Innovation Adaptation: an online discussion

Avenue magazine and Alberta Innovates present

Innovation Adaptation: an online panel discussion of how Calgary’s tech sector trajectory has changed due to the economic downturn coupled with the pandemic.

Hear from four Calgary innovation leaders — Crystal Phillips, Thin Air Labs; Bobbie Racette, Virtual Gurus; Alina Turner, HelpSeeker and Michael Gibbons, Provision Analytics

This event was held online on October 22. If you missed it or would like to rewatch it or share it will friends and colleagues, it is available at the link below until the end of November.

Thank you to the generous support of our sponsors Alberta Innovates, Calgary Economic Development, Enmax and Chartered Professional Accountants Alberta)

Watch the Discussion


Crystal Phillips, Thin Air Labs

Crystal Phillips is the Health Sector Lead for Thin Air Labs. Crystal joined the team to build a health-focused fund and ecosystem in Calgary that will provide new investment and support for health ventures. She is also a former national level speed skater and board director at the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, a charity she co-founded in 2010 to accelerate innovative technologies and non-pharmaceutical approaches for neurological disorders. The Branch Out Foundation has raised over $3 million and funded more than 90 research projects and programs across Canada. It has become a catalyst for change in health care and non-pharmaceutical neuroscience. Crystal was named one of 18 Canadian change makers by CBC Canada to celebrate Canada’s 150th. She made the Top 30 Under 30 by Explore Magazine in 2012, and Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue magazine in 2016. When not moving mountains in health tech, she’s climbing them in the Canadian Rockies with her dog, Bear.

Bobbie Racette, Virtual Gurus

Bobbie Racette is the founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus, a talent as a service platform that matches its users with Canadian and US-based virtual assistants and freelancers via a proprietary matchmaking algorithm, and curated client success managers. The platform provides work to marginalized folks. Ninety-eight per cent of its contractors identify as female, 65 per cent are people of color, while 35 per cent identify as LGBTQ+. Most of the Virtual Gurus’ contractors are stay at home moms. Recently named both Canada’s Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Prairies Region by Startup Canada, Bobbie is an unstoppable force in the Canadian startup community. In addition to that, Forbes announced Virtual Gurus as being one of the top 19 Innovative Tech Startups to watch in 2019. She is a Cree-Metis woman who prides herself on building an inclusivity-first company, championing for indigenous people and the LGBTQ+ community. She is a natural leader, sharing her passion by mentoring First Nations Youth who have demonstrated interest in Tech and Business.

Dr. Alina Turner, HelpSeeker

Dr. Alina Turner is the co-founder of HelpSeeker, a social enterprise focused on scaling systems innovation to accelerate social change across Canada. A researcher and entrepreneur, Alina led the implementation of Canada’s first Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) and designed Calgary’s Housing First System of Care. She is a Fellow at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary and serves on the Board of Directors for A Way Home Canada and the Alberta Rural Development Rural Advisory Board on housing and homelessness.

HelpSeeker uses machine learning, data science, and social innovation to help people access services that improve their lives. HelpSeeker is also a Partner of the Systems Planning Collective, alongside the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home Canada.

Michael Gibbons, Provision Analytics

Michael holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting from University of Calgary, and was the technical accounting lead for the Telus Sky Project in Calgary, AB – a $250+ million dollar construction project. Michael Co-founded Provision with CEO Erik Westblom after meeting at a summit hosted by Google, in Portugal. Michael is a self-taught knowledge center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, guiding the creation, development and launch of Provision’s data product in 2021.

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