Expanded Energy Transition Centre Supports Emerging Sector Within Industry: Krausert

Depending on COVID-19 factors, March 1 is the target date for the Calgary Energy Transition Centre to move into its new 17,000 square-foot downtown Calgary office space, which will facilitate access to specialized equipment, energy transition subject matter experts and entrepreneurship programming.

“This has really been designed as a collaboration-first approach, and to provide a forum for the daily and regular interactions between the likeminded energy groups to start driving this new future,” Kevin Krausert, chief executive officer, Avatar Innovations Inc., told the Bulletin. “When we can go back in-person, this will be where the Avatar Program will be housed.”

On Wednesday, the federal government announced an investment of more than $2.1 million to support the centre, enabling Avatar and UCalgary to transform vacant office space within downtown Calgary into an innovation hub that advances the development of clean energy technologies. Government is investing more than $3 million to strengthen collaboration, advance emerging leadership, and attract private sector investment to grow this sector in Alberta.

“The Government of Canada is making strategic investments to build on Alberta’s strengths in clean technology, including its talent, energy expertise, and emerging capabilities in energy transition,” Daniel Vandal, the minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, stated in regards to the funding.

“Our support for an Energy Transition Centre in the heart of downtown Calgary and a proven accelerator for clean technology companies will help ensure that Alberta businesses can capitalize on these advantages and capture significant global market share in the clean technology sector.”

According to Krausert, federal funding for the centre is dependent on industry matching. Fortunately, he added, Avatar has the participation and support of various industry partners. The expanded centre will house Avatar, along with representatives from the University of Calgary, Energy Futures Lab, the Applied Research and Innovation Services group at SAIT, as well as five energy young professional groups.

To support the interface between Canada’s leading energy companies and emerging carbon reduction technology companies, the centre opened last year, initially providing a 3,000-square-foot office space and facilities for projects admitted into the Avatar Carbon Removal Accelerator. The centre aims to boost networking, productivity and creativity of emerging carbon technology companies right beside the headquarters of major energy firms.

“It’ll also house desk rental space for a lot of emerging technology companies to have direct and daily interactions with the oil and gas sector,” Krausert said. The centre provides space where Canada’s largest energy firms collaborate with clean energy start-ups, innovators and investors. It facilitates access to specialized equipment, energy transition subject matter experts and entrepreneurship programming.

“We’re going to have a thriving oil and gas sector for decades to come, and this is an opportunity to really grow an emerging sector inside the industry. A net-zero future will require an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach. Calgary is not just going to own the site of the oil and gas sector. We’re also going to own the energy transition.”

In the weeks ahead, minor construction modifications, furnishing and IT hookups will bring the expanded centre online, noted Krausert. Aside from helping pay for the physical office space, he added, federal funding also supports Avatar programming, as well as supporting five full-time UCalgary subject-matter employees.

As part of this week’s announcement, an additional $900,000 federal investment through PrairiesCan will enable the Foresight Clean Technology Accelerator Centre to offer its proven accelerator programs in Alberta. Foresight will use funds to provide training and investment attraction initiatives that clean technology organizations at various stages of scaling up need to grow and capture global market share.

Krausert added: “The announcement [on Wednesday] represents a model for the future of energy in Canada — a thriving oil and gas industry working in partnership with the federal government, empowering leaders, technology and investment of the future.”

With registration concluding this week, the next iteration of the Avatar Program (Avatar Ignite) launches Feb. 11.

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