Avatar Innovations targets $3 million for new decarbonization tech fund | BetaKit

Avatar Innovations has secured an initial close on a newly launched fund for decarbonization tech for which it hopes to raise $3 million overall.

The Calgary-based accelerator organization has raised $750,000 of its target from lead investor Cenovus Energy. The investment from the major oil and gas company comes in addition to an existing partnership between Avatar and Cenovus that began earlier this year and sees Cenovus support the accelerator portion of Avatar’s program.

“Avatar is able to continue delivering new technologies…and position the Canadian energy sector as a global leader in the energy transition.”
– Bryan Trudel, Avatar

The newly launched fund extends Avatar’s accelerator and gives it the ability to invest in technologies that come out of its program.

Launched in 2020, Avatar Innovations’ program aims to address existing challenges in the energy market, and works with professionals to create tech-based solutions. It is housed in the Calgary Energy Transition Centre, which it helped to launch within the University of Calgary. Earlier this year, Avatar was promised an up to $500,000 investment from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund.

The program is comprised of three components: Avatar Ignite, which is a 14-week energy entrepreneurship curriculum focused on bringing together teams to solve major energy transition challenges; Avatar Studio, where “the very best projects” from Ignite are chosen to build a minimum viable product; and Avatar Ventures, which in addition to investing will provide mentorship, business strategy and technology development support.

“With the launch of the 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 global leader in the energy transition,” said Avatar Innovations CFO Bryan Trudel.

In addition to announcing its $3 million fund, Avatar has also revealed plans to expand the program to Houston, Texas. “Not only will this link North America’s energy capitals – Houston and Calgary – it creates a North-South corridor where innovative energy transition technologies can be developed, scaled and financed, with the goal of ensuring a low carbon energy future,” Avatar said.

Avatar has also opened applications for its 2023 program, which is set to commence on February 10. Avatar’s program is supported by a number of players in the energy market, including Cenovus, TC Energy, Suncor, and Enbridge. Other partners include Hitachi and Shaw, among others. Avatar also works with International CCS Knowledge Centre, Modern West Advisory, Energy Futures Lab, Young Pipeline Professionals USA, and the Clean Resource Innovation Network to deliver its programming.

Avatar claimed that over the past couple of years it has had 644 alumni of the program, generated 30 technologies sponsored by industry players, and supported two teams which are finalists in the Elon Musk Foundation’s $100 million Carbon Removal XPRIZE.