City pays $3.5M to bring company to Calgary to create advanced tech centre, 200 jobs

The city has paid $3.5 million to bring a B.C. tech company to Calgary in exchange for the promise of about 200 new jobs.

Finger Food Advanced Technology Group is a tech solution provider that was founded in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in 2009. 

Initially mobile-focused, it was named after how we interact with our smartphones.

It has since expanded to broader technologies, and today its clients include Microsoft, Lululemon Athletica and Telus. 

According to a City of Calgary news release, the company will be opening an "advanced technology centre" that will occupy some of the vacant office space in downtown Calgary. 

'There are real tech talents in Calgary'

Finger Food already has some clients in Calgary, such as Suncor Energy and Enbridge, and representatives say it was planning expansion into Calgary for a long time.

The process was expedited by a $3.5-million investment from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund that supports its expansion and initiatives in the city.

"A big part of this announcement is communicating the narrative that says, 'There are real tech talents in Calgary," said Tim Wong, Finger Food's senior director of innovation.

"So we need to create that opportunity, and not just for Finger Food — but for Calgary's entire business ecosystem."

The company is projecting that it will create 200 jobs related to design, software development and management by 2023.

"These would be tech jobs … [that] we're greatly in need of," Mary Moran, the president of Calgary Economic Development, said Thursday on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"We want to embrace all of these advanced technologies coming toward our industrial sectors, and really be the centre of excellence for industrial transformation and digitization in the country."

According to the press release, Finger Food's advanced technology centre in Calgary will be "a state-of-the-art space … dedicated to disrupting traditional thinking, fostering user-centric and innovative ideas, and learning opportunities."

Supplied by Finger Food Advanced Technology Group.

The fund was created last year by the city to support investments that spur growth and create jobs.

According to Moran, it has since created more than 1,000 employment opportunities and led to investments of $150 million in the community.

"There's a lot of people that are trying to reinvent themselves, and there are a lot of companies doing great things," Moran said.

"I think it's an indication of what our future is going to be. It's not going to be a quick road, it's going to be a long road. But there are some really very cool companies emerging here."

Moran says the fund's investments are first given weighty consideration from a qualified panel.

"This is a board of very sophisticated investors," Moran said. "They're careful, for sure."

According to the news release, Finger Food Advanced Technology Group is the sixth company to receive funding from the fund.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.