Pathways Alliance helps start-ups access funding 

Pathways Alliance’s Innovator Program can help start-up companies overcome one of the common challenges of technology development – how to access funding at the right time in the development cycle to advance their new technology in a timely manner. 

Currently, Pathways Alliance, through its innovation arm COSIA, has 20 start-up companies on their books, three of which have had successful Funder Discovery Meetings that have helped to speed up technology development. They range from an Edmonton-based company Copperstone Technologies Inc., which developed a remote vehicle that can move across ponds to collect water samples, to a Fort McMurray company, ConeTec, whose proprietary technology can rapidly characterize tailings using Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI).  

HSI uses the light spectrum to “see” things that are invisible to the human eye, allowing this technology to partially replace time-consuming and expensive laboratory testing. 

There are any number of different federal and provincial funding programs accepting applications from start-ups, but many emerging technologies do not fit neatly into a specific funding category. Start-up companies often find it difficult to identify the appropriate funding opportunities available to them. 

For technologies that industry is interested in, COSIA can help by hosting a Funder Discovery Meeting that brings together representatives from member companies, the start-up’s leadership team and a pre-selected group of funders.  

Together, the group reviews the technology and its development timeline, assesses the depth of industry interest, and determines the most appropriate funding and timing to move the technology forward. 

With everyone at the same table, industry and funding representatives are able to ask questions to better understand what the technology is and what the company needs. Everyone gains a better sense of the commercial potential, the risks and the performance gates that must be achieved in order to be successful. Funders can also work together to coordinate funding and timing. It’s a straightforward process, but one that has proved remarkably efficient. One of the funding agencies is Alberta Innovates. 

“Alberta Innovates is Alberta’s innovation engine. We’ve been helping researchers, entrepreneurs and industries fuel, feed, and build our province for more than a century. We provide funding, business advice and connections, applied research and industrial testing facilities to accelerate research and innovations that benefit Albertans as we prepare Alberta for a digital, net-zero future,” said Trevor Lynn, Manager, Communications. 

Start-ups are still required to formally apply to individual funding programs, but they now have clarity on the path to a field pilot – a small-scale implementation that proves the viability of a project idea in advance of full-scale commercial deployment. 

Through its Innovator Program, Pathways—via COSIA—offers a variety of other support to start-ups developing technologies with industry potential. These include technology scans, connecting companies with technology accelerators or technical experts with specialist expertise, linking companies with resources, and providing techno-economic assessments. To find out more, see our For Innovators page.