The Big Bear Innovation Centre is now open! Learn more about this space at

Calgary, Welcome Big Bear Software. If You Haven’t Heard of Us, You Will!

Big Bear Software is an entrepreneurial custom software and web development company headquartered in the Okanagan, priding itself on building community, diversity, competence, innovation, and fun. Although founded by Keith MacIntyre over 16 years ago, the current growth trajectory started just over three years ago as people began joining the organization, and today we are a team of over 20 strong. During this growth period, Big Bear Software experienced over 255% revenue growth and is on track to meet or exceed this in 2020. With experience in healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, Smart Cities, IoT, and defense, Big Bear Software has a proven track record, helping companies leverage technology successfully.

Big Bear has grown its presence in Calgary this year and has formalized office space with a plan to stay and expand. This decision stems from a major development project with the Integrated Management Platform to Accelerate Clinical Trials (IMPACT) program. IMPACT is a collaborative effort with the University of Calgary and Innovate Calgary that supports new medical ventures as they maneuver the highly regulated clinical trial process.

The story of my connection with Big Bear is serendipitous, in the spirit of connecting with an old colleague. Mid-October, of this year, I had breakfast with Keith, who had just flown in from Kelowna to visit the team that was starting to form. As breakfast was finishing up, he asked if I would be interested in meeting them (I was). My work started that day.

Big Bear’s active focus on healthcare software and innovation was very compelling and of personal interest to me. To get personal for a bit, my beautiful wife, who, after a 10-year career in information technology in oil and gas, went back to medical school and recently graduated as a family doctor. Through her in-patient and out-patient work, she regularly shares the possibilities she sees for improvements, and we discuss potential opportunities to make things better. Of course, developing new integrations or implementing some form of machine learning often comes up.

I’ve had a satisfying and varied 25+ year career in several industries, including oil and gas, mining, airline, telecommunications, and defense. While I was typically working in information technology consulting, leading software development, or implementation projects, over the last ten years, I started to move into senior leadership, operational excellence, management systems, program development, and business development. But this fall, I decided I missed the technical element of my career, the opportunity to build something. I also wanted the chance to assist my wife, so I made the decision to brush up and began reacquainting myself with software development, machine learning, big data, python and R, cloud services, Kubernetes, Kafka, and so on.

That morning, as Keith and I were finishing up breakfast, I think we both realized there was an opportunity to collaborate. With Big Bear and its successful track record delivering software and his presence in the healthcare space, Keith was offering me a foray into it. I took him up on the offer, and by the end of the day, I agreed to be the 2nd Big Bear team member in Calgary, join the IMPACT team, and become Big Bear’s CTO.

As Big Bear’s CTO and Calgary lead, I already know we have work to do as we evolve into a larger team across two regions, and I welcome the challenge. My intent in Calgary over the next quarter is to get out there and identify and connect to the entrepreneurial, technical projects that are in line with our skills and where we can add value with a strong emphasis on health care and medical devices. So reach out! I’d love to connect and hear what you’re doing.

Chris Coupal