Edmonton: Nurturing talent for a greener future
Long known as the heart of oil country, Alberta’s capital city of Edmonton is fast becoming Canada’s leading center for clean energy solutions, with its world-class learning institutions, research facilities and accelerator programs shaping the ambitious minds destined to drive the energy transition to a lower carbon future.
Edmonton’s infrastructure to develop and expand the city’s intellectual capital includes the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT), the University of Alberta (U of A) and a new accelerator program, imYEG, designed to increase the number and quality of commercial ventures at the earliest stages.
“Edmonton’s energy production is the economic backbone of our city and we rely on the thought-leaders who live here to propel our natural resources sector forward,” says Anna Look, Director, Explore Edmonton Business Events.
“Our innovative post-secondary institutions offer state-of-the-art programs, attracting talent from across the country, while the support provided by our local energy ecosystem, including all levels of government, makes Edmonton the ideal base for thought-leaders to build their careers in an exciting, inspirational industry.”
Attracted by Edmonton’s rich intellectual capital, international organizations and companies within the natural resources sector are choosing Edmonton to host their business events and conferences, enriching their programs with stimulating speakers, immersive off-site tours and networking opportunities.
Elite institutions for a smart city
Educational and research facilities in Edmonton, including post secondary education institutions, offer a strong focus on alternative energy, providing the skills and talent to generate advancements in this field.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT) Alternative Energy Technology program trains students for careers in solar electric, solar thermal, geothermal, wind, hydro, bioenergy and cogeneration, while the University of Alberta (U of A) has 7,000 students enrolled in energy and environmental programs.
The U of A’s Future Energy Systems research program is backed by $75 million from the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence fund, aimed to help Canada make the change to a low net-carbon energy economy.
As Director of Future Energy Systems, Dr Anne Naeth is responsible for overseeing the strategic and administrative operations, as well as developing partnerships with other research organizations, industry and government.
At Future Energy Systems, we aim to develop the energy technologies of the near future and integrate them into today’s infrastructure, while considering all the possible consequences for our society and environment,” says Dr Naeth. We believe the future starts later today – not the flying cars era, but technology that will impact our lives very soon. We’re planning for the future and we’ll train a new generation of experts who can spend their careers integrating new energy systems into our society.
In particular, the Undergraduate Research Initiative at Future Energy Systems enables undergraduate students in any year to enrich their university experience through hands-on discovery and skill development in a world-class research environment.
Nurturing entrepreneurial spirit
The exceptional programs offered at Edmonton’s educational institutions in the areas of clean energy solutions nourishes burgeoning talent, while students who embark on commercial ventures as they complete their studies are also supported by visionary accelerator programs.
Launched in January 2021, imYEG is a pre-accelerator program created by a business management consultancy in Edmonton in collaboration with the University of Alberta, supported by the Government of Canada.
“imYEG is designed to connect researchers at the U of A with experienced entrepreneurs to help innovators overcome those early barriers faced as they begin on the path to commercialization,” says Look.
Innovators who enrol in imYEG gain direct access to highly experienced mentors who provide advice in areas such as intellectual property, financing and regulations, to help build a strong foundation for a successful business launch.
Many of the pilot ventures being supported by imYEG in the first phase include energy and clean technology, reinforcing Edmonton’s position as a world leader in the journey towards a lower carbon future.
“From state-of-the-art training institutions to innovative accelerator programs, every level of Edmonton’s clean energy solutions ecosystem is supported and pushed into actualization, always starting with our innovative thought-leaders,” says Look.
“By boosting our local community of entrepreneurs, we continue to expand our talent base, lure major energy companies to choose Edmonton as their base, and attract diverse conferences and events in the natural resources sphere.”
The heart of innovation
Edmonton’s reputation as a global leader in sustainable energy practises continues to attract international conferences for energy organizations who wish to access some of the most highly qualified scientists in the world to augment speakers’ series and workshops.
“Our people are the life-blood of Edmonton’s fast-growing clean energy sector,” says Look. “They come here for the remarkable training and workplace opportunities and stay for the lifestyle.”
Boasting the most green space per capita in Canada, Edmonton’s vast urban park system affords incredible outdoor adventures, from hiking, canoeing and cycling in summer, to cross country skiing, snow shoeing and ice skating in winter.
“In addition to Edmonton’s unbeatable outdoor offerings, this young, vibrant city emanates a friendly, exuberant atmosphere, particularly evident in the busy festival calendar, buzzing theatre scene and downtown restaurant precinct,” says Look.
Delegates visiting Edmonton for business events and conferences during August can attend the world-famous, annual Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the oldest and largest fringe theatre festival in North America.
“With 18 hours of sunlight during the day in summer, there’s plenty of time to make the most of Edmonton’s many cultural events, from culinary and music celebrations, to craft beer and art festivals,” says Look.
“We work closely with meeting planners to create inspiring programs that are just the right mix of seminars, workshops, facility tours, networking, local experiences and after-hours fun.”
Meetings with purpose
By enriching programming with industry innovators and meaningful localized tours, business event organizers can attract more delegates, increase revenues, and inspire future generations.
“We call that 'meeting with purpose’,” says Look, pointing out that when the time is right for in-person events to resume, Edmonton is poised to show off its expansive natural resources ecosystem.