May 17, 2022

Botu Linum

The Car & Automotive Devotees

Only one Alberta company picked by U.S. ag-tech accelerator

3 min read

The head of the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) is confident a U.S. company will meet its targets to collect money from the city-owned fund.

OCIF announced last June it was prepared to grant $1 million to SVG Ventures Thrive, a tech industry accelerator. The California-based company said it established its Canadian subsidiary, Thrive Canada, in Calgary.

Thrive selects companies that it assists by helping them find investment and then helps them scale up their work for both the Canadian and eventually a global market.

Earlier this year, it put out a call for applicants and 168 Canadian companies expressed interest. After winnowing those applicants down to 22, last month it selected 10 companies that it will put through its accelerator program.

Only one Alberta company made the list. Four Ontario companies, two in Quebec, two from B.C., and one from Newfoundland and Labrador were also selected.

No concerns

The lack of Alberta presence out of the gate shouldn’t be a concern said the head of OCIF.

Brad Parry said that Thrive has benchmarks it must meet in order to actually collect the grant from the Calgary-based fund.

“The number is four. So over two years, they need to put through four Calgary companies through their accelerator program as well as hire three people in the local marketplace,” said Parry. 

“The OCIF funding is a grant-based program so it’s based on milestones. You have to achieve certain milestones before we release any of the funds.”

Parry said even though AgVisor Pro is based in Olds, it will count towards Thrive’s target as it will have connections in Calgary.

“This is one of the biggest accelerators in the world. This is one of the most successful endeavours that we see out there so we’re very confident they’re going to hit the (number of) companies,” said Parry.

OCIF is the $100-million fund established by city council in 2017 to create jobs in Calgary and to help fill vacant office space while diversifying the economy. 

Alberta companies expected

The managing director of Thrive Canada, John Cassidy, said their Calgary operation is already up and running.

Although it has operated virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is opening its Canadian office in the Platform Innovation Centre on Ninth Avenue S.E

He said they’ve already hired five staff.

Cassidy said Alberta-based entrepreneurs were well represented in the first group of applicants for their accelerator program.

“What I will say is that Alberta did shine on the pre-accelerator, on the pre-seed stage. So there will definitely be an increase next year,” said Cassidy. 

He expects a total of 15 companies will be selected for their accelerator program in 2023. The only Alberta company selected this year, AGVisorPro, is based in Olds. 

He said it has developed an app which helps bring advice and services directly to farmers.

“Connecting farmers and ranchers and agribusiness to industry experts is not something that you see a lot so we’re very excited about them.”