We stand on the shoulder of giants. Bold innovators who helped bring cutting-edge technologies and innovations to market and left an indelible mark on Alberta and the world. 

The organization that came to be known as Alberta Innovates was the first provincial research agency in Canada, dating back more than 100 years. 

100 Years of Transformation.
Dr. Karl Clark.

Recognizing the importance of natural resources in Alberta, the government of the day established the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of Alberta (SIRCA) in 1921 with the support of Dr. Henry Marshall Tory, then the president of the University of Alberta. 

SIRCA’s mandate was clear: the research organization would “support economic development through applications of scientific and engineering expertise and, in the process, improve life in rural and urban Alberta.” 

Further, it would document Alberta’s resources for industry through technical divisions such as fuels, road materials and geological survey. Dr. Tory hired Karl Clark as the first full-time research professor, whose first job was to investigate the oil sands as a possible paving material. 

The work of Clark and others to develop the massive bitumen reserves in the oil sands propelled Alberta to become a major oil producer.  

Today, we are the province’s most comprehensive research and innovation agency.  

We’re helping Alberta transform its energy systems for a net-zero world by investing in clean technologies and processes to create sustainable jobs, and reduce emissions and industry impacts on land and water. 

We’re also investing in research and innovation across other industries and sectors. We’re leveraging Alberta’s strengths in agriculture and health innovation. We’re advancing emerging and digital technologies, strengthening entrepreneurship and building a knowledge workforce to ensure prosperity now and into the future. 

Strategic Initiatives

Alberta Innovates drives innovation across multiple sectors. We identify opportunities and gaps and address provincial needs with targeted programs and services.

Learn about our Strategic Initiatives
A group of SIRCA scientists in 1926.


1916  The federal government creates an Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (HAC). 
1921  The University of Alberta Research Department becomes the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of Alberta (SIRCA). 
1930   SIRCA’s name is officially changed to Research Council of Alberta (RCA). 
1981  Research Council of Alberta is renamed as the Alberta Research Council (ARC). 
2010  ARC is merged with several other research and development organizations to become Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. 
2016  Consolidation of the four organizations is announced and a single, integrated innovation powerhouse, Alberta Innovates, is formed. 
2021  We celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of Alberta.