FUTURE OF STORAGE
NiCk Cowley of ATTABotiCs InC. Builds roBot CAnisters on WednesdAy, As the teCh CompAny wAs seleCted By the Opportunity CAlgAry Investment Fund to reCeive up to $4.5 million to CreAte joBs And help diversify the loCAl eConomy.
A Calgary-based company that wants to reinvent the supply chain with its 3-D robotic goods storage and warehousing system has been awarded up to $4.5 million from a city fund that aims to help diversify the local economy.
ATTAbotics Inc. — which employs 115 people at its northeast Calgary offices — is the second recipient of grant funding from the $100-million Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, which was established by city council to benefit companies and non-profits proposing projects that will create jobs, spur diversification and expand the property tax assessment base.
The company will use the money to expand its operations in Calgary, hiring 150 more employees and constructing a new production facility at the YYC Global Logistics Park at Calgary International Airport.
It also intends to eventually build a new corporate headquarters and research campus at the site.
ATTAbotics has seen explosive growth since its founding in 2016, and currently has 60 open job postings. Many of its employees are former engineers and project managers who used to work in the oil and gas sector.
“I believe what Calgary has been looking for is a new purpose for its talented people,” said ATTAbotics founder and CEO Scott Gravelle. “We wouldn’t have been possible had there been a really strong oil and gas industry in Calgary … To compete as a startup technology company in this market against oil and gas, historically, was almost impossible.”
ATTAbotics designs and manufactures a robotics automated storage and retrieval system used to store, access and move goods around a facility. The company says its scalable design cuts energy costs and reduces space requirements in warehouses by 85 per cent, and is already being used in sectors such as e-commerce, logistics, retail, grocery and advanced manufacturing.
Barry Munro, chair of the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, said the board was struck by ATTAbotics’ ability to compete in a sector that is ripe for disruption and was also aware that ATTAbotics was being courted by U.S. jurisdictions that were willing to offer varying incentives as well as a competitive tax structure.
Gravelle acknowledged Wednesday that the OCIF grant was a factor in the company’s decision to keep its expansion in Calgary.
“We (the board) debated a bit if that is the role of the federal government, to level the playing field, or the provincial government, and then we just said, ‘we’ve got to take this into our own hands’ because we wanted Calgary jobs here,” Munro said.
Munro said the money will be paid out in instalments and is dependent on ATTAbotics meeting its stated targets around job creation and capital investment.
He said the board believes the company has the opportunity to not only be successful in a very modern industry, but also to inspire a host of other innovative, technology-based companies in Calgary.
“The people of Calgary need you (ATTAbotics) to be successful,” Munro said. “We’re leveraging their money to help transform Calgary, this great place that we all love and call home, to be competitive in the next phase in a globally disrupted world.”
“We know ATTAbotics is going to change the world of e-commerce and how you receive the goods that you order every day,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “OCIF has made what I call a small but surgical investment … to give them just that little bit of a springboard they need to get to that next level of growth.”
The Opportunity Calgary Fund awarded its first grant of $1.5 million in October to MobSquad, a startup that has opened an office in downtown Calgary. MobSquad, which is promising to create 150 engineering jobs, matches talenthungry Silicon Valley startups with software engineers and data scientists who can work remotely from Canada.
The fund, which has received more than 175 applications since its launch, expects to announce additional successful grant recipients in January.
Scott Gravelle, Co-founder and CEO of ATTAbotics Inc., says a grant from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund influenced the company’s decision to stay and grow in Calgary.