Jan. 29, 2021

New report pegs size of UCalgary’s economic footprint: $16.5 billion annually

Ripple effect of innovation and new business makes significant impact on growth and diversification of Calgary economy
Calgary skyline

A comprehensive, independent new economic study has found that the University of Calgary collectively generates $16.5 billion annually in economic activity for the Calgary region while supporting 22,493 jobs.

The report, released Jan. 28, demonstrates the role and value of the university to the community. UCalgary helps Calgary’s economy grow and diversify thanks to entrepreneurial thinking and the ripple effect of innovation and new business. The university is the city’s second-largest employer but our economic footprint extends far beyond our direct activities. Read more about the report

“We’re spurring new companies, improving people’s health — last year, we conducted more than 560 clinical trials — and fostering social good,” UCalgary President Ed McCauley writes in the Calgary Herald. “And in addition to all the entrepreneurial thinking that takes place on campus, there are also major economic impacts off-campus.”

According to the report, a range of activities contributes to our significant economic footprint:

  • research that changes the world and benefits our communities 
  • philanthropy-driven investments in our innovation ecosystem and opportunities for students
  • the university’s support of entrepreneurial startups
  • direct and indirect spending on products and services by the university and its students
  • higher incomes earned by graduates of UCalgary
  • participation in tourism-boosting sports and cultural events
  • collaborations with civic partners, improving everyone’s quality of life

Economic impact, often debated, is not the only way to measure value in a university context, Dr. McCauley acknowledges. “But directionally, the story could not be more clear: the University of Calgary has made great strides.”

Research alone generates more than $8 billion in activity locally. McCauley cites one recent example of the university driving change for the greater good: the 34-hectare University Innovation Quarter, launched in collaboration with the province and city. “It’s purpose-built to drive innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. The university’s transformative work in this space has already generated 360 new inventions and innovations, and as our work expands, there will be more.” Learn more about UCalgary’s innovation ecosystem.

Knowledge-driven innovation sows the seeds of tomorrow’s economies, McCauley adds. “And as we work with others in the community to expand our innovation ecosystem, we will create more companies with more payrolls that will be spent right here at home.”


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