A vibrant building on the edge of Calgary’s East Village hopes to bring dynamism to the city’s tech sector and economy.
The platform’s innovation center and parking lot features over 500 vehicle parking spaces, a secure lockdown for 99 bikes, a publicly accessible half-basketball court, and the new 50,000 square foot home by Platform Calgary.
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Located on 9 Avenue SE across from the Central Library, the park opened on Wednesday after being announced in early 2018, with a budget of $ 80 million.
“The Calgary Parking Authority’s vision has always been to have parking in and around the region,” said CMLC President and CEO Kate Thompson. “And it’s starting to serve some of the infrastructure that has been built in the East Village and will be built in the culture and entertainment district to the south.”
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In September, the center will offer programs and opportunities to bring together tech-savvy people.
“It will start early in the morning with people there to meet for breakfast, to maybe hear a speaker, and then people will directly start to train,” said Platform Calgary president and CEO. , Terry Rock.
“So our training programs will teach people the basics or some advanced parts of starting a technology-based business. There will be a lot of peer-to-peer work. “
Having startups, entrepreneurs and innovators together in one place working side by side and exchanging ideas would allow projects and efforts to germinate organically.
“We’ve been able to study how these things work around the world and there is really good research indicating that connectivity is so important,” Rock told Global News.
“One study indicates that the founders of the most successful startups, for example, know 25 other founders, they know eight investors, and they have six or 10 experts at the end of their Rolodex.”
Having a gathering place for the industry is not a new concept in Calgary, Rock said.
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“I would say this is the secret to our success in developing our oil and gas industry,” said the CEO of Platform. “We had the Petroleum Club. We have a very dense downtown area and we can just move around Calgary much faster in this industry.
“And we want to do the same for technology.”
Built with change in mind
The building straddles the underground LRT line and some important utilities like water main. And it was designed to be able to accommodate other developments in the future.
Rather than building it to become the basis of a higher structure, the CMLC team took a different approach.
“What if we increased the heights from story to story on every story to allow the structure itself to be adaptable?” So in a future state where potential parking is not as required, could you convert the actual floors to something other than parking? Thompson said.
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“Our biggest single move has really increased these heights from floor to floor to allow future adaptability of heating, electrical ducts to service a residential condo or potentially office space.
This same flexibility has been left to Platform to add or upgrade items such as cabling as needed.
Rock hopes the shiny new digs and centralized location will help achieve Platform’s goal of tripling the size of Calgary’s tech sector over the next decade.
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“That means we have to start 60 new businesses a year – and when I say we, I mean we as a whole community have to create 60 new businesses a year – that start hiring five or more employees,” said Rock.
As with entrepreneurship in other industries, tech startups aren’t for the faint of heart, Rock said. “But that’s part of the process.”
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Tracking metrics like investment levels, number of people hired, and even companies moving to Calgary are all part of what Rock will be looking at in the new innovation hub. And Platform has already seen some success through the pandemic.
“And then we look at the companies that have taken these programs in the past, they now have over $ 2 million in revenue, $ 930,000 in investments raised, 58 employees coming out of this program in what we only had. for two years, ”said Rock.
More than 50 organizations representing 17,000 people have partnered with Platform to help develop the city’s tech sector.
“The biggest challenge will be to make the most of this community because there are so many of them.”
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