Program Evaluation, Strategy, Technology
Alberta Innovates (AI) is a major crown corporation responsible for promoting innovation in the province. The EBA Program matches promising, high-growth potential companies with experienced executives who provide high-level guidance and coaching. The primary focus has been to help companies access financing, particularly at the seed and the Series A stages. To do so, EBAs work with companies to improve investment readiness, develop funding strategies, and provide introductions. The Program has served about 75 clients since it was established. The evaluation was designed to assess the outcomes and effectiveness of the EBA, assess the needs for services and existing gaps, and inform future strategic planning regarding the Program. As the first evaluation for the program, it provides a baseline for future benchmarking evaluations.
The methodology included extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders within Albertan's ecosystem including Alberta PSI incubators and accelerators and other members of the ecosystem (Innovate Calgary, CED, Thin Air Labs, A100, 321 Growth Academy, Alberta Enterprise Corporation) and A scan of the ecosystem was conducted to create a list of the potential participants. Two groups were identified, those working within the Alberta ecosystem. A scan of the ecosystem was conducted to create a list of the potential participants. Two groups were identified, those working within the Alberta ecosystem and those involved in similar national programs. The purpose was to obtain feedback on the ecosystem in Alberta, the need for services and supports, changes in needs and characteristics of the entrepreneurs and the ecosystem, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of Alberta's entrepreneurial ecosystem. A 'snowball' methodology was used to identify other key players in the field. A detailed review of documents, files, and data was conducted. We surveyed 36 EBA clients and 18 potential clients and interviewed a total of 25 key informants and stakeholders, including current and past Executive Business Advisors, CEOs, and investors.
Ecosystem mapping was conducted focusing on the size of the industry and key players, characteristics of startup and scaling technology businesses in Alberta, key trends in access to risk capital, business development and financing stages, and the evolving ecosystem of incubators, accelerators, and other programs designed to support these types of companies in Alberta. A review of platforms that match entrepreneurs with experienced business advisors was conducted including the type of services provided, costs, structures, and governance models.
The evaluation and ecosystem mapping were used to provide Alberta Innovates with recommendations regarding potential strategic directions for the Program including the need for and relevance of the Program given the evolving ecosystem, factors that should be considered when making decisions for the future structure and operations of the EBA program, AI positioning and competitive advantages (its role within the ecosystem), and potential delivery options such as recruitment, assessment, matching, service delivery, governance and monitoring (KPIs and systems). The project was completed on time and within budget.
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