What I Learned at INVENTURE$

Last week I spent a couple days at Alberta Innovate’s annual conference: INVENTURE$.

Mark your calendars now for next year’s event: June 5-7, 2019.

Don’t Wait! Download our “Three Steps to Winning a Government Grants” PDF here – http://albertabusinessgrants.ca/


According to Alberta Innovates, here were the event highlights:

• 150 High profile speakers

• 80 Sessions

• 16 Tracks of programming, allowing you to choose from up to 6 sessions running at any point in time

• 32 Startup finalists pitching their ideas to celebrity judges

• 16 Connect events designed for creative collisions and deal making

• 2 Experiential events happening in and around INVENTURE$

Now I’ll give you my highlights:


When I started writing grants back in 2012, grants felt like – I’m not saying they were – a massive mystery. I’m not sure if grant agencies changed or I changed (for the record, I for sure have changed in the last five years in a good way I hope!).

Figuring out how to win a grant or get a meeting with them was relatively unknown.

That era seems to be coming to an end (if it was an era at all; I’m just going by memory).  With Emission Reduction Alberta’s big conference last year and Alberta Innovate’s event this year, I’m amazed how open and transparent the organizations are becoming.

The star CEO at Alberta Innovates, Laura Kilcrease, is wildly accessible at all the events and receptions. I can only image if the leader of the organization is that transparent, it will trickle throughout the organization.

Speaking of accessibility, the hard-working Minister of Economic and Development and Trade was there and wildly accessible also. I had the privilege of speaking briefly with each of them, and it was great to see a cross section of collaboration taking place.

2.     FINALLY!

But that accessibility wasn’t nearly the best part. My job is to win grants for Alberta entrepreneurs, and did I strike GOLD at this conference.

So I’m hanging out in the lobby area, trying to avoid the massive table of chocolate sweets.

I’m addicted to chocolate and it was just staring – umm screaming at me – to come over and eat.

While I’m standing there another guy, mid-fifties, and I strike up a conversation and then this happens. I’ll give you the play back.

Me: “How are you enjoying the grant conference?”

Him: “It’s great blah, blah, blah.”

Me: “What’s your connection to this place?


Him: “I’m on the board of XX grant agency.”

My eyes start to bulge.

Me: “Really? What do you do?”

Him: “Well we volunteer, and we grade applications.”

At this point I just about spit my coffee out, run over to the chocolate sweet table and start to binge eat brownies.

Me: “Okay, I’ve always wanted to ask people who grade applications some questions, may I?”

Him: “Shoot.”

Okay at this point I’m starting to think, I think the $500 and a couple days off work to attend this conference are worth it for this conversation alone.

Me: “Does the writing quality even matter?”

Him: “IT’S HUGE” or “absolutely,” I can’t remember his exact word, but it was major.

Golly, I knew it. But what a great thing to hear from the horse’s mouth.

Him: “What usually happens is we’ll read a dozen or so, and a clearly written application will make it to the next pile (for further consideration). Now having said that, the content (i.e. the technology needs to be great as well. But you have to understand something. We’re all busy volunteers. We want the application easy to understand.”

He also taught me that some people will reapply and not change what they told them to change. Ouch.

Talk about frustrating for everyone involved.

Anyway, I think it all comes back to point one: accessibility.

At the end of the day, these volunteers are handing out taxpayer money, so it was really great to have access to them and ask questions.

Unfortunately, not everyone can pay to have a pro write their grant applications. I get it.

Even sitting down to hammer out a grant application can be an enormous pain.


Here are the key points:

  • Walk away with a DRAFT master grant application (that me and your classmates can give you feedback on)
  • Learn Government 101 and Grants 101
  • Learn Top 10 Business writing tips

Here are the event details

  • Location: Jasper Avenue, Edmonton Alberta (Specific instructions sent after registration)
  • Time: 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Date: June 20, 2018
  • Who: Instructor David Kincade. Seating is limited due to the size of the room
  • Coffee and a light lunch is provided.
  • Cost: $250 plus GST for the day.

Maximum 15 seats available!

Register here:


We’re going to have a bunch of fun (yes I said fun and grant writing together), and the day is going to be great. Don’t wait much longer. Last I checked we had 8 seats left.

Have a great week!

David Kincade

Phone: 780.297.6177

Email: davidk@albertabusinessgrants.ca