For this year’s Innovation issue, Avenue talked to six different leaders who host meetups for the city’s brightest minds within specific communities. From women-owned entrepreneurial events, tech, and data analyzing programs, to how local food companies can expand, these creative innovators are paving the way for Edmonton’s ideas of tomorrow.
COVID-19 update: Please check the websites and social media for updates and changes to the events.
Hosted by Innovate Edmonton, the Edmonton Innovation Ecosystem Community (EIEC) is a bi-monthly meeting where entrepreneurs come together to discuss ideas and opportunities, with a focus on tech startups. They give entrepreneurs —including students, early-stage startups and scaleup companies —the chances to have their voices heard and to learn about available assistance, in an entrepreneurial ecosystem that brings innovators together from students and investors to service providers and all orders of government, says Alex Hryciw, director of strategy at Innovate Edmonton. “The city and the provincial government [are] taking an interest in what’s going on in innovation, and how can we invest in it, and we want to make sure that the entrepreneur community is well represented,” says Ashlyn Bernier, co-chair of the Edmonton Advisory Council on Startups. This July, the meeting will be hosted virtually.
Uproot Food Collective Breakfast Sessions are about bringing together local food producers and sharing innovative ideas about anything from marketing and branding to learning how to reach a broader audience for companies still in their early stages. The sessions serve as a platform for local food producers to connect and find opportunities to expand together because “the tech industry has these spaces where people share ideas and find opportunities together, and we don’t really have that in the food producer’s industry”, says Chris Lerohl, CEO of Uproot Food Collective. The meetups serve as a way “to build that community and ecosystem and have that regular touchpoint for everybody to be able to find out how we can collaborate and work together and build this industry.” Currently, the organizers are considering hosting the next meeting as a webinar, and they advise potential participants to check Uproot’s social media for updates. The June session will cover food safety and HACCP certification.
The C-Tribe Festival is a five-day festival that brings together innovators, creators and celebrates diversity, catering to tech innovators and bringing them together with potential customers and investors. The festival also benefits musicians who can perform there and get in touch with label managers or new audiences..This year C-Tribe will have a Tokyo Street culture theme night with food, music and entertainment. Sahr Saffa, founder, and executive chairperson of C-Tribe, says the festival is about “giving the place for people to converge from different industries, perspectives and backgrounds.”
In March 2020, Think Indigenous celebrated its sixth year with an event that had 800 people on a waitlist. Think Indigenous is an education conference that focuses on implementing Indigenous knowledge and decolonization into the school systems. “This is just a platform to bring that forward and the key behind all of it is to highlight those programs and those schools and those education entities that are thinking through an indigenous lens and really returning those concepts to our children,” says Chris Scribe, executive director and founder of the event.
SHEInnovates is a group made up of women from all over Alberta that gets together to recognize the efforts of women who normally don’t receive it. The meetups happen three to four times a year where women from all sorts of industries come together and celebrate each other. In 2019, they recognized over 70 Alberta women who come from various fields. Jennifer Koury, co-chair of the first global chapter for SHEInnovates, based in Alberta, says “the purpose of SHEInnovates is to recognize those women that are making a difference in our communities through innovation. They could be from the government, academia, public or private sector, or be entrepreneu. We…connect them with investment funders, giving them a skill set, or mentoring”.
Edmonton Power Bi User Group are meetups co-hosted by Nagasatya Devarakonda and James Niblock with Alcanna Inc., Brad Shopland with DynaLIFE Medical Labs, and Iteration Insights, a data analytics company that focuses on helping other companies modernize their business processes. Its events bring together innovators who are interested in math, data and technology. During the Power Bi User Group meetups, attendees demo new technology and, in January, they demoed a “data-driven house hunting device to utilize an interactive map…to figure out where your ideal place to live would be, based on your budget, crime rate comfortability and need to be near schools,” says Renata Kalsbeek, marketing coordinator for Iteration Insights. “It’s important in the technology space to work together and keep up with everything that’s changing in the industry, and we believe that these user groups are a great way to hear all the different perspectives.”