Winnipeg’s Exchange District Focuses on Local Strengths to Make Canada a Tech Hub
April 6, 2017

Winnipeg’s Exchange District Focuses on Local Strengths to Make Canada a Tech Hub

Winnipeg exchange district

The business district of this city in the middle of Canada ‘Winnipeg’s Exchange District’ is looking the same as they did in the mid-nineteenth century; however, commodity traders and grain transporters have moved out and tech companies moved in.

Agriculture and manufacturing are the industries in which Winnipeg historically trusted and faced increasing pressure in the past couple of decades. Now, the city has established a tech sector, which allows Winnipeg to reinvent itself and expand in such a way mid-sized cities with troubled industrial legacies can follow.

The basis of Winnipeg’s tech scene is not rare as there are various cities with a few hundred thousand people have the same vital features as Winnipeg’s tech community. Though, Winnipeg’s vow to cultivate tech companies is completely unique.

Winnipeg Turned into a Wonderful Place to Build a Tech Company

With that focus in mind, Winnipeg has turned itself from just another city with a strong university with a good engineering school, an affordable living and some areas that have been historic strengths into a well-known space to develop a tech company.

While talking with the Winnipeg entrepreneurs about how they built their companies, one phrase constantly turns up, “Well, I knew a guy in high school, “Winnipeg, a home to 600000 people, still managing to recollect a small-town feel. Founders can speak with experts of different fields just be seeing who they went to high school with and who those people know.

To become a place for machine learning companies that are working on solutions for different industries like construction and agriculture, Winnipeg has capitalized on that combination of small-town feel and big-city resources.

One precision agriculture company Farmers Edge helped kick-start Winnipeg’s tech scene by showing how the combination of machine learning and deep industry knowledge can result in a high-flying company.

Wade Barnes and Curtis Mackinnon both started Farmers Edge after growing up on local farms and work hard together as agronomists. In the last one decade, the company has expanded itself from Wade’s basement to an International company with approximately $100 million in funding from VCs comprising Kleiner Perkins.

Moreover, this company is well-known for providing a farm management platform FarmCommand that allows farmers to make use of data gathered from Farmers Edge-installed on-site weather stations and equipment, sensors so that they can easily make decisions about everything from what to plant and how to plant and where to plan. An excellent way to nurture crops is based on real-time data and how to optimize harvests.

DuPont and Monsanto both are the competitors of Farmers Edge and they have shined in the U.S.’s public data-rich agriculture sector. When it comes to Farmers Edge, it has a benefit in data-sparse environments because of the company’s unique and private weather network.

It allows Farmers Edge to sign-up millions of acres across Canada, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Australia and other areas with limited public weather stations, whereas the company’s biggest competitors are working hard to adapt to the demands of data-sparse agriculture that is a dominant way agriculture is conducted across the world.

As Farmers Edge has achieved worldwide recognition, it helped Winnipeg to develop into a tech hub, which combines the region’s richest farming history with local engineering and ML expertise. BL Photonics is one such company that introduced affordable spectrophotometry to test wine as it develops and Wolf Trax that is one company working to optimize fertilizer’s distribution of nutrients and ability to be used by plants that sprouted up in recent years as farmers have partnered with professors from the local University of Manitoba, engineers, and entrepreneurs to begin companies.

However, the tech scene of the Canada has been mainly concentrated on the coasts as companies are mainly recognizing the appeal of moving to cities such as Winnipeg because of the much lower cost. The government of Winnipeg has motivated entrepreneurship a top priority as it identifies that agriculture and manufacturing both can’t provide the same opportunities as years past.

The government of the district provides decent tax credits for tech investing as well as R&D spending. It has motivated partnerships between startups and government institutions, comprising labs and hospitals to help research.

Today, the mayor of the district along with companies like Invenia and Sightline, a machine learning company focused on optimizing electrical grids, have begun EMILI (Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative) to educate and encourage entrepreneurship in Winnipeg.

EMLI and some other local resources like the Manitoba Technology Accelerator that raised the profile of tech companies and top entrepreneurship in Winnipeg and played a critical role in fostering Winnipeg’s tech community.

Winnipeg has managed to reinvent itself as one of the well-known tech hubs for Central Canada, a region biggest than Iran, as the industries Winnipeg historically relied on moved away. The Winnipeg way of developing a tech community by developing on top of ordinary local attributes, delivering a way forward for various mid-sized cities that besieged to chart a future.

Soon, it will be one of the biggest tech-friendlier city, not like Silicon Valley, and giving solutions to different issues by encouraging tech entrepreneurship that leverages historical capabilities fueled Winnipeg’s success and delivers a replicable model for other cities to follow.

This page was last edited on December 24th, 2019, at 4:57 AM.

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