Mayor Iveson pushes talent and innovation as keys to Edmonton’s future
In his State of the City speech Thursday, Mayor Don Iveson outlined his strategy to encourage more growth in Edmonton.
Iveson started by touching on the ongoing Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, saying: “It’s vital for Albertans getting a fair price for our resources. It’s vital for this country and rebuilding our investor confidence.”
However, Iveson said the one project was not enough on its own – introducing a concept he called the four “pipelines” as the themes he planned to focus on: exports, investment, talent and innovation.
Iveson said the city should focus on having a “steady flow of exports – of all kinds – from Edmonton to global markets.”
For investments, Iveson said there is not enough funding committed to Edmonton businesses. He said entrepreneurs have to look outside the city, and in some cases beyond Alberta’s borders, to obtain funding.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Iveson said “we have a lot of local money being sent out of Edmonton to be invested in funds managed outside of Alberta.”
As for talent, the mayor said in order to complete the other two objectives, skilled talent needs to be developed in the city.
He said the city and Edmonton Economic Development are partnering with social media platform LinkedIn to “do a deep dive on Edmonton’s talent landscape.”
“We’re going to understand the kinds of skills we’re missing to grow our innovation ecosystem, how we might attract these skills to Edmonton and how we might grow more people with the right skills, right here,” Iveson said.
The mayor said more innovation is needed in the city – and talked about a motion he had introduced at a City Council meeting for the city to pursue the concept of: “City as a Lab.”
Iveson said he was looking into having Edmonton become the first Canadian city to work with the “Startup in Residence” program, which launched in San Francisco and has grown to other U.S. cities. Through the program, startups are connected with local government, and they work together over 16 weeks to develop solutions for challenges the city faces.
In Edmonton, Iveson said results of the program would be shared with the city’s business community – and innovation is behind another concept Iveson referred to in his speech, an “innovation hub” in the city.
“The Innovation Hub would be a key downtown node in the larger “Innovation Corridor” that we’re pulling together,” Iveson said, saying this corridor already connects “key assets in our innovation ecosystem”: NAIT, MacEwan University, Alberta Innovates, Startup Edmonton, TEC Edmonton, the Merck Health Accelerator, two research-intensive hospitals and the University of Alberta.
Iveson said he believed the “corridor” could serve to connect the four “pipelines” he spoke of.
“A strong and steady flow of exports – products services and know-how – from Edmonton to the rest of the world, including the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”