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Shift by Alberta Innovates

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Shift is a podcast by Alberta Innovates that's dedicated to interviewing and showing how Alberta innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers are leading the future of innovation. Alberta has many unsung heroes and many interesting and important technological advancements being made that will greatly impact our lives. These deserve a spotlight, and by listening to Shift people will get a sense of how Alberta innovation is leading the way.
21 Episodes
This episode we're talking with Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Doug Schweitzer; and Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease about diversification and Alberta's economy and more.BIOSDoug SchweitzerMinister Doug Schweitzer was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta on April 16, 2019, as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow.A dedicated husband, father of 2 young girls and a long-serving community volunteer, Schweitzer has a strong record of public service, including previously raising funds for military families and serving as Vice Chair of the Calgary Drug Treatment Court. He is passionate about restoring Alberta's promise – an Alberta in which, no matter where you came from, if you worked hard, you could succeed.Schweitzer was a partner at a leading Alberta law firm as a restructuring and bankruptcy lawyer. This experience gave him a first-hand view of the staggering impacts of failed policies that have led to job losses, economic stagnation and a loss of hope.Doug Schweitzer was appointed as Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation on August 25, 2020. Schweitzer will oversee the implementation of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, its sector strategies and Alberta’s growth agenda.Schweitzer previously held the position of Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General where he made important progress tackling rural crime, advancing aspects of the fair deal panel report recommendations, and creating a faster, fairer and more responsible justice system. (Minister Schweitzer's bio was taken from the GoA's website.)Laura KilcreaseLaura Kilcrease is the Chief Executive Officer for Alberta Innovates, including its subsidiaries InnoTech Alberta and C-FER Technologies.Recruited from Austin, Texas, Laura is the founder and former-managing director of the venture capital fund Triton Ventures, LP. She is widely recognized as one of the key figures in changing Austin’s economic landscape from one struggling with the economic ups and downs that come with oil dependence to a high-tech environment that is today recognized as one of the #1 Entrepreneur City and best place to live and work in the U.S.She is the founder of the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), one of the United States’ first technology business incubators, and co-founder of the Austin Technology Council, a premier networking organization that cultivated the growth of the Austin economy. Laura also launched Capital Network, one of the largest angel investor networks in the U.S. with over $150 million in completed transactions.Laura has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in commercializing technology, and a deep understanding of how to identify and build new business opportunities. Prior to accepting the role as Alberta Innovates’ CEO, Laura was a seven-year member of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee, which guided the former Alberta Innovates’ corporations.In Austin, she gave her time and expertise to a number of non-profit boards, including the Women’s Leadership Advisory Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Beyster Institute, World Congress for Information Technology 2006, and the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, among many others.Laura has often been recognized for her outstanding achievements. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power Award, and the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Women in Business Leadership Conference Trailblazer Award.Born in London, Laura received her certification as a Chartered Management Accountant in the U.K. and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas. 
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a network of  devices and systems that are embedded with sensors and other technologies that are connected over the Internet for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems.IoT is a multi-billion dollar global industry. On this episode we talk with Brenda Beckedorf, the executive director of the Alberta IoT, about her organization's role in representing a unified voice for Alberta-based SMEs working in the field of IoTThe Alberta IoT is a nonprofit consisting of organizations with a vested interest in the success of the Internet of Things in Alberta. Their mission is to position Alberta as the worldwide center of excellence for the Internet of Things technology.
This is a special episode of Shift we recorded for Small Business Week in Alberta called Learn how to build a gazelle.In this case, we're not talking about the four-legged variety. In this context, a gazelle is a young, very fast-growing company. This type of company maintains consistent and rapid expansion of both employment and turnover.Join the Alberta Innovates Entrepreneurial Investment team as they lead you through an entrepreneur's journey of innovation from discovery to use.Learn how we can help you with coaching, community, and capital.Hear from:Sandra Candie - Director, Global PartnershipsMike Riou - Technology Development AdvisorDana Smits - Director, Capital Access & Major TransactionsPresented by the Hosts of Shift by Alberta InnovatesThis was a YouTube LIVE event. You can access the link here:
We're Shifting speeds this episode and talking with local writer, Scott Lilwall, who sat down with people in Alberta's innovation community to talk about the value of failure and the lessons it can teach us. Scott Lilwall is an Edmonton-based freelance writer and podcast producer. His writing has been featured on CBC, Alberta Innovates and many others. For this episode, he reached out and chatted with Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease, Jessica Doody, lead program manager from Startup Edmonton, and entrepreneur Bradley Poulette to talk about the role of failure in innovation, and what it's taught them about success.Read the articles referenced in the podcastThe upside of failureLearning from failure inspires entrepreneur Engineering failure to solve technology challenges
The legalization of cannabis is not without its hurdles. Science is seeking to fill the knowledge gaps when it comes to the implications and uses of medical cannabis, and the impact cannabis can have on recreational users. Cannabis entrepreneurs are looking to create long-term sustainable growth for this new industry they feel can help diversify Alberta's economy, all while wrestling with black market purveyors of questionable quality and other obstacles.  Today on Shift we explore both perspectives with John Carle from the Alberta Cannabis Council, and Dr. Sunil Rajput from Alberta Innovates. And if you listen intently you may even hear a challenge to partner... BIOJohn Carle is the executive director of the Alberta Cannabis Council, a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing growers, producers, and retailers together to identify how this new business can reach its potential in a ethical and organized manner.Dr. Sunil Rajput is a senior business partner with Alberta Innovates, and is the lead for the mCannabis program and the soon-to-launch mCannabisRWE (real world evaluation) program.
As lead up to the September 15, 2020 Women Leading Innovation event presented by Inventures Unbound and SHEinnovates, our guest today is Dr. Elizabeth Cannon. Elizabeth talks with us about women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; what it takes to succeed and to be a true leader; her goal of supporting women-led business and the important role she feels mentorship plays in helping one another succeed.BIODr. Elizabeth Cannon is former president and vice chancellor of the University of Calgary. She is a professional engineer and previously served as Dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Her technical expertise is in positioning and navigation systems with a particular focus on Global Positioning Systems.Elizabeth is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. She served as co-chair of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable and is a past chair of Universities Canada. Previously, she was a member of the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council in addition to many other boards and advisory councils.In 1998, Dr. Cannon was selected as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and in 2006 was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. Dr. Cannon holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mathematics from Acadia University as well as a BSc, MSc and PhD in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary, and has received honorary degrees from the University of Ottawa, Acadia University, the Université de Montréal and SAIT. 
2020 is the word we use for for perfect vision, but as with the year and how it's gone so far, we have to start seeing things in a new way. Today's guest, Karen MacKenzie, helps us to explore and understand the role Indigenous culture and practices play in contributing to building those new economies. We talk about female Indigenous entrepreneurs, building genuine relationships in business and how she works as a mentor to help other women grow as entrepreneurs.BIOKaren MacKenzie is a proud Cree-Métis woman and the co-founder and President of MacKintosh Canada, an Indigenous owned, international consulting company. Karen brings her traditional knowledge of indigenous ways into the contemporary workplace as this wisdom and way of being reflect “wise practices of high performance organizations”. As an international professional speaker, Karen inspires audiences to find their inner passion and to move forward in the direction of their dreams. She challenges individuals to recognize their own gifts, talents and genius and to “let it all out”. She is passionate about supporting the dreams and aspirations of the people, organizations and communities. Karen is a member of the Edmonton Police Commission and the Circle of Elders for Edmonton Catholic Schools, heralded as a wise practice across Canada enabling greater success rates for First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners. Karen is a Senior Advisory for the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership (IWCL), Coady Institute, St.Francis Xavier University along with her advisory role to IdeaConnector an online community supporting Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
Starting a company with the goal of creating an over-the-top media service for kids where parents can feel confident their children are watching appropriate shows is no easy task. Couple that with YouTube being one of your main competitors and the task almost seems impossible. Well, that's what Neil Gruninger and his partner Michael Lowe did when they created Kidoodle.TV.The online service has boomed in recent years, and we sit down to chat with Neil, the company's chief product officer, to get a better sense of how and why this Calgary-based company is achieving huge success.BIONeil was trained as a user interface designer with a fine arts degree in New Media. He and company CEO Michael Lowe founded Kidoodle.TV in 2012. 
Based on a methodology with benchmark statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other sources, the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) gave Alberta a D grade in terms of Innovation and placed Canada 14th out of 15 countries in their recent innovation report card. We discuss how Alberta and Canada traditionally do well in terms of creating startups, but we struggle as a province and a nation at turning these into globally successful products/services with sustainable growth.  According to an article Harry wrote for the CBoC's website, "while we produce almost 4% of the world’s research output and rank relatively high on creation of start-ups, Canada has had a mixed record on sustaining successful innovative companies."Join us for an enlightening conversation with Harry Sharma as we talk about the grading, what we can do to improve as a province and a nation, and the Capabilities-Centred Innovation Framework for Canada that he's put forward. BioHarry Sharma, Director, Innovation and Technology Harry Sharma joined the Conference Board of Canada in May 2019 and brings with him over 15 years of experience in innovation, science and technology related areas. Harry has worked in multitude of roles in small and large organizations and dealt with impact analysis, strategy development, program evaluations and development. As a leader, Harry has worked with government, private and non-for-profits sectors to initiate new funding programs in support of Canadian technology start-ups as well as to address skills development challenges internationally.Harry earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with Honours from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Master of Engineering in Engineering management from the University of Ottawa.Harry is leading the efforts to develop and implement the new Capabilities-Centred Innovation Framework for Canada. Alberta Innovates is one of the four partners in this endeavour and represents a West Canadian provincial perspective. 
In this episode we talk with Amos Schwartzfarb, managing director of Techstars Austin, and author of Sell More Faster about starting a business and "building belief by data." We dive into the importance of basing decisions on data, Amos's W3 methodology for increasing the likelihood of repeatability in terms of business success, chat about how rock climbing is a good analogy for starting a business, and how impostor syndrome sometimes creeps in! Bio Amos was born in the Bronx, NY and grew up in Fort Lee NJ. At a young age, Amos started seeking adventure and pushing limits. While attending college at the UMASS, Amos fell in love with rock climbing which brought him to Northern California in 1993 and eventually a job packing boxes for Shoreline Mountain Project. While there Amos helped turn an old school mail-order company into one of the first e-commerce companies which launched his career into the startup world. Shoreline later sold to Mountain Gear.In 2015, he moved over to the investor side as Managing Director of Techstars in Austin. Now after over 70 seed stage investments including Scalefactor, Chowbotics, Storyfit, VanRobotics, Skipper, Helpberbees, Convey, Docstation and Allstacks, Amos has become one of the more active early stage investors, via Techstars Austin in all of Texas.Amos is also the author of Sell More Faster - The Ultimate Sales Playbook for Startups. Amos wrote this book using his experience and network to create a guide to help every founder and startup sales leader in their quest to build a big and meaningful business. 
In this episode we take a deep dive into starting a business with Innovation Rodeo keynote speaker and best selling author Melinda Emerson and Bow Valley College's Chiu School of Business Entrepreneur-in-Residence Craig Elias.Melinda and Craig will share their insights on business: how to start one, pitch one, build networks/supports and move toward success. BiosMelinda F. Emerson, “SmallBizLady” is America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She is an internationally renowned keynote speaker on small business development, social media and content marketing. Melinda is also the president of the Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small business market. LinkedIn named her a Top Voice for 2019 in Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  In addition to being a former NY Times columnist, she is frequently quoted by media organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, CNBC and Fox News. She is the host of #Smallbizchat LIVE and The SmallBizChat Podcast. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. A prolific writer, Melinda has published more than 5000 articles on her blog Her small business advice is widely read reaching more than 3 million entrepreneurs each week online. She is the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, 2nd Edition, the ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja and her latest book is Fix Your Business, a 90 Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business.  She is graduate of Virginia Tech and received her Executive MBA from Drexel University.Melinda is speaking at this year's Innovation Rodeo, Monday, July 6 at 3:15. Buy your ticket now!Craig’s first startup won a global billion-dollar pitch idea competition and was twice chosen by Dow Jones as one of the 50 most promising startups in North America. Craig is now a Startup Mentor for the, B2B focused, Alchemist Accelerator, a Scaleup Mentor for the GrowthX Academy, on an advisory board for SXSW and is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Bow Valley College in downtown Calgary.Craig is also the lead organizer for the Innovation Rodeo, a five day (mornings) entrepreneurial extravaganza featuring an array of speakers and presenters running July 6-10, 2020. Alberta Innovates is proud to be a founding partner of the Innovation Rodeo. Register now!
In this episode we talk with Nermin Zukic, the Chair of Business from Keyano College, Said el Mejdani, Computer Science teacher from Westwood Community High School, and Sarptashi Bhattacherya, one of the student pitch winners from Inventures 2019. We discuss how Nermin, through Keyano College, worked with Said from Westwood Community High School to get, at the time, grade 10 student, Sarptashi Bhattacherya and two of his fellow classmates to Inventures 2019 to pitch their innovations before seasoned judges. In the end, Sarptashi was one of the three winners along with two others from Edmonton.Even though the story revolves primarily around Sarptashi, it goes beyond just him. There's something special going on up in Fort McMurray. Teachers from post-secondary and secondary schools are working together with passion and with students to deliver exceptional results in terms of innovation and achievement.  BiosSaptarshi Bhattacherya is a grade 11 student at Westwood Community High School in Fort McMurray. He loves to learn and is fascinated by the ability of computer science to unite people to solve the problems humanity faces today, and strives to share this fascination with others in his community. Said el Mejdani Is the computer science instructor at Westwood High School. He has a passion for disruptive technology and innovation. He embraces students either interested or uninterested in academics and provides an avenue for them to experience success. He knows every student can thrive when they drive their own learning, so he coaches students to think critically to reach their goals. Nermin Zukić is the Chair of Business at Keyano College in Fort McMurray. He has a diverse business background with professional roles in international economic development, private equity, business process consulting, as well as postsecondary education. Nermin believes in aligning local economic development and post secondary education. 
In this episode we talk with Edmonton-based entrepreneur Connie Stacey about her company Growing Greener Innovations, their flagship product the Grengine, and her journey to become a successful female entrepreneur in the male-dominated space of deep tech.
This episode of Shift is brought to you by Inventures Unbound, the ultimate platform for innovators, investors and industry to share, inspire and interconnect virtually. If you have a pass to Inventures 2020, you already have access to all of Unbound’s goodies. If you’d like access to just Unbound, there’s a pass for that at Inventures Canada Get your pass today!Todd's bioTodd Hirsch is the Vice President and Chief Economist for ATB Financial. For over 20 years, he’s worked as an economist at numerous organizations including the Canada West Foundation and the Bank of Canada. ​Laura's bioLaura Kilcrease leads Alberta Innovates as its Chief Executive Officer. Recruited from Austin, Texas, she is recognized as a significant motivator in shaping Austin’s economic revitalization.  Laura influenced the creation of the Austin Technology Council and founded the Austin Technology Incubator, where companies have raised over $3 billion to date. With over 25 years’ experience in commercializing technology, Laura is sharing her enthusiasm and entrepreneurial expertise to create innovation coalitions that leverage the talent and spirit of Alberta. Prior to becoming Alberta Innovates’ CEO, Laura was a seven-year member of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee. 
In his book The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark, writer and scientist Carl Sagan said, "if we're desperate enough, we become all too willing to abandon what may be perceived as the heavy burden of skepticism."In this age where pseudoscience and its spurious claims are seeing widespread promotion, the heavy burden of skepticism is one we should all shoulder just a bit more. In this episode, we talk with writer, tv host, and University of Alberta professor of health law and science policy Timothy Caulfield about misinformation in science, its roots, impacts, and his latest research project to develop tools to combat its spread.
COVID 19 has swept the globe and has left our Albertan innovation ecosystem in a state of fear and uncertainty. Businesses are struggling to handle the immediate pressure of balancing resources while maintaining revenue and the livelihood of their employees.Alberta Innovates remains committed to ensuring the viability of the innovation ecosystem through our coaching, community and capital investment support. These are extraordinary circumstances and we are working quickly to support Alberta business during this critical time.This episode features a round table discussion with Terry Rock, President and CEO of Platform Calgary; Lan Tan, Director of Entrepreneur Development at TEC Edmonton, and and Lindsay Spadavecchia, Technology Development Advisor with Alberta Innovates. The group discusses the current innovation ecosystem and how our communities are responding.Discussion topics included:The resources available for businesses and entrepreneursThoughts on maintaining your mental and physical health as a entrepreneurWays to leverage the ecosystem to keep things moving forwardTips on best way to stay connected during times of isolationTips on preparing for recoveryTogether, we have the fortitude and capacity to emerge from this challenge stronger and better.
In this episode we talk with David Almond, Executive Director of Information Technology at Alberta Innovates. Our discussion has many touch points, but the central theme is about using technology to solve business issues. We also talk about his vision of IT as a business partner rather than just a service, and the role Information Technology can play in Alberta's broader innovation ecosystem.
In this episode we talk with Mark Diner, director of the Alberta Data Institute, about the importance of data-enabled innovation and how the Institute is positioning itself to help Alberta companies and others succeed in using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve products and outcomes.  
In this episode we talk with Dawn Trautman about data and smart agriculture in Alberta, including a discussion of the Alberta Innovates' led Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN).    Dawn's bioDawn is a manager of Smart Agriculture and Food Innovation with Alberta Innovates. Her work involves designing programs and building relationships with the agri-food industry and scientific community to create a sustainable future for the industry.She was recently chosen as one of four 2020 Scholars for Nuffield Canada. Her topic of interest is the adoption of smart technologies in agriculture to sustainably produce more with less. This includes identifying and investigating opportunities to bring traditional agricultural operations into the digital ageShe grew up on a mixed beef-crop operation west of Edmonton, and was inspired at an early age to work in the agricultural industry. She has degrees in biology (BSc), agricultural economics (MSc), and business (MBA) at the University of Alberta.
In this episode we talk with Bryan Helfenbaum about the value-add of using the bitumen in Alberta's oil sands for things other than fuel, and introduces us to the newly-launched Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge.Bryan's bioBryan is the Executive Director of Advanced Hydrocarbons at Alberta Innovates, responsible for programs such as Recovery Technologies, Partial Upgrading, Digital Oilfield, and Bitumen Beyond Combustion.  Prior to joining Alberta Innovates, he spent 20 years in a wide variety of technical, business, and innovation roles in industry, most recently as Technology Manager at Devon Energy.  Bryan’s passion for innovation extends outside the office, where he teaches a course at the University of Calgary and has worked on innovative community residential development projects.  Bryan has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a Master’s degree in Business Administration, with a specialization in Global Energy Management & Sustainability, from the University of Calgary.  
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