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Calgary’s Thriving Tech Scene

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Vog App Developers currently has 90 employees and has grown significantly during the pandemic. Photo: Vog App Developers

Calgary’s booming technology scene is exactly that – booming. Even with the pandemic nearly behind us, the market has remained strong.

For example, as part of its $17 billion investment in operations, infrastructure and spectrum across Alberta through 2026, TELUS recently opened TELUS Sky, a new state-of-the art headquarters in downtown Calgary. Standing 60 stories high and spanning 750,000 square feet of office and retail space, this project achieved LEED platinum certification.

“Our $400 million development continues our legacy of making powerful contributions to advance the economic strength and social vitality of both the city of Calgary and the province of Alberta,” says TELUS president and CEO Darren Entwistle in a GlobeNewswire press release.

“Over the past century, TELUS has invested $60 billion in network infrastructure, operations and technology across the province, and will create a further 8,500 family-supporting jobs.”

 

TELUS Helps Revitalize City Block

Moreover, as the transformative centrepiece of a revitalized city block, Entwistle says TELUS Sky sets a new standard of excellence in architectural beauty and environmental sustainability, exceeding the global standard for leadership in energy and environmental design.

“We are exceedingly proud that TELUS Sky will continue to build a friendly future for everyone who lives, works, and serves in the great City of Calgary.”

Just some of the TELUS Sky’s unique features include:

  • A storm water management system that recycles rainwater for use in washroom toilets and urinals, reducing the building’s municipal water demand by 70 per cent.
  • A thermal energy system designed to efficiently transport hot water through an underground network of insulated pipes across the city, resulting in a 30 per cent reduction in heating energy demand.
  • 100 per cent fresh air ventilation with operable windows and exterior terraces.
  • Windows designed with robust envelope and triple-pane glazing to decrease solar transmission and promote greater shading within the building, contributing to a 35 per cent reduction in building energy use.
  • A living green wall in the 11-storey atrium to improve air quality and provide occupants and visitors with a connection to natural elements.
  • A direct connection to TELUS’ PureFibre network, ensuring tenants, businesses, guests and office workers have access to the fastest most capable internet network available in western Canada.

“Throughout the project’s development over the last nine years, TELUS Sky supported the local economy by creating more than 1,000 jobs,” Entwistle adds. “The building will be home to more than 1,600 local TELUS team members.

 

Strong Growth for Vog App Developers

Vog App Developers is a Calgary-based custom development software firm formed in 2004 that services many industries – from energy and health to safety crypto, fit tech and more.

Owner and president Vince O’Gorman says Vog – which currently has 90 employees – has grown significantly during the pandemic.

“COVID has accelerated our growth plan from five years to two years. We can build anything – apps, android platforms and more. We’re collaborating with several large companies like HP and Amazon. We work all over the place with a variety of enterprises and start-companies.”

A born and bred Calgarian, O’Gorman says overall the technology scene is strong in the province.

“Alberta, in general, is a little bit more resilient because we have such a diverse tech scene here. You see more developers entering the market and this is an opportunity for companies to pick up some talented developers.”

When asked if there will be a higher impact of tech companies in the city’s downtown core space, he says he cannot be certain of this because COVID and remote working and communicating through (Microsoft) Teams, Zoom and Slack has provided companies with opportunities to save on rent.

“From an employer’s standpoint, efficiencies are not always met from having employees not drive into the office downtown. It’s actually the opposite. On Zoom, they may have a two-minute meeting as opposed to a 20-minute meeting in the office.”

And, while rent in downtown Calgary is rising, O’Gorman says businesses are creating more unique environments for their employees.

“From a mental health perspective, we need to interact. We’re social animals. I think the hybrid of working in the office and working from home a couple days a week will be the major player over the next few years.”

 

IBM CIC Invigorates Tech Sector

The new IBM Client Innovation Centre (CIC) for Western Canada is just one of the latest tech companies headquartered in Calgary. Located in the Beltline area downtown, the CIC is in a portion of the 25,000-square-foot office space that IBM occupies.

The CIC will add to a network of centres that IBM has across Canada and globally. The focus is broadly on application modernization and sustainability, delivering consulting services and technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud and blockchain, helping to elevate Alberta’s position as a centre for energy transformation. With this CIC, IBM will help organizations to both modernize their legacy applications and accelerate their environmental and social goals to create long-lasting impact for their communities, employees, customers and investors.

Through a partnership with Invest Alberta, Calgary Economic Development and the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), this CIC will bring 250 new jobs to the city over the next five years.

“To overcome the skills gap in Western Canada, we will be looking at candidates at all levels of experience to fill new positions that include application developers, business and transformation analysts, testers, project managers and other positions,” says Eric Johnson, partner, Western Canada, IBM.

To scale it up quickly, IBM will start by hiring professionals with existing skillsets – both early and well into their careers. It will then build on this talent base by targeting new graduates.

“Broadly, we will also be focused on standing up a mentorship model to grow the ecosystem,” he adds.

As for the effect this investment will have on the Calgary’s downtown core space, the Centre will play a significant role in contributing to the province’s economic growth through job creating and the engagement of local enterprise,

“It will accelerate innovation in sustainable practices and advance the position of Alberta as a hub for energy transformation.”

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