XPRIZE, Avatar And UCalgary Launch Carbon Removal Accelerator For $100 Million Prize

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In partnership, the XPRIZE Foundation, Avatar Innovations Inc. and the University of Calgary have launched the $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition — a tailor-made accelerator for technologies and companies.

“The carbon technology industry is going to be the next Silicon Valley and Avatar is building it right here in Calgary,” Kevin Krausert, chief executive officer and co-founder of Avatar Innovations, stated in this morning’s announcement, which will be accompanied by a virtual news conference later today.

He added: “By partnering … the world’s most prestigious technology competition — XPRIZE — with leading energy firms and academia, Avatar is positioning Canada as a global superpower in emerging carbon and energy transition technologies.”

Funded by the Musk Foundation, the Carbon Removal XPRIZE is the largest incentive prize in history. To win the four-year competition, teams must demonstrate solutions that permanently remove carbon dioxide and reduce the impact of climate change.

Marcius Extavour, vice-president of Climate and Energy, XPRIZE, said the goal of the competition is not simply to find a grand prize winner, but to collectively inspire and create a real, meaningful impact. “This partnership will help us find and nurture some of the greatest minds in the climate change fight.”

The Avatar Carbon Removal Accelerator will offer teams access to industry customers, partners and investors, workspace and facilities in the newly created Energy Transition Centre in downtown Calgary and the opportunity to collaborate with UCalgary researchers in the institution’s labs and testing facilities.

About the accelerator

The tailor-made accelerator will provide global, early-stage carbon-removal companies with necessary industry access and industrial scale to meet their goals. The accelerator will offer access to Calgary’s world-leading carbon technology ecosystem and builds on the success of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE completed in April 2021.

In terms of the Avatar Carbon Removal Accelerator, it is supported by some of the world’s largest energy firms — Suncor Energy Inc., Enbridge Inc., Shell Canada Limited, Imperial Oil Limited and Cenovus Energy Inc. Each company has committed subject-matter experts to all teams accepted into the accelerator and will provide industry and customer access for these emerging technologies to help them succeed and reach scale.

“We’re looking forward to working with these bright minds — working together on their big, bold ideas and sharing our industry’s perspective and insight all with a view to look beyond our current capabilities on technology and innovation,” said Bradley Wamboldt, general manager of enterprise technology at Suncor.

“Over the years, we’ve found that through partnerships and collaboration initiatives like this, we’ve seen better results and solutions that will help us achieve our global climate goals.”

Mathew Akman, senior VP of corporate strategy and power, Enbridge, said that as a midstream energy transition leader, his company remains committed to innovation in emissions reduction and carbon removal. “We look forward to working with Avatar, XPRIZE and this world-class group to advance these important objectives.”

UCalgary, a leader in carbon management research, will facilitate collaboration between accelerator teams and researchers, and access to labs, expert advice, and $1 billion worth of carbon technology testing facilities. UCalgary will also connect teams with the ecosystem that both supported the creation of Carbon Engineering Ltd., one of the world’s largest carbon removal companies, and generated numerous successful finalists for the NRG COSIA XPRIZE.

William Ghali, VP of research at UCalgary, said the university has actively researched carbon management for nearly 20 years, with a focus on research and technology innovation and world-class researchers supporting a unique suite of labs and field resources. “We look forward to working with new collaborators to advance the science and technology required for large- scale carbon dioxide removal and addressing this pressing global issue.”

Energy Transition Centre

To support the interface between Canada’s leading energy companies and emerging carbon reduction technology companies, the Energy Transition Centre will be opened Oct. 1, through a partnership between Avatar Innovations and Aspen Properties Ltd. This new downtown Calgary space will initially provide the projects admitted into the Avatar Carbon Removal Accelerator with office space and facilities in the newly renovated Ampersand building.

According to this morning’s announcement, this space will boost the networking, productivity and creativity of emerging carbon technology companies within the vicinity of world-leading energy companies’ headquarters. The centre will then build towards becoming a global energy transition centre of excellence with its current partners and interested energy transition and carbon technology groups.

“With its recent redevelopment, the Ampersand is uniquely positioned to offer an unparalleled collection of amenities and workspaces that foster a connected and collaborative tenant community,” Greg Guatto, CEO of Aspen Properties, said about the space. “The Ampersand is poised to become a thriving hub in Calgary that will further bolster the developing tech and innovation sectors in the city.”

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