The not-for-profit Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, based in Surrey, B.C., is collaborating with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) along with provincial entrepreneurship organization Alberta Innovates to launch a $1.2 million cleantech challenge, called the ARCTIC Challenge, the purpose of which is to innovate alternative hot water production technologies for mining and extraction processes in the oil sands.
A unique BC-Alberta-Federal government collaboration with the private sector, the ARCTIC Challenge is partly funded by the Alberta Small Business Innovation and Research Initiative (ASBIRI), which was launched earlier this year and represents a market-pull approach towards supporting technology companies in Alberta while simultaneously diversifying and strengthening that province’s economy.
“The Mining Hot Water Production Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for cutting-edge innovators to develop solutions that companies need,” said Neil Huff, Managing Director of Foresight. “The ARCTIC program connects entrepreneurs with industry on real-life problems, as well as with the funding, support and mentoring they need to develop and commercialize their products.”
The Mining Hot Water Production Challenge is the first ARCTIC Challenge to be sponsored by the federal and Alberta governments, in partnership with COSIA, part of a series of ARCTIC Challenges run by the Advanced Resource Clean Technology Innovation Centre (ARCTIC), Foresight’s flagship program.
“In Canada’s oil sands, we are fortunate to have some of the world’s best minds partnering with COSIA companies,” said COSIA chief executive Dan Wicklum. “We know that focusing a challenge, and bringing the brightest minds together to face that challenge through successful platforms like the ARCTIC program, propels us towards solutions.”
COSIA is an alliance of 13 oil sands producers, representing 90% of production from the Canadian oil sands.
The Challenge represents the willingness of the Canadian government to work with industry to drive solutions that achieve low-carbon, sustainable growth and reduce environmental impacts.
Located mainly in the Athabasca and Cold Lake areas, Alberta’s oil sands are the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
With the COP22 conference taking place next week in Marrakech, figuring out alternative methods for generating hot water for mining and extraction processes in the oil sands, thus reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increasing energy, is a timely initiative.
“Alberta is showing the world its leadership in addressing the environmental performance of our oil sands sectors,” said Dr. Pam Valentine, Interim CEO of Alberta Innovates. “Alberta Innovates has the unique ability to foster provincial research and innovation in response to complex challenges in core sectors such as energy and the environment. Our goal is to ensure our province can compete globally with made-in-Alberta solutions.”
Other industry sectors that could benefit from these hot water production technologies include water treatment, pulp and paper, and other mining sectors.
The deadline for proposals is December 16, 2016. Shortlisted candidates will be selected in January 2017, followed by a Challenge Sprint process in which a total of $500,000 in funding will be available for two to five candidates to advance their solutions. Following the Challenge Sprint, one solution will be selected for additional funding for field testing.
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