Welcome to the Alberta Central Big Future Innovation Grant.

Applications are now closed! Thank you to all who applied – we reached 100 applications in record time.

Innovation can
be rewarding.

Alberta Central, alongside our member credit unions, knows the value of small businesses. That’s why we created the Big Future Innovation Grant. We’re awarding two Alberta-based businesses $20,000 each to propel innovation, power growth and scale up your business. Applications are now closed.

Given the current state of the economy and COVID-19, many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. We know and appreciate the commitment and passion you have for your business and for your communities. You help us and that’s why we want to help you, by giving you the financial support needed to support growth and encourage innovation for your business.

The first 100 applications received will be accepted and reviewed by a judging panel, who not only know all about innovation and growth but also value the success of our small businesses here in Alberta.

Timelines

Applications open
Applications closed - application limit reached
Shortlist announced
Shortlist presentations
Winners announced
Applications Submitted100 of 100
100 of 100

Meet the Judges

Big Future Judges

Jill Belland

Co-Owner

Barre Belle and The Belle Bod online fitness program
Big Future Judges

Brett Oland

CEO

Bow Valley Credit Union
Big Future Judges

Loree Gray

Chief Strategy, Transformation and People Officer

Alberta Central
Big Future Judges

Nathan Charrois

Senior Relationship Manager

Servus Credit Union

Jill Belland

Co-Owner

Jill Belland is an award winning entrepreneur and co-founder of Barre Belle Inc. and The Belle Bod online workouts. Prior to Barre Belle Inc., Jill Belland spent 16 years as an acclaimed television host and broadcaster for MTV Canada, A-Channel, and CityTV.  She won numerous awards during her broadcasting career and was named “Best TV Host” by the Alberta Motion Picture Industry 3 times.

 

"Now more than ever innovation is imperative to the future of small businesses. Many of us have had to show resilience and creativity with complete reinventions in how we deliver our products and services. The ability to quickly pivot to remain relevant is what will ensure future success and sustainability of many small businesses, including ours."

 

Brett Oland

CEO

Brett Oland is the CEO of Bow Valley Credit Union that operates in the trade areas of Banff, Canmore, Calgary, Airdrie and Cochrane.

Brett was elected to Alberta Central’s board of directors in April 2014 and was chair of Alberta Central’s board from 2016-2019 and is currently serving as vice-chair. He brings a wealth of knowledge from his days in a senior management role at Canadian Western Bank and working with other financial institutions in Alberta and in the Cayman Islands.

 

"Small business is essential to the progression of Alberta. Innovation is a necessity in today’s economic and political environment, to get ahead of global competition. By supporting innovation, it may just give small business the grassroots funding required to drive success for the future generations of Alberta. "

 

Brett holds an ICD.D designation for the Institute of Corporate Directors, is a Chartered Professional Accountant and gained extensive experience working with many industries while articling with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Calgary. Brett also holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary.

Brett is an avid outdoor enthusiast and takes advantage of the being in the mountains with his family at every opportunity.

Loree Gray

Chief Strategy, Transformation and People Officer

Loree is passionate about driving transformational change: building highly engaged and productive teams, partnerships and networks are some of her favourite things. As Chief Strategy, Transformation and People Officer, Loree leads transformation at Alberta Central by implementing the methodologies, programs and processes needed to help achieve our vision.

Loree has 30 years of experience in financial services, spanning a wide range of roles including retail banking, wealth management, insurance and operations. Most recently, as President and CEO of the Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C., Loree was responsible for the regulatory body that administers and enforces the legislation governing personal vehicle sales in the province. Her leadership experience across industries and provinces provides value to the credit union system, something she is enthusiastic about supporting.

 

“To me, innovation is all about creating value for customers and value is something customers will pay for.  This is critical to any small business model:  identifying a need and producing a solution that customers will see as value added.  And its not a one time event -  it requires constant focus in order to remain relevant. ”

 

Loree has a BA from the University of British Columbia and has since done certifications with the Institute of Canadian Bankers, the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning, Canadian Securities institute and Lean Sensei International. She has served as BC Chair for the Loran Scholarship Foundation since 2012 and as assessor/interviewer since 2006. She currently sits as Director on the Coast Mental Health Society Board and is chair of the Operational Performance committee.

Nathan Charrois

Senior Relationship Manager

Nathan is a Senior Relationship Manager with Servus Credit Union. Nathan has been actively managing business banking portfolios for over 8 years and has been a part of the Credit Union System for 13. Nathan is active in employee groups and is the current Chairperson of the Emerging Leaders of Alberta program which fosters leadership development of Credit Union employees from across the province.

Nathan is also passionate about Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging and is an active member of his Credit Unions Diversity & Inclusion Council.

 

"Innovation allows businesses to adapt and pivot in different environments. In today's ever-changing and demanding economic and social markets, a business has to be able to think and move quickly. If a business is truly innovative, they should and would handle challenges better than their competition, allowing them to be more desirable by investors and customers alike. "

 

In his free time during the summer, Nathan enjoys running, playing fast ball, and spending time with friends and family outdoors. In the winter months, Nathan enjoys curling and skiing in the mountains

Alberta Central is the central banking facility, service bureau and trade association for Alberta’s credit unions. Alberta Central’s culture of innovation supports a long history of credit union innovation including being the first financial institutions to offer a loan based on a person’s character, lending to women in their own names and the first to offer online banking, amongst many others.

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