We’re thrilled to wrap up the 6th annual Start Alberta Tech Awards! This year 12 award categories honoured the individuals and organizations with standout contributions to Alberta’s tech industry.
The Awards Ceremony took place on October 11, 2023 at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. It was an amazing night honouring the remarkable achievements of individuals and organizations in Alberta’s tech sector.
Here’s a recap of the 2023 winners – congratulations to each of you!
2023 Start Alberta Tech Awards Winners
WaitWell – A100 One to Watch presented by A100
Awarded to an Alberta early-stage company that is “most likely to succeed”, as nominated by the Alberta tech community and chosen by A100 Charter Members.
Calgary-based WaitWell, founded by Steven Vander Meulen, Shannon Vander Meulen, and Steve Drew, operates as a digital concierge for businesses, enabling their customers to join a virtual queue via their mobile devices for both appointments and walk-ins. Businesses benefit from workflow efficiency and customer insights. After raising $1.5M in seed funding earlier this year, WaitWell plans to expand into new US markets, including private medical offices and veterinary hospitals, while also enhancing its queue management platform.
CoolIT Systems – Transaction of the Year
Awarded to the tech company that has had the most significant acquisition or exit.
Founded in Calgary in 2001, CoolIT Systems specializes in advanced liquid cooling solutions for the world’s most demanding computing environments to reduce operating costs and carbon emissions. In May of this year, Mubadala invested in CoolIT alongside global investment firm KKR, with the latter acquiring a majority of the cooling business in the process.
Neo Financial – Scaleup of the Year presented by Osler
Recognizes one of Alberta’s scaling/later-stage companies that is having a positive impact on the Alberta tech ecosystem.
Neo Financial, founded in 2019 in Calgary, has rapidly grown to employ more than 800 people. Beyond its success as a scaling FinTech company that has achieved the coveted “unicorn” status, Neo is working to help attract and retain tech talent in Alberta through initiatives like Tech Thursday. With its commitment to diversity and inclusion within its own workforce and recruitment practices, Neo also supports a number of community groups and initiatives including the 2023 Women Techmakers YYC conference and the upcoming Women in AI conference in Calgary.
Chloe Smith – Most Promising Founder presented by Platform Calgary
Presented to a dynamic early-stage founder recognized for their coachability, community involvement and ability to launch a technology-focused company in Alberta.
Chloe Smith is the CEO and Co-Founder of Mercator AI, a real-time construction intelligence platform. In March of this year, Mercator raised a $5.1M CAD seed round. The team has grown from 5 to 15 people and has reached product market fit. She is eager to help cultivate the next generation of smart entrepreneurs in Alberta. As a speaker and panellist at many events and conferences, Chloe advocates for women in tech and for changing the conversation around how women founders experience the startup journey.
PainWorth – Impact Award
Awarded to the tech company or organization that demonstrates their commitment to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) standards, or through their products and services assists other companies or society, in general, to make improvements in one or more of Environment, Social (diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging) or Governance areas.
PainWorth is the first automated app using AI to streamline and accurately value injury claims. PainWorth was founded in Edmonton after Co-Founder Mike Zouhri was injured by a drunk driver and aims to fix the fundamental problems he experienced as a personal injury victim dealing with the insurance industry and personal injury lawyers. The service is 100% free for claimants right now.
Tacit Edge – Digital Talent Champion presented by Profound Talent
Awarded to a company, program or individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in developing the talent ecosystem, growing the digital talent pool and accelerating innovation and diversification in Alberta.
Tacit Edge is working to establish Alberta as a hub for Product Management excellence to close the gap of no formal education program or certification for Product Managers. In 2021, they launched the world’s first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion-based (EDI) Product Management education program in collaboration with SAIT and Alberta Innovates. Additionally, Tacit Edge provides accessible free online programming for implementing digital product management practices. Its programs have benefited more than 1,600 individuals in their product management careers in 120 companies in Alberta and beyond.
Kylie Woods – VCAA Rod Charko Service Award presented by the VCAA
Awarded to an individual who has gone above and beyond for the technology ecosystem in Alberta.
Kylie Woods, the Founder and Executive Director of Chic Geek, has been dedicated to advancing and supporting women in technology for the past decade. Chic Geek has made a significant impact on the Alberta tech community and beyond, by connecting over 14,000 women in tech, hosting 160 events including the Geeky Summit, and launching a virtual mentorship program to directly support career advancement for women in tech. Despite Chic Geek announcing its closure this year, the community momentum to support women in tech that the organization began continues on.
Platform Calgary – Ecosystem Supporter of the Year
Awarded to an organization known for its dedication to helping startups, scaleups, and entrepreneurs grow in Alberta.
Platform Calgary is focused on making Calgary the best place to start and grow a tech company. As the hub for Calgary’s tech community, Platform Calgary brings together the resources of Calgary’s tech ecosystem to help startups launch and grow. Its programs are all low or no-cost and merit-based, and designed to help founders – from aspiring to experienced – ideate, launch and scale their tech-enabled business faster.
Shannon Vander Meulen – Woman in Tech presented by Innovate Calgary
Awarded to a forward-thinking woman recognized for her entrepreneurial success and ability to launch a venture-backable technology-focused company in Alberta. This individual has also demonstrated a passion for supporting gender equity and promoting women’s advancement, making a lasting impact on Alberta’s technology ecosystem.
Shannon Vander Meulen is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of WaitWell, a queue management software that operates as a digital concierge for businesses, enabling their customers to join a virtual queue via their mobile devices for both appointments and walk-ins. As Shannon helps scale WaitWell, which announced a $1.5M seed investment earlier this year, she is also an active supporter of women in technology, participating in a number of events and community organizations including the Women Presidents Organization.
Mark Blackwell – Investor of the Year presented by AEC
Presented to an individual or investment firm that has displayed the best investment acumen over the last year in Alberta’s tech sector.
Mark Blackwell leads the Canadian office of Builders VC, which has invested in notable Alberta tech companies including VEERUM, Mercator AI, Future Fields, Provisions Analytics, and QuoteToMe.
Mark is active in the Alberta ecosystem as the current Board Chair of the $100M Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary, Vice Chair of the $1.19B University of Calgary Endowment Fund and Board Member of Emissions Reduction Alberta which has awarded over $800M in total funding to climate and emission-related technology projects. He is also an associate of Creative Destructive Labs – Rockies.
Jobber – Deal of the Year presented by AEC
Awarded to the tech company that has raised the largest amount of capital in its most recent fundraising round.
Jobber is an Edmonton-based tech company whose platform helps small home services businesses organize their entire operations, from scheduling jobs and managing their crews to invoicing customers and collecting payments. Jobber raised $100M USD in their Series D round in February 2023. The company now employs more than 600 people and is used by over 200,000 home service professionals across more than 50 industries.
Dr. Kristina Rinker – Leader of the Year Award presented by Edmonton Unlimited
Awarded to an executive-level individual who has not only had a significant impact on the success of their organization but also serves as an inspiration to their colleagues, teams, customers and community.
Dr. Kristina Rinker, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Syantra and a professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Calgary, oversaw the development of Syantra DX™ Breast Cancer, a groundbreaking diagnostic platform using RNA biomarkers in blood samples for early breast cancer detection. She is also a Co-Founder of Biohubx, a not-for-profit supporting life science companies, and was honoured with the City of Calgary’s International Achievement Award for her contributions to innovation and women’s health in STEM.
Final thanks and outlook for 2024
The 2023 Start Alberta Tech Awards would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Thank you to AEC, A100, Edmonton Unlimited, Innovate Calgary, Platform Calgary, Profound Talent, Osler, Venture Capital Association of Alberta (VCAA), and Digital Alberta.
Over the past few years, Alberta’s tech sector has experienced a significant surge in momentum. Alberta is now home to more than 30,000 tech sector jobs, with multiple unicorns and scaled businesses with hundreds of employees.
As our tech sector continues to mature, it’s important to recognize both the individuals and organizations that contribute to Alberta’s tech industry to continue to build and enrich our innovation ecosystem.
How can you help? Claim your company profile and keep your data updated in the Start Alberta database. By helping Start Alberta keep a current, accurate pulse on the economic and innovative significance of our sector, we attract talent, capital and support to grow to our full potential.
See you next year for the 2024 Start Alberta Tech Awards!