• This is the first in a series of articles.

    Showcasing how the EBA program and other Alberta Innovates services are helping different Alberta companies in their journey.

No matter how great a technology is, entrepreneurs can't expect to have all the skills and know-how required to prepare their companies for investment and growth. A unique Alberta Innovates service - the Executive Business Advisor (EBA) program - is filling this need for executive-level coaching for up and coming small- and medium-sized enterprises in the province. 

A photo of Dana Paniccia, Alberta Innovates' director of capital access and major transactions and the person overseeing the EBA program.
Dana Smits

"The companies we work with have reached a point where they have a fully developed technology. But they may not have the full set of business skills needed to bring their companies from early revenue to a stage where they're financially sound, well-structured and ready to scale. That's where we help to bridge the gap," says Dana Paniccia, Alberta Innovates' director of capital access and major transactions and the person overseeing the EBA program.

While some Alberta Innovates services focus on early-stage technology development and commercialization, the EBA program is specifically aimed at later-stage companies in need of executive-level support and guidance.

"At this stage companies may have not achieved market traction or require further development on the business side to prepare for rapid growth. They realize they urgently need advice across a range of areas. This can include anything from helping to design and execute on organizational and governance structures, all the way to completing a capital raise," says Paniccia of the program that has supported more than 40 companies in different sectors, from energy to healthcare and nanotechnology, since its inception in 2016.

Companies who apply to the program are carefully screened. Once accepted, they are assigned to a lead EBA, with the opportunity to work with other team members as needed. The EBAs are entrepreneurs that are well connected in the province's innovation and investment ecosystem and provide wide-ranging coaching on business planning, team and organizational structure, sales and pricing, funding strategies and network development.

"We give them the tools to help their companies scale up more quickly than they would otherwise," says Jim Gibson, a Calgary-based entrepreneur and one of the program's EBAs.

Each EBA works with six to 10 clients at a time. This allows them to develop an in-depth knowledge of their client companies, tailoring their advice and activity to suit different needs. It's the kind of expertise that can make a critical difference to each company's future.

"The EBA program is a very important program, especially in Alberta right now as we look to support new companies in their journey and help to diversify our economy," Gibson says.

Read part two about Edmonton-based Direct-C's journey: Direct-C advances nano-coating sensing technology

Read part three about Calgary-based CRUX OCM's journey: Startup offers new automation solutions for industry control rooms

Read part four about Calgary-based Mikata Health's journey: Transforming the experience of going to a doctor

Read part five about Alberta-based Interface Fluidics' journey: Nanotechnology platform comes to industry

To learn more about the program, please contact ebaprogram@albertainnovates.ca.