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Canadian officials say San Antonio, Edmonton share something: Mistaken economic identities
February 3, 2016

Photo Left: Brian Dumsday and Emily Cinats of Edmonton Economic Development tour San Antonio to gain a better idea of the city's bioscience assets. Photo by W. Scott Bailey

W. Scott Bailey Reporter/Project Coordinator
San Antonio Business Journal

A pair of economic development officials from Alberta, Canada, were in San Antonio this week as part of a fact-finding mission that could ultimately lead to new economic opportunities on both sides of the border.

Edmonton Economic Development’s Brian Dumsday and Emily Cinats spent Tuesday in the Alamo City in an effort to begin to better understand this region’s health care and bioscience industry. Their immediate takeaway was that Edmonton and San Antonio both suffer from an identity crisis, with neither city reaping the full recognition it deserves for what it’s achieved in the biomedical arena.

“We have a very robust health ecosystem in the city of Edmonton,” Cinats said. “The University of Alberta is heavily focused on research. We have Tech Edmonton, which supports companies in the commercialization process and they are very connected with some of the venture capital networks.”

Yet Edmonton officials said there is plenty of confusion outside that city about its advancements in the biosciences.

“What we are focusing on is building a broader voice for our health industry,” Cinats said.

The Texas trip was part of that outreach effort. But San Antonio also could gain from the visit.

BioMed SA President Ann Stevens, who served as a tour guide of sorts for Dumsday and Cinats, said San Antonio leaders can appreciate the lack of recognition Edmonton has received.

“We have found a lot of commonalities,” said Stevens about her interaction with the Canadian economic development officials.

Stevens’ tour of San Antonio included a stop at the Texas Research & Technology Foundation’s Emerging Venture Emerging Venture Pipeline luncheon. The pair had an opportunity to hear from and meet with several San Antonio industry leaders engaged in health care and bioscience activities.

“They were thrilled,” said Stevens about the Edmonton officials’ interaction with San Antonio’s bioscience leaders.

“The similarities are incredible,” said Dumsday about the two cities and their respective bioscience industries. “Within Texas we have been told in many cases San Antonio focuses on tourism. So it was a big eye opener for us to come here and see how robust this city’s biosector is.

“Edmonton is considered a festival city. We do a lot more than that. Our biosector is pretty powerful too,” he added. “We’ve done a lot of really good things that nobody recognizes.”

Stevens believes San Antonio and Edmonton can use their similarities to an advantage and seek out collaborative opportunities in health care and the biosciences that positively impact both cities.

There is a starting point.

“We happen to have one Edmonton company here in San Antonio,” said Stevens about Innovative Trauma Care, which was established in Canada but selected the Alamo City as the headquarters home for its U.S. operations.

Cinats expects that there could be more crossover between the two cities.

So what’s the next step?

“For us it’s to analyze the information (from San Antonio) and meet with more companies in our region,” she said.

“We know Texas very well. But we know Houston — because of oil and gas,” Dumsday said. “We are looking to diversify in a big way.”

That diversification pipeline could reach San Antonio.

“I think as we get to know the players better and we get to know the sectors better we’ll be able to identify the opportunities for Alberta-based and Edmonton-based companies to create collaborations with San Antonio-based companies,” Dumsday said. “The sky is the limit, I would hope.”

W. Scott Bailey covers health care, tourism, sports business, economic development; he also plans and edits some special reports.

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