Canada's Innovation Brand: Enabling a whole new sector

Recently, I saw a headline in one of the national newspapers that read, “Canada’s Innovation Drought.” The article suggested that being innovative is not a strength of “Canada’s brand”. At COSIA, innovation isn’t just a hollow word in our name, it is our brand, and the driver behind everything we do. Immediately after the article’s publication, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta announced funding for the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC). The ACCTC, located at Shepard Energy Centre in Calgary and owned by Innotech Alberta, will be a research facility for testing technologies aimed at converting carbon dioxide emissions into useful, valuable and marketable new products, like building materials, alternative fuels and commercial goods.

With $20 million in funding from the federal government and the Province of Alberta, the ACCTC will be one of the few places in the world where carbon conversion technologies can be tested at commercial scale. The centre catalyzes Canada’s and Alberta’s efforts for research, testing, pre-commercialization and commercialization of CO2 capture and utilization technologies, and gives global innovators a facility where they can test their technologies for turning CO2 into something useful.

The first of those global innovators to test their technologies in the ACCTC, will be the finalists in the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. Eight of COSIA’s member companies are behind the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, and in addition to sponsoring the global competition, COSIA members are leading the ACCTC’s design and construction and providing up to $5 million of in-kind support and operating costs. 

In the same week we saw the funding announcement for the ACCTC, Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) announced the winning projects for the second round of its complementary ERA Grand Challenge, which rewards innovative uses for carbon. We know there are many others working towards finding solutions for CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And we know the problem of solving the challenge of GHG emissions needs more hard science. We recently launched our “Hard Science” campaign seeking solutions to COSIA’s GHG Challenges by tapping into the science and research that is happening around the globe. We’re reaching out to ask experts to work with us to find more solutions and continue to develop the innovation the world needs to lower emissions.

Three major GHG innovation milestones announced in one week by governments and industry, creating innovation infrastructure, increasing funding and developing more global relationships with  scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to harness the world’s best minds to develop more technology, at a faster pace is a great sign for Canadian innovation.  Solutions being developed are not just relevant to oil sands, but show promise to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from water use to greenhouse gas emissions, and drive our country’s future as a leader in innovation.