Welcome to the Alberta Central Big Future Innovation Grant.

Innovation can
be rewarding.

Applications for Big Future are now closed! Thanks to everyone who applied.

Alberta Central, in partnership with Credit Unions of Alberta, knows the value of small businesses. That’s why we created the Big Future Innovation Grant, awarding two Alberta-based businesses $25,000 each.

We want to congratulate our shortlist of applicants, linked below, who will have the chance to present to our panel of judges on December 9th!

2022 Timelines

Applications open
Deadline extended - applications close at midnight
Finalist announced
Finalist presentations
Innovation Grant winners announced

2022 Finalists

Afflatus Hijab

Afflatus Hijab is women’s clothing brand that is designed in house locally. Afflatus started in 2014 out of a need for modest but yet fashionable clothing, which was something that was missing from the market. As a Muslim woman I could not find anything that was modest but also fashionable so I decided to create a clothing line. While having that in mind I wanted to have a social platform as well, our primary focus is women empowerment and de-stigmatizing mental illnesses.

Every collection that comes out has a specific campaign attached to it such as: Indigenous women, women dealing with a mental illness, refugees, single mothers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and mothers who have a child with a disability just to name a few. We then pick women who correspond with the specific campaign and name a piece after them while telling their story. When you are buying a piece from Afflatus you are actually buying someone’s story, which in return has helped many people. The reason we name them after specific women and tell their story is because we want to bridge gaps in the community, let other women know they are not alone, get the help they may need, and lastly we want to give women a platform, where in most cases they wouldn’t have that opportunity.

We are located at 5509 130 Ave. in Edmonton, Alberta. Learn more: afflatushijab.com

Afflatus Hijab
2022 Finalist
Bio-Agtive Emissions Farming

Based in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Bio-Agtive Emissions Farming is a Canadian innovation that recycles internal combustion emissions from biofuel into rich plant nutrition that is simultaneously returned to the crop environment from any mechanized agricultural equipment passing over landscapes as a farmer seeds, sprays, or harvests. The technology is licensed to farmers who collaborate and practice the Bio-Agtive Method to aggregate their offsets to sell on voluntary carbon markets.
Worldwide, and working with farmers to farm more than 110,000 acres today, the Bio-Agtive Method is allowing producers to leave behind conventional farm practices to the benefit of a regenerative approach to enhance soil health, biologically grow nutritious food, and drawdown CO2 from the atmosphere.

Gary Lewis is a 4th generation farmer and the innovator behind this new way to farm. In the early 2000’s, challenging farm economics forced him to think about how he could become more efficient on his family farm, which lead him to initially capturing emissions from the natural gas motor that ran his irrigation system, to eventually commercializing the 6th generation of the technology since 2019 that retrofits to any farm machinery. Many of Gary’s professional family members are engaged in diverse areas of the business.

Farming is the lifeline of many small and rural Canadian communities. If humanity is ever to succeed at climate mitigation and food security, what Bio-Agtive is out to achieve is to re-ignite life in rural communities through farming, and with farmers engaging in the entire agrifood value chain to create consumer food products that are net negative, nutritious, and restoring topsoil season after season, instead of the well-documented, current decline of soils. Experts have warned that only 60+ harvests remain in the world if we stay on this present-day track, but emissions farming can rapidly scale to reverse this trend. Learn more: bioagtive.com

Bio-Agtive Emissions Farming
2022 Finalist
Calgary Heritage Roasting Company

CHRC is a coffee company and lifestyle brand based out of Calgary, AB. Our mission as a company is “Fuelling your outdoor pursuits to conserve our wild places.” We currently have one iconic/heritage coffee shop located in Ramsay and a newly minted roasting facility located just outside of Calgary in Rocky View County. We have successfully been in business for 7 years as of November 2, 2022 and strive to keep the train rolling on for years to come.

Our company has three key team members alongside eight incredibly talented employees. Our goal is to fuel your passion while giving back to our wild places. We create products that enhance peoples experience and interaction in the outdoors. Initially we started with a Calgary focused whole bean roasted coffee. We would roast and package coffees with natural tasting notes of chocolate, caramel, smoke, and toffee. We believe everything tastes better in the outdoors and we wanted to be a coffee brand synonymous with camping. We have since created a national focused SKU line and offering named Canadian Heritage Roasting Co which collaborate credited art of a Grizzly, Bison, Salmon Run, and Burnt Timber on the bags designed by a local artist Michael Sydoryk (Wildform Art).

We sell our coffee nationally and internationally giving exposure to Canada’s beauty, Mikes art, and our tasty coffee. We also sell “Flash Fuel” – a first to market craft instant coffee that we produce in house. We wanted to create a craft instant coffee that actually tasted good using only high quality coffee and launched our Flash Fuel in December of 2021 with a distinct matchbox look containing 10 individual servings of instant coffee. In addition, we developed an outdoors-inspires clothing brand built for the harshness of our Northern Climate. We design, and locally build down filled wax canvas vests right here in Calgary along with other unique garments. We have built all of these products in an endeavour to fuel our customers outdoor pursuits. Learn more: calgaryheritageroastingco.com

Calgary Heritage Roasting Company
2022 Finalist
Educating AMY

Educating AMY (AMY stands for All Me and You) specializes in Montessori/Waldorf/Reggio-inspired and stage-based interactive Quiet Books for Children aged 0-7 years. The product is curated using the latest science in Brain Development. A Social Entrepreneurship with a vision to create the greatest value for humanity, which it believes is through education. We focus on the first years of a person’s life because the full Brain Architecture is developed in them. Hence, Educating AMY focuses on providing means for little children and parents to be effectively educated (product and free content) and bring education to girls in impoverished communities (India) who do not have the chance to get a formal education. Educating AMY provides a positive social impact, taking into account the unwanted negative consequences of the typical one-for-one models by tackling a root cause of poverty, lack of education for girls. Enabling these girls would allow a large population to contribute and create value for society. Books are also manufactured in India by a woman-led team of Artisans.

Educating AMY has been in operation since January 2021 and is a Calgary, Alberta based company. Educating AMY was founded by Holly Lear who is a science nerd with degrees in Medical Sciences from University of Aberdeen and University of Edinburgh. Originally from Scotland, her goals are education and women empowerment. The core business is E-Commerce, wholesale and retail based. Educating AMY is active in the Calgary Local Market scene and had pop-ups in CF Market Mall and CF Chinook Mall. Learn more: educatingamy.com

Educating AMY
2022 Finalist
moovez

moovez is a managed marketplace where consumers and businesses can get a vehicle of any size, ready on-demand. Simply put we’ve tapped into the network of moving and delivery vehicles on the road and built a platform to connect supply and demand more efficiently, and in doing so we better optimize the entire grid. If you have something big & bulky that doesn’t fit in your car and needs to be moved, we have vehicles and movers ready on-demand to help. ONE of our early users said it best, “it’s like Uber for Moving”.

Our current web application was launched in January of 2021. Version 2 of the Web app, including Customer and Mover Mobile Apps, will be launched in the coming months. Our goal is to serve young people in urban areas who are increasingly choosing to not own vehicles or own small vehicles for day-to-day intracity travel. This makes having a convenient and affordable option to move big and bulk items very important. Consumers have been programmed by the on-demand nature of today’s world, most industries have adapted to keep up with this change but for whatever reason the the moving industry hasn’t until now. Learn more: wemoovez.com

moovez
2022 Finalist

2022 Judges

Big Future Judges

Loree Gray

Chief Strategy, People and Credit Union Relations Officer

Alberta Central
Big Future Judges

Mike Zouhri

Co-Founder + Big Future 2021 Recipient

PainWorth
Big Future Judges

Rob Gray

Vice President Communications

Servus Credit Union
Big Future Judges

Shaf Rana

Relationship Manager Cash Management

Servus Credit Union

Loree Gray

Chief Strategy, People and Credit Union Relations 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, People and Credit Union Relations 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.

Mike Zouhri

Co-Founder + Big Future 2021 Recipient

Mike Zouhri is a serial entrepreneur who loves to work on projects that are interesting, creative, and advance the social good. Most recently—as the 2021 Big Future recipient and co-founder of PainWorth - he's helped accident victims get justice quickly, stress-free, and without having to go to court or pay costly legal fees. 


Mike brings to the judging panel over 15 years of experience in running small businesses and tech startups, as well as significant experience in the not-for-profit sector in the domains of health, poverty alleviation, science and technology, and social justice. 


A recognized leader in the Alberta innovation scene, Mike was the 2022 winner of the Alberta Science and Technology Association’s Change-Maker Award. He’s also been honoured with a Fastcase 50 Award, Top 40 Under 40 accolades from Avenue Magazine, as well as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  
 




“To me, innovation is about finding ways to make the world better for ourselves and for others. It is the result of curiosity and creativity, and it is an extension of our drive to constantly seek out something better and imagine something greater. Modern advancements in data capture and technology are allowing us to seek and imagine in wonderfully new, creative ways, and I think it’s an entrepreneur’s job to embrace that.” 



Mike studied neuroscience at the University of Alberta. He sits on the board for the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation and has served as a Director of the Board for the City of Edmonton’s Non-Profit Housing Corp. He has also sat on the Investment Committee for Kezia Capital, and currently volunteers with young leaders and entrepreneurs as a mentor at interVivos. 

Rob Gray

Vice President Communications

Rob Gray joined Servus Credit Union as Vice President, Communications in August 2022. Before joining Servus, Rob held communications and stakeholder relations leadership roles at COSIA (Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance), Alliance Pipeline (an Enbridge/Pembina Partnership), PSAC (Petroleum Services Association of Canada), and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Prior to that, he worked at the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

Innovation is when the spark of an idea ignites into something the propels individuals, companies and society forward. Innovation is about ingenuity and determination to create something better than existed before, which brings us into the future.

Rob works collaboratively to build organizational brand and reputation, shape public and consumer opinion, and create stakeholder support. He also has a keen interest in innovation and sustainability.

Shaf Rana

Relationship Manager Cash Management

Shaf has 17 years of diverse experience in the financial services, working in East Africa at a financial institution and holding a wide range of roles at Servus Credit Union. Shaf has recently celebrated his 15 years with Servus Credit Union, starting off in the retail branch as a Member Service Representative, Financial Advisor then moving on to the Commercial Business Banking department and now a Relationship Manager Cash Management in the Business Solutions department.

Innovation to me is trying new things and bringing new ways/ideas to solve problems while creating value for our clients. It is as simple as taking things that exist and putting them together in a new way.

Shaf believes that innovation should be replicable and ever improving and credit unions need to be nimble to be able to change and innovate on the fly with our ever-changing markets and client demands. He is focused on being fearless and ready to fail through the journey to innovate because by doing this we allow ourselves to get back up, learn and push the limits to where we want to be.

Shaf currently sits on the executive team of the Emerging Leaders of Alberta as the Executive Chair and prior to that as Vice Chair. He is passionate about leadership and loves helping people find their purpose and be better individuals altogether.

Family comes first for Shaf, he has two beautiful daughters and a wonderful wife. This consumes most of his personal time. If there is any time to spare, he likes watching football, Formula 1, learning new things and working on projects around the house.

Previous Winners

Painworth

The Painworth app helps people, lawyers, and insurance professionals easily calculate, manage, and settle personal injury cases in a quick, accurate way. This lets all the parties involved (especially claimants & insurers) avoid the stress, time delays, and unnecessary expenses typically associated with taking things to court.

Painworth allows Canadians to make informed decisions as to whether or not they want to or need to retain a lawyer or if they would like to try represent themselves instead. PainWorth even gives claimants some of the tools they need to represent themselves.

Painworth
2021 Winner
Advance Harvest

Building from aeroponic systems pioneered by NASA, AerOrganic is the most advanced indoor vertical farming technology on the market. Advance Harvest’s AerOrganic system grows plants on an engineered vertical wall using advanced LED lighting technology and a patented low-pressure emitter that creates a nano-cloud (very fine mist) of water and nutrients that is applied automatically to the root and leaf zones at specified intervals. The nano-cloud penetrates the roots and leaves, providing unparalleled nutrition to the plant.

Advance Harvest
2021 Winner
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.