The University of Alberta and a local business consultancy firm, with the backing of the federal government, have launched a new accelerator program specifically designed to increase the number and quality of commercial ventures at the earliest stages coming out of the university.
Innovation Masterminds Edmonton (imYEG) stems from a partnership between the U of A and Brass Dome Ventures Ltd., led by serial entrepreneur and U of A alumnus Christopher Micetich, to create an industry-led accelerator to address and overcome the earliest barriers faced by researchers just starting on the path to commercialization.
“Through imYEG, my fellow business leaders and I can help bridge academia and industry, providing university innovators with the knowledge and support to bring their ideas to commercial fruition,” said Micetich, CEO of Brass Dome Ventures Ltd. “I want to see Alberta benefit from the success that is possible when entrepreneurs are given the tools to thrive.”
The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), is supporting the launch of imYEG with an investment of $700,550. The initiative aligns with WD’s focus on supporting the commercialization of western Canadian technologies and applications for the global market, as well as the growth of innovative early-stage companies in Alberta.
“Innovation is at the heart of the University of Alberta. imYEG will strengthen the U of A’s role as a key partner in Alberta’s efforts to diversify and drive the economy through innovation, and job and company creation.”
Bill Flanagan, U of A president and imYEG founding partner
Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said she’s seen first-hand the positive impact that our leading universities and post-secondary institutions can have on our innovation ecosystem when they’re given the chance to turn research into market-ready applications and get their big ideas off the ground.
“Our government is proud to support the University of Alberta’s imYEG initiative, which will play a critical role in connecting researchers with industry leaders and investors,” said Joly. “I’m tremendously excited about the potential for this initiative to transform lab research into new spinoff companies, high-value jobs, and a strong and resilient Alberta economy.”
As part of an integrated approach to innovation development, imYEG will establish a mentorship program led by proven business leaders and investors, who will work with U of A innovators and the university’s technology transfer services team to identify and accelerate the commercialization of innovations and technologies.
“Innovation is at the heart of the University of Alberta,” said Bill Flanagan, U of A president and imYEG founding partner. “imYEG will strengthen the U of A’s role as a key partner in Alberta’s efforts to diversify and drive the economy through innovation, and job and company creation.”
Promising ventures will be matched and mentored by imYEG’s team of successful entrepreneurs and investors, and graduate students will be matched with job opportunities created by new university spinoffs.
The focus of imYEG on early-stage ventures complements and strengthens the U of A’s suite of successful initiatives including eHUB, TEC Edmonton, the UAlberta Health Accelerator, and the ThresholdImpact University of Alberta Venture Mentoring Service, which foster entrepreneurship and spur commercialization at every step from concept to market.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson added it is the city’s collective approach as problem solvers together with an innovative mindset that will shape our emergence from the pandemic.
“Nurturing and lifting up our entrepreneurial and startup community through an initiative like imYEG can help retain talent, ingenuity and jobs—and ensure an increasingly diverse, resilient and diverse economy,” said Iveson.
In its first phase, imYEG will support 10 to 15 pilot ventures across various sectors including energy and clean technology, agriculture, life sciences, digital technology, construction and mining. The program is also purposely designed to scale to include Edmonton’s other post-secondary institutions in the future.