Discover Alberta: Innovation Through Collaboration

Why aligning life science meeting content with resources in Alberta is a win for associations.

Visiting Alberta for its natural beauty alone is well worth the trip. The province is a picture-perfect destination, with the Canadian Rockies overlooking a varied landscape of lakes, forests, prairies and badlands. But there’s so much more to the region than just its physical features. This natural wonder is also shaking up life sciences research on a global scale, thanks to a dedicated community of experts and advocates.

“We’ve got the intellectual edge with our schools, an ecosystem ripe for growth and strong partnerships in place,” says Anna Look, director of meetings and conventions for Edmonton Tourism.

A major perk of visiting the Western Canadian province is access to the renowned faculty at institutions such as the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, which are synonymous with life sciences. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton have made a number of medical breakthroughs, including the world’s first oral antiviral treatment for Hepatitis B. The university also houses the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases, addressing the health of both animals and humans. It’s one area of the life sciences industry that makes Alberta a standout.

“There is a significant amount of research that is happening in the life sciences sector in Alberta,” says Cindy Lieu, communications manager at the Alberta Prion Research Institute.

The province’s largest research and innovation agency, Alberta Innovates, funds projects and programs spanning the life sciences sector, including the Alberta Prion Research Institute. Alberta Innovates also supports training and early-career development for the next generation of leaders in the health industry, sustaining the regional talent pool.

Collaboration is key to the success of the life sciences industry in Alberta. Edmonton’s Health City initiative is just one example, connecting stakeholders who represent health-related businesses and startups. That synergy has also piqued the interest of planners and groups seeking convention leads, Look says.

One advantage of meeting in Edmonton is the ease of traveling from one research center, hospital or university to another. Health and life sciences groups are clustered around the city and can be accessed via public transportation. There’s even a light rail station that will suit your needs: Get off at the Health Sciences/Jubilee station, where you’ll find the University of Alberta, Cross Cancer Institute, Canadian Blood Services and more.

South of Edmonton, the University of Calgary is dominating the energy research space, with a $75 million initiative to develop low-carbon technology solutions and the highest number of energy-related industrial research chairs in the Canada. There’s also plenty of cross-sector interaction among departments that supports life sciences research, says Jackie Sieppert, Dean of the Faculty of Social Work. Within the university and in the greater Calgary community, research is characterized by a spirit of partnership and “a willingness to take risks, a willingness to try new things and a willingness to connect people ideas,” Sieppert says.

With such a strong and supportive network driving the life sciences sector, it goes to show that Alberta’s cities have more to offer than a stunning backdrop alone.

“It obviously pays to have the right geography,” says Sieppert, “Beyond that, we’ve got in this community, a city itself that is spectacular in many ways.”

This trend report is brought to you by Business Events Canada. Interested in planning your next life science event here? Reach out directly to receive a copy of our knowledge maps, designed to help you determine which Canadian city is the best fit for your meeting content.

(Edmonton Economic Development)