In the past, if you wanted to work, start a business, or grow a business in the tech industry, you had to relocate to larger tech centers like Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary. These cities ranked 4th, 12th, and 34th respectively on the CBRE’s 2020 scoring tech talent report* – Edmonton didn’t make the cut. Fresh graduates and young entrepreneurs created an exodus of tech talent and ideation out of Edmonton. However, after last year, it looks like our period of stagnation is over as Edmonton Tech continues the growth curve that started at the beginning of 2020.
Helping Edmonton Through the Pandemic
When things got rough, Edmonton Tech stood up to the challenge. Not long after the initial lockdown was announced, we could see community initiatives popping up around town. CEOs of 21 Edmonton Tech companies took part in the #YEGTechCares2 challenge, where employees were encouraged to donate one hour per month of their salary (matched by their employer) to the Edmonton Food Bank. Such a small donation on the individuals’ part compounded into an impactful donation that helped the food bank through a very difficult year. Looking to the future, Edmonton Tech will certainly “look at ways the tech community could continue to support an initiative like this in the future.”*
Growth Through 2020
It should come as no surprise that tech in general witnessed a massive period of growth last year. We saw a large shift in the way work is done with work-from-home, social distancing, and other initiatives created due to the pandemic. These changes caused a global uptake in digitization and the Internet of Things. Industries and companies that were able to pivot quickly, adopt digitization, and capture the uptake with digital products and services have likely seen exponential growth. Tech companies in Edmonton have grown, hired more staff, expanded their portfolios, and acquired venture capital at an impressive rate through 2020.
The Alberta Jobs, Economy, and Innovation Minister’s office announced that Edmonton broke venture capital investment records throughout last year, saying that “while a specific breakdown is difficult, tech companies in their analysis appeared to be weathering the pandemic better than other sectors.”* With funds being injected into the already growing industry, we should continue to see this growth as we move forward into the next couple of years.
Moving on Up in the World
$246 million raised by 35 Edmonton Tech companies since January 2020 is certainly something to celebrate. These numbers are up significantly over previous years, showing an increasing interest in the Edmonton Tech industry. This injection of funds gives room for companies to grow, offer more or better products and services, and keep Alberta talent and skills within our boarders. Not to mention, large investments in our region can help harness global attention and bring in funds from other provinces and countries.
Global Attention = More Local Investment
Global attention gives local investors more confidence to pursue local opportunities, with even new investors starting to dip their toes in the water. According to Jeff Bell, Director of Research and Business Intelligence at Global Edmonton, $1.365 million was raised from first time investors alone over 2020*.
There are lots of reasons to feel optimistic about the future of Tech in Edmonton. We’re seeing increasing amounts of venture capital coming from outside sources into our region, helping to secure Edmonton as a prime location for technology companies looking for growth, skill, and talent. We’re growing the confidence of local investors, both experienced and brand new, helping to build a vibrant and innovative technology sector secured with local support. And, maybe most importantly, we’re seeing a growing investment in our local community from our Tech companies. Local people, who live here, work here, and invest here are giving their community a hand up when needed and helping to build an Edmonton Business community that builds up each industry, not just technology. This means we should see more technology companies starting and staying right here in Edmonton.
CBRE. “How Tech is poised to accelerate post-pandemic growth.” (July 2020), online: https://www.cbre.us/research-and-reports/Scoring-Tech-Talent-in-North-America-2020
Yahoo News. “An hour a month: How Edmonton's tech industry helped people in need.” (December 15, 2020), online: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/hour-month-edmontons-tech-industry-140000433.html
CBC News. “Alberta tech companies blossom during pandemic's economic drought.” (February 2, 2021), online: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-tech-sector-pandemic-1.5896406
Edmonton Global. “Edmonton region tech companies raise more than $246 million since January 2020.” (January 29, 2021), online: https://edmontonglobal.ca/edmonton-region-tech-companies-raise-more-than-246-million-since-january-2020/