Growing Alberta’s Analytics Industry
The world is swimming in data from sensors, cameras and conversations all around us. Analytics is the science of extracting knowledge from data, and Alberta has some of the world’s top experts in this area. The Alberta Center for Analytics Products “ACAP” is an industry-focused facility to create economic benefit in Alberta based on this opportunity and expertise.
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The ACAP project is led by the Alberta Council of Technologies, a non-profit Alberta technology commercialization advocate. Stuart Lomas, acting President of ABCtech, leads the Analytics portfolio. The ACAP team also includes Bruce Matichuk and Eldon Wig, Alberta entrepreneurs with extensive experience and connections in Alberta’s public, private and innovation sectors.
ACAP has met with great support, and continues to seek partners and external leadership. Please review the briefing note presented below and then contact a Stuart@Lomas.ca confirming your interests.
ACAP encourages the growth of an Alberta Analytics industry. This mission includes:
• Commercialization: provide a path to market for Alberta Analytics technology;
• Industry Creation: encourage the creation and growth of Alberta Analytics companies;
• Marketing: highlight and encourage Analytics solutions in industry and government;
• Training: train workers in commercial Analytics technology and management;
• Consulting: offer commercial consulting services to Analytics providers and users;
• Financing: create investment opportunities in Alberta Analytics companies.
ACAP has been granted space in the highly innovative Avenir project, a 1.8 Billion dollar advanced technology community in St. Albert, in Alberta’s Capital Region. Further expansion of ACAP is expected to include additional sites.
Activities of the Center
ACAP’s activities derive directly from its Mission, as follows.
Commercialization: Provide a Path to Market for Alberta Analytics Technology
ACAP packages Analytics technology, which is primarily software, into commercially useful platforms and reference applications. These tools are licensed to industry to form the basis of multiple products in different markets. For example, a reference application to understand flow through a network might apply to oil pipelines, municipal water systems, and highway traffic.
Intellectual Property for the reference platforms stays with ACAP and is licensed to industry for specific markets. Enhancements by ACAP to the platforms, even if contracted by industry, are folded back into the platforms.
Industry Creation: Encourage the Creation and Growth of Alberta Analytics Companies
ACAP fosters the creation of new Analytics-based companies, ensuring that each has the resources needed to succeed, especially including a first customer. Wherever possible, ACAP partners with other Alberta innovation organizations and does not duplicate their offerings.
New companies must either become profitable or attract further investment capital within an agreed period of time. New companies that fail will lose their exclusive IP license.
ACAP also provides technology and expertise to established companies within Alberta and around the world, with Alberta companies benefitting from ACAP commercial terms.
Marketing: Highlight and Encourage Analytics Solutions in Industry and Government
ACAP markets to users both within and outside of Alberta, encouraging awareness of Analytics, use of ACAP’s services, and demand for the products of ACAP’s clients. This marketing includes sponsoring or partnering on events, presentations at conferences and directly to organizations, printed and new-media advertising, and public technology demonstrations.
Training: Train Workers in Commercial Analytics Technology and Management
ACAP hires and trains temporary employees, seeding trained workers into startup companies, receptor industries, government, and academia. Such employees may include co-op students in Computing Science, Engineering and Business, teachers and professors on sabbatical, or employees seconded from industry or government. Positions are open to people from Alberta, across Canada, and around the world.
In every case, ACAP seeks full value from its temporary employees, while at the same time exposing them to ACAP’s technology and organization. Where possible, these people work on projects within ACAP that are timed to their arrival and departure.
Consulting: Offer Commercial Consulting Services to Analytics Providers and Users
ACAP offers custom development services to users of its platform software, and can even serve as the core of a customer’s software development team. Services are offered at commercial rates, but can be partially financed for qualifying Alberta-based SMEs.
Software development by ACAP for its clients is the property of ACAP, and licensed to the client on the same basis as ACAP’s platform technology. Where possible, new development IP is also offered to other customers in non-competing industries.
Financing: Create Investment Opportunities in Alberta Analytics Companies
ACAP positions its startup companies to be desirable targets for investors. Non-professional “Angel” capital is preferred when it comes with easier terms and a less urgent time to exit. To encourage such capital, ACAP de-risks its startup companies through proven management and technology, early links to customers, and short time-to-market. ACAP may also partner with private equity managers who can organize pooled and syndicated investments.
Professional venture capital is also welcome when it is available on acceptable terms.
ACAP uses a blended public and commercial funding model. After a publicly-funded launch period, ACAP will meet a fixed portion of its funding from commercial revenue. Revenue includes fees for consulting services, IP licensing fees, event revenues, and fees for investment management. The remainder of its financing may continue to be public. An existing model is 30% public and 70% commercial, and these proportions may apply to ACAP as well.
ACAP also finances its clients by means of commercial terms. Any Alberta based company is able to access ACAP products with interest-only payments for 3 years at prime+10%, and then principal+interest amortized over a further 3 years at the same floating rate. ACAP services can be 50% financed on these terms, which approximately covers ACAP's up-front cost of delivery.
ACAP is governed by a board representing the Alberta tech industry, blended to include both large and small company and society representatives. Government, academic, and non-Alberta representatives sit as observers. ACAP also has members who vote for the board.
ACAP and Alberta’s Innovation System
ACAP fits well into Alberta’s innovation system, filling a gap while leveraging existing resources and drawing on current success. For example, Analytics needs advanced networking, data storage, and compute resources, so Cybera (www.cybera.ca) has complementary infrastructure that spans research and industry. In another dimension, ACAMP (www.acamp.ca) is similar in mandate and organization to ACAP, but works with micro- and nano-technology companies.
ACAP also draws on the business incubation services such as Innovate Calgary, TEC Edmonton, and NABI in St. Albert. Existing and upcoming federal and provincial funding organizations are natural partners for ACAP’s clients.
ACAP and Alberta’s Economy
ACAP is designed to encourage Alberta private investment into existing Alberta Analytics expertise, to the immediate benefit of Alberta’s major industries as customers. For example, Alberta’s transportation, communication, and resources industries are global players, so global export scale-up of local Alberta solutions in these industries can be rapid.
Further, Alberta investors understand these industries and their pain points, so investing in these areas is understandable and attractive if the opportunities are properly packaged.
ACAP and Alberta’s Future
The 2011 Report of the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy proposes the creation of an Alberta Institute for Advanced Technology, seen as “an applied research institute where bright and entrepreneurial scientists from around the globe translate basic discovery into applications of commercial value.” When this entity is created, ACAP is positioned to be part of it.