Nov 2019 Scorecard Comments

November 25, 2019 14:43 By Aaron

We learn more from comments than from agree/disagree scales

The November 2019 Scorecard Assessment closed last night. We received more submissions than ever before, thank you to everyone that participated. If you missed the chance to submit a response or are just learning about Rainforest, please join the mailing list so that we can share more a more detailed look at the submissions and future opportunities to provide feedback. Of course, if you ever have comments about anything we are doing, we are always open to learn. Please email us anything that you think we should know, thoughts on the scorecard itself, or ideas for improvement for our communications, events or assessments.

We received nearly 13,000 words and hundreds of comments from people across the ecosystem. 

Below we present the comments received from the scorecard - we have endeavoured to maintain the integrity of the comments while respecting the hard work of the committed individuals in the ecosystem who are trying to help move things forward. We have removed questions on the scorecard itself (because we fixed the issues as we learned about them), and did not include reponses like "I am unaware" or "I am new to the ecosystem and I don't have enough information to comment". Otherwise, everything is below, do with it what you will.

The ability to comment was provided on each page of the Pillar questions and allowed people the opportunity to clarify their responses, provide us with feedback about the scorecard, and elaborate or bring up relevant information to that pillar or the Rainforest itself. We also asked questions about newer initiatives in Edmonton such as EACOS, EIEC, e-RIN, and the Innovation Compass Report because they have all either launched or have substantially changed since the last assessment. The findings of these reports, activities of these initiatives are vital to understanding the current state of innovation in Edmonton. 

The Rainforest is thankful for the hard work of all who support innovation, especially that of other volunteer organizations! As a volunteer-run and led organization, we know how hard it can be to make a meaningful difference with minimal resources.

Of course, online comments have a tendency to trend to the extremes. We do not endorse any particular opinion, this information is being released in the interest of transparency and to validate that the findings of the recent Scorecard Assessment, which were presented publicly on Nov 26th at the 4th Summit in Edmonton. We wanted to ensure that the findings as presented were not seen as biased or cherry-picked to support any particular narrative. When used properly, they will be taken in context and used as a tool to understand the opportunities each organization or individual has to improve their offerings, or better communicate that they exist.

Each section below represents one of these opportunities to comment.

Easy access to contacts and resources is #1, most of my clients have not heard of any of the above companies in the ecosystem. Streamline the processes needed for people to access and get started with a project!

More actively promoting would be better.

It is not very clear who is the leader in the ecosystem.

The Edmonton Innovative Ecosystem is rapidly evolving.

•It is difficult to distinguish which organizations are truly helpful, and a worthwhile place to spend valuable time.

•Please note these result are from only stepping into the innovation community in the last 2 months so I don't have as strong a feel as others, but at the moment I don't sense any leadership cohesion, and everyone seems to know everyone else with little extra diversity.

•I think overall we need a greater mentorship network.  I the number of years I have been in the Rainforest network, I have only once had someone call and ask how I am doing and how my business is doing.  James Kierstead made the call.

•The Mayor has made Innovation a strong priority - thank heaven!  On Execution by the larger municipal organizations - I find that many people in the ecosystem dont understand what they are doing - or why they are doing it.  Clearer and concise communications is needed - and (multiple) Visible Spaces where Innovation players can be mapped and displayed would be helpful

•I am relatively new to the innovation ecosystem, with my first company as an Inventor.  I do track the newsletters and LI,  and have been to a number of invents.  Things look good in Edmonton,  but I do not have a lot of perspective

•We have a diverse community with some that are still have very strong believes that oil is everything. I hope that we can educate them and show that economy needs diversification as well as sustainability. I am fortunate to be part of Rainforest Networking Group that strives to do just that.

•Coming from a specialization that doesn't normally have a "tech or innovation" background there is not too much diversity in thought or industry for innovation, however, as a group we do have a good representation of cultural backgrounds.

•I don't have much exposure to the innovation ecosystem in Alberta yet. I am hoping to get more involved in the community. Due to my lack of exposure my answers are based on initial impressions, not well thought out answers.

•Disconnected balance of leaders that are not aligned

•These are difficult questions to answer.  Some leaders are better than others, so lumping everyone into a "leadership" category provided me a challenge in thinking about the leaders as a collective, rather than as individuals. It might have been easier for me if the questions were broken into government, service providers and entrepreneurs perhaps.

•Leadership seems fractured here in Edmonton - a lack of cohesive and consistent messaging amongst leaders causes confusion - lack of leadership in Rainforest Edmonton is a problem as we are falling behind Calgary's activities and attendance dramatically - there is no one clearly identified leader here in Edmonton, and those that are considered leaders don't seem to communicate strongly to the rest of the ecosystem

•I think that leaders need to be more welcoming to people who are still trying to find their way in the ecosystem.  I noticed that most leaders only support those who have an advantage in the sector but not those who are new and need assistance, mentorship, or even just belongingness.  Leaders need to inspire entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.

•My perspectives & orientation is largely from ICT and digital tech areas of the community / so this is where my sentiments lie re how I see leadership in the community.  Re the ecosystem, I believe we are seeing good and increasing strengths in the community in leadership, talent generation, and increasing capacity to innovate / but still sensing that our overall capabilities in capital attraction and investment is still lagging badly (again, tech & digital companies) - so not seeing a ton of leadership in new economy (intangible assets) capabilities in the community.

•WHen i say the leadership is good, I mean Rainforest is doing the best job they can in regards to leadership. When it comes to EEDC or TEC edmonton - unfortunately they get failing grades.

•Good people in leadership positions are currently aligned with specific service providers, associations etc.  What we need to do is get those 50 people in a room including the industry associations, the innovation service providers and agree on an objective of working together and yes that might mean some  serious consolidation.  As a leader you have to able to put your specific interest in second place  -  behind the greater good.  And you need to be supported by the others! 

•The vision has to be on the long term sustainability of the region and the region goes beyond Edmonton (were too small) get over it and start working with others in the Province, as part of the Edmonton plan. 

•Think bigger -  think longer term,.  and think across industry ,. as soon as limited thinking comes in, specific agendas pop up and we end up talking about local limited region projects that are not really going to make one bit of difference in the long term. 

•I think the bigger thinking should be around how to leverage the eco system to engage with industry to support innovation.  The point is to drive the vision from industry and not from Gov't. There will be lots of opportunity for Gov't to support infrastructure and such, once the region has a clear vision around industry -  because money will drive industry, and gov't will fall in line, and be directed by a real -  long term innovation vision for Alberta. (Israel gets this)  Clearly Edmonton is a major player, but this vision and the implementation needs to attract funding from around the world. That's when you know you are starting to get it right.  That is when we start to build something that is sustainable and competitive in the world market. 

•When putting industry first, here is an example: DND spends 1 billion per year, most of the money goes to Eastern Canada with the exception of BC who  -  watches the challenges Industry and Military wants solved, they then organize a cluster of multi -  companies, academics, etc,. and they bid to solve that problem  -  and of course they can because they have a little army behind them, of course they then get more funding and Edmonton is not even in the game,. never mind winning our fair share.  -  Yikes -  i'm not even sure Edmonton knows there is a game. 

•This point is not about that one revenue source. It is about empowering an eco system to think about collaboration as the way forward. So if we need to merge associations, merge service providers, and ya some people are left behind  -  lets get at it."

•I would like to see more entrepreneurs scaling their businesses like Jobber, Yardstick and beyond take an active role in the ecosystem.

•I think that the ecosystem is working on diversity and slowly improving but it is still mostly white men.

•Some of the NGO leadership is quite engaged, but it is isn't clear what their objectives are and if they really align with the Entrepreneurial community.  Entrepreneurial leaders could be more engaged.

•Too many of the leaders in the ecosystem act in self-interest or to grow their organization even at the expense of the best interests of entrepreneurs or the community as a whole.

•Looking at Innovation beyond tech is important.  I'm there pushing the corporate social innovation agenda to create psychologically safe work environments where ideas flow freely leading to innovation, efficiencies and increased profits and priductivity.  Making sure gen z innovators have work environments that resonate with them and support them.

•Honestly, the ecosystem feels so nascent, i have a hard time identifying leaders, thus can't really answer most of these questions.

•From an entrepreneur’s perspective I think Edmonton is no where near a healthy innovation ecosystem; there are serial entrepreneurs and business advisors in TEC Edmonton and in the community that have some good business experience but have a heard time understanding novel ideas presented by talented scientists ( such ideas have never been developed overnight since they are a result of several years of commitment to a certain field which has further led to the creation of new knowledge and advancements in certain fields of science), yet in most cases such individuals including a few advisors within this community, believe that they are experts and therefore they are the only ones who really know what’s right for new entrepreneurs business; also ignorance has been gradually bleeding into the this ecosystem which could be a major problem for Edmonton’s ecosystem in the near future; also in healthy ecosystems equal opportunity, unbiased treatment, impartial and just treatment without discrimination are important and really need to become the essence of healthy innovation systems; such key factors are currently absent from Edmonton’s innovation ecosystem.

•The current leadership has created a closed, stagnant system that does not match the needs of the ecosystem.

•Service providers will always say they're doing well. And even say each other is doing well. The only opinion that should matter is what the people they help, the entrepreneurs have to say.

•I'm actually nauseous filling this out.  On the diversity issue, its important, but not what is driving or hindering our success. And way more importantly...what the hell is meant by ecosystem leadership?  If you are looking for service provider leaders, key entrepreneurs or investors...or the mysterious ""how do I identify a leader""...I think this is just misguided.  My revulsion prevents me from typing more.

•Leaders is defined so vaguely that almost any of these questions could fall anywhere from 0 to 100 depending on who you are thinking about specifically.
•Clouded and conflicted.

•I would say within some organizations, there is a clear path to innovation, but much is squirrels away in back rooms or never allowed to be brought forward. Leadership is a big part of this piece and effective leaders work actively to see innovation in their industry and other industries brought forward.

•The Kenney government's recent all out attack on the R&D community is causing generational harm.  The Rainforest, and other tech community leadership have not done enough by half to fight against this.  It's time to light the Molotov cocktails!

•It's getting better. Very impressed with organizations like TapRoot.

•too many orgs fighting for funding and the funding requirements do no necessarily make sense for the long term overall health of the eco system

•I feel the fragmentation of the past is still a problem, with too many groups working in parallel on slightly different goals. There are too many events, each run with little promotion.

•The entire system of service providers are not clearly 'mapped and sorted' in a directory that is easily used by Entrepreneurs.

•There definitely are a lot of organizations to get to know, what they all do, and how they interact. I am full time at my business,  so perhaps easier for me to  'get out there'  and interact.  If someone was still in a full time job not related to their Newco,  it would certainly be more of a challenge.  That is not a criticism,  more of a reality.  Most inventors I have seen have an idea and perhaps a product,  and think they are real close to the finish line .... eeek!

•Personally, I think there must be more transparency and information available to entrepreneurs as well as Small & Medium businesses in Edmonton. Majority of information that I gathered was from talking to peers and constantly searching for different support and assistance. Information us not easily available to public. Grants and rebates are not promoted. You need to search and ask for information all the time.

•Communication is difficult to understand. We have the newsletters and the slack channels but unless you are immersing yourself in it everyday it's a bit overwhelming to know what's changed and where the focus is. I have no idea about the innovation process and didn't even know there were steps involved!

•Its still early in organizational development

•The culture affects the communication and there are too many groups trying to do the same thing that are not fully inclusive or clear

•The recent Alberta government budget has perhaps negatively impacted my responses to at least one of these questions. My responses to the final two questions are impacted by what I imagine is possible and the current situation. I do believe that we are on a good path toward learning more from each other and to creating a more integrated communication structure to support a variety of conversations and collaborations.

•communication amongst the ecosystem is still not efficient enough -

•There are more support for certain "Tech Companies" but not equal opportunity for all.  For example, I have been told that some organization only focuses on or supports mostly B2B tech companies, whereas ideas from companies that are B2C are being discouraged and disregarded. I think that we need to have certain organizations that cater to both needs.  Most high growth tech giants are B2C,, let's take care of them here rather than being encouraged to move to the valley.

•I think that we have a few good and developing communications channels, a few self-serving communication channels, and a few traditional media channels that try but struggle to really grasp the depth and breadth of the tech ecosystem (i.e. they tend to goto traditional places for their stories).  Marketing Edmonton is still a continuing challenge and needs work.

•Lots of work to do here.

•With the recent UCP changes to tax credits and cuts to Alberta Innovates, the government support for technology innovation has worsened

•I believe openness, trust and collaboration are opportunities for this ecosystem. Particularly some service providers exhibit protectionistic behaviours and unwillingness to collaborate or hear new ideas. Also, their mandates appear self-serving.

•There is a lot of conversation happening right now and reviews of many of the key players from the government and service provider side. I think there is still a lack of clarity and more talk than action, but change is slow.

•I don't think the government people give actual value to the events.  They come as a part of their job but doesn't seem sincere

•Several things are progressing on communicating amoung the ecosystem, however, the government budget pull back signals a different commitment to the ecosyste,.

•Service providers don't trust each other, often don't have any direct experience in entrepreneurship, innovation, or transformation.

•"Communication is at best fractured, with too many orgs yelling the same basic message at too few entrepreneurs. 

•Although the support orgs might have methods to learn from each other, their lack of trust or collaboration means they are not willing to do so.

•Terms like innovation and entrepreneur are not well-defined. They are used to inconsistently say different things, and anyone is allowed to self-ID as an entrepreneur even if they haven't built (or don't have the ambition to build) anything."

•again, don't have a strong grasp of who stakeholders are...

•Service Organizations that can't innovate or transform themselves might not be well suited to help or lead others through it.  Entrepreneurs are not "in it together" with service orgs. Service orgs are subsidized and don't have to survive on their own in the real world like businesses.

•not sure what you mean by "steps of the innovation process"

•We need a unified map of the innovation community and stages in edmonton. I don’t think slack is the best communication tool.

•"There is a strong disconnect between those with a business background and those with technical skills. There is a very strong community of software developers in Edmonton but they are completely ignored by most organizations. The infrastructure for innovation is extremely lacking in this city, there are too many different organizations that are all competing for the same function and more motivated to ensure their own survival instead of helping foster innovation."
Funding is very limited. Need to work with financial institutions like big 5 as partners

Without money and/or backing from influential people it is very hard to access funding etc to get a business going

The Kenney government's recent auto-da-fe of R&D in Alberta is causing harm that will be with us for 20 or more years.  Consequently, there is currently absolutely NO REASOWithout money and/or backing from influential people it is very hard to access funding etc to get a business goingN to do R&D in Alberta.  My next projects will run out of BC or other provinces.  Alberta is simply not competitive.

•All supports now require so many steps that eat away time and resolve. These resources are likely to be even more difficult to access  after the UPC gets done.

•There are plenty of support organizations but none of them are aligned to work with each other.  It is almost like a competition because they need to justify their funding to government agencies.  Very little collaboration.

•Again an easy to use Customer-centric <Entrepreneurs> would be useful, sortable by function not only organization.

•"Yes this is a tough one,  I believe the resources are generally there,  but perhaps more related to the technical aspects,  it certainly seems like the system is built around the innovation and product,  and there could be more resources allocated to 'upfront'  education on attracting investors, and marketing and sales plans, ie, most inventors think  ""if they build it, they will come"""

•I am very sociable person so I made a lot of connections in the last 2 years to help me with resources available. However, I feel that majority of entrepreneurs in tech industry are introverts and prefer to work alone. That might prove difficult for them to access resources that are available right now to them. I believe we need to find a better way to reach them, other then just networking. Podcasts, newsletters, information on the government sites that are easy to find. Even to have a one source for all info if possible.

•Again, there is not too much diversity in industry. I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of support service based companies and have invited them out to Rainforest but people perceive the ecosystem as available only to those in technology or innovation...not supporting companies with those initiatives

•I think their needs to be a skill gap analysis for service providers and me tors, I believe their are many gaps as a result of our small ecosystem that we need to fill by partnering more broadly and training service providers. Ventures are not as investable as they think relative to the global market - often complacent, misguided on valuation, and slow growing.

•The diversity bit cracks me up because it's still very much an old boy's club.

•"This section pushes my buttons more than others because I frequently hear from entrepreneurs that Edmonton does not have the talent and skills available to further the agendas of the high tech community. At the same time, I work with people seeking employment who are highly skilled in their fields. The disconnect is -  partially at least - that the two groups do not find each other and frequently do not share a common language that allows for effective communication.  We need to better understand how our talent and skills are relevant to market demand, and not just assume that we do not have the talent and skills necessary to grow our businesses. I don't believe that is true at all. Also, accessing funding will always be a problem because we, as a community, will never be able to satisfy the needs of every entrepreneur that feels they need external funding to take their business to the next level."

•while there is a tremendous amount of support for entrepreneurs in the Edmonton ecosystem many of them do not know how to access it or don't know who to speak to - this speaks to the lack of communication effort in the ecosystem and the lack of interest in the Rainforest here in Edmonton - most of the support system do the same thing rather than offering specialized services for entrepreneurs - government funding is accessible to all but a lack of understanding of what makes an investment ready company causes difficulty in the ecosystem - the comments from entrepreneurs is that it is too time consuming and too hard to get government funding - this is not necessarily the case.

•"I think there needs to be more training needed to align employers expectations and job seeker's skills. Most employers ask for an experienced applicants which makes  sense but it does not help fresh graduates or techies that has limited experience. Only a few organizations are wlling to train and mold fresh grad students. Being in the job sector, I see a lot of struggling new programmers getting opportunities because only few employers are willing to bet on them.  This leads to a staggering rate of unemployment. If a fresh grad does not get a job, he has no experience,this  will give gap in his resume, as well as he will not be getting the experience needed in acquiring a job in the future."

•It is very "tech" focused, with less attention put on business model innovation, or market innovation.

•Edmonton has some excellent dimension in skills and resources, and the various post-secondary institutions are quite strong; as well as the primary R&D capacity.  Edmonton really lacks many significant 'anchor' corporates, and the ones that exist don't really invest too much / mostly because there are so few.  I've worked and attended to many other places in the world (San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Taipei, and Amsterdam) and comparatively - while we have resource and R&D strengths - I really believe we struggle on capital attraction due to the small number of participating larger ecosystem anchor tenants that are prepared to collaborate in providing innovation refinement pathways and supports... Edmonton has too much public sector anchors, and too few large anchors to help create market pathways forward... which impacts negatively on capacity to attract larger numbers of investors.

•Good points -  not sure this is were we are really falling down.

•There is still great opportunity for mentorship in the ecosystem provided by individuals who have built, scaled and exited companies: particularly software and health / life sciences companies. The mentorship that VCs particularly can provide to startups in this space is critical, in terms of accessing not only funding but also markets and customers.

•Accessing funding is still a nightmare.

•It should never be "easy" to access funding. Show value first.

•I think the entrepreneurs need to step up and need to show a real market-product fit for investors to help them. The resources aren't the problem but the resourcefulness of one.

•The ecosystem is not as diverse as it needs to be.  Accessing funding will get more difficult with the recent budget reductions.

•Service Provider expertise rarely aligns with having recent, in-market, direct, personal experience with the support they are trying to effect.

•"Funding availability is not the issue - investment-worthy companies are. Most helpers in the ecosystem don't have relevant or recent skills that are helpful to emerging entrepreneurs. Many 'business-people' have minimal skills (it was pretty easy to build an o&g service company and lots of revenue hides any amount of incompetence), and Albertan's tend to be order-takers (since the oilfield would pay anyone nearly any amount to just be). There are retraining programs emerging, which is great, but super-juniors who know 5% of 15 skills are not what we really need."

•Innovation beyond tech

•Liking to cities that succeed in this area, we neither have the leadership talent, nor the pace, nor the execution to keep up, let alone stay ahead. If innovation is new to service organizations, should entrepreneurs have to wait for another 1-3 years for service organizations to learn what they haven't in the past 10-15?

•the problem is not "the system".  That's easy to blame.  Granted, we have silo'd, self serving support groups, but they don;'t actually harm progress.  Go around them if you like.

•We have incredibly strong tech talent in Edmonton but from what I've seen working with colleagues in New York the marketing and product development talent in Edmonton is severely lacking.
•There are lots of industries that have a very high degree of participation in innovation, but many industries are still stuck doing the way they always have, and that does not help them remain competitive here. Even ditch digging continues to evolve.

•I don't see a very diverse group at Rainforest events.  I don't feel there is high engagement.  Due in part to the Kenney government's actions, people are having to duck and cover; they will not have time to "engage", merely to survive (if they do).

•Connections are essential, especially as the technologies like AI, ML and VR are rapidly changing our world. There is so much to know!

•I would like to see see more events that bring together professionals from diverse sectors together related to shared experiences and challenges. I think there is more of an opportunity for networking across supply chains/value chains and encourage companies to sell to and buy from other local companies.

•Newsletters like Taproot are WONDERFUL at shining a light on the many, many events.   Startup is great at hosting events, and Rainforest and TNT are good for building community - and nurturing collaborations

•Again,  per my last comment,  I know we need new tech and products or services to sell,  but it seems like most of the effort is towards the innovation,  and not how to get the product to market and "be successful"

•We still need more support, even verbal, from government authorities  to promote diversification of economy. To support it and show the results and benefits it brings to local community.

•I started YEG Job Club to get things rolling with connecting talent. There are a lot of other activities that the ecosystem can and should do to support growth in the sector.

•There are major silos and a "come to us" attitude by service providers vs getting out and supporting the full community. Some organizations seem to state they're overarching but not in their programming (which is fine but don't communicate otherwise). Language causes vagueness and disconnect when we talk about supporting "tech" and "innovation" it leaves too much ambiguity and has left alot of the community out of the mix

•I have seen an up-tick in collaborations and interactions of late - at least within some areas of the ICT community. This leads me to believe that we are on the right path and that we could borrow from this community to encourage collaborations for innovation in the other technology sectors. Although I don't believe that we have yet reached the desired level of engagement, I am encouraged that to see more entrepreneurs coming out to ecosystem events and forging bonds with each other. I think that we are moving the right direction and with the commitment of our connector leaders, each year will bring us closer to the innovation community we desire. We must not quit now.

•I'm definitely seeing improvements in this area, but still challenging due to small number of innovation anchor tenants, and too many competing startups to choose from.  And, the public sector channels are really mostly too bureaucratic and slow-moving to help, or otherwise generally ambivalent in adopting new technologies / innovation.

•Yes, there are NEW activities that could promote the ecosystem.

•There are pitch meetings,  MeetUp,  and such going on all the time -  it's great.

•The Federal Government's Supercluster and SIF Streams have made possible collaborative networks to promote intercompany collaboration engaging the private sector and academia.  Let's get the AB IoT Consortium to host Edmonton-based meetings.

•"We continue to lack in the number of software developers and product managers we have available here. This is a key complaint we hear from founders often. In terms of developing new high engagement activities, there is opportunity to bring in models from elsewhere in the world that have been successful - leveraging these pre-made networks and curriculum will help our ecosystem. There is opportunity for consolidation of activities in the ecosystem. There are too many events that we are competing for the same people and spreading our startups and investors too thin. There is opportunity for service providers to consolidate as not to overlap so much in mandate."

•There is a lot of activity happening and lot of people working to improve the ecosystem.

•The best event Edmonton could do would be "no event week". A week dedicated to nothing but focus and discipline. Zero noise.

•There is a lot of activity in the Ecosystem but it still feels siloed.

•Edmontonians do not understand collaboration, it is a buzz word that people throw around in public places and ignore the minute they walk out of the room.

•The proliferation of technical meetups and domain-specific meetups have been great for helping people learn, connect and grow.

•As with all my answers, diversity and trust are crucially lacking.

•I think we can do better with our efforts to diversify.  More innovative industries and ideas, more women, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, etc.

•There seems a large confusion between results and activity. Ask the entrepreneurs directly what kind of help they get.

•As I said in a previous comment, there is a big disconnect between people of different skill sets. For example, when you listen to someone from Rainforest talk about the tech industry vs someone from Dev Edmonton they don't even use the same terminology.
Role Models
•A lot of so called role models are self promotion geniuses with little actual innovation going on in their world, but the public is lured into thinking they are these super innovators. Media does not do any real due diligence on who is real and who is not. That makes it tough to differentiate the real deal from the one who simply self promotes. Social media has made these falsehoods more and more possible. This does not mean EDMONTON does not have a lot of real innovators.

•There is very little to no celebration of successful tech entrepreneurs that reach the general public.  We celebrate hockey stars and brain dead politicians in this province, not innovators or creators of true wealth.

•I know several role models and most are so busy surviving that they have little time to participate in the public scene. And we don't have the big superstars here, the Tobias Lutke's, etc.

•I think there are household names from the the oil sector but Alberta does a lousy job of celebrating its business leaders in other diverse industries. We are starting to do better (e.g top 40 under 40 lists) but until some of these leaders are household names we have not succeeded. Ray Muzyka is probably the closest thing we have to a widely known "role model" outside of the oil and gas sector.

•More visibility would be great, but even more-so - having these role models more accessible by their coming out to more community events or common locations would be helpful

•my lower scores basically mean, I do not have experience. For sure,  it is tough for up coming and successful entrepreneurs to cut a portion of their day away from their business.   I am sooooo very impressed, when I meet those that do.

•Successful entrepreneurs who have exited their past companies, I wouldn't say they are widely known and I wonder if they like it that way.

•I do not feel that role models are widely know by general public. We know them because we are in there circles. However, we need to recognize them more so they become known to others outside our entrepreneurial community.

•We need to celebrate our mentors more!!!

•I think role models have alot of requests and limited time - efforts should be more coordinated by groups engaging these people and better ways to activate people who have actually been successful in this space to be a support and creat a cycle of giving back, knowledge transfer in a lean and efficient way.

•"It seems that there are more people involved in recognizing our role models and that there are more independent awards now that ever before. These are good things. As we work to bring our entrepreneurs together, they are recognizing each other for their contributions to our collective success. 

•It isn't clear to me how well-known our role models are outside of the innovation ecosystem, but working with mainstream media affords us an opportunity to include the general public in the future role models in our economy. In my opinion, this would lessen the anxiety the public has around the weakening oil and gas sector, and give them hope for the future economic potential of Edmonton and Alberta."

•The role models that are promoted seem be be score almost exclusively against revenue and exits, as opposed to overall innovation, spinoff, collaboration, or contribution outside of dollars and multiples.

•I'm not even sure which Edmonton media to engage to be honest.  I've tried on a few occasions re traditional media - but I think that the world is mostly turning into an exercise of self-promotion social media channels.  One of the bright lights in the community re celebrating and writing to Edmonton area success stories is Taproot.

•I don't know if roles model care about the recognition  -  hmmm  seems weird to me.

•A shout out here to ASTech for the Annual Summit Awards.  TEC Edmonton and the Chamber also deserve credit here too.

•"The problem in Edmonton is that too few of these role models have stepped forward, or want to be recognizes as role models. This perhaps is as a result of humility, or simply not identifying themselves as such, or being too busy with their own projects. However, this does a disservice to the ecosystem as more role models are required for the up and coming generation of startups. We also need to recognize these role models more for their contribution to the ecosystem. Events like the Start Alberta Tech Awards are a good start. We absolutely do need more systems to identify and support high-potential future role models in Edmonton. Programs like the Next36 are fabulous for providing guidance, mentorship and a network to these individuals. This guidance pays major dividends in the caliber of companies we produce, as these individuals become the future leaders."

•There are numerous award ceremonies. How much is too much.

•As a student and a budding entrepreneur, it is really hard to find a role model within Edmonton. There are only so many books and information on the internet can do.

•Awards programs like Start Alberta need to continue and expand.  Launch Party is another great celebration of innovative startups in our community.  I don't think the community at large knows about too many tech success stories though.

•Entrepreneurs with experience are asked to step aside by SP for new entrepreneurs who may not know better.

•We tend to super-hype and idolize certain entrepreneurs and ignore the vast majority. The ecosystem also tends to hold role models up as trophies, things that can be claimed by a specific organization or shiny tools to be rolled out so they can say they talk to entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs and role models are not brought in to meaningful decision-making situations (since that would mean people whose only job is putting dumb rules in place that justify their own job might be exposed for the irrelevant speed bumps they are).

•Edmonton had a high profile tech exit in 2019, but do you think a party celebrating entrepreneurship recognized it?

•There are great people doing things and we rely on outside awards to give to them.

•Awareness among the general public is almost non-existant.
•Every event I have been to has been filled with friendly people who are more than willing to help. I can easily say it is the most positive and encouraging aspect of the Edmonton Innovation Ecosystem.

•If there is one thing you know exists, it is greed. Personal and corporate greed. Those not motivated by it exist, but are hard to find. Altruism is out there, people who want to mentor, for only the good of their mentee also exist, but mentees need to be careful who they listen to.

•There is little understanding in this province of technology development and the true nature of "calculated risk".  Failure is NOT embraced.  Few Albertans are willing to invest in tech.  NO Alberta government agencies (except the now defenestrated Alberta Innovates) offer R&D support anymore.  There is no "thinking big" - our plan as a province seems to be to cut our way to success; a plan that is doomed to fail, IMNSHO.

•Larger centres like Toronto and Vancouver have an energy that naturally evolves out of the mere size and stimulus of more people doing more things and showing what's possible. We have the talent but need to grow the stage.

•As a non-entrepreneur it is hard for me to evaluate the above questions. I think there is mistrust of some of the organizations that are supposed to support the ecosystem. Some, but not all, is well founded.

•Trust is important - but I feel that what we are missing is the 'transparency' that must exist first.  If people dont understand the purpose or the motivation of the individual or organization, then it becomes difficult to trust what you dont understand. Better understanding  (through transparency and full communications) leads to trust.

•Yes trust is #1,  although,  we still have to be careful and not naive in the business world.  That said, I believe Edmonton is a small community in that way,  and with some due diligence on those we speak openly with,  we should be good.  And I have 100% trust in  the institutions like TEC Edmonton and AB Innovates

•I strongly believe we have a very good entrepreneurial culture here in Edmonton.

•I have never felt more supported by a group of individuals whom were not paid to measure my success. Rainforest is family and we all want to see family succeed. It has one of the best organic and motivational cultures that I've seen.

•Limited exposure to the ecosystem

•I feel there is a divide of 2 groups working in the ecosystem and at some point we will hit a tipping point and can move forward - there is still a trust issue and "funding focused" attitude vs supporting innovation as a whole. Metrics don't always align with what needs to be done in the ecosystem and that is still visible.

•Outcomes are considered more important than taking risk, really extending oneself. All ventures that are breaking the mode come from thinking and executing outside etc box. Even AI, has very defined metrics that limit..

•Although we still have some distance to go, I feel that we have made big strides in the last year. More people are getting to know each other and are helping in many ways. Of course, as with any major shift, some people are still clinging to their long-held distrust and fear of failure. But our youth are embracing new ideas and are leading the way in encouraging collaboration and a kind of fearless willingness to try new things. We aren't there yet, but our future looks much brighter than it did only a year or so ago.

•still have a ways to go to create the kind of culture required for this ecosystem

•Generally, Edmonton innovation leaders are really exceptional people and the community culture is excellent IMHO.  The one thing that I am amazed of at times though, is that many in the community don't have a high opinion of the innovators / entrepreneurs until they've succeeded.  Being the northernmost major city in North America, and a small market player for new tech - the amount of people that discount and have a down view of the CIty (who live long distances away) is discouraging at times.

•This is great section -  focus on this !!

•"There is a distinct negativity in the Edmonton ecosystem currently and a feeling that a win for one person is a loss for the other. Our innovation ecosystem is not a zero-sum game, and high tide floats all boats. The success of some Edmonton companies can improve the chances of success for others. We are the collective strength of our networks, experiences, and what we give back to others in the ecosystem in whatever way we can. Celebrating calculated risk taking and gumption is something we can do better. I also believe that we need to be encouraging ourselves and all entrepreneurs around us to think WAY BIGGER. More markets, larger markets, global customers, productizing solutions, large investment rounds. Edmontonians need to believe in themselves, that we have an idea or a solution that is just as good if not significantly better than what is available in other markets. We have the technical workforce, the mature founders and the perseverance to make things happen, however the first step is believing in ourselves, the second is selling it."

•I tried to answer within the innovation ecosystem, but in the general public, the numbers would a lot lower

•I feel that trust amoung entrepreneurs is growing, but I feel that trust in service providers and government has eroded.

•We are a government town, naturally risk-averse and intolerant. Funders like Alberta Innovates want to 'be sure' while supporting a process that is inherently uncertain (innovation specifically, but business in general). The government needs to accept that there will be some fraud (it never goes away), but the cost of reducing fraud should never exceed the cost of accepting fraud. All the money that goes to clueless gatekeepers would be better used to fund early-stage ventures with no excpectaions.

•The soil is rich :-)

•The culture is very cliquish and business owners don't take many, if any service providers seriously.

•When everyone thinks their group is an expert at everything, and they are not, trust is eroded.

•The culture and community in Edmonton is an international selling point in my opinion.
General Comments
More help especially financial for struggling innovators

Unfortunately as I am quite new to the Alberta innovation ecosystem it is difficult for me to gauge the extent and the reach of the programs. I can comfortably say the people are what has made me interested in learning more and understanding what it means.

•Our ecosystem is undergoing a shift from one of complacency and independence to one of innovation. it will take time, patience and cooperation.

•Putting out a survey like this is an excellent idea and I hope there were adequate responders to get a good sample. Sorry I did not see this till just today.

•As a community, we need to rise up and fight back against the Kenney government.  Their policies - across the board - are doing generational harm to Alberta.  In addition to actively representing our own community needs, we need to make common cause with others who are affected.  One of the principal tenets of a rainforest is that it is an ecosystem.  Ecosystem elements are all bound together by a myriad of complex feedback loops; the same is true between the tech community and other communities in this province.  For example, the Kenney government is also cutting arts funding in half over the next 4 years.  Who will want to move to Edmonton for a cool tech job from the Bay Area when the theatre, visual art, music, and dance communities here have gone up in smoke and everyone is working at the 7-11 and putting on unpaid shows once a year because that is the best they can do?  Answer: NO ONE.  WE WILL BECOME A DESERT, NOT AN ECOLOGY.  That is our future unless we become agents of radical change, helping not just ourselves, but our ecosystem brothers and sisters!

•It has been my experience that talent can come from anywhere.

•Keep up the good work

•Apologies, as I mentioned I haven't been here long so I'm not the best judge of the current ecosystem

•Looking forward to seeing the results and learning about how to act on them

•Not enough gratitude all around and a lot of underserved expectations of capital without understanding what is important for those that make decisions on funding.

•We are still fragmented, with many separate groups trying to accomplish similar goals in parallel with no communication between groups.

•We are all interested in making people successful.  Sometimes we don't know how.  Collaboration is the key to harnessing this level of success.

•Thank you for all your work to create an environment of trust and thoughtful discussion.

•Thank you for designing such a great tool for feedback.

•I'm rather new to the ecosystem but believe that my tech startup wouldn't be where it is today without having met folks from LWOL and then exploring further into the ecosystem.

•Appreciate this effort, love the data.  However this form was aweful.  The control label (50% default) sat over most of the text in the questions and I had to move it back and forth to read the question.  Added unnecessary time to my day, and I almost quit filling it out because of it.

•Thank you to the Rainforest community and the amazing entrepreneurs for their commitment and their continued support of all innovation and collaboration in Edmonton.

•Thanks for everything you're doing.  Keep it upQ!

•Good work in continuing to check in with the community.

•I am bowing out as I havent found my niche. either that or the ecosystem hasnt found me. I am still positive on the tech/startup sector in Edmonton, but not sure where I fit in.

•We need to do something and you folks are doing something  -  well done.  I hope my comments are taken as a positive way to move forward. We have alot more than others!  I really think the future is ours for the taking.

•The 100 point scale is way too fine - use a ten point scale for future evaluations?

•We agree that the UCP budget was not favourable to the technology community, and will not foster growth for early- or scale-up-stage companies in or city or province.

•Edmonton seems to have a bit of a "gov't must do it for us" mentality but for the innovation ecosystem to thrive here the free market must rule! What we need is more private capital focused on the area, not more gov't programs.

•Hoping to learn more about the concepts in this survey at the event.

•Culture is most important in my view.  I think a lot of efforts are being made in this area and it will form a foundation in the ecosystem but it takes time.

•Thank you to all the Rainforest volunteers! I have learned so much from attending these events and meeting great people in this city. I have made some amazing connections from this ecosystem.

•"Here are some provocative ideas: TEC Edmonton re-branded. Focuses only on its health accelerator, and removes its connections to UofA. UofA does its own tec com.  Startup Edmonton focuses more on benefits/perks to entrepreneurs. Space/community is not good enough. Microsoft partnership is a great start. Pile on the perks. Add more value. Stop focusing on student startups, tremendous waste of resources. Focus on students only in the capacity to Enable your startups to hire them (there's that perk thing again). Or loan forgiveness if working for a startup. Innovate YEG sell startup yeg back to private owners or test the waters if this is possible. Remove this bias. Startup is functioning as a bad startup, living off municipal/government funding. Justification for why Alberta needs a RIN at all. Innovate YEG focuses on customer acquisition and improving receptivity for startups. Innovate YEG focuses on advocating and working with securities commisioners on structural changes to release more capital."

•Are we trying to create an ecosystem, as a means of not actually just living in the one that exists?

•I strongly support the ideals of rainforest but it often comes across as "We are building this community, you must come to us". I would love to see more recognition of the existing community and see rainforest represented at existing events.
What do you want to see in Edmonton?
Easy Access for all, true marketing and branding of existing players, events to attend at a cost people can afford, investors (venture/angel) with real intentions of investing. Innovation doesn't just come from tech, a focus on the other areas of innovation.

I feel that I learned about the Innovation Ecosystem by chance. Now that I have begun to attend events and to talk to people I am starting to understand what it is all about. I would like to see the the community grow, and hopefully in the future any interested entrepreneurs will know about the community before they even start their journeys.

•Cooperation and Collaboration


•I would certainly like to see greater potential for success in dealing with large organizations like Alberta Health and government agencies. They still migrate to the big players instead of giving the small guy a chance. We also need more risk takers among out investors. Diversity is the only hope for our economy. Oil and gas will be back but likely not as before.

•I would like to see Edmonton companies fully represented in resources like the or the Actia Clean Tech report: etc.

•Less matched funding (which just puts strain on the limited fund from current alberta funds and angel networks - don't be lazy, if you're going to give a grant, give a grant rather than making it conditional.) I would like to see more workshops about the funding prossess, say a 3hr workshop where everyone puts together their financial models and gets questioned about their robustness, or non investors who can give an instructional shake down on a pitch deck so you can improve before approaching investors. etc.

•More coordination between agencies

•More acknowledgement of gratitude from the many people who volunteer their time and effort to help. the government funded people continue to get their pay regardless of their level of effort but many of us show up to help with no thank you or acknowledgement the majority of the time. It is pretty frustrating.

•True, coordinated and close cooperation between the main innovation ecosystem players.

•Harmonization, leadership and one big event to celebrate our successes and promote our community.

•A better mentorship program.

•Clarity as to offerings of Service Providers in the ecosystem - in a language non-experts can understand. Entrepreneur101 short course for all entrepreneurs

•More focus on the balance of a good Business Plan, including ideal Investors/share structure, Marketing, Sales,  and  the Inventor's Mission/Vision/Passion (to keep you going during the tough times).

•True inclusion

•More diversity in types of new startup companies. It appears that most of the innovation ecosystem is geared toward software/high-tech service oriented startups whereas hardware startups like my own appear as the odd ones in the ecosystem.

•Trust not being a topic of discussion but a natural state.

•I would like to see changes that improve availability and accessibility of important, useful information for entrepreneurs to help them with their journey into a business world.

•More service providers to start elevating those startups that have already gained traction. It's time to make our mark on the world!

•a new ecosystem that is driven more by the needs of entrepreneurs and less by government agencies. the creation of a larger investor class within the province

•More partnerships with Calgary as a united ecosystem and connections to larger hubs to access expertise and customers

•More education and opportunities to connect.  Also more successful tech founders investing their time back into the community.

•Inclusion of all of the tech entrepreneurs and their communities, who are trudging on alone and are unaware that the Rainforest exists.

•Celebration of failure, promotion of valuable lessons hard-earned, and promotion of the long-term value of risk taking and Turing failure into something valuable.

•strong collaboration, stronger RAinforest

•More hands-on workshops that actually move work forward, rather than just seminars that share information.

•More opportunities for the larger community participants (i.e. developers, business resources, youth & young professionals) who work within the ecosystem to also be able to come out and celebrate as a larger community.  Tech & innovation makes up a large and growing base of our future economy - but the mainstream never sees it.  I think that we should try to find more ways to express and engage our next generation more.

•bring in outside governemtn based leaders. We need innovation and change and the city leaders we have now have had their chance to create something - and its obvious they have failed. we need to change up these people.

•A closed meeting of the main service providers and industry association leaders in a room -  and just see if there is an appetite for real change.

•TRUST in Collaborations

•More media presence.

•A better way to allow founders and entrepreneurs leads the city to new heights. Government should provide us with funding and other resources but ultimately, they shouldnt be leading the ship.

•More mature founders stepping forward as role models. More win-win perspective of collaboration, openness and trust in the ecosystem. Programming for entrepreneurs that is delivered by individuals who have done this themselves: scaled and exited successful companies. This will likely mean that these programs need to be sourced from other places. There is great benefit to this, as established accelerator programs and incubators have a strong curriculum, and also come with credibility and name recognition that opens doors for founders and facilitates investment.

•See above - more private capital!

•more medium and large organizations involved

•Articulation of what kinds of backgrounds are needed in Edmonton's innovation ecosystem. Being "entrepreneurial" is not specific enough.

•More involvement from industry.  More enlightened innovation and commercialization policies in the universities etc.  There is a general misunderstanding of the amount of resources it takes to commercialize technology and this results in mispricing risk in the market which contributes to making deals non fundable.

•Keep up the great work !

•Increased collaboration, greater focus on the broader impact of innovation on a variety of industries, more support services along the continuum of company growth to grow more great companies rather than just support unicorns or cool tech ideas.

•More networking and collaboration. Events that combine learning and entertainment (fun)

•I'd like to see one connection point for entrepreneurs to get connected to the entire ecosystem and have that heavily promoted to the community.

•All service providers lead, or majority stakeholders are innovators and entrepreneurs to lead and light the way.


•Attention to the social evolution that we are experiencing and how work environments are shifting to attract and retain next generation talent.  It's an important piece of the overall ecosystem.

•Equal opportunity, diversity sand inclusion and unbiased treatment/judgement.

•The entrepreneur is the focus of services and support.

•The pace has to pick up 5 or 10 fold, with heavy support from other cities ecosystem developers who have personally and directly accomplished what our service organizations haven't been able to predict, plan for and have left entrepreneurs hung out to dry.  I know many entrepreneurs traveling out of Edmonton because basic and meaningful supports are not available.

•I'd like to see our community stop looking at gov't for solutions, for failure and risk taking to be embraced instead of shamed, and more room for non-founders to have influence.

•More allowance for private service providers to get showcased

•More TNT.

•"#1 Government support #2 Service providers lead by entrepreneurs with incentive to cooperate