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

  • Failure and calculated risk are viewed positively as part of the path to success through learning.
  • The community embodies a "give-first" mindset; they’re willing to help without expectation of immediate return, thus emphasizing the common good of the community.
  • The community is welcoming, inclusive, and collaborative.
  • Trust, honesty, and integrity are evident cultural elements.
  • The community encourages people with ambitious, creative, and innovative mindsets.
  • People think in terms of “positive sum” and “win-win” situations, not “zero sum” or “I win if you lose”.

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

  • Leaders come from diverse backgrounds.
  • Visions and objectives for promoting innovation are effectively communicated by leaders.
  • Leaders champion innovation and encourage ideas from all people.
  • Leaders are accessible to the community for advice and guidance.
  • The community supports the direction of leaders.

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

  • There are widely accessible programs to train/retrain workers with needed skills for the tech and innovation ecosystem.
  • The ecosystem's workforce is diverse and talented across a range of skill sets that support market demands.
  • There are effective resources from organizations and individuals to educate, mentor, and support innovative entrepreneurs.
  • There are mechanisms to inform industries about skilled, needed, and in-demand people to help organizations through tech transition.
  • Innovators are aware and have opportunities to access funding from the various channels available.
  • Information from a broad spectrum of resources is current, relevant, and accessible to the community.

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

  • Policy promotes future growth and has a positive impact on innovators in the community.
  • The physical infrastructure in the ecosystem supports the community’s needs to grow and innovate.
  • Timely decision-making enables growth within the ecosystem.
  • Communication tools used in the ecosystem are robust and collaborative.
  • Innovators are familiar with and can identify the stages in the Startup Commons lifecycle. The key players who support entrepreneurs at each stage are well known.

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

  • There are numerous community activities that support tech and promote innovation.
  • Activities attract and engage a diverse and broad audience to foster connections.
  • Activities span a spectrum of disciplines and provide cross-pollination opportunities for ideas, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Activities create value by providing education, inspiration, calls to action, or problem solving.
  • The ecosystem encourages self-organization of events and activities.

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

  • Successful innovators are viewed as role models; they are valued and validated for their contribution in building the ecosystem.
  • Role models are actively engaged in the community, supporting innovation through guidance and encouragement.
  • Role models represent a diverse spectrum of the ecosystem.
  • The community seeks future high-potential role models and promotes their journey through the ecosystem.
  • Role models are celebrated in the ecosystem.

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