Business incubators land $1.5 million to help entrepreneurs
The funding will help four Edmonton-based business incubators get companies off the ground
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Edmonton incubators will now help more entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses, after the province announced $1.5 million in funding for local organizations.
Startup Edmonton, TEC Edmonton, the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) had an existing partnership and joined forces to apply for the funding from the Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator Program.
The money will be split between all four organizations, although the announcement did not disclose how much each organization wil get.
“This funding will help incubators in Edmonton to quickly assess new business ideas and bring those with potential into the development system,” said Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd, on behalf of Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous.
“There are few things that are more exciting than to have that next great business idea,” he added. “Incubators like this are going to help to make sure those ideas have the chance to become reality.”
NABI program director Aaron Budnick said they’ll be able to work with more entrepreneurs to determine if they have a marketable product, who the ideal customer is and how to get their product to that customer.
“This is going to help us engage twice as many entrepreneurs per year compared to what we’ve done in the past,” Budnick said.
“We’ll be able to offer more coaching, more startup advice, specifically focused on how to make your idea commercially viable … we help identify that one little piece that was missing,” he added.
Startup Edmonton CEO Tiffany Linke-Boyko said entrepreneurs and small businesses play a crucial role in diversifying Alberta’s economy. In 2015, small businesses contributed nearly 1/3 of Alberta’s GDP, Shepherd said.
“For diversification to take hold, we need to see more of these entrepreneurs equipped to grow and create companies, and this investment from the province will help with this,” Linke-Boyko said.
She pointed to Edmonton-based businesses Jobber and Granify as innovative local companies that have seen success with the help of incubators.
Jobber, for example, created scheduling software for the field service industry, such as those working in landscaping or housekeeping.
“That industry tend to be very paper focused and really did everything the long hard way because they’re out in the field,” she said. “So they created a platform where people can take their iPad or phone and quickly do quotes or invoices for people.”
Now organizations like Startup Edmonton are hoping to create more of those success stories, Linke-Boyko said.
“It’s been incredible to see the entrepreneurial growth that has been happening in Edmonton over these last five years.”