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Business Beat: Shaking the Money Trees

COVID-19 has made accessing capital very difficult for businesses. In response, provincial and federal governments released different stimulus packages including grants. The last few months I have gone through countless programs and there definitely are many options out there.

Grants can be a great resource in times of economic uncertainty, as they usually provide a reliable source of funds. I realize however, that grants are not for everyone. Writing grant applications, and even just finding the right ones to apply for, can be time consuming. Plus, let's face it, writing is not everyone's forte.

Good news, there are other ways to access capital. One of the less common ways is pitch competitions. It might sound intimidating, but these competitions are becoming more commonplace. Most are familiar with Dragons Den, but there are many more that do not require you to go on TV. Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what is out there:

  1. Alberta Innovates Inventure$ - For the last three years, Alberta Innovates brings together innovative global businesses to pitch in six different categories. Each category winner gets a $10,000 prize, but more importantly exposure to global investors. There is always local Alberta talent showcased.
  2. Start Up Canada's Canadian Export Challenge - From starting up, to scaling up, if you are exporting, this pitch could be for you. Submit your online pitch until September 5 to be entered for up to $5,000. Make it to the finale and you could win up to $25,000 cash and a $100,000 in support services.
  3. Virtual pitch series on Alternative Proteins - Certain sectors conduct their own pitch series. For example, Protein Industries Canada, Natural Products Canada and the Protein Highway have coordinated an online agriculture pitch series. A handful of companies compete for funds at each session and the event is open to investors and corporations seeking innovative Canadian companies working in Alternative Proteins.
  4. SoGal Global Pitch Competition - this fund is over $500,000 and growing! Women and diverse founders can apply from across the globe and the final competition includes a three-day educational boot camp in Silicon Valley.
  5. Medicine Hat College (MHC) Start Up Pitch Competition - At the local level there is a pitch competition that has occurred for the last nine years in Medicine Hat. If you are a part time or full time student at MHC, you can go through the Entrepreneur Development Centre's program and have the chance to pitch for up to $10,000.

This list is just a few of the many pitch competitions available. If all this sounds exciting, but you are wondering, 'how do I build a pitch?' No problem. There is local training and free advice available broadly. For example, today, there is a free online Pitch Building Bootcamp through Start Up Canada.

For more information about pitch competitions or assistance with pitch training, contact Sandra Blyth at 403.529.8373 and she will gladly guide you in the right direction of those who can help. In addition, if writing is your forte and you want information on grants, feel free to contact Sandra as well, they do that too.

About the Author: Sandra Blyth is an economic development professional with the City's Economic Development and Land Department, which is serving the business community under the brand of Invest Medicine Hat.



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