully attracted the likes of Garmin, 4iii Innovations, and mcThings IoT, the scope of the program is intended to be broader than just the technology sector.

The City of Calgary is taking a pioneering approach to supporting new business development via its own venture capital fund that will directly invest in companies to spur the growth of its local tech sector. The $100M Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) is intended to diversify the economy and expand its local property tax assessment base. Earlier this year, the city issued a request for proposals targeting early-stage start-ups.

St. Albert has operated its Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) for more than 30 years. This not-for-profit currently supports more than 100 businesses through the provision of office space, resources, coaching and mentorship for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Business incubators play an important role in the local business economy. Not only do start-ups often need help getting affordable access to amenities and resources, but they tend to form a much-needed ‘ecosystem’ where business ideas can be refined, shared, and iterated until they are perfected.

While many start-ups and early-stage companies tend to view big cities as destinations in which to ‘make it’, municipalities across Canada are trying to break that mould. For the Town of Cochrane, offering big-city amenities and mountain adventures are just some of the ways it is trying to attract and retain talent.   

If you are interested in learning more, please contact dblackburn [at] (Dan Blackburn), Senior Director of Growth & Innovation.