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Alberta Launches $70 Million Cleantech Challenge

One of Canada’s most energy-rich provinces is launching an initiative to foster more cleantech development.

Alberta has launched the Biotechnology, Electricity and Sustainable Transportation (BEST) challenge, where up to $70 million will be available through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA). The goal is to encourage innovators in the energy and environmental tech fields to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut overall energy consumption through new companies, platforms or innovations. Overall, the money will help bring in new outside investments, create jobs, cut energy costs and build a more diversified economy. The deadline to apply is September 13.

Up to $10 million will be made available per project, and the ERA will fund as much as 50 per cent of a project’s expenses.

“We are looking for innovative technologies that will strengthen Alberta’s economy and reduce GHG emissions,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks. “This challenge reinforces the benefits of working across sectors to find clean technology solutions. As always, Albertans are the source of innovation and we are proud to support made-in-Alberta projects.”

BEST is open to a whole range of different applicants, including technology developers, industry, industrial associations, SMEs, research and development organizations, post-secondary institutions, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government research labs and individuals. The challenge will focus on three key areas: biotechnology, electricity and sustainable transportation. Those three sectors account for up to 40 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The ERA is encouraging applicants to collaborate with other organizations and engage with post-secondary and research institutions to form more cohesive bids.

“Working across sectors which share similar policy, technical and economic challenges increases the opportunity to break down barriers,” said Steve MacDonald, CEO of ERA. “Successful projects will reduce GHGs and accelerate scale-up of new value-added products and services that support economic growth, community health and environmental leadership on a local, national and global scale.”

Proposals can address a problem in a single industry or span multiple different ones. The technologies can come from anywhere in the world, but they must be piloted, demonstrated or implemented in Alberta.

One distinct area to look into within sustainable transportation is more fuel-efficient aviation technology. WestJet and Air Canada both provided statements supporting the release of BEST, which could indicate they will be some of the companies trying to secure a piece of the $70 million.

Canada as a whole has been making a lot of strides when it comes to investing into cleantech projects. MaRS recently unveiled a $5 million Women in Cleantech challenge, while the federal government and BDC have made separate investments of $26 million, $14 million and $40 million in cleantech in the last four months.

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