Ampersand Building in Downtown Calgary, site of the Energy Transition Centre
Ampersand building in downtown Calgary, site of the Energy Transition Centre. Avatar Innovations

Jan. 20, 2022

$2.14M investment announced to support energy collaboration between UCalgary ecosystem and energy industry

New centre in downtown Calgary will support clean energy startup companies
UCalgary President Ed McCauley

UCalgary President Ed McCauley.

The University of Calgary ecosystem is poised to lead the energy transition with an investment announced this week from the Government of Canada. Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is investing $2,140,205 to support the Energy Transition Centre (ETC) in downtown Calgary.

The ETC is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, Innovate Calgary, Avatar Innovations, and the energy industry. This financial support from the federal government will help UCalgary, Innovate Calgary, and Avatar Innovations deliver programming at the ETC specific to the investment, acceleration, and commercialization of startup companies working on energy transition.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be partners in the Energy Transition Centre,” said University of Calgary President Ed McCauley while speaking at the announcement.

“We’re big believers in partnerships at the University of Calgary. We’re no strangers to incubating new technologies or new businesses. The Energy Transition Centre will help ensure workers have skills they need to seize those opportunities.”

Nurturing clean energy innovation


Gathering space at the Energy Transition Centre.

Avatar Innovations

The minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, Daniel Vandal, made the announcement virtually on Jan. 19 alongside McCauley and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek. UCalgary Chancellor Deborah Yedlin, Avatar Innovations CEO Kevin Krausert and Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix were also present.

The Energy Transition Centre is expected to support innovative clean energy development and generate economic activity through new business opportunities and research and development, while also assisting the commercialization of technologies for industry. Over the next three years, the initiative expects to create 25 new small- and medium-sized firms while assisting an additional 25 existing firms in accelerating their technologies for the clean technology sector.

These efforts will help accelerate the transition from carbon-emitting energy systems by promoting carbon-free energy alternatives while also enhancing workplace skill sets within the oil and gas sector. The collaboration at the Energy Transition Centre will directly support Canada’s net zero commitments and will also drive Calgary’s downtown revitalization.

“Today represents a major win for Calgary, Canada, the energy industry and its tens of thousands of workers,” said  Avatar CEO Kevin Krauser at the event. “The Energy Transition Centre will become Canada’s energy innovation district where emerging leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers will collaborate, commercialize and scale their solutions.”

A unique approach

It is expected that programming at the ETC will engage highly qualified personnel from both the academic and industry sectors through career development, as well as technology development in areas of emerging technologies crucial for the energy transition. This includes engaging and supporting diverse industry employees as well as those involved in university research.

The ETC is designed to encourage energy transition solutions by providing programming that focuses on a mass upskilling of energy workers. This will be achieved through a training curriculum that cultivates cross-learning between energy professionals and university postdocs. Programs will also nurture transformative technologies through curriculum that entwines both business and technology de-risking components and provides access to technical experts and capital markets for commercialization.

Work space at the Energy Transition Centre.

Avatar Innovations

The project at a glance

The Energy Transition Centre is a three-year project with a budget of $4.2 million. Primary physical space for ETC programs is planned at the Ampersand building in downtown Calgary, with an extension site within the University Innovation Quarter at UCalgary. Key programs at the ETC include: 

  • Ignite: Facilitates large-scale engagement of industry professionals for generating energy transition ideas and solutions.
  • Accelerator: Brings promising ideas from the Ignite Program to teams capable of transforming those ideas into viable technologies and investible business propositions. 
  • Technology Development Platform: Assesses needs and provides access to specialized lab equipment and University of Calgary faculty- and research group-led technical support.
  • Ventures: Prepares the pre-startup accelerator teams for business refinement and investment pitching. 
  • Expert Advisers Platform: Provides tech and business advice to teams inducted in the accelerator program.