Chad Verity, CEO and co-founder of HolMetrics, said it’s time Red Deer and Central Alberta entrepreneurs had access to local investment forum. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Get ready Red Deer entrepreneurs

Edge Investment Forum takes shape in Central Alberta

Next year, Central Alberta entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to make their pitch to international investors without hopping on a plane, thanks to the 2019 Canada Winter Games and Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Think Dragons’ Den, with cowboys and speed skaters as the backdrop.

In February, The Edge Investment Forum will bring investors to Red Deer during the Games and again each November during the rodeo.

Red Deer and Central Alberta businesses have never had the kind of exposure these events will provide, notes Pam Steckler, managing director of international engagement for Central Alberta: Access Prosperity, located at Red Deer College.

She said the rodeo is an authentic Canadian experience, allowing international investors to understand a little bit more about Canadian culture.

The Winter Games, she said, will help draw Asian delegations in particular.

“It’s a once-in-a-generational opportunity that we have here in Red Deer, and given the fact that Beijing is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, there is a huge connection point right there,” said Steckler Wednesday.

Chad Verity, CEO and co-founder of HolMetrics, said an investment forum, similar to what is held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede, is long overdue in Red Deer.

“We need to start investing at that level, bringing not only the world here like we’re trying to do with the Edge, but also opening up gateways for entrepreneurs to see the global potential of ideas and how they can get from Red Deer to Toronto and Boston and New York and Silicon Valley and Hong Kong,” said the Red Deer entrepreneur.

He said the city hasn’t invested nearly enough in the ideas economy and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs who think different, who think bigger.

“Far too long, Red Deer has been complacent as a hub for oil and gas service sector companies. Edmonton is becoming a hub for artificial intelligence. Calgary is becoming a hub for financial technologies, as well as for oil and gas energy technologies.

“I think the potential is there to put our own stamp on things.”

Central Alberta: Access Prosperity has partnered with the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, Catapult Entrepreneurs, the government of Alberta, Battle Bend Energy, Westerner Park, Red Deer Airport, Olds College and Red Deer College to develop The Edge Investment Forum.

“We’re trying to facilitate an environment for investors to be matched up with entrepreneurs and companies that actually need capital injections or partnerships. But also connecting the local investment community with the international investment community,” Steckler said.

“Edmonton has old money. Calgary has new money, and Central Alberta, or Red Deer, has hidden money.”

On Thursday, a lunch with key speaker Brice Scheschuk with the software company and venture partner Globalive Technology will be the official launch of the Edge.

“He is basically an icon for selling his Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion. It’s basically a perfect example to show entrepreneurs, community leaders, politicians and the economic development and investment attraction community that we have entrepreneurs that can be that level of success.”

The lunch runs from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Prairie Pavilion at Westerner Park. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.

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