Calgary boasts 450+ tech startups and continues to grow
Calgary’s tech innovators and entrepreneurs are leading digital transformation across the province and the world. Calgary is growing alongside Alberta into a global tech hub.
“The Calgary tech startup scene has experienced significant growth in recent years,” says Terry Rock, President and CEO at Platform Calgary. “We have more than 450 tech-enabled startups, and that number continues to grow rapidly. Calgary has seen major increases in venture capital investments and has achieved four billion-dollar unicorn valuations in the last two years. We are excited about the continuing growth in the next few years.”
Alberta appeals to tech startups for the following reasons:
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- Considerable software development expertise is readily available.
- Superb English that is idiomatically close to American English.
- International airports with regular connections to global markets.
- Superior, reliable telecommunications.
- Significant data centre capacity.
- The similar time zone eases communication with the U.S. headquarters.
- Operating cost advantages include Canada’s lowest corporate tax rate, no payroll tax, health care premiums or provincial sales tax.
- Real estate cost for offices and housing is far less than in other large Canadian cities.
- Attractive recreation possibilities in the cities and the mountains.
- A multicultural region that attracts and retains top minds.
- An excellent transportation system with no gridlock.
- Global Talent Stream and the Startup Visa programs that expedite visas.
- Modest energy cost.
- Highly available utilities – natural gas, electricity and water.
Here are some innovative Calgary information technology startups you will find fascinating to explore further:
Access eHealth has developed the AccessEMR Software as a Service (SaaS) application that is specifically tuned to the requirements of long-term care facilities.
“AccessEMR is well-received at long-term care facilities because it represents a significant step forward in functionality,” says Mahmud Mustapha, MBBS, MSc, the founder of Access eHealth. “My background in health informatics and as a clinical physician allowed me to lead our development team to ensure our software supports the unique workflows of frontline workers and administrators.”
The first customer completed the application beta test in three Calgary facilities in March 2021. That organization became the first customer and added nine more facilities. The AccessEMR soft launch occurred in July 2021. Five long-term care organizations in Calgary are now using the application.
Access eHealth’s ambition is to conquer the North American market for EMR applications at long-term care facilities. Approximately half of these facilities operate without an EMR at present. COVID-19 revealed many shortcomings at these facilities and significantly increased interest in EMR.
AccessEMR differentiators compared to its less capable competitors include:
- More functionality.
- More attention to the clinical workflow of frontline care providers.
- User-friendliness of the user interface.
- Lower implementation and operating costs.
- HIPPA compliance.
Mahmud Mustapha participated in the Platform Calgary Junction accelerator program in 2020. The program helped Mahmud better understand the entrepreneur’s journey. Subsequently, he worked with The Accelerator and a mentor.
For more information, visit the Access eHealth website.
8 Bit Cortex offers technology for the workplace to tackle chronic stress to support wellness, improve productivity, reduce turnover and improve safety.
“We are building a platform to gamify cognitive testing to make tracking your mental wellness fun and engaging while producing actionable insight,” says Ty McKinney, the co-founder of 8 Bit Cortex.
The platform consists of:
- An app that individuals use on their smartphone to play a game that assesses their mental health.
- Server-side AI software that evaluates the data produced by the game using a proprietary algorithm that Ty developed.
Using the platform allows organizations’ leadership teams to see how employees really feel behind the curtain of anxiety or embarrassment. Those facts enable organizations and individuals to develop strategies to reduce burnout.
8 Bit Cortex is applying software and gamification concepts to better leverage the shortage of mental health professionals and overcome the difficulties associated with traditional question-based assessment tools. The problems that undermine the validity of conventional assessments include:
- The subjectivity of questionnaires.
- The boredom that individuals experience completing questionnaires.
- Individuals providing the answer the assessment wants to hear rather than their true feelings.
- Testing in an uncomfortable clinical setting rather than a real-world environment.
“The large number of resignations some organizations are experiencing, the lessening of stigma around discussion of mental health and a desire to improve employee wellness are increasing interest in our platform,” says Shannon Snaden, the other 8 Bit Cortex co-founder.
8 Bit Cortex has participated in many startup competitions, including the MIT Covid-19 hackathon, Neuronexus, Platform Calgary, and RBC. These competitions helped 8 Bit Cortex refine its product vision.
8 Bit Cortex software-as-a-service (SaaS) is hosted on the AWS cloud through credits it won as a finalist at the MIT hackathon.
For more information, visit the 8Bit Cortex website.
Integrity Technology Solutions
Integrity Technology Solutions (ITS) developed the OnetrAiQ SaaS application to significantly improve the productivity and accuracy of auditors performing joint venture audits in the energy industry. For example, a manual audit of approximately 1,000 invoices requires up to 35 hours of an auditor’s time. With the OnetrAiQ SaaS application, an auditor requires less than one hour to review the invoices that the automated process could not resolve.
“The OnetrAiQ software interprets scanned images of invoices and transaction tickets using AI/ML to validate the information for the energy industry’s complex joint venture agreements,” says Cody Austin, the CEO of Integrity Technology Solutions. “This step is the precursor to real-time transaction audit.”
For non-operating participants in joint ventures, the benefits of OnetrAiQ include the following:
- Cheaper or more comprehensive audits.
- More reliable audit findings.
- Ability to correct findings better, faster, and cheaper.
The adoption of OnetrAiQ has increased since 2021 as many companies use joint ventures to mitigate project development risk. Also, determined divestment efforts have reduced access to capital for the industry, leading to more joint ventures.
ITS’s founders come from an auditor background with a deep understanding of the industry’s pain points. By combining this subject matter expertise with proprietary AI/ML technology, the ITS SaaS solution has significantly mitigated the risks associated with joint venture investment.
ITS participated in the Alberta Innovates accelerator program and the Platform Calgary Junction program. ITS was ranked one of the Top 10 startups for 2021 and was a Top 5 finalist in the Inventure$ AI in the Datasphere competition.
For more information on how ITS is changing the energy joint venture audit market, visit the Integrity Technology Solutions website.
My Normative offers the world’s first female-focused health platform. The app provides consumer-friendly data collection processes to create world-class menstrual cycle identification data. It helps end-users track and understand how hormones impact activity levels, sleep quality, mood, activity, appetite, and fatigue.
The app gathers data through biometrics and clinically validated self-assessment questions. It leverages technologies to determine shifts in the underlying physiology to make health improvement recommendations to women using the app.
“My Normative addresses gender inequities in health,” says Danika Kelly, the founder and CEO of My Normative. “Almost all medical treatment recommendations are based on research that used young, white, adult male subjects.”
Significant differences between men and women are noticeable in the following differences in disease occurrences:
- Women are more likely to stroke than men.
- 75 percent of osteoporosis cases occur in women.
- 80 percent of hip replacements are performed on women.
- Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as men.
My Normative’s goal is to narrow gender inequities in health outcomes by gathering more women’s health data and curating it to a higher level of quality. That anonymized data will enable researchers to reliably understand physiological differences between men and women. Better data-driven research will lead to more gender-specific medical treatment recommendations.
My Normative expects to reach 5,000 app downloads this summer. Its revenue model is based on a paid, premium app version and sales of medically de-identified data to researchers.
My Normative participated in the Platform Calgary Junction program and is now enrolled in the investment readiness program.
For more information, visit the My Normative website.
OraQ is a state-of-the-art AI-driven clinical decision support system. The solution implements a value-based, precision dentistry model focused on prevention. The solution also does not rely on the experience or background of the dentist.
“We want dentists to shift their discussion with patients from reacting to dental problems to prevention and risk reduction,” says Dr. Amreesh Khanna, DDS, BMed.Sc., GPR Cert., FICOI, founder and CEO of OraQ AI Inc. “Our goal is better access to care for patients regardless of geographic location and economic status.”
OraQ provides dentists with the following benefits:
- Advanced and consistent patient evidence-based assessments using AI analytics.
- Quicker, more productive assessments recognize the value of the dentists’ time much more than the current manual process.
- Real-time access to the collective wisdom of a large community of dentists.
- Competitive advantage by offering higher-value procedures.
- Simple integration with dental practice management software.
Dr. Khanna and his partners began their startup journey with an academic research study of their ideas conducted with the U of A Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and a technology validation study conducted with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII).
They founded OraQ AI in June 2021. The planned launch of the beta software release to 25 dental practices that have agreed to participate starts in July 2022. The production launch in 2024 is dependent on regulatory approval from the FDA and Health Canada
For more information, visit the OraQ website.
The Rambody platform is the new generation of training assistants, connecting personal trainers to their clients globally. Rambody offers one app for personal trainers and another one for workout clients.
“Rambody provides the tools for meaningful interactions between personal trainers and their clients,” says Farzan Havaee, founder and CEO of Rambody. “Our apps are gaining market share because they are more user-friendly.”
Rambody has grown to approximately 50,000 clients who have recently bought $2,000,000 in training packages on the platform. Rambody receives a small fee whenever a training package is sold. About 6,000 personal trainers use Trainer Rambody to improve their productivity and income. Most of the current users are in the Middle East. The plan is to expand in North America.
Rambody expects to add AI/ML functionality to help personal trainers improve the workout plans they recommend to their clients. These plans will also reduce the risk of injury. Eventually, the AI/ML functionality will analyze movements using LIDAR and suggest workout improvements.
Rambody started in 2017 and launched the trainer app in September 2018. Rambody has been developed with bootstrap funding only so far. Rambody is now beginning to approach VCs to fund marketing and advertising.
Platform Calgary’s visa application support brought Rambody from the Middle East to Calgary. Farzan Havaee participated in the Junction program in 2019 as the first Calgary startup from another country. He is now participating in the networking program.
For more information, visit the Rambody website.
Road Aider is Canada’s leading 24/7 emergency roadside assistance provider. It offers a quick resolution for vehicle-related problems by well-trained towing and roadside assistance professionals within 15-30 minutes of arrival.
“Road Aider sees a huge opportunity because 60 percent of North American drivers don’t have a roadside help relationship,” says Temi Okesanya, CEO and founder of Road Aider. “Our business model appeals to service providers, and our simple app will appeal to motorists.”
The Road Aider platform consists of a provider app and a motorist app.
The Road Aider differentiators, compared to its competitors, include:
- Simple to order service by smartphone app.
- Access to multiple service providers.
- Better ETA – motorists can watch their tow truck approaching on a map.
- Vetted service providers.
- Upfront cost certainty.
Temi participated in the Platform Calgary Junction accelerator program in mid-2021. The program helped Temi with networking, marketing strategy and how to conduct user interviews to solicit product improvements.
For more information, please read the Road Aider website.
The Tracecost construction management solution saves time and improves information access for orderly and efficient construction management.
“Tracecost software provides all stakeholders with an integrated, real-time view of project status and issues,” says Prabh Paul, a partner at Tracecost. “Our solution transcends the siloed or disjointed views when projects are managed using multiple software packages for specific domains such as design, procurement and project management.”
Tracecost is currently in use by about 200 projects globally. The company achieved approximately $500,000 in revenues in 2021. The software controls active construction projects digitally to ensure direct communication among all trades and stakeholders by:
- Reporting only data tailored to the specific interest of every stakeholder.
- Updating new data such as costs and revised estimates in real-time.
- Providing extensive configuration capabilities to support differences in project characteristics and the unique ways contractors operate.
- Including extensive integration capabilities, Tracecost can be introduced to a contractor with minimal disruption.
Tracecost is a significant improvement over other solutions that only digitize manual processes or are partial solutions to construction management.
Platform Calgary has supported Tracecost since 2019 when it was in the ideation stage.
For more information, visit the Tracecost website.
Village Wellth offers a platform to significantly improve the ability of buyers and sellers of companies in the range of $500,000 to $5,000,000 in enterprise value to find each other and conclude a purchase/sale transaction.
“Village Wellth is using technology to make buying smaller businesses sufficiently more accessible for Canadians,” says Liz MacRae, co-founder and Head Of Partnerships. “Our capability unlocks value for sellers and simplifies the acquisition process for buyers.”
Village Wellth is radically changing the marketing of small businesses by reducing current deal friction issues through these actions:
- Raising awareness of buying opportunities because sellers often don’t advertise.
- Making it easier for buyers to identify companies that are serious about selling.
- Increasing the credibility of business buyers by vetting them for sellers.
- Making it easier to find a buyer with the right experience who can fill the gap when the owner-managed company’s leader sells.
Village Wellth receives revenue from platform membership. The use of the Village Wellth platform has grown sufficiently, and the company expects to reach profitability in 2023.
Village Wellth started in mid-2020 and launched its beta platform in December 2020. In December 2021, Village Wellth closed a seed round and upgraded its platform in March 2022 to version 2.0. They are preparing for Series A funding later in 2022.
For more information, visit the Village Wellth website.
White Whale has developed the DeepSea platform for managing and operating AI/ML applications.
“Our clients like how DeepSea significantly shortens the elapsed time to actionable results,” says Jack Williams, partner and Head of Operations at White Whale. “We make deployment and operation of AI/ML applications easy and repeatable.”
The platform features include functionality to:
- Upload and manage data.
- Import algorithms, typically written in Python and run them to create AI/ML models.
- Run AI/ML models to create actionable results.
- Build interactive dashboards to present results to audiences at all levels of technical expertise.
- Leverage the instant scaling capability of the AWS
White Whale is developing the DeepSea platform further to support a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model. Until now, White Whale has been successful with their service model in which the White Whale team builds the solution, and the customer interacts with their finished AI/ML applications.
“With the move to the SaaS delivery model, our customers will self-serve and be less dependent on our team,” says Cole Parry, Business Development Associate at White Whale. “They can then connect to data, run the solution and view sharable interactive dashboards.”
White Whale has delivered AI/ML applications in multiple industries, including:
- Upstream oil and natural gas producers where the competitive environment requires customers to squeeze more value from their data.
- Real estate to make quicker, smarter, data-driven decisions to adapt to changing market conditions.
- Sports where the Calgary Flames want to operate with transformative data analytics like professional baseball and basketball previously achieved.
- Not-for-profit organizations with innovative goals to improve engagement and service experiences for their community.
White Whale started in 2015, reached $1 million in revenue in 2020 and has continued to grow. To this point, White Whale development has been funded entirely from cash flow without VC backing. White Whale is currently in active discussions with multiple VCs and expects to close a Series A investment in the next few months.
For more information, visit the White Whale website.
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.
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