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Alberta, Canada: A Prime Destination for Kiwi Companies to ‘Land and Expand’

New Zealand Tech Stories

8 May 2024

TW24 blog 480x270px Alberta header

Invest Alberta in partnership with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise

In the heart of the Canadian prairies lies Alberta, a province traditionally known as the country's energy powerhouse. Home to the fourth-largest oil reserves in the world and 70% of Canada’s marketable natural gas and critical minerals, Alberta’s supply of natural resources is vast. Affordable, abundant resources and a strong commitment to environmental, social and governance practices provide eco-friendly international investment opportunities in areas including clean technology and environmental services.

Continue reading to learn more about Alberta, Canada; opportunities in international trade and commerce; Alberta's global leadership in AI and agritech innovation; and how New Zealand technology companies can "land and expand" in Alberta.

Big. Bold. Alberta, Canada

Alberta is also home to some of Canada’s best renewable resources – from wind and solar to bioenergy and geothermal – as well as the country’s first industrial hydrogen hub. Tech giant Amazon recently chose Alberta for its largest renewable energy project in Canada and one of the largest solar photovoltaic projects in the world to help reach the company’s goal of powering operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.

As the province emerges as a leader in sustainable technology, Alberta also stands as a cost-effective hub for tech startups seeking to make their mark in North America. With Calgary boasting 50,000 tech professionals,  and Edmonton, Alberta's second-largest city, hosting the province’s rapidly expanding tech ecosystem, both cities rank among the top 40 overall in terms of talent.

Calgary was named the world's third most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2022, and Edmonton was found to be North America’s fastest growing tech ecosystem. Cities with a high quality of life offer amenities like education, affordable housing, and cultural activities, which attract skilled professionals seeking a balanced lifestyle. Alberta's livable cities foster vibrant communities and social connections, making them appealing to young professionals and families. Prioritizing livability not only benefits employees’ well-being but also drives productivity and innovation.

With Calgary and Edmonton at the forefront, Alberta is a hub for innovation and tech, offering a promising landscape for international entrepreneurs, especially those from New Zealand to "land and expand" in North America.

Alberta's appeal extends beyond technological advancements. The province offers a competitive tax environment, with a flat personal income tax rate simplifying taxation processes and making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking affordability and opportunity. Alberta has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world at a combined total of 23%, supporting the ideal globalized business environment.

International trade and commerce

Alberta’s import and export business is characterized by a strategic position on foreign trade zones with direct access to the United States and connections to key international markets in the Pacific Rim and Europe.

Air travel connectivity with Calgary as a western Canadian travel hub, coupled with comprehensive road and rail networks, offers entrepreneurs unparalleled access to clients and markets within a few hours. This strategic advantage, supported by multiple transport options and proximity to key markets, strengthens Calgary's position as a premiere business destination.

The United States is Alberta’s primary export destination, accounting for $18 billion NZD in exports in November 2023 alone and Alberta’s imports reached $50 billion NZD through active engagements with key trading partners such as the United States, China and Mexico.

Despite the benefits that Alberta and Canada offer to entrepreneurs, the similarities between the United States and Canada are also important. The two markets share extensive economic integrations, alongside political and cultural parallels — and companies that scale into Canada can access the American market while enjoying all the advantages that the Canadian market has to offer.


Alberta’s global leadership in AI

With its established artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem, ample funding, and research initiatives, Alberta is at the forefront of leveraging AI to address critical global challenges. Whether it's optimizing agritech systems or enhancing fintech applications through predictive analytics, Alberta's innovative solutions are pivotal in shaping an AI-driven and globally connected future.

The University of Alberta boasts Canada’s oldest and one of the largest computing science departments, renowned globally for its contributions to both theoretical underpinnings and practical applications of computing. Richard S. Sutton, Professor at the University of Alberta and Chief Scientific Advisor of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) is one of the pioneers of reinforcement learning and continues to lead this field of research.

Edmonton has a rich 50-year history of robust AI research, providing a solid foundation for growth. As a tech hub with AI expertise, record-setting venture capital investments, global connectivity, and a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, Alberta is a leader in the future of AI.

Amii, one of Canada’s three artificial intelligence (AI) centres of excellence and part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy is more than just a local institute – it supports groundbreaking research and translates scientific advancement into industry adoption.

With an expanding network of startups, research organizations, and government support, Edmonton, the province’s capital city, and Calgary, the province’s business capital, stand out among North America’s fastest-growing tech regions. Since 2019, Alberta technology companies have secured over $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans. Megadeals valued at $100 million or more are taking up an increasingly large bulk of overall investment dollars in Alberta, with about $585 million worth of deals valued at or higher than that mark.

This growth signals a thriving environment for experimentation and advancement in cutting-edge technologies, including fields such as AI and agritech.


Agritech innovation

AbacusBio, a world-leading agri-science consultancy, founded in Dunedin, New Zealand opened a new office in Edmonton, Alberta in 2023 as the next step in their global expansion. With support from Invest Alberta and Edmonton Global to launch operations, the company is working on food security and sustainability solutions in the agriculture sector.

Specializing in animal and plant genetics, data science, economics, and digital technology applied to agriculture, AbacusBio selected Alberta because of the opportunities available in the local agri-food sector and the deep pool of talent available to expand operations within North America.

“With five AbacusBio employees including myself as Canadian University alumni, we are strongly motivated to contribute to the future of Canadian agriculture, as part of a key strategic move for our rapidly growing global business,” says Dr. Peter Amer, Group Managing Director, AbacusBio.


Land and expand in Alberta


Learning more about the cities of Calgary and Edmonton is a great first step into Alberta and Canada. Explore what Alberta's small towns and medium-sized cities like Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Grande Prairie also have to offer. Safe, clean, and affordable, these areas are connected to nature and some of Alberta’s biggest industries such as energy and clean tech, petrochemicals, and agriculture.

Along with NZTE, Invest Alberta is here to support your expansion goals. Reach out to connect with our educated, innovative and entrepreneurial tech and business communities.

Invest Alberta expedites business operations, fosters collaboration, and goes the extra mile to ensure long-term success for businesses. Invest Alberta works directly with investors globally to start up or scale up in Alberta, Canada.

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Te Taurapa Tūhono (NZTE) is a Techweek sponsor and the New Zealand government's international business development agency, working to grow companies internationally for the good of New Zealand. NZTE provides customised support services and support to ambitious businesses looking to go global, helping them to build their capability, boost their global reach, connect to other businesses and invest in their growth.

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