Avatar Innovations launches venture capital fund to fuel cleantech startups

December 2, 2022
Innovation New Economy Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund Energy & Environment

The path to net-zero relies on breakthrough technologies and game-changing companies.

To accelerate that process Calgary’s Avatar Innovations launched Avatar Leadership Fund I to support the creation and scaling of local companies driving energy transition. The Fund is the next step in the growth of Avatar, which was backed by the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF).

“With the launch of Avatar Ventures Fund I, Avatar is able to continue delivering new technologies and leaders at record speeds, fill a major investment gap in Canada, and position the Canadian energy sector as a leader in the energy transition,” said Bryan Trudel, Chief Financial Officer, Avatar Innovations.

Avatar Leadership Fund I will help de-risk and scale cleantech startups with lead backer Cenovus Energy contributing $750,000 to the Fund that is targeted to grow to $3 million. Other partners in the program include TC Energy, Suncor, Enbridge, Spartan Controls, Emerson, Hitachi, Shaw, GHD, Fluor, Chevron and Keyera.

“Calgary is positioned to lead cleantech innovation and partnerships between accelerators like Avatar Innovations and companies with innovative ideas are crucial to create solutions to energy challenges,” said Brad Parry, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development and OCIF.

“This is an example of support for an initiative from OCIF paving the way for larger investments in Calgary's clean tech and innovation ecosystem.”

Headquartered in the Energy Transition Centre in downtown Calgary, Avatar Innovations accelerates the global impact of local startups by facilitating collisions with industry leaders, world-class researchers and energy firms. In collaboration with the University of Calgary, Innovate Calgary, Avatar Innovations and the energy sector, the Energy Transition Centre opened in November 2022.

“Innovation has always been key for the oil and gas industry, and we share Avatar’s core belief that most significant challenges can be turned into opportunities,” said Drew Zieglgansberger, EVP Natural Gas & Technical Services, Cenovus. “Avatar Leadership Fund I will attract the next generation of innovators to the energy sector and accelerate development of new and emerging energy technologies.”

The news conference to announce Avatar Ventures Fund I also marked the opening of registrations for the 2023 Avatar Program cohort.  The 12-week program on energy transition will expand to Houston in 2023 which supports a North-South corridor for innovation in energy transition.

Avatar has more than 640 alumni from its programs and has generated 30 technologies to date, two of which are finalists for the Elon Musk Foundation $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal prize.

The 2021 Alberta Energy Transition Study said the pursuit of net zero has the potential to create 170,000 cleantech jobs and contribute $61 billion to Alberta’s economy by 2050. To do so, Alberta will need to invest more than $2.1 billion a year in cleantech by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion annually by 2040.

 For more information on OCIF’s portfolio of investments, visit the OCIF website. Read more about OCIF’s investment in Avatar Innovations.

Visit our Energy and Environment sector page for more information on cleantech in Calgary and the Alberta Energy Transition study.




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