Highlights in 2018
Highlights in 2018


Mission Innovation impact case study

MI was a key driver for increased Government of Canada programming in clean energy innovation, and led to a number of new funding programs being established. In addition, closer ties with international colleagues led to the development of some activities that certainly would not have occurred without MI. This includes the advancement of materials acceleration platforms as a result of IC6 and the Canada-UK Power Forward Challenge.

Emphasizing the key role MI plays in spurring increased public investments, Budget 2017 specifically stated: “The Government of Canada has made a commitment under Mission Innovation to double its 2014-15 baseline expenditures of $387 million for clean energy and clean technology research, development and demonstration by 2020. Budget 2017 proposes a number of measures, including in the areas of green infrastructure and clean technology, that will help to meet this commitment while generating more good, well-paying jobs in the clean growth economy.”

These investments are intended to make Canada a world leader in innovation: as the world increasingly seeks out more sustainable and renewable sources of energy, as well as new technologies to improve the quality of air and water, Canadian companies can lead the way. In 2019, 12 Canadian firms made the Global Cleantech List and three Canadian companies are among the 10 finalists for the $20M Carbon XPRIZE.

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

The Government of Canada continues to implement and support programs related to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), Canada’s plan to meet our emissions reduction targets, grow the economy and build resilience to a changing climate. The PCF includes a focus on driving innovation and growth by increasing technology development and adoption to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive in the global low-carbon economy.

In Budget 2017, Canada’s federal government announced the Innovation and Skills Plan, a new vision for Canada’s economy as a global leader in innovation. An investment of over $2.3 billion for clean technology was announced in the Budget as part of this vision, supporting the implementation of the PCF. At Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), all Budget 2017 initiatives are now implemented; the programs proved very popular, with many more high-quality applications received than funding allowed.

These measures are helping to foster Canada’s vibrant clean technology ecosystem. In 2019, 12 Canadian firms made the Global Cleantech List and three Canadian companies are among the 10 finalists for the $20M Carbon XPRIZE.

Major innovation initiatives in 2017/18

The Clean Growth Program, launched in 2017 by NRCan, provides $155 million over three years for the co-funding of 50 clean technology research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects with provinces and territories in Canada’s energy, mining and forestry sectors, and is expected to lead to an annual reduction of 0.3-0.7 megatonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2026. The first approved project, at Goldcorp Canada Inc.’s Borden Mine, was announced on October 29, 2018 and focuses on replacing diesel equipment with battery electric vehicles, making this Canada’s first all-battery electric underground mine. Other approved projects will be announced in 2019-20.

In 2019, as part of the Impact Canada Initiative, NRCan launched five Clean Technology Challenges:

  • The Generating New Opportunities: Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative: $20 million to help remote Indigenous communities move away from using diesel by developing cleaner community-led energy projects.
  • The Women in Cleantech Challenge: $6 million to promote greater representation of women in Canada’s cleantech sector by supporting the creation of six new, highly impactful and globally significant women-led clean technology companies.
  • The Power Forward Challenge: $20 million ($10 million from each country) to design better smart grids in a joint initiative between NRCan and the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced at MI-3.
  • The Sky’s the Limit Challenge: $14 million to develop a cost-competitive sustainable aviation fuel that meets or exceeds international aviation fuel standards.
  • The Crush It! Challenge: $10 million to develop a new clean technology solution that transforms how energy is used for crushing and grinding rocks in the mining industry.

The 53 projects funded under NRCan’s Energy Innovation Program (EIP) focus on addressing innovation gaps and opportunities to significantly reduce GHG emissions in key priority areas such as renewable energy, smart grids, reducing diesel dependency, oil and gas and energy efficient buildings. Building on the success of funding in Budget 2016 for the EIP, in Budget 2017 the Government of Canada provided an additional $211.6 million of funding over five years, plus ongoing funding of $52.9 million per year. The program is expected to result in 10-16 Mt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) total combined indirect and direct reductions per year by 2030. As an example, building on a successfully demonstrated prototype pilot that can capture 1 T of atmospheric CO2 per day, British Columbia based Carbon Engineering has received $1.5 million in funding from the EIP to pioneer a scalable technology to capture CO2 from the air and combine it with hydrogen atoms released from other clean energy sources to turn it into liquid fuels for transportation.

The RD&D component of the Green Infrastructure (GI) suite of programs includes: Smart Grids ($35 million over four years for 13 projects), Net-Zero Buildings ($48.4 million over eight years for 13 projects), Remote Communities ($59.4 million over four years for 12 projects), and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstrations ($30 million over four years for 28 projects). As an example, thanks in part to $6.7 million in GI funding, AddEnergie is developing the next generation of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs), to serve the greater variety of EV models that will be available to Canadian consumers in the next five years.

Regarding nuclear energy, through Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), Canada is investing $1.2 billion over ten years, beginning in 2016, to renew the science and infrastructure at the Chalk River Laboratories. The renewal will transform the site into a modern, world-class nuclear science and technology campus. In addition, through AECL’s Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is working on hydrogen technologies that offer low-carbon solutions for the energy and transportation sectors as well as research to advance the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada as a clean energy solution. NRCan provided also provided $224,000 in funding under the EIP for the development of a roadmap which will help drive SMR development and deployment in Canada.

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2018/19

Canada participates in all eight Innovation Challenges and co-leads IC4 and IC6.

IC1: Smart Grids

In May 2018 at CEM9/MI-3, IC1 launched the work programs of six high-priority RD&D tasks. Canada co-wrote and is leading Task #4 on flexibility options. Canada actively participated in the 4th IC1 workshop held in Rome in November 2018 where, as the liaison between the CEM International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) initiative and IC1, Canada oversaw the signing of the Letter of Intent between ISGAN and IC1 to undertake collaborations to advance the market uptake of smart grid technologies. Canada also co-authored (with India) a fact sheet on smart grid flexibility options and contributed to a Country Report 2019 volume highlighting the status of smart grids in 16 countries plus the European Commission.

IC4: Sustainable Biofuels

Under IC4, a Canada-US-Mexico Trilateral Biojet Collaboration Workshop was held at the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in May 2018. The workshop, attended by 64 leading experts from the three countries, identified key areas for international collaboration and provided input into Canada’s The Sky’s the Limit sustainable aviation fuel challenge.

IC6: Clean Energy Materials

As co-lead for IC6, Canada has taken a leadership role by organizing several international meetings over 2018-19, bringing together stakeholders from academia, government and business to continue exploring the potential for accelerated materials discovery to drive clean energy innovation. Canada also announced funding for two major initiatives: the National Research Council’s Novel Materials for a Clean and Sustainable Energy program as well as an $8 million investment in the University of British Columbia’s Autonomous Discovery Accelerator (ADA). ADA combines robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate discoveries of clean energy materials and is remotely controlled from an AI accelerated operating system, ChemOS, at the University of Toronto.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2018/19

Canada is taking a leadership role within MI by hosting the fourth Ministerial, MI-4, in Vancouver in May 2019. As host, Canada developed an inclusive, dynamic and engaging programme that opens up dialogue beyond Ministers and the private sector, to include industry, innovators, investors and youth.

Canada is one of five MI governments working with the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), an initiative led by Bill Gates that includes over 30 influential investors from around the world.

Canada is a key participant in MI’s governance, chairing the Steering Committee (2018-19), co-leading the Analysis and Joint Research Sub-Group, chairing the Ministerial Planning Team (2018-19), participating in the Business and Investor Engagement Sub-Group, and supporting the Secretariat (leading the Communications workstream and participating in the Ideas and Innovators workstream).

To improve MI’s recognition and impact within the clean energy innovation ecosystem, Canada commissioned and launched a new visual identity and a new website for MI. The website provides a modernized, dynamic communication platform and is designed to grow with MI into the future.

New collaborations

Canada-US-Mexico Trilateral Biojet Workshop
Canada, US, Mexico
Held at the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and attended by 64 leading experts from the three countries, the workshop identified key areas for international collaboration on sustainable biofuels (Innovation Challenge 4) and provided input into the design of Canada’s The Sky’s the Limit sustainable aviation fuel challenge.
Sectors: public-public
Type of collaboration: research, development
Date: May 15-16, 2018