Technology is increasingly a foundation of Alberta’s economy. Our energy sector has driven technological advancements and is sustained by ongoing innovation.
The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is one of Alberta's key sectors with approximately 4.600 companies, 40,000 employees and $15 billion in annual revenues in 2016.
The number of technology companies in Alberta has increased by 87% since 2009. Many successful companies have Fortune 1000 clients and attract large equity investments.
Alberta’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem, in particular, has seen an incredible upswing in growth, attracting various research labs and an increased number of AI start-ups. We are home to one of 3 Canadian AI hubs, which includes numerous artificial intelligence start-ups, research labs/institutes, accelerators/incubators, and investor organizations.
The technology sector enjoys many strengths: a growing creative cluster, excellent post-secondary and research institutions, and established infrastructure. Plans by TELUS to invest $16 billion over 5 years to expand its broadband infrastructure and prepare for 5G will ensure Alberta has access to world-class wireless and wireline connectivity to support further innovation.
Our blueprint for jobs
Companies seek a competitive, innovative environment to commercialize their technology and products. This is equally true for tech start-ups as it is for our established global energy companies.
As part of A Blueprint for Jobs, we are supporting and accelerating research, innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship by investing more than $200 million to develop talent, grow sectors, leverage funding from partners and private sector, and help drive global investment. This includes:
- $184 million for Alberta Innovates (including post-secondary grants) for initiatives or investment opportunities in:
- artificial intelligence
- quantum computing
- digital health — leveraging compentencies to control healthcare costs, improve health outcomes and attract investment
- oil — exploring potential growth opportunities through:
- alternative bitumen transport technologies
- bitumen beyond combustion (carbon fibres, asphalts, etc.)
- natural gas and clean energy
- agriculture innovation for the future farm
- $41 million at Economic Development, Trade and Tourism to support innovation, including policy, strategy, technology partnerships and enhanced research capacity
- $1.85 million at Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC) to connect Alberta inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to money, markets and mentors
We will maintain investments in the technology sector in order to:
- sustain our commitment to lead on AI
- commercialize research and intellectual property
- enable access to capital
- administer the new Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit
A technology sector strategy as part of A Blueprint for Jobs will include:
- getting input from the Innovation Working Group
- aggressively supporting and promoting the province’s global position as a leader in AI and machine learning, including commercialization
- ensuring prospective investors are aware of the advanced industries environment already established in Alberta, including post-secondary training, entrepreneur-driven companies, world-class infrastructure, and an improving business environment
- ensuring students have the skills and training necessary to successfully engage with high technology sectors, including the provision of training through the private sector
- developing a broadband strategy to support regional economic development
One of the biggest barriers to growth in Alberta’s digital economy is a shortage of people with relevant skills and experience. A Blueprint for Jobs will address this challenge through:
- The creation of the Startup Visa Stream within the new Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy. The startup visa will offer fast track processing for qualified graduates of top universities if they commit to launch a startup enterprise in Alberta, with a bridge to permanent residency through the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. The visa will initially target foreign student graduates in the United States.
- The Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Program will offer similar fast track immigration opportunities for foreign nationals who have graduated from Alberta post-secondary institutions. This stream will be supported by a renewed strategy to attract highly qualified foreign students to Alberta colleges and universities.