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Lower operating costs, affordable and accessible space, and a business-friendly environment with diverse customers, mixed with the right talent and an unmatched quality of life, make Calgary a smart move for your next Interactive Digital Media business.

Driven by efforts at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, Canada is becoming a leader in the global Digital Media (DM) and technology space. Canada is already recognized as a world leader in video-game development, animation and visual effects, and is poised to expand into other merging sectors. In a 2012 profile, the interactive digital media (IDM) space in Canada was estimated to employ 50,000 people and generate $6.5 billion in annual revenues.

 

Your customers are here

Calgary is home to 118 head offices, the highest head office concentration per capita in Canada (FP500 2019 Database). Our HQ culture means that your services are in demand. Calgary’s corporate landscape creates consistent demands for digital advertising and e-learning services, as well as commercial digital content creation. Our diverse industry leaders will be your partners as you unlock the potential of doing business in Calgary.

Cost of doing business

Get more for less. Calgary is one of the most cost-competitive major cities in North America for operating in.

  • Affordable property and utility costs – including low real estate rental rates in downtown
  • Low taxes – Calgary has the 2nd lowest commercial property taxes of major Canadian cities and our corporate tax will be reduced to 8% by 2022, making it the lowest in Canada
  • Affordable tech talent and cost of living for talent

We have the talent you need

Calgary has a growing pipeline of technical and digital media talent. We have the talent you need and our education institutions are constantly evolving their programs to meet the needs of the New Economy. Our workforce is young, smart, productive and active.

  • Population with median age of 36.8 years
  • 27% of graduates are from STEM programs
  • Calgary workers are the most productive in Canada
  • Calgary has the highest labour force participation rate in Canada

Our current labour force:

Occupation Description Labour Force
Computer engineers (except software engineers & designers) 1,225
Information systems analysts and consultants 15,700
Database analysts and data administrators 1,600
Software engineers and designers 3,200
Computer programmers and interactive media developers 7,000
Web designers and developers 1,600
Graphic designers and illustrators 3,500
Graphic arts technician 125
Total Labour Force in Calgary 33,950

 

Category Occupation Description Labour Force
Visual and applied arts

Original visual art

Art productions

Photography

Crafts

Advertising

Architecture

Design

571

27

390

148

814

546

2,915

Audio-visual and interactive media

Film and video

Broadcasting

Interactive media

1,075

3,073

1,670

Sound recording

Sound recording

Music publishing

81

123

Total  

11,433

 

Source: Statistics Canada 2017; Statistics Canada Calgary CMA, Census 2016

Our talent pipeline

Maclean’s Magazine ranked the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary among the top ten universities for best computer science programs in Canada for 2018. The institutions and companies below are all playing a role in Calgary to develop top talent for an evolving technology-based economy.

University of Calgary SAIT Mount Royal University Bow Valley College Alberta University of the Arts
St. Mary's University Ambrose University University of Lethbridge ComIT EvolveU
Lighthouse Labs RoboGarden Making Changes Association Npower Momentum
Manpower CGday InnoTech College    

 

Learn more about the institutions offering interactive digital media programming:

  • University of Calgary – is creating world-leading experts in areas like cybersecurity, software development, game development, graphics, data science and human-computer interaction
  • EvolveU – is aimed at producing cross-sectoral design competence applied to gaming, machine learning, full stack development and more. They’re rapidly building programs that match employers needs with a tech enabled workforce.
  • BowValley College – their school of Creative Technologies brings business and design together to meet the needs of the digital age. They are also the only Canadian academic to partner with Adobe’s Analytics Academic Initiative.
  • SAIT – offers a New Media Production and Design program, a technology centred program that promotes critical thinking to develop engaging content for web-based user experiences and provides comprehensive training in the tools and techniques used for web design and development.
  • University of Lethbridge – in September 2019 they launched the first AR/VR college program available in Alberta

Funding

There are a multitude of resources to help companies accelerate growth. We’ve compiled a list of more than 30 angel investors and venture capitalists, plus over 45 grants, financing and funding opportunities in our business resources guide. Here are some key ones to look at:

Infrastructure

High-speed connectivity is a key part of the infrastructure required for IDM companies. We have extreme bandwidth via a not-so-secret underground network of dark fibre that is available for lease. With high-speed city permitting and internet, you’ll be online in no time.

Don't just take our word for it...

Dig deeper on these digital media sectors

Gaming

Gaming in Canada

Video game development is a multi-billion dollar industry and it isn’t slowing down any time soon. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada reports that 23 million Canadians were playing video games in 2018. As a nation of gamers, we are well-positioned to promote the benefits of video games and video game technology.

Gaming industry in Alberta

Alberta is home to a wealth of small studios and indie developers in the gaming industry. The industry was put on the map in 1996 when the Edmonton studio BioWare released Shattered Steel, the first commercial game title to be made in Alberta. BioWare was one of the largest independent studios in Canada and was purchased by Electronic Arts (for $620 million) in 2017 (one of the largest tech acquisitions in Canadian history).

Other Alberta industry leaders include New World Interactive, QI Software Inc., Smartly Dressed Games, Mammoth XR, Red Iron Labs, Zugalu, Beamdog, Serious Labs, CodeHatch and XGen. Alberta Makes Games reports that there are more than 230 Alberta indie video game design and development members on Twitter alone (view the list). The Alberta Game Development Industry in 2015 report - stated that as of 2015 Alberta had grown to support 28 studios, employing over 425 full-time employees and was driving $52 million dollars in direct economic activity for the province, with the potential to grow much larger.

The Government of Alberta recognized that the video game sector was a vital subsector in the media production industries in Alberta and launched the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit in March 2018 to support the growth of the industry.

The Calgary Gaming Ecosystem

Calgary’s gaming ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth. From developers to players, here’s how the numbers stack up:

Alberta Makes Games has a list of 174 games made in the province, 65 of which are on Steam and 92 on Itch.

 

View trailers of 130 Alberta made games

Get up to 165% cost savings on a gaming facility in Calgary. Learn more about the operating costs of making games in Calgary, contact us.

Calgary Expo Comics & Entertainment is a four-day pop culture convention held annually each spring in Calgary, AB with tens of thousands of attendees, celebrating animation, film, television, science fiction, fantasy and more.

Reboot Develop Red is the boutique game developers and games industry conference of North America, being held for the first time in Banff, AB this Fall 2019.

Interested in a career in game development or design?

Calgary Success Stories

You’ll be among good company. See some of the gaming activity coming out of Calgary:

Level up in Calgary

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Immersive Technology and AR/VR in Calgary

Whether it’s feeding, fueling, healing, or moving, Calgary is helping solve the world’s problems through the adoption of transformative technologies. Digital transformation is quickly becoming the largest driver of new solutions and technology investments among Calgary businesses. It’s projected that Calgary’s Creative Industries sector will spend $1 Billion on digital transformation from 2019 to 2022 and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), AI Systems and Machine Learning have been labeled as some of the engines of growth.

There are over 25 companies in Calgary that are experts in immersive technology applications and VR/AR content creations, including Serious Labs, Red Iron Labs, VizworX, MAMMOTH XR, Scope AR, ZeroKey, DIRTT, Veerum and more.

Key partners and associations in Alberta:
  • VRARA Alberta – the Alberta chapter for the global industry association for VR/AR
  • Amii – advancing scientific research, cultivating talent and enhancing business to build a thriving machine intelligence ecosystem in Alberta

Digital Media

Global Landscape

In the global marketplace for digital media (video, music, games and e-publishing), revenues are estimated to reach US$115 Billion by the end of 2019, which does not included advertising – the fastest growing digital media (DM) category which is estimated to surpass US$300 billion by 2019. Alongside digital advertising – in another growing global sector also thriving in Calgary – the value of digital or ‘smart’ education is expected to grow from US$105 billion to US$447 billion by 2020.

Digital Media & Advertising Agencies in Calgary

In 2016, it was estimated that $489 million in GDP was generated in the province of Alberta by the Digital Media (DM) sector in Calgary. The sector supported 5,500 FTEs and generated $280.44 million in labour income. The DM sector is experiencing rapid growth, with no signs of slowing down.

Or HQ culture means that your services are in demand. Calgary’s corporate landscape creates consistent demands for digital advertising services and commercial digital content creation. Plus, the cost advantages and access to skilled talent, mean you’ll see the ROI on your CRO campaign in no time.

You’ll be among good company - our existing world-class digital media companies like Critical Mass, Evans Hunt, Robots and Pencils, AdFarm, NUUN Digital, Venture Communications, RedPoint Media Group Inc., Edelman, McCann and others are a testament to the active and mature digital media sector in Calgary. In a 2017 Calgary Digital Media Survey, conducted by Nordicity, local firms report an average annual revenue of $572,000, with 14% reporting more than $5 million in revenues. The survey also found that all companies expected growth in the next year or two, more than 27% of which expected significant growth of 40% or more. In Calgary, you can grow your business in a mature market where you can succeed on an international scale for long periods of time.

Some of the largest and most influential industry conferences in Western Canada are hosted around here, including Social WestCAMP FestivalSocial CalgaryThe Gathering, and Rocky Mountain Social Summit.

Growth of the advertising and marketing labour force in Calgary nearly doubled over the past decade and on average, Calgary DM companies are looking to hire nearly seven full-time workers. From Film, Life Sciences, Construction to Energy - our world-class talent will have the opportunity to work with you on a variety of clients as our city continues to focus on diversification.

Calgary Success Stories

Calgarians are entrepreneurial by nature, with a “make things happen” attitude, which is reflected both in the companies and attitudes of their founders.

E-learning

Alberta has an existing reputation for world-class education, with a large cluster of Digital Media companies working in the education space. Elearning is a sector that is expected to grow from US$105 billion in 2016 to US$447 billion by 2020 and Alberta will see their faire share of the market, with an estimated 100 companies expected to be working in this space already.

Calgary is ideally positioned to be a hub of innovation in digital education thanks to its history of eLearning from organizations like Cybera, a provincial innovation leader, and Leara, who has experienced continued global success.

Need more information?
Chelsea Hallick

Chelsea Hallick

Business Development Manager, Interactive Digital Media

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