Alberta’s recovery depends on innovation in both traditional and emerging sectors

Wind turbines near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Photo by Leah Hennel/Postmedia files

Cory Janssen, Sam Pillar, Alison Suntrum and Paul Bellows , Special to Financial Post Publishing date:Sep 21, 2020  •  Last Updated 1 month ago  •  4 minute read

A minister of innovation is a very positive first step, but Jason Kenney must use that same thinking to create a global reach for our companies

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the crash in oil markets, Albertans have felt the pain of economic turmoil more than most. Twelve years ago, Alberta’s energy sector drove Canada’s recovery from the Great Recession. Today, a supply/demand imbalance has led to a collapse in oil prices, and it’s unclear when or if the demand will come back to pre-COVID levels, putting enormous pressure on the government to design new prosperity strategies.

Recently, signs from the UCP government have been encouraging. Last month, Premier Jason Kenney appointed Doug Schweitzer Alberta’s new Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation. The addition of “Innovation” to the ministry’s mandate signalling that it’s time to embrace the digital economy and support Alberta’s innovators. Moreover, in late June, the provincial government committed $175 million to the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to provide venture capital for early-stage technology companies, and in July, the government announced a new innovation tax credit that provides startups a grant of up to 20 per cent toward qualifying research and development expenditures, starting in 2021. Just last week we saw another promising sign as Schweitzer announced a $75 million Alberta Investment and Growth Strategy, which aims to create the conditions for innovation to transform Alberta’s economy as a priority.

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