Reading Time: 4 minutes

From building supportive communities to bridging connections with investors, Terry Rock and Platform Calgary are reshaping the city’s tech landscape


Dr. Terry Rock is President & CEO of Platform Calgary, an organization dedicated to fostering growth within Calgary’s technology and innovation landscape. Platform collaborates with over 100 partners to support startup founders, investors, tech professionals, and corporate innovators at the new Platform Innovation Centre in Calgary’s East Village.

How Terry Rock is shaping innovation in Calgary tech scene at Platform Calgary

Dr. Terry Rock

Terry previously served as the Alberta Small Brewers Association’s Executive Director and the founding CEO of Calgary Arts Development Authority. He has also worked on civic partnerships at The City of Calgary and held a position as an assistant professor in sTRategy at the University of Calgary.

Terry holds a PhD in Management with a focus on strategic management, entrepreneurship, and innovation from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing (with Distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan.

The following interview was conducted by Chloe Bennett and Peter Kelly.

Question: What do innovators need when starting something new?

Related Stories
Calgary blossoming into global tech powerhouse

Renewed agreement will help cultivate the next generation of tech talent

With a little help, clean tech will revive Alberta’s economy

Terry Rock: The first thing they need is a community for support. At Platform Calgary, we try to build a space where support is customized for people on their innovation journey. Research shows that the more connected a founder or innovator is, the faster their business will grow. They also need mentors, advisors, and people to coach and train them. Access to capital, connecting them to investors or financial institutions, is crucial. Building the first team of five people is also essential. For larger tech companies, finding senior talent is vital, as they often like to give back, and a brand is a good place to work. Lastly, connecting to indusTRy customers in various verticals is essential.

Question: How does the International Investor Initiative support early-stage companies?

TR: The initiative aims to fill the early-stage gap globally, as many investors are not used to investing in technology. It targets investors from various sectors, such as real estate, oil and gas, and family businesses, encouraging them to invest in technology. The goals are to get people off the sidelines and invest in tech, create awareness among investors from other parts of the world about Calgary’s tech scene, and help founders get better prepared to work with investors by building connections and abilities earlier in the process.

Question: What initiatives or programs are in place to support innovation and entrepreneurship?

TR: Platform Calgary supports the creation of micro-loans, offers investor education programming, conducts an investor reverse pitch program where investors pitch to founders, hosts programs for funds TRavelling through to connect them to the investor community, and has an investor investor-in-residence accessible to the founder community.

Question: How does the organization measure its impact and success?

TR: Platform Calgary tracks metrics such as the number of people attending events, the number of companies celebrated, and the overall impact on the community. It also looks at the long-term success of companies that have gone through their programs, such as CoolIT Systems, which recently sold after 20 years, demonstrating the organization’s impact on their success.

Question: Who is a person you admire in the entrepreneurship community?

TR: I admire Brad Zumwalt, who has built four tech companies in Calgary and helped start the A100, a group supporting tech entrepreneurs. Brad has also been involved in building and giving back to the community, making him an inspiration for others in the entrepreneurial community.

Question: What is the impact of Platform Calgary on the Calgary community?

TR: Platform Calgary has significantly impacted the Calgary community, with 44,000 people attending events last year and 30,000 coffees sold in our café in the first year of operation. We focus on creating connections and building a community that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, which has led to a lot of momentum and growth in the community.

Question: How does Calgary compare to other tech hubs like Silicon Valley or Boston?

TR: Calgary has a smaller population base than tech hubs like Silicon Valley or Boston, which gives us a disadvantage in terms of talent density. However, Calgary aims to be in the top 50 globally in tech innovation, focusing on creating the conditions for innovation to thrive and connecting people to build partnerships and businesses.

Question: You also have a broad appreciation of music. What is your involvement in the music industry?

TR: I have been involved in the music industry in various capacities, including working as a professor of music business, being part of a development authority focused on arts and culture, and running for director of the industry association for music in Calgary.

Question: Do you have a favourite type of music?

TR: I enjoy all types of music.

Question: You look in great shape. What activities do you enjoy?

TR: I enjoy biking and am trying to get back into it after a break.

Question: Are you currently working on any projects or initiatives?

TR: I am working on a conference called DataCon Calgary, which focuses on data in the gas industry. I am also developing a new event centre and cultural entertainment district in Calgary to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the city.

Chloe Bennett is the former Head of the Creative Industries program at Canadian University Dubai and the founder of Aha! Innovation Learning. Peter Kelly is the founder of Biosphere Resources Ltd.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

© TRoy Media
TRoy Media is an editorial content provider to media outlets and its own hosted community news outlets across Canada.