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Harley Hotchkiss Gardens in downtown Calgary

Federal Industry Minister Navdeep Bains recently put forward an agenda to “build Canada as a global centre of innovation” and Calgary is undoubtedly getting with the program.

Tapping into the innovative energy that exists in our city is one of six main areas of focus in the 10-Year Economic Strategy titled Building on Our Energy that was created by Calgary Economic Development.

Its goal is purposeful diversification of the economy to support shared prosperity, strong communities and sustainable development.

Calgary Economic Development measures the success of core and supplementary indicators for the 10-year strategy annually. There are two primary goals under innovative energy:

  • establish Calgary as a preferred location in Canada to build and grow early-stage technology companies
  • promote a culture of innovation across industries, the public sector, institutions and the Calgary community.

Measuring innovation can be a challenge. The parameters are dependent on the context in which the innovation occurs. The concept of innovation is extremely broad and it can encompass any new idea, product or process resulting in efficiency and growth.

As part of the 10-year strategy, Calgary Economic Development identified six areas to promote an entrepreneurial and creative society while building world-leading clusters and partnerships. The key “energies” for our city include global, community, innovative, collaborative, people and entrepreneurial strengths few municipalities globally can match.

Numerous studies have highlighted the potential of high-tech industries to stimulate economic growth and support development of innovation clusters in metropolitan areas.

High-tech in Calgary experienced growth over the past five years but declined in 2014 and 2015. As we diversify our economy, we need to build on our strengths, implement new initiatives and support programs to spur economic growth and ensure continued prosperity.

high tech gowth rates

Our overview of the sector in Calgary is based on historical analysis of businesses within specific North American Industry Classification Standard codes. The codes, called NAICS, are derived from a methodology outlined in a 1996 report for the B.C. government.

The high-tech sector in Calgary grew by 8.7 per cent from 2011 to 2015 but 76 per cent of the sector was in three industries:

Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services (NAICS 5413), Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services (NAICS 5416) and Computer Systems Design and Related Services (NAICS 5415).

Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services grew 15.6 per cent from 2011 to 2015 through companies such as Seven Generations Energy (oil & gas), Dialog (architectural & engineering services) and engineering, procurement and construction companies such as WorleyParsons, Bantrel, Fluor Canada, and Jacobs Canada.

Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services businesses recorded 11.6 per cent growth (2011 to 2015). Top companies included Tervita, a leading environmental solutions provider, Celero Solutions, an information technology solutions firm, and Enform Canada, the hub of safety for the upstream oil and gas industry.

Computer Systems Design and Related Services recorded 17.6 per cent growth (2011 to 2015) as the companies expanded in Calgary included Telvent Canada / Schneider Electric (IT enterprise solutions and energy management) and Long View Systems (IT consulting services).

growth rates industries


•In 1996, the British Columbia government (Miller & Adams, 2001) started measuring its high-tech sector based on a preliminary list of NAICS codes. This report uses methods in the B.C. study and codes from the Carnegie Mellon report (Paytas & Berglund, 2004) for NAICS 2012 at a four-digit level.

Defining the British Columbia High Technology Sector Using NAICS; Miller, S., & Adams, S. (2001, December).

Technology Industries and Occupations for NAICS Industry Data; Paytas, J., & Berglund, D. (2004, February)



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