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Alberta government announces rep in Silicon Valley to help high-tech companies

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous, Alberta business leaders Ashif Mawji and Cory Jannsen, JPC Corp. director Christy May and Connection Silicon Valley CEO Joanne Fedeyko at a news conference on Sept. 20, 2018.
Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous, Alberta business leaders Ashif Mawji and Cory Jannsen, JPC Corp. director Christy May and Connection Silicon Valley CEO Joanne Fedeyko at a news conference on Sept. 20, 2018. Dave Carels/Global News

Alberta companies looking to gain a foothold in high-tech Silicon Valley now have a representative on the ground in California.

Trade Minister Deron Bilous says the government has contracted with an Alberta firm that has a liaison in San Francisco.

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The liaison, Joanne Fedeyko, says the key to opening doors in California is getting face-to-face meetings, which is something she says she can provide given her experience with the tech industry in that state.

The province is paying Fedeyko and Alberta investment firm JPC Corp. $900,000 over the next three years to provide the service, titled Connection Silicon Valley.

Those services can be accessed for free by Alberta companies and the project will also work to bring Silicon Valley investment money to the province.

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The government has launched a number of initiatives to boost Alberta’s tech sector and diversify the economy, including tax credits and more dedicated spaces in post-secondary schools.

“We need to do more to help Alberta innovators access the billions of potential investment dollars to commercialize and scale up,” Bilous said Thursday.

“Now we have an Alberta presence on the ground in Silicon Valley.”

Fedeyko said connections are critical in the ultra-competitive sales landscape.

“You can imagine every economic development agency on the planet is there trying to access those companies,” said Fedeyko.

She said it’s critical for start-up businesses to come down in person to hold meetings and build their networks.

“I think companies should come down every six weeks if they’re looking to build a significant network,” she said.

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“The Valley really wants you to be there and participate.”

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The province has strong economic ties with California, with $1.8 billion in imports last year and more than $2 billion in exports.