Innovation is a social and economic
process involving the introduction, development and
adaptation of new ideas and marketable products and
According to the educational research project “The Four
Pillars of Innovation” conducted by the
Conference Board of
Canada, the factors that create a context for innovation are leadership,
people, culture and climate, and structures and processes.
Throughout the history of Alberta
many of these elements have been in place as there are
many patents for new inventions from all periods. There
has been an ongoing need to invent new machines and
methods to exploit the vast natural resources found in
Alberta. From the beginning, early settlers needed more
effective ploughs to break the heavy sod, spelling the
start of the agricultural industry. As more cultivation
was carried out, many farmers found the equipment from
eastern Canada less than effective in western conditions
and were soon building their own or making improvements
to what could be purchased. The same can be said in the
rest of Alberta’s major industries.
Coal mining brought about many patents as more effective
machinery was needed. These machines included the
magnetic ore separator, and a
There have also been many innovations in the oil industry,
especially in regard to advances in the extraction of oil from the oil sands that are so abundant
in Alberta. In 1920, Dr. Karl Clark was working on the process to separate the
bitumen from the sand and developed processes that are still being used
Educational institutions provide the
right culture and climate for innovation. Alberta has a
successful education system, with several of the
country’s leading post-secondary schools in research.
One of Alberta’s most notable innovators, James Gosling,
was educated at the University of Calgary.
Throughout Alberta's history there have been many
opportunities to invent that has brought about effective machines and processes
now used around the world. Invention and
innovation have been critical elements in the story of Alberta.