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Keith Gerein: Agency aims to unlock ‘endless’ innovation in Edmonton

The most common comments I have received relate to the belief that the new organization has not yet defined a clear role, and given that the new brand is Edmonton Unlimited, it is out of focus or It may reinforce perceptions of agencies going too far.

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Taking risks is “the best Edmont thing you can do,” according to the advice painted on the iconic downtown mural.

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Inspirational words indeed, but what the mural fails to add is that, at least in the world of innovation, risk often leads to failure.

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After all, early-stage companies that have ideas to solve social and technological problems tend to fail and go under fire at a very high rate.

But in a strange paradox, failure also means success.

In other words, more failures indicate an entrepreneurial ecosystem with a higher tolerance for risk. That seed will chase your dreams, increasing the chances that some valuable ideas will end up with great success.

To this day, I would argue, our local innovation sector has not yet fully embraced the paradox of the past.

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Here is the scoop. As of this week, what is known as Innovate Edmonton will turn into the more dynamic Edmonton Unlimited.

The new brand, logo and tagline, “Innovation from Here to the World,” will be formally unveiled at the Economic Summit on Wednesday evening and will be unveiled to the public the following day.

At first glance, you can’t help but like the name with a certain energy. Similarly, brands that signal a rethinking of what innovation is, may also raise awareness of a confused obligation.

Edmonton Unlimited CEO Catherine Warren said: “There is that authenticity and boldness. …We wanted to appeal to a wide range of innovators and innovators at different stages of development.”

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The identity overhaul also provides an opportunity to assess the progress of the agency, which has been operating for nearly 20 months since its last creation by the City Council.

(The name Innovate Edmonton was used as a placeholder, inherited from the previous organization.)

That is, after the council set the basic parameters and agreed to $5 million in annual funding, they were forced to free the organization’s leaders to find a way out.

At the same time, I remember the councilors seemed to expect a lot. Not only will the new organization remain lean in its operations, but it will also remain agile to changing trends, collaborate with other innovation groups, hire proven talent, and thrive quickly amid notorious upheaval. I remember asking for it. sector.

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Through that lens, Edmonton Unlimited has probably been disappointed in its development so far, but it’s always been difficult to meet such ambitious standards, especially during the turmoil of COVID-19.

Katherine Warren is CEO of Edmonton Unlimited.Photo provided
Katherine Warren is CEO of Edmonton Unlimited.Photo provided jpg

Nevertheless, the organization operates on many fronts. Warren made particular mention of the launch of the Capital City Pilots program, which allows entrepreneurs to test their ideas on city-owned assets, and the attraction of his three accelerators in Silicon Valley.

Edmonton Unlimited is building a new headquarters at the intersection of Jasper Avenue and 101 Street. It also had to consolidate a number of existing innovation brands, including Startup Edmonton and his TEC Edmonton property, which remained after its closure in June 2021.

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That said, we hope the organization will ultimately be judged on its post-rebranding performance and measured on real deals, investments, company growth, and filling vacant downtown offices.

I asked many people in the innovation community for their opinions, but unfortunately most of them were unwilling to speak on the record.

Quantifying optimism in a positive direction, Some of those people also had reservations. Some of the comments I heard included concerns that government agencies would become mere “gatekeepers” of money and resources. Some also wondered what happened to the innovation fund’s plans, which were part of the 2020 city council debate, and Amarjeet’s Sohi mayoral election platform last year.

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(Warren says her agency is working on the proposal).

However, the most common comment I received was around the idea that the new organization had not yet defined a clear role. Perceptions of agencies that don’t or go too far may be strengthened.

“The best way to support startups is to make connections with potential customers, prepare startups to raise investment capital, and do more to meet the needs of all current and future technology companies. It involves creating highly skilled technology workers,” said Aaron Budnick. He is his director of operations at Painworth, a company that has developed technology to help victims of physical injury assess the value of their claims.

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Clearly, some entrepreneurs will have to convince themselves that this is not just another flawed structure with new paint. Finding the balance between tensions and initiating an approach to risk is also not easy.

Still, if anyone can do the job, I think Warren has a good chance.

She enthusiastically expresses her stance that Edmonton Unlimited is more than just a catchy look, it has real ambition to unlock global potential.

In that sense, this vision is not confined to high-tech commercialization (although it is still essential), but rather novel approaches to homelessness, food insecurity, political diversity, and a thousand other social problems. It embraces the idea that it should be extended to people with

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A large part of the mandate is inclusivity, which also means supporting often-overlooked populations, such as Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“By the way, this is not only the right thing to do treating taxpayer dollars as a public trust, it’s also the right way to go. It means that our entrepreneurs can thrive by doing good things. said Warren.

Although still in its early stages, to me this rebranding represents a promising direction for regional innovation where our city can lag behind.

As the downtown mural suggests, Edmonton Unlimited must maintain the courage of its new approach.

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Keith Gerein: Agency aims to unlock ‘endless’ innovation in Edmonton

Source link Keith Gerein: Agency aims to unlock ‘endless’ innovation in Edmonton

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