In September, the Alberta government awarded a three-year, $900,000 contract to San Francisco-based company Connection Silicon Valley and Alberta-based trade consulting firm JPC Corp. to serve as the province’s liaison in California’s Silicon Valley.
In this interview, Connection Silicon Valley CEO Joanne Fedeyko talks to Postmedia about what she has been doing since being awarded the contract and what Alberta needs to do to grow its tech sector. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What is your job description with this Alberta contract? What specifically are you trying to do?
A: It’s two things. One is building Alberta’s profile in the valley because it doesn’t really have one here — to say that kindly. And it’s also to drive investment into the province and support Alberta tech companies in their growth.
Q: What have you been doing in the months since you landed the gig?
A: We hit the ground running because we immediately started to get startup inquiries. We quickly put together a trip where 19 companies came down to the valley from Alberta for two days of programming we put together for them. We did it to really help startups get to the starting line in Silicon Valley — understanding the lay of the land, understanding how the valley operates, understanding how they can build a network here. And also to allow them to benchmark themselves and their technology … so they can understand where investment dollars are going and why, and they can get a sense of how they sit when it comes to competitors and competitive technologies.
Q: We hear a lot these days about Alberta’s desire to diversify its economy by growing its technology sector and becoming an “innovation hub.” How does Alberta stack up against every other jurisdiction that wants the same thing? If Silicon Valley is a 10 when it comes to the strength of its technology industry, what grade would you give Alberta?
A: Well, it’s pretty low — because it’s pretty early and Alberta’s sector is less organized. And as we know, Alberta and Canada is a pretty conservative ecosystem when it comes to investment and risk. That mindset hampers the ecosystem. You have to have people who are willing to take their money, and instead of putting it in a hole in the ground, put it in a startup.
Q: And that’s not happening right now in Alberta?
A: Look, I think the statistic is …read more