New super agency aims to help diversify economy

Alberta Innovates merges four agencies, including two that had been involved in agricultural projects

Four Albertan agencies are merging into one large entity in order to become more cost efficient and competitive.

On Nov. 1, Alberta Innovates became a legal entity, absorbing Alberta Innovates Tech Futures; Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions; Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions; and Alberta Innovates Health Solutions.

“There’s a lot of stake in this because of what is happening right now in the economy with oil and gas and the horrible fire in Fort McMurray,” said Kathleen Thurber, spokeswoman for Alberta Innovates Health Solutions.

“Alberta is not in a great position right now, and the urgency to diversify the economy and create new jobs is far more imperative now than even six months ago. It’s not that Alberta Innovates is going to solve all that, but we’ve undertaken the responsibility that we will be a huge contributor.”

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Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions and Alberta Innovates Tech Futures have been involved with agricultural projects in the province. The new agency will be more streamlined and “add to the strength that we’ve got in research and innovation,” said Thurber.

“We’re a small province and we’ve got a strong research and innovation sector, but it is fragmented in many ways. And because they were four separate agencies, it was hard to have things happen across sectors.”

The agency is in the process of creating a new organizational structure and will be recruiting a new chief executive officer.

“When the new CEO comes in place, there will be strategic planning. There’s lots more to do,” said Thurber.

Alberta Innovates will have two subsidiaries: the newly created Innotech Alberta and C-FER, an existing organization that conducts large-scale testing of technologies for oil and gas and pipelines. The decision to consolidate the four agencies was announced in the 2016 provincial budget. The new agency will have a budget of $160 million.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, she has also published two collections of poetry and a biography about a Sikh civil rights activist. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications across Canada.

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