Mathison Hall aerial
Haskayne School of Business

Dec. 15, 2021

CDL-Rockies to grow with new funding to support innovation

Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund and PrairiesCan announce funding to successful Haskayne program for startups

Since launching at the Haskayne School of Business in 2017, the Creative Destruction Lab–Rockies has made a quick and resounding impact in Calgary’s innovation ecosystem.

Nearly 70 companies have completed the program for rapid commercialization. Those alumni companies have created over 500 jobs, half of which are in Alberta. Alberta-based CDL-Rockies companies have raised over $200 million in capital.

Having clearly established a leading role in developing innovation, the program received a significant boost of support Wednesday with the announcement of new funding of up to $3 million from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF).

“It’s vital to Calgary’s economic future to accelerate the growth of promising local early-stage companies through organizations like CDL-Rockies to position Calgary as Canada’s innovation hub with the expertise, global connections and funding to turn big ideas and transformative technology into successful companies,” says Nancy Laird, vice-chair of OCIF’s board of directors.

The funds will support CDL-Rockies’ unique program for startups commercializing transformational technologies across industries. Currently operating three program streams focused on industry-agnostic innovations, energy evolution and agtech, the OCIF funding will enable the launch of CDL-Rockies’ Nurture Program for ventures in earlier stages of development.

Daniel Vandal, minister of northern affairs, the minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), announced an additional $1.8 million from the federal government.

“With their rich and innovative base in sectors such as agriculture technology and agri-food processing, many western Canadian businesses are on the cusp of scaling up for the global market and creating high-quality jobs here at home. Our investment in Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)–Rockies is about providing these entrepreneurs and innovators with the supports, tools and resources needed to take their businesses to the next level and to seize opportunities from our unique prairie advantages,” says Vandal.

Dr. Ed McCauley, University of Calgary president and vice-chancellor, thanks OCIF and PrairiesCan for their generous support:

CDL accelerates startups in science and technology as part of a highly coveted global network. These experts bring in the talent, ideas, capital and technologies from around the world to strengthen the innovation landscape here in our city and our province.

CDL-Rockies brings together experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and subject matter experts to expedite the growth of early-stage science and tech-focused companies. The CDL program delivers objectives-based mentorship that enhances the performance of technical founders, increasing their probability of success, which makes it a highly sought-after program with interest from around the globe. CDL-Rockies charges no fees for participation and takes no equity from participating companies. To date, CDL-Rockies has been primarily funded by philanthropy and corporate partnerships.  

“CDL-Rockies launched with a bold plan to kick start innovation in the Calgary economy — and what a massive success it has been,” says Haskayne Dean Jim Dewald.

“To date, CDL alumni companies based in Alberta have raised well over $200 million in capital and created hundreds of jobs. From that seed investment of just over $4 million from Calgary philanthropists in 2017, CDL-Rockies has become a pillar of the innovation ecosystem enabling tech, agriculture and energy companies to thrive. That success will only grow thanks to this incredible support from OCIF and PrairiesCan,” says Dewald.

CDL-Rockies in Calgary is part of a wider network of 10 Creative Destruction Lab sites spread across four countries. Each site is tied to a leading business school and bases its program streams on the strength of the local business, science and technology ecosystems. Founded as a non-profit organization at the University of Toronto in 2012, participants in its programs have created $15 billion in equity value.