Calgary’s Thin Air Labs is an innovation and investment firm, which builds future-fit ventures and helps grow a diverse ecosystem by raising money for startups.
“The ecosystem here is truly incredible,” said James Lochrie, Managing / Capital Partner at Thin Air Labs. “We look at companies that are in the idea stage, the prototyping stage, the pre commercialization stage, almost exclusively. That allows us to understand how those companies are being built. What I'm seeing today in Calgary is a real proliferation of early-stage companies tackling incredibly pragmatic problems that are at mass scale.”
Thin Air Labs has 17 companies in their portfolio, from health and education to games, and on the consultation side of the business, “we probably touch around 100 companies in a month.”
Calgary’s budding tech sector, with the expertise of companies like Thin Air Labs, is helping Alberta’s economy bounce back in a meaningful way.
“I think the key driver behind that is, when you look at the economic history of Calgary in particular, we create the biggest companies in Canada, create the biggest exits in Canada, and deploy the most capital into our venture-based businesses per capita, more than anyone else in Canada,” said Lochrie.
Another way Thin Air Labs supports the tech ecosystem is through the InceptionU and EvolveU full-stack developer retraining programs for displaced technical workers. The programs are targeted towards people with STEM backgrounds like engineers, chemical engineers and physicists, who were displaced from the energy workforce. The programs train about 100 people per year.
Lochrie is a firm believer that Calgary is Canada’s next technology hub, and a tremendous place to attract further business and talent.
“I don’t know why people continue to think that Calgary isn’t going to be Canada’s next technology hub. It already is.”
Lochrie and the Thin Air Labs team is continuously on the lookout for the next innovative idea.
“That’s what I do. I’m looking for the next entrepreneur who is building it, or even just thinking about it and not even building it yet. We’re really good at helping to understand how we take an idea to commercialization.”