Highlights in 2019
Highlights in 2019


Mission Innovation impact case study

Through collaborations formed through MI, Canada launched Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) in 2019 – a first of its kind public-private initiative between Natural Resources Canada, Breakthrough Energy, and the Business Development Bank of Canada. The program provides up to $40M and tech-to-market support for leading Canadian firms to develop and commercialize clean energy technologies with potential for significant GHG emissions reductions (0.5GT/year globally).

Canada’s inclusive clean energy innovation programming has triggered meaningful collaborations between entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, large businesses, communities, government, and academia across the country.  The impact of Canada’s national clean energy innovation activity has increased significantly, as shown in the following areas: from 2016-17 to 2018-19, the Energy Innovation Program  showed a reduction in GHG emissions from 0.8 Mt/year to 1.32 Mt/year; from 2016-17 to 2018-19, the ratio of leveraged investments in energy innovation projects increased from 0.8:1 to 3.12:1; and, in 2018-19, 90% of the funded clean energy innovation projects with completed projects advanced one technology readiness level.

Driving towards the MI commitment, the Government of Canada remains on track to double its 2014-15 baseline expenditures of C$387 million for clean energy research, development, and demonstration to C$775 million by 2019-20.

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

In keeping with best-in-class approaches to energy innovation policy and programs, the Government of Canada is embracing outcomes-oriented approaches for greater impact. This includes enhanced collaboration and coordination to better leverage resources and enable inclusive innovation; involving industry, civil society, and innovators in program co-design; using adopter-driven innovation; and introducing innovative funding approaches such as public/private co-investment. A diverse set of tools, including prize challenges, technology demonstrations, R&D funding, and regulatory sandboxes is applied in order to mobilize all segments of society towards ambitious but achievable innovation targets defined with experts and stakeholders.

Through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Government of Canada is strengthening greenhouse gas reducing measures to exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction goal and working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Major innovation initiatives in 2018-19

Energy technology innovation is critical to Canada meeting its climate targets and realizing its potential as a clean energy leader. New ideas and technological advances are at the foundation of the transition to a low carbon economy, supporting the transformation of Canada’s energy systems to be as clean and efficient as possible while increasing Canada’s competitiveness in new and existing industries.

In 2019, Natural Resources Canada’s flagship, the Energy Innovation Program (EIP), launched two new initiatives:

  • C$6 million for the Canadian Emission Reduction Innovation Network (CERIN) initiative, a collaboration between NRCan and Alberta Innovates to support the innovation needed to bring clean tech to market in order to help the oil and gas industry meet emission regulations in a cost-effective way.
  • C$20 million for Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC), a first of its kind public-private initiative of Natural Resources Canada; Breakthrough Energy, led by Bill Gates and influential global investors; and the Business Development Bank of Canada. BESC will provide up to C$40 million to help Canadian firms develop and commercialize clean energy technologies with potential for significant GHG emissions reductions (0.5GT/year globally).

As part of the Clean Technology stream of the Impact Canada initiative, the federal government has now successfully launched six clean technology challenges.  All six challenges have selected finalists who are driving toward impactful, innovative solutions. The new C$4.5 million Charging the Future Challenge, focused on accelerating Canadian battery innovation was launched in July 2019, representing the sixth challenge in the suite. Each of the program’s five finalists, announced in July 2020, is developing a prototype over the next year and will pitch their solutions to a jury in Fall 2021. A grand prize winner is expected to be announced in Winter 2022.

Under Stream 1 of the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) led through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, funding was made available to support R&D that will accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services. To date, the SIF has funded 26 cleantech projects with C$927 million in contributions.

The Government of Canada works alongside the private sector, including with industry associations, private-sector incubators, post-secondary educational institutions, and with private companies through flagship programs such as the Clean Growth Program, the Energy Innovation Program, the Impact Canada Initiative, and Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC).

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

Canada participates in all eight Innovation Challenges (IC) and co-leads IC4 and IC6. As a co-lead of the Analysis and Joint Research (AJR) Sub-Group, Canada worked with partners on the development of the IC Impact Report, which assesses the outcomes and impact of the ICs over the initial five-year mandate of MI. Canadian representatives contribute by lending expertise, engaging stakeholders, and attending international workshops and meetings. A few highlights are illustrated below.

IC1: Smart Grids

Canada hosted the first joint workshop between IC1 and the CEM initiative IEA International Smart Grids Action Network (ISGAN) on May 29, 2019. Canada also hosted the fifth IC1 deep-dive workshop (May 30-31, 2019) in Vancouver, Canada and participated in the sixth IC1 deep-dive workshop in Paris, France (November 12-14, 2010). Canada is contributing to IC1’s Smart Grids Innovation Accelerator (SGIA) platform, providing publically available documents on Canadian policy and RD&D activities related to smart grids to facilitate knowledge sharing. Canada contributed to planning discussions for MI 2.0, exploring opportunities to amplify members’ impact in smart grid research under MI’s next mandate.

IC2: Off-Grid Access to Electricity

Canada is working with an IEC joint working group[1] to revise the international standard for renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification (IEC TS 62257 series). These updates will help to ensure that standards are internationally referenceable and relevant in light of progress in off-grid electrification.

 IC4: Sustainable Biofuels

Canada hosted a workshop, “Advanced Biofuels: Pathways to Market,” in Vancouver, Canada (May 30-31, 2019). Over 140 representatives from the biofuels industry, academia, and government attended the workshop, exploring strategies for connecting stakeholders, facilitating large-scale supply of biological feedstocks, and overcoming barriers to technology demonstration in order to reach commercial scale production. Canada and other IC4 co-leads presented country reports on the state of sustainable biofuels in their respective countries.

IC6: Clean Energy Materials

Canada continues to play a leading role in IC6 activities, representing IC6 at international conferences and engaging stakeholders on areas of mutual interest. Canada:

  • Hosted a side event at MI-4 on Global Program Strategies for the Creation of Materials Acceleration Platforms (MAPs) (May 27, 2019);
  • Announced funding this year for MAP infrastructure and two new MAPs focused on thermal energy and CO2 conversion; and
  • Rallied the leads and scientific community associated with IC7 to co-develop new thermal energy storage materials for heating and cooling of buildings. Canada is also leading the engagement of IC3, IC5, and IC8, which have strong materials dependencies.

IC8: Renewable and Clean Hydrogen

Canadian representatives on IC8 are working with IC6 to develop materials for clean fuels.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2018-19

Canada continues to play a leadership role within MI as a member of the Steering Committee, co-leading the AJR Sub-Group, participating in the Business and Investor Engagement Sub-Group, and supporting the Secretariat (leading the Communications workstream and participating in the Beyond 2020 workstream). As co-lead of the AJR Sub-group, Canada is providing feedback and advice to the MI Steering Committee and the MI Secretariat on the framing, structure, and governance of MI beyond 2020. Additionally, as the host of MI-4, Canada participates in the Ministerial Planning Team.

Canada is also a participating member of the MI Champions program and developed a fulsome program for the first cohort of Champions at MI-4. Since MI-4, Canada’s Champion, Sean Monkman of CarbonCure Technologies, has made a number of presentations at international conferences on the use of CO2 to produce concrete. In January 2020, CarbonCure Technologies secured its spot in the Global Cleantech 100 list for a fifth consecutive year and was the first Canadian company to be awarded North American Cleantech Company of the Year. Mr. Monkman was the first MI Champion featured in the “Champions Corner” of the MI Newsletter, published in January 2020.

In June 2020, MI unveiled the 2nd cohort of Mission Innovation Champions. Canada’s 2020 Champion is Phil De Luna, Program Director of the Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge Program at the National Research Council of Canada, where he leads a 7-year C$57 million multi-disciplinary collaborative research program to develop made-in-Canada technology for a sustainable energy and chemicals sector. 


[1] Joint Working Group 1 (JWG1) under the IEC Technical Committee 82 on Photovoltaic Solar Standards.