Eleven local technology companies were honoured Tuesday for the roles they have played in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in Alberta.
The companies – who work in fields such as cloud computing, oil and gas, telecommunications and more – were declared winners at the 2014 TechRev Innovators awards night.
An initiative of Innovate Calgary, TechRev aims to increase awareness of and investment activity in the technology sector in the Calgary region. More than 600 companies were nominated this year, and the winners were selected based on factors like financial performance, operational growth, and market viability.
Peter Garrett, Innovate Calgary interim president, said the honourees represent the ingenuity and “can-do” spirit that has become synonymous with Calgary.
“The passion for innovation and perseverance to succeed is inspiring and we are proud to celebrate the achievements of the technology startup community,” he said.
Garrett added that while Calgary may be known as an oil and gas city, its technology community is not to be overlooked. Out of 165 technology companies recently surveyed by Innovate Calgary, 82 per cent released at least one new product or new version in the past year, 30 per cent expanded their international reach in the past year, and 64 per cent created new jobs in the past year.
All of the winning companies are using their technological know-how to bring unique solutions to their clients. In the case of Irricana-based Decisive Farming, which has grown its employee base from 17 people to 27 in the past year alone, those clients are agricultural producers. The company designs software and services that help farmers make decisions about precision agronomics, soil fertility, crop marketing, risk management, data management, and more.
CEO Remi Schmaltz said his advice to prospective entrepreneurs is to keep their finger on the pulse of change. In his case, that meant recognizing the way the arrival of high-speed Internet access in rural areas, combined with the popularity of smartphones, would revolutionize farming.
“Now that this technology’s cheap and it’s affordable, relatively speaking, farmers are adopting it quickly,” he said. “Farmers are busy, they wear many hats, and they need to be able to access their information.”
Bryan de Lottinville, CEO of charitable giving software company Benevity, said another key is getting core people on board and excited about your vision. He said this is critically important in Alberta, where it can be difficult to compete with the oil and gas sector on wages.
“The reality is most of the people who have come to us in the past, came to work at a discount to what they could be getting at one of the oil and gas companies,” de Lottinville said, adding his company now counts 20 Fortune 500 companies among its clients and has 43 employees – up from just 12 two years ago.
“They did it because they wanted to work at an early-stage opportunity that not only has prospects, but also has a bit of meaning for them. So you need to find key people who share your passion and values at the outset.”
Other winners at Tuesday’s event were medical technology company Calgary Scientific; Code Excellence, whose software aims to help eliminate potential system crashing code defects; Lumiant Corporation, which has developed a patentpending material called TitanMade that has the strength of steel alloys, but is less than half the weight; MRF Geosystems Corporation, a geographic information systems company with software products licensed to 6,000 customers; Nanalysis Corporation, which is developing a family of portable Nuclear Magnetic Resonance devices for the laboratory instrumentation space; Packers Plus, which develops technologies for oil and gas applications; Tactalis, which has created a tactile computer interface and online content store for people who are blind or visually impaired; TEKTELIC Communications, which designs telecom solutions to address the rapidly growing data requirements faced by service providers; and TetraSeis, a developer of seismic data processing technologies.