December 15th, 2017

Business Beat: Wins for the region are wins for local entrepreneurs

By Medicine Hat News on November 29, 2017.

Regional partnerships with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation received a boost last week from the province’s Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program. Medicine Hat, Brooks, Oyen and Foremost will all receive funding to help build on their economic strengths.

Medicine Hat College is involved with two of these projects, one in Medicine Hat and one in Brooks.

In Medicine Hat, MHC is the lead on a renewable energy microgrid that will provide a space for clean tech entrepreneurs to develop and test their products. Specifically, the CARES funding will create an adaptable solar canopy with electric vehicle charging capabilities.

The canopy will be approximately 100kw in scope. But, energy is not the only goal of the project. This system will be designed with flexibility in mind to accommodate a variety of different types of solar panels, inverters and monitoring systems to test different solar technologies.

Opportunity in renewable energy is drawing the attention of entrepreneurs we’re seeing at the APEX Incubator and Entrepreneur Development Centre on campus. There has been an increase in requests for this information on how local companies can get involved in clean tech opportunities. This grid will provide some of those answers.

This project is supported by multiple agencies; the City of Medicine Hat, the APEX Regional Innovation Network, the South East Energy Diversification Strategy partners, and local industry just to name a few. The electric vehicle charging stations, located directly across the highway from the Medicine Hat Visitor Information Centre, also provide an opportunity to tap into a larger electrical vehicle tourism strategy that is developing across southern Alberta into B.C.

Despite the many complicated facets of the microgrid, the main take away is that rather than sending entrepreneurs and innovators to the larger centres, we’ll be able to grow opportunities in clean tech right here at home.

In Brooks, the college is also part of the collaboration that resulted in Community-Futures EntreCorp receiving $186,000. This project also has a multitude of partners including Brooks, the County of Newell and our local tourism partner, the regional Destination Marketing Organization.

The funding will ensure entrepreneurs visiting the Brooks Incubator have access to full-time coaching and advice, as well as training and business development services. Even niche training opportunities like tourism product development will be accessible.

As these projects roll out over the next two years, there will be no shortage of opportunities for entrepreneurs to get involved. If you’re intrigued by these projects and want to get involved, I encourage you to reach out to us and our partners.

Tracy Stroud is manager of business development at Medicine Hat College. The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre helps student and alumni bring their entrepreneurship dreams to life. We offer one-to-one coaching, training, mentorship and access to a diverse network of start up funding. To connect into our network email edc@mhc.ab.ca or call 403-502-8433.

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