Posted tagged ‘Edmonton Economic Development Corporation’

From great muffins to great minds

October 30, 2009
Staff-21 resize

Jenni Salonga, Neil Caarsemaker, David Riddell, Brian Mycholuk, Candace Brimsmead

You’ll find the Edmonton Research Park at the junction of Parsons Road and Karl Clark Road.
A linear red and grey building marks the spot. That’s the Advanced Technology Centre where Candace Brinsmead has her office. She is the vice-president of technology advancement with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.
Brinsmead describes the ATC, built in the 1980s, as “looking like a bunker from the road but it’s actually very cool, still a contemporary looking space. The Advanced Technology Centre was one of the premier buildings and it was designed as an incubator. It’s an award winning architectural wonder.”
The ATC currently houses 33 tenants: startup companies with a focus on biotechnology, information and communications technology and energy technology.
“We also have Research Centre One which was built in the late 1970s. It’s more for second stage companies. And then, more recently, we’ve added the Biotechnology Business Development Centre to our stable of incubators and it focuses on biotechnology development.”
As you wind down Karl Clark Road through the Edmonton Research Park, you’ll pass by a number of buildings which house companies like Micralyne, Schlumberger, C-FER, Syncrude, and Affexa, the company that makes Cold-fx… and then there’s the ill-fated Dell building. Then you curve around a large pond where flocks of Canada geese gather year round, finally ending up at the Alberta Research Council.
Just in case you’re wondering who Karl Clark was, he’s the scientist who, in the 1920s, invented the hot water process for separating bitumen from the oil sands, thereby laying the foundation for today’s oilsands industry. His work was among the first projects of the Alberta Research Council.
Edmonton Research Park covers a quarter section of land. It was much larger until a few years ago when the City sold off the Park’s reserve on the other side of Parson’s Road. That’s where you’ll now find the shopping complex known as South Edmonton Common. Seems at the time, our City fathers didn’t think this “research and technology stuff” would ever amount to much.
But today, not only is Edmonton’s biotechnology cluster taking off, the Research Park is bursting at the seams.
According to Brinsmead, “We only have four lots available, and there are negotiations going on for three of those. So yes, we’re going to need to expand fairly soon. And we will be looking to the Southlands to do that.” The Southlands is 85 acres of provincially controlled land immediately south of the Research Park.
“Because we see a boom coming in the technology sector, it will be a much more dense area than the Research Park is now,” Brinsmead predicts. “Right now we pretty well have a zoning limit of two floors. We see that we’re probably going to have to go up to eight floors and have fairly dense office and lab space.
“We’re also going to have to start initiating conversations with the City and with the Province to look at what we can do to bring rapid transit down here, or at least shore up the mass transit system that we’ve got now.”
This is where’s Brinsmead’s enthusiasm really kicks into high gear. She has that gut sense honed by years of experience that this Research Park holds great potential.
As an entrepreneur, she ran a company that sold low fat muffins to McDonald’s across Canada, then sold it to a multi-national enterprise. She put her banking experience to good use at the Alberta Research Council where she ran an investment fund worth $6 million. Her supervisor at ARC was Ron Gilbertson, the man who is now heads up EEDC.
“I respected him as a visionary, and I think he respected the skills that I had that probably executed towards that vision. So when he came over to EEDC, he approached me because they were looking at an expand role in trying to get technology to market, where the City could play a larger role.”
Brinsmead describes the vision for the Edmonton Research Park as a community where great minds mingle and great ideas are born and nurtured into new technologies.
“It will be a very exciting campus of different technologies, different researchers, different minds but with synergies created between the sectors.
“So we have a gated community where once you’re in, you’re in a whole different world. We plan on having one restaurant, one fitness area, one daycare centre, one social committee where events are being planned. The idea is the more we can get these minds to socialize… to talk… to exchange ideas… to be able to run across the street if they are thinking about something that might be needed in whatever they are working on. That is the vision, where we’ve got a focused, tightly knit community.”
And it doesn’t stop there. The plan is to reach outside the Park by building networks throughout the innovation community across Edmonton, the province, the country, maybe even the world.
“It’s a big vision, but it’s totally doable.”
One of the immediate projects that Brinsmead is involved in is the new regional alliance between ERP, TEC Edmonton, the National Institute for Nanotechnology, novaNAIT, and NABI, the Northern Alberta Business Incubators.
She explains the alliance. “Primarily we create space. The idea is we horse trade. And we will be able to work together, the five of us, to do what’s best for the tenant.” Those tenant needs may be office space, lab space, or services like mentorship, help with commercialization, and so on. But the regional alliance becomes one point of entry for the tenant or inventor who’s trying to move a new concept along the innovation chain.
Then comes the second and third layers of the regional alliance. Says Brinsmead, “The second layer, we’re going to get into the product developers, the people who can help scale up. And, at some point, the third level will be the people who can fund some of these ideas.”
The system Brinsmead describes is very much aligned with the new innovation framework introduced this spring by Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. There’s the emphasis entrepreneurship and technology commercialization, the concierge concept, and the focus core strengths, energy, health, ICT and biotechnology.
Has Edmonton got what it takes to stand out on the world stage?
Brinsmead is confident we do—given the people, facilities and support both public and private.
“If you look around the world and look at the major research parks, there are none out there that have the technology or the government support and map that we’ve got. Finland is the only one that I’ve read about so far where there’s actual government involvement and collaboration.
“Instead of saying we have to make money from this right off the bat, they are saying create value for us. Create the technologies that are going to create the businesses that are going to succeed and contribute to the city. Create the technologies that are going to save lives. Create the technologies that are going to save our environment.”
And you can count on Candace Brinsmead to make sure the Edmonton Research Park will be front and centre in facilitating these breakthroughs. √


Investors are Seeking Safe and Practical Investment Opportunities

October 26, 2008





Recently Edmonton was named one of the 21 Smartest Communities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).   Yet the technology and life science sectors of Edmonton seem to have fallen below the radars of many economic strategists in the past.  However, in the state of the current economic crisis facing the world today, along with the commitment of Edmontonians Visionaries and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), more and more economic strategists are becoming aware of the financial and investment potential of Edmonton. 


Raising this awareness, Edmontonians Visionaries has an eighteen year history of promoting the economic and social energy of Edmonton and the surrounding areas.  Publisher of Edmontonians, a monthly publication aimed toward the commerce leaders and individuals of the community, Edmontonians strives to develop effective mediums that promote the commerce aspect of Edmonton.  Also raising awareness and owned by the city of Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) is a non-profit organization responsible for many things, including the economic development of Edmonton.  But what exactly are these two institutions promoting?   


Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), a prestigious technology institute, is an investors’ paradise.  Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has been noted for its many achievements, including creating and operating Canada’s first commercially operated fuel cell, providing the institution with 8% of their energy needs.  And more green products and programs at NAIT are underway that are expected to save the institution over $100,000 a year per program in energy costs. 


NAIT is active in twenty-three countries and is currently serving as one of Alberta, Canada’s top thirty-five employers.  They pride themselves in having a 95% graduate placement rating, as well as a 98% employer satisfaction rating.  In short, NAIT possesses the necessary resources as well as the potential to develop new energy technology that the world so desperately needs.


More about NAIT and other Edmonton investment possibilities coming in future posts.