From Timbaland to Edmonton’s tech community in four steps or less
With so many celebrities at this year’s Collision conference in Toronto on May 21-23, it’s hard not get a little starstruck. But if you think travelling to Hollywood or Silicon Valley will get you closer to world’s most innovative solutions, think again. Edmonton is step-in-step with the hottest trends.
The Senegal-born musician is at Collision to talk about Akoin, a mobile-friendly cryptocurrency that aims to empower African entrepreneurs.
A serial entrepreneur, this is not Akon’s first tech venture. In 2014, he launched Akon Lighting Africa, which provided solar powered street lamps to 480 communities in 15 countries.
To promote his efforts, Akon featured the first kinetic and solar powered soccer pitch in Africa (installed by Shell) in his 2015 music video “Tell Me We’re OK.”
Several Edmonton companies are coming up with equally innovative ways of capturing and storing renewable energy: Applied Quantum Materials developed a silicon-based film that turns windows into solar panels; Terrapin Geothermics captures industrial heat waste; and Growing Greener Innovations Inc. developed the only scalable, portable, plug-and-play energy system capable of replacing gas generators watt for watt.
Kristen Dumont is the first female CEO of a major gaming company. She heads MZ Studio, the company behind the massively popular mobile game Game of War: Fire Age.
In Alberta, tech startups are twice as likely to have a female founder than the Canadian average, according to the 2018 Alberta Technology Deal Flow Study.
In Edmonton, women are at the helm of many innovative companies — from interactive media studios (Kaelyn Boyes, CEO @ XGen Studios; Erin Torbiak, Director of Engineering @ TeachMe) to synthetic intelligence platforms (Myrna Bittner, CEO/founder @ RUNWITHIT Synthetics) to med tech providers (Dornoosh Zonoobi, CEO/co-founder @ Medo.ai.)
There are many meetups and organizations focused on achieving gender balance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including the WiSER (Women in Science, Engineering and Research) Network, Ada's Team, Ladies Learning to Code and Women in AI Meetup.
Major Lazer musician Christopher ‘Jilionnaire’ Leacock invested in a mindfulness app called Endel.
Endel uses algorithms to create personalized sound environments based on location, weather, heart rate and circadian rhythm to help you focus, relax or sleep.
Edmonton-based Visio Media uses similar environmental factors (weather and time of day) coupled with facial recognition technology to revolutionize digital out-of-home advertising.
Not only does Visio’s facial recognition technology allow ads to be tailored based on gender and age, but it provides accurate metrics on who is looking at what ads and for how long — something that is impossible to gauge with traditional out-of-home advertising platforms, such as billboards and bus ads.
Damon Wayans Jr.
The actor/comedian’s app helps lesser-known artists get discovered, create free professional electronic press kits and secure the best rates possible — without the need for an agent.
Bent River Records at Edmonton-based MacEwan University enables artists to access recording and promotional assistance in exchange for learning opportunities for students, while the Edmonton Public Library’s music sharing site, Capital City Records, gives access to Edmonton’s best local music.
Musicians and DJs aren’t the only ones that struggle to make a name for themselves. Mobile ordering is predicted to be a $38 billion industry by 2020, but most small restaurants don’t have the resources to develop in-house apps the way Starbucks and McDonald’s do.
Edmonton-based company ClickDishes enables independent eateries with the same mobile ordering options as worldwide brands, at a significantly lower cost to entry.
The multiplatinum producer talked to David Rogier, co-founder of MasterClass, about personal success, self-mastery and resilience.
Rogier and his co-founder launched MasterClass in 2015 with the goal of giving everyone access to the world’s greatest minds. Classes feature Shonda Rhimes, Gordon Ramsay and Timbaland himself.
Celebrity classes aren’t the only way to democratize genius. The City of Edmonton provides public access to hundreds of free data sets to promote innovation, while makerspaces at the Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton New Technology Society give residents access to tools like recording equipment, 3D printers, virtual reality headsets and an electronics lab. Edmonton is also one of Western Canada’s largest tech-focused meetup communities.