According to Rainforest Strategies LLP , there are six main areas of an innovation ecosystem to focus on: Culture, Leadership, Activities and Engagements, Policies and Infrastructure, Role Models, and Resources.

We use these pillars to guide our conversations and actions — but not all pillars are weighted equally. Like any natural ecosystem, having the right balance is crucial.


Investment dollars and big acquisitions make for great headlines. But would you have guessed that a healthier culture of innovation is more essential to Alberta’s innovation ecosystem than a new influx of money?

Without the right attitude, ideas don’t get off the ground. Without trust, team members leave and companies crumble.

You can find money, but you have to create culture.

​We foster trust in the Rainforest Alberta community by following the tenets of the Social Contract.

Questions we ask the community

  • Is trust is an important cultural element in the province? Is it widespread and easily created?
  • How often do people think in terms of “positive-sum” or “win-win” situations and not “zero-sum” when working with other organizations?
  • How is “failure” perceived in the culture? Is it viewed in a positive light?
  • What is the willingness to take calculated risks? Are these risk-takers viewed well?
  • How often are people willing to help without expectation of immediate return?
  • Are people are encouraged to dream and “think big”?

Good leadership isn’t about being the best at what you do; it’s about empowering others to be their best. If leadership across industry and sector align as a province, imagine the opportunities for the community as a whole to thrive.

Questions we ask the community

  • Overall, do leaders promote innovation in their individual organizations?
  • Do leader perspectives align with the perspective of others in the organization, working together to promote innovation?
  • Does the leadership come from diverse backgrounds? How diverse are their social, professional and cultural networks?
  • Are leaders are effective at communicating their visions and agendas to their constituencies?
  • Do you understand the motivations of your organization’s leadership?

It takes a village to raise a business. The three key resources in an innovation ecosystem are: capital, talent, and intellectual property (IP). To compete on a global scale, Alberta needs the best ideas to be brought to life by a world-class workforce, and supported by founder-focused funding.

Questions we ask the community

  • Is it easy for innovators to access funding for their ventures?
  • Is there up to date, relevant, and current information across a broad spectrum of disciplines accessible by the majority of the community?
  • Does the community have a highly diverse and talented workforce across a broad range of relevant skill sets that align with market demands?
  • Are there effective entre- and/or intrapreneurial support organizations and individuals with experience that are available to mentor and support innovation?
  • How many programs are there to specifically train workers to be current in their field? Are these programs are widely accessible?

The easier it is to navigate the community with your innovative idea, the faster you’ll get to where you need it to be. Building supportive infrastructure, frameworks, and policy will create a clear path that entrepreneurs will be confident to take.

Questions we ask the community

  • Do stakeholders involved in innovation have strong communication channels and collaborations?
  • Can you identify and describe all of the steps of the innovation process and the key players in Alberta?
  • Are there community policies in general help potential innovators?
  • How effective are the mechanisms of feedback where different stakeholders can learn from each other?
  • Is the communication infrastructure robust and comparable to other highly innovative communities?

For an innovation ecosystem to flourish, to build trust high, and to bust silos down, face-to-face engagement is essential. The more the community converges to brainstorm, workshop, and play, the stronger the network will become.

Questions we ask the community

  • Are there numerous (>10) organizational activities that actively promote innovation in the province?
  • How effective are these activities in promoting innovation?
  • Do these activities span a large spectrum of technical domains and promote collaboration across diverse audiences?
  • Do these programs have a high degree of engagement among diverse groups of participants?
  • Are there effective means of developing new high engagement activities in the organization to promote innovation?

Role models in an innovation ecosystem aren’t just good at what they do, but how they do it. It is important to celebrate individuals who demonstrate the best innovative practices, while adhering to Rainforest Alberta Values.

Questions we ask the community

  • Are successful innovators celebrated as role models in the community?
  • Are these role models actively engaged in supporting innovation through a variety of means?
  • Are role models widely known by the general public in the community?
  • Is formal recognition given for innovative contributions to the organization?
  • Are there systems to recognize and support high-potential future role models?

The ecosystem is growing, see our community-led initiatives.