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Calgary Economic Development held its second New Economy LIVE event of 2020 virtually on October 15, showcasing Calgary in the New Economy, our community’s economic strategy.

The event explored how Calgary can become Canada’s most business-friendly city at a time when the traditional boundaries of business are disappearing as digitization defines new ways of creating, interacting, and working (particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Featuring a research presentation, C-suite panel, and audience Q+A, the free event drew attendees from numerous sectors and communities across Calgary.

As with all New Economy LIVE events, leading-edge research provided the foundation for the discussion. Calgary Economic Development’s Research and Strategy team showcased the study produced with the International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada on the forecasted digital transformation (DX) spending in Calgary between 2019 and 2022.

“We are honoured to be the first economic development organization in the country to use IDC Canada’s spending guide data” said Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy, Calgary Economic Development. “We know the research findings have given Calgary another tool in the toolbox as we navigate a very challenging but opportunity-rich road ahead.”

Meng Cong, Manager, Marketing Insights & Analytics, from IDC Canada, cited while COVID-19 has reduced digital transformation spending worldwide, “digital technologies thrive relative to other non-digital transformation technology investments, with digital technology investments growing 7 per cent in 2020, while non-digital transformation investments declined by 5 per cent in 2020.”

The panel highlighted Calgary-based companies who embody the vision of Calgary in the New Economy; embracing technology to solve the world’s greatest challenges:

  • Nutrien is an agriculture business blowing past its e-commerce projections in 2020 and increasingly providing farmers with the data collection tools they need to balance land productivity and climate change.
  • Athennian is a legal tech company whose software helps law firms manage legal entities in the cloud and recently closed a $10M investment in seed and Series A funding.
  • Orpyx is a digital health therapeutics and manufacturing company that recently closed a $7.6M Series A investment round and has been tapped by the Government of Alberta to produce 40 million masks right here in the city.

When asked about Nutrien’s biggest challenge and opportunity related to digital transformation, Mike Webb, EVP and CHRO of Nutrien, highlighted that traditional agriculture has come a long way in embracing technology. “If you walked on a farm today, the amount of innovation being enabled by digital technology is remarkable. You can see individuals with thumb drives plugged into John Deere tractors,” Webb said.

The panel discussion also focused on the importance of building digital technologies with specific end users in mind to create immediate value. Athennian is striving to disrupt the legal profession and purposefully built their product for paralegals and not lawyers. Adrian Camara, CEO of Athennian, pointed out this was because paralegals manage massive amounts of structured data and the role requires doing the same tasks numerous times a day – two challenges ripe for technological disruption. “Opportunities for transforming the user experience and scaling access to legal help are immense,” Camara remarked.

The audience Q+A also highlighted the importance of security and privacy in pursuing digital transformation. Dr. Breanne Everett, CEO of Orpyx Medical Technologies, noted that while digital technology enables improvements in system efficiencies and transforms how care is provided “ensuring that the democratization of data does no harm will be key to the digitization of health care.”

Audience questions also focused on what talent will be needed to meet a new digital era in Calgary and the panel responses highlighted the need for greater diversity, critical thinking, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Everett said, “We really look for self-motivation. I will not build it for you. You have to have it – and come with it.”

Look out for two upcoming New Economy LIVE events in 2020 focusing on the Innovation and Talent pillars of our economic strategy. You can find the latest event information on our Events page.

Missed yesterday’s New Economy LIVE? Watch the full webinar below and share with your colleagues.

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