The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund supports transformative investments that develop innovation ecosystems in key sectors identified in Calgary in the New Economy and will be a catalyst for growth and create jobs for Calgarians.
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) was created by The City of Calgary in 2018 as a catalyst to attract investment, drive innovation, and spur transformative economic development in the city.
The Fund is a powerful financial tool to position Calgary as a location of choice for business investment, develop our tech-skilled workforce, and accelerate implementation of the community-built economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy.
Projects that receive OCIF backing are driving innovation and growing the ecosystems in key sectors that position Calgary to lead digital transformation in Canada’s industrial sectors.
OCIF is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary that is governed by an independent Board of Directors and administered by Calgary Economic Development. It offers financial support to private sector companies, non-profit organizations, and public institutions proposing investments that drive economic growth, are a catalyst for further investments, absorb office space, and create jobs for Calgarians.
The emphasis for OCIF as it executes on its mandate is to attract anchor companies, versus early-stage start ups, and support initiatives that expand and develop the innovation and tech ecosystems. Larger initiatives are critical to deliver the transformative benefits required to achieve the vision for Calgary in the New Economy.
The portfolio of projects supported by OCIF includes investments in strategic sectors aligned with the vision in Calgary in the New Economy to embrace innovation and technology to resolve global challenges. To receive the non-repayable funds, applicants must demonstrate their project aligns with the following criteria:
Increases direct investment in Calgary, increases tax revenues.
Increases quantity and quality of full-time direct and indirect jobs.
Fosters disruptive innovation to create competitive advantages.
Facilitates growth in key sectors in Calgary in the New Economy.
Supports government or private-sector innovation initiatives.
Provides specific benefits to Calgarians or the environment.
The governance and decision making for OCIF resides with a 11-member volunteer Board of Directors comprised of two representatives of City Council and respected local business leaders experienced in multi-billion-dollar investment deals in a variety of sectors.
The Board provides oversight and guidance to ensure OCIF has efficient processes, rigorous reviews of applications, and maintains transparency and accountability.
Calgary’s economy was impacted by a structural change the energy sector and the 2014-2015 recession. Municipal and business leaders took the bold action to support growth in key sectors and diversify the economy. Stakeholders at the Downtown Economic Summit in March 2017 agreed business-as-usual would not fill vacant office space or create jobs, so a Fund was proposed by City Council.
All applications are assessed on the same criteria; the degree to which the investment creates benefits and is aligned with the assessment areas:
Alignment with key industries
Innovation and sector benefits
Alignment with strategic initiatives
Many governments in Canada and the United States have similar funds. Examples include The Texas Enterprise Fund that supports business attraction in the state, and Waterloo, Ont. used $110 million to support its economic development fund.
The program is funded entirely from the City of Calgary’s existing fiscal reserves and will have no impact on property tax rates.
The City of Calgary’s goal for the Fund is to support ecosystem development, create jobs and increase the municipal property assessment base. The City is prohibited from providing loans or becoming a partner in commercial ventures.
Funding is a non-repayable contribution. Stringent reporting requirements ensure the recipients meet the provisions of the agreement to receive the funding. Recipients not in compliance with the terms of the agreement may be subject to repaying all or some of the funds.
To qualify for funding, which can account for up to 50 per cent of the proposed project’s budget, the applicant:
To qualify for funding the project must:
Ineligible costs include but are not limited to:
Applicants can request an application through the portal. OCIF staff will evaluate the project’s suitability for the Fund. If there is a fit, the applicant must complete a detailed application form. Projects that are assessed to have significant potential are required to submit a detailed Business Case to the Board for review. Applicants approved for funding will be required to complete ongoing monitoring and reporting on the funds received during the development phase as well as during ongoing project operations. All agreements have mechanisms to withhold payments or request repayment if commitments are not met.