Global tech accelerator to open Calgary headquarters
November 17, 2021
CALGARY – Global business accelerator Plug and Play announced a new headquarters in Calgary as the city’s $100-million investment fund pledged to support its efforts to connect local tech startups to international corporations. In return, Plug and Play will open a new headquarters in the city to deliver accelerator programs in digital health, sustainable clean resources and AI, connecting local startups to corporate partners.
“This is an outcome that will have lasting impacts on the city of Calgary,” Mark Blackwell, executive chair with OCIF, said during a news conference in the city’s southwest.
“Quite frankly, we’re too small of a city, too small of a province, for us to go alone. And we have to do this to attract the best in the world to Calgary and Alberta.”
Headquartered in Silicon Valley, the global tech investor and accelerator firm has a network of more than 500 corporations and 30,000 startups, as well as hundreds of venture capital firms, universities and government agencies.
“We want to be the bridge between Calgary, Edmonton and Silicon Valley to connect the dots,” said Saeed Amidi (pictured), CEO and founder of Plug and Play.
“If we utilize the connectivity with that database, we could make Calgary and Alberta the centre of innovation for digital health, remote health. It really could create magic.”
Corporations including Walmart, Cargill, Mercedes, Ford and McDonalds look to Plug and Play for emerging digital technologies, said Amidi.
But startups are the bread and butter of the global tech accelerator. Plug and Play invests in more than 200 startups per year globally, Amidi said, with plans to invest in 80 startups per year in Calgary.
“Forty of those 80 startups will get additional funding, and they will have clients through our corporate partners,” said Amidi.
In the health tech sector alone, Plug and Play is connected to about 40 pharmaceutical companies and hospital groups that look to them for diagnostic technology, he said.
Plug and Play will be supported by a funding consortium led by Alberta Innovates, an Alberta government Crown corporation.
Three orders of government are investing approximately $35 million for the Alberta Scaleup and Growth Accelerators Program, which aims to create 20,000 jobs and $5 billion in technology firm revenue by 2030.
This includes funding from Alberta’s Department of Jobs, Economy and Innovation to Alberta Innovates to manage the program, and from the federal government through Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) to expand funds available to not-for-profit business accelerators. The initiative also includes Innovate Edmonton and the OCIF at the municipal level.
Jobs and Economy Minister Doug Schweitzer said Plug and Play’s presence in Alberta will fast-track the province’s “emerging and maturing technology sector.”
More than 3,000 tech companies are now located in the province, up from 1,200 in 2018, Schweitzer said.
Plug and Play Alberta was selected for OCIF support after putting out a request for proposals (RFP) in March for business incubators to address a ‘scale-up gap’ for local tech companies in Calgary.
According to Alberta Innovates, half of all startups in the province survive more than five years but only 0.1 per cent of small firms become mid-sized. Only two per cent of mid-sized firms grow to become large companies.
The OCIF was launched by the City of Calgary in 2018 to support investments that spur growth and create jobs in strategic sectors. Plug and Play is the 17th organization to be approved for funding.
Source: Calgary Herald