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Welcome to the Alberta Central Big Future Innovation Grant 2021.

Small businesses, apply now for one of two $25,000 grants!

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, awarding two Alberta-based businesses $25,000 each to support growth and encourage innovation. Winners will also receive a four-hour business planning workshop.

To enter

Tell us how your business brings innovative solutions to the market and how you would use the $25,000 to continue innovation in business. You can find the application form here.

We will shortlist five applicants who will then make a virtual presentation to our judging panel. From there, two winners will each have $25,000 deposited into a business account at their local credit union!

Important notes

We are accepting only the first 100 applications; we recommend you get yours in early as the applications come in fast!

The Big Future Innovation Grant is only open to businesses that have been in operation for at least one year. Read through all the rules and regulations here before submitting your application.

Timelines

Applications open
Applications close at midnight
Finalists announced
Finalist presentations
Innovation Grant winners announced

Applications are now open! Get yours in soon – 14 out of 100 applications have already been submitted.

Meet the Judges

Big Future Judges

Loree Gray

Chief Strategy, Transformation and People Officer

Alberta Central
Big Future Judges

Nikhil Joshi

Founder & CEO

Clinical Trial Hero
Big Future Judges

Jessica Nader

Manager Retail Operations Support

Servus Credit Union
Big Future Judges

Dan Hautzinger

Chief Financial Officer

Vision Credit Union
Big Future Judges

Jordan Ludwig

Co-Founder and Principal

Stack’d Consulting

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.

Nikhil Joshi

Founder & CEO

Dr. Nikhil Joshi is a Calgary-based physician who specializes in internal medicine and clinical immunology. He is also a clinical trialist and cancer survivor.

Nikhil created Clinical Trial Hero, a free mobile app for iPhone and Android, in order to help people find clinical trials near them. The app also offers clinical mindfulness to help patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

 

“Innovation is the key for small business to prosper. In the most challenging business environment of our lives, innovation and creativity are our greatest strengths.”

 

Clinical Trial Hero was awarded a Big Future Innovation Grant in 2020.

Jessica Nader

Manager Retail Operations Support

Jessica recently celebrated 20 years with Servus Credit Union, starting as a Member Service Representative before becoming a Branch Manager and now Manager Retail Operations Support.

Jessica also sits on the executive team of the Emerging Leaders of Alberta as Treasurer and Events Coordinator, as well as representing Servus Credit Union as the Chair for Corporate Challenge since 2007.

 

“Innovation to me is to identify a customer need and find a creative solution that will set the business apart from their competitors. A truly innovative business will be more resilient and remain more relevant. The ability to pivot and adapt to the ever demanding economic markets will be the key to success for small business in the future.”

 

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, golfing, watching football, going to the gym and spending time with friends and family, including her amazing 8-year-old son, Lucas.

Dan Hautzinger

Chief Financial Officer

Dan Hautzinger, Chief Financial Officer, joined Vision Credit Union in February 2010.  In addition to over 15 years’ experience in the credit union system, Dan’s credentials include a Chartered Professional Accounting Designation and a Fellow of the Credit Union Institute of Canada. Prior to joining Vision Credit Union, Dan worked for a mid-sized credit union as a Finance/Accounting Analyst after completing a Bachelor of Management Degree majoring in Finance.

Dan’s current role includes leadership of finance, accounting, human resources, marketing, innovation, banking operations, and strategy departments of Vision Credit Union. Dan is passionate about continuous learning, the co-operative system, sports, and is a firm believer that for communities to grow its citizens need to give more than they take.

Jordan Ludwig

Co-Founder and Principal

At his core, Jordan is an entrepreneur who always pushes growth and change. He was raised with a mindset that you should always question, challenge, improve, and creatively destroy.

As a Co-Founder and Principal at Stack’d Consulting, Jordan’s days are filled helping his clients establish and chase their strategic aspirations, rethink how they design and operate their businesses, aligning leaders around a common goal, and helping to integrate companies after they’ve merged with or acquired other companies.

Jordan is not afraid of a challenge and will always push his team and clients to be exceptional.

 

“Innovation is where dreams meet delivery to push society forward. Everyone has big dreams, but so few chase them down and see them through. It takes a special kind of person, the calculated risk taker, that’s willing to pursue an innovation agenda. Small businesses are built by those special people. Innovation, agility, and a willingness to fail are their greatest strengths; and the reason they will succeed.”

 

 

Remember that there are 1000 people out there telling you that you can’t, that you shouldn’t, that the risks are too great…. When they tell you this, they’re sharing their own story and preferences, not yours. So many are comfortable staying in their lane, that they aren’t out their paving their own.

Previous Winners

Clinical Trial Hero

Clinical Trial Hero is an Alberta-born mobile app and web offering that helps people find clinical trials near them. The app is among the first of its kind in the world, with the potential to disrupt clinical trial recruitment.

COVID-19 has hampered clinical research as many clinics have shut down or operated at reduced capacity for months. As a result, clinical trials have suffered. The Clinical Trial Hero app has flourished, empowering patients with a digital solution, removing the necessity for personal contact during clinical trial patient recruitment. Patients have access to Clinical Trial Hero for free, an inclusive innovation that aims to help patients no matter their gender, race, or financial status.

Clinical Trial Hero
2020 Winner
Curiocity

Curiocity is an Alberta-founded, digital-only publication providing hyper-local news, things to do and bookable experiences and adventures to its growing audience of nearly three million people across Canada.

Recognizing the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic had on mental and emotional health, Curiocity shifted its ‘Local’ content verticals to be focused on uncovering positive stories about businesses, people and communities across the country. Curiocity also offered and continues to offer businesses free advertising on their platform, to help relieve some of the marketing challenges posed by the pandemic.

Curiocity
2020 Winner

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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