Photo credit: Neil Zeller
Two Alberta-based companies are getting backing from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) to help upskill local talent, create high-skill jobs and build, grow and scale new technology and tech companies in the city.
AltaML Inc. and Harvest Builders are the 10th and 11th ventures to receive funding from the City of Calgary economic development fund that makes investments in key sectors.
Harvest, a Calgary-based venture builder that provides a de-risked co-building approach to growing a business, will receive up to $4 million over three years to help create and sustain infrastructure in Calgary, allowing startups in western Canada to test new technologies and grow their businesses.
“This investment will enable Harvest to expand our initial pilot, and work with founders to co-build new companies that continue to fuel the funnel of new innovation and technology here in Calgary," says Harvest CEO Chris Simair.
Harvest Builder’s portfolio will initially focus on the fintech and proptech sectors, with plans to expand to other portfolios in the future. The Harvest platform is expected to create at least 290 funded high skill full-time jobs.
“Harvest has made a significant investment in Calgary that empowers local entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas, creates highly-skilled technology jobs for Calgarians and supports a more vibrant tech ecosystem that will create opportunities to drive greater economic growth,” said Mary Moran, Chief Executive Officer for OCIF.
AltaML focuses on using machine learning to offer innovative business solutions to its clients. It will receive up to $3.25 million to create a new data science internship program that will accelerate AI/ML skill development through hands-on, mentored work experience, addressing the shortage of local experienced AI/ML talent.
“It’s a no-brainer for AltaML to be in Calgary with all the decision makers, capital and data concentrated here, but a constraint on our plans for growth is the availability of local AI/ML talent,” says AltaML Co-founder and CEO Cory Janssen. “. Now with industry and post-secondary partnerships and support from OCIF, we can begin implementing it. We are proud to lead this initiative and to partner with these premiere Calgary companies.”
The company has partnered with ATB Financial and Spartan Controls in the creation of the program, which will launch its first, three-month cohort to 240 participants in October.
“We are excited to support AltaML, who is a proven leader in developing and commercializing ML software, in building out the programming and training foundation to address the need for talent to take advantage of opportunities critical to companies’ growth in our market. OCIF is excited to support and partner with AltaML and their established industry players to put Calgary on the map and train the next generation of AI and ML talent to help support and grow the local ecosystem” says Mark Blackwell, Chair of the OCIF Board.
Both AltaML and Harvest are taking up real estate in downtown Calgary. Harvest is headquartered in East Village, a community becoming a growing hub of innovation, tech and entrepreneurism.
“For the past seven years, the East Village Experience Centre has been the central storytelling space to describe the unfolding EV vision,” says Kate Thompson, President and CEO, CMLC. “With much of that vision now underway and complete, partnering with Harvest was an opportunity to reimagine the building to support EV’s growing commercial life and welcome a growing team of entrepreneurs to the community.”
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund was launched by The City of Calgary in April 2018 to support investments that spur growth and create jobs in strategic sectors identified in the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy.