Message to the Community

We’ve Come A Long Way

Cheryll Watson
Cheryll Watson
October 1, 2019

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Today is October 1st and this month marks the one-year anniversary of the explosive community reaction to the idea of a new innovation-hub for our city. It’s a moment-in-time that I certainly won’t forget. I won’t dwell on the learnings I’ve personally had as a leader since that time – I’ve shared my reflections with many of you about that over the last year. But I will say, we’ve come a long way. And, I’m more than happy with the way things have turned out.

That moment-in-time became a catalyst. It sparked an increase in community mobilization that will be necessary to grow and evolve our ecosystem. One year later and we have: a more engaged ecosystem than ever before, community leadership by community chosen leaders, honest and transparent relationships and operations, a refreshed brand that reflects this industry, investment from all orders of government, new partnerships and most importantly – an community created ecosystem evolution plan.

Innovate Edmonton is committed to administering the action plan to deliver on the recommendations of the YEG Innovation Compass. Period. We recognize that this won’t be a 1 or 2 year plan, most of these recommendations will take a while to come to fruition. And, we can’t do this alone … we’ll need the leadership and support of EACOS and the community. But today, I am unequivocally saying: we are working on it. On October 2nd, we’ll share an update on the process we are managing to create the plan at the Edmonton Innovation Ecosystem Community (EIEC) meeting.

In the meantime, I’d like to address some of the gifts of feedback you gave us through the YEG Compass work and provide some insight into how we’ll action this as a division.

ATC Exterior Advanced Technology Centre
Mercer Warehouse Street Party

The Advanced Technology Centre (ATC)


Overall views of ATC are mixed, but your feedback highlighted that the Edmonton Research Park objectives, location and programs (including the ATC) have not recently been assessed for value and are not as connected to the organically growing and interconnected tech-innovation community downtown.


We recognize this and with resources always in high demand we need to be rigorous in evaluating the return on investment, quality and level of outcomes generated by all of the programs we deliver.

We also believe there is huge value in tech entrepreneurs being in close proximity to mentors, potential investors and service providers. The ERP and the ATC programs will be considered as part of the YEG Compass action plan work.



There is a belief that for a time Startup had lost their way a little bit and a desire for the return of the unique culture that was at the core of its creation. Key to this was an identified need for the leaders of Startup to have a level of their own entrepreneurial experience.


Thank you. Earlier this year, internally we recognized that the co-working space we provide at Startup should be viewed as a program we deliver vs. a revenue generator tied to their financial stability. The “unique culture” is something we continue to work on with both staff, client founders and teams and building tenants. Our sponsorship of the Mercer Block Party was just one small but public demonstration of our commitment to the culture shift conversation and we’re excited to work alongside the Popes to continue to create opportunities for collisions (stay tuned for updates on renovations, events and more!).

Finally, I would invite you all to pop into Startup the next time you are in the neighborhood and meet some of our new team members who do bring varying levels of their own entrepreneurial experience ranging from founding a company to growing up within a family business. And we’ve codified this entrepreneurial skills and experience requirement in our hiring practices.

This is our “line drawn,” our “marker in the sand.” We’re committed, we’re in. We’ll need you and hope to have your continued contributions and support.

Innovate Edmonton is committed to collaborate to create the best possible environment for tech-enabled startup and scaleup company growth. We’re dedicated to creating a self-disrupting environment. We believe in the power of yes. We think that an innovative city is a prosperous city. When your tech company succeeds, our economy excels and every Edmontonian benefits. So, we’ll be here for you when you’ve hit a wall, we’ll help you build a window. Let’s get to work.

Yours in partnership,


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Message to the Community

We’ve Come A Long Way

Innovate Edmonton is committed to administering the action plan to deliver on the recommendations of the YEG Innovation Compass. Period.