Canadian Biomass Magazine

$35m challenge to find useful applications for carbon

March 6, 2013

March 6, 2013, Edmonton, AB – The Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation is seeking innovative ideas from around the world for a $35 million open innovation challenge that will create new, carbon-based products and markets.

The grand challenge is the first ever initiated by an organization in Alberta. It is expected to identify multiple technologies that could provide significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by transforming carbon from a liability into an asset.

Submissions are open at and technical solution providers are encouraged to register now to signify their interest.

“We are seeking credible, bright ideas from around the world that will repurpose carbon and use it as a starting material, helping Alberta to create a market for carbon use,” said CCEMC Chair Eric Newell. “The approach could deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gases, complement other greenhouse gas reduction strategies, strengthen our economy and enhance Alberta’s competitiveness.”

The CCEMC has committed to fund 49 projects to date that have a combined value of almost $1 billion. They are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8 megatonnes over 10 years, enough to take more than 1.6 million cars off the road.


“With the eyes of the world on Alberta, now is the time for us to broaden our focus – by exploring and investing in technologies that drive our climate change targets and ensures we remain a global clean energy supplier,” said Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen. “I commend the ingenuity and vision behind this Grand Challenge, which showcases a commitment to environmental management that all Albertans should proudly endorse.”

The CCEMC is seeking novel solutions for innovative carbon use – bright ideas at any stage of development that are rooted in solid science. Focus areas include, as examples, processes that produce high value goods from greenhouse gas emissions, technologies that fix captured carbon into solid or readily transportable starting materials, high-value materials with high carbon content that could be produced from greenhouse gases and biological processes that capture or consume carbon and convert it into a new viable product, such as the creation of oils from algae.

To help reach an international audience of technical solution providers, the CCEMC is drawing on the expertise of NineSigma, an open innovation company that has one of the largest networks of technical solution providers in the world. With offices and partners on six continents, NineSigma has been managing open innovation processes and Grand Challenges for the last 13 years.

While submissions are being invited from around the world, all technologies must be applicable to Alberta. All technical solution providers will maintain their intellectual property.

Ultimate success in this challenge will result in technologies that can provide or exceed a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1 megatonne.

The CCEMC Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses offers three rounds of funding that total $35 million over a fiver-year period. The first round, with submissions due by July 15, 2013, offers grants of $500,000 for up to 20 projects. The winners will be announced in March 2014.

The second round of the competition is again open to submissions from around the world and will provide $3 million each for up to five projects that have successfully advanced their technologies.

The CCEMC will help connect winners of each round of funding with an ecosystem of support that includes mentors, business developers, venture capitalists and potential partners. The CCEMC Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses, draws on a broad network of supporters that includes Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Energy, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Carbon Management Canada, Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, June Warren Nichols and members of the Alberta Innovates organization, including Energy and Environment Solutions, Alberta Innovates -Bio Solutions and Alberta Innovates -Technology Futures.

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