University of Calgary: Haskayne launches ScaleUp program to help Alberta companies compete globally


The Alberta innovation ecosystem is thriving. This growth has delivered some pain points. There are over 2,000 startups in Alberta — due in part to the outstanding programs and funding opportunities available.

But companies cannot remain a startup forever. They mature and they need support to scale into businesses that can compete globally. ScaleUp will meet the needs of high-growth companies with a nine-month program to help executive teams shift their focus to commercialization and sustainable growth.

“Some might see a problem where we see an opportunity. ScaleUp was created at the Haskayne School of Business to support high-growth Alberta companies to ensure they stay in the province as they continue to grow,” says Jim Dewald, dean, Haskayne School of Business.

“It builds on the success of Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies (CDL-Rockies) and will support companies taking their next big step.”

Scaling companies play an important role in a local economy as they contribute disproportionately to new job creation. High-growth companies are also associated with wealth creation, role models for peer companies and regional innovation outcomes. ScaleUp will provide support to help keep high-growth companies in Alberta instead of having them leave to other jurisdictions for support.

“When CDL-Rockies launched in 2017 at the Haskayne School of Business, our aspiration was for participating companies to build something massive. And they are,” says Alice Reimer, former CDL-Rockies site lead and CEO, Fillip Fleet. Reimer continues as a strategic adviser at Haskayne for ScaleUp and CDL-Rockies.

“The majority of the first cohort of ScaleUp are companies that have a CDL connection. Now, ScaleUp will help these companies and others to hone their competitive advantages for the global stage.”

The goal for the program is ambitious — to support high-impact companies that want to grow five times their revenue or capital or team within 24 to 36 months of completing the program. ScaleUp will guide companies moving through a critical inflection point where they need to create repeatable structures, increase leadership capacity and execute upon the economics of scale which will allow them to expand to global markets.

For the pilot of the nine-month ScaleUp program, the focus is on cleantech companies in energy and agriculture. Within this sector there is a lot of potential to enhance global competitiveness. EcoCanada ranked Canada as number one in cleantech innovation investment but 16th in commercialization.

“Alberta has many advantages that can position the province at the front of the cleantech race. We have the infrastructure to support scale, and some of the largest funders of cleantech research and projects are from traditional energy companies, many of which are headquartered in Calgary,” says Hannah Hemphill, ScaleUp director, Haskayne School of Business.

The first ScaleUp cohort was made possible through the generous support of partners who see the potential in the sector including HSBC, Deloitte Canada and Fasken.

“HSBC is proud to partner with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business to deliver the HSBC CleanTech ScaleUp cohort,” says Kim Hallwood, head of corporate sustainability for HSBC Bank Canada.

“We’re investing to accelerate innovation and advance the clean technologies critical to building a net- zero future, and programs like this will help get us there.”

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