Feb. 1, 2021

Got a big research idea in the energy or environmental fields? We can help

Launching Feb. 1, the GRInSTEM fellowship will award up to $250,000 over two years to help UCalgary entrepreneurs bring technologies to market
Energy researchers from the Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources.
Researchers from the Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources. Adrian Shellard

Big issues in energy and the environment will require big, innovative solutions. But how can we bridge the gap between technology development and getting that technology to market?

A program developed by the Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources (GRI) at the University of Calgary, and managed by Innovate Calgary, will provide a bridge.

The GRInSTEM fellowship program builds upon the success of the similar GreenSTEM program and will support the commercialization of new energy- and environment-related innovations developed at UCalgary. The program will provide recent high-potential, entrepreneurial graduates (master's or PhD) and postdoctoral scholars of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines with a “commercialization runway” to help advance their technology-based projects over two years, enabling entrepreneurship as a career path.

Overcome a barrier for many startups

GRInSTEM will support fellows as they transition between technology development and bringing that technology to market through entrepreneurship, which has been identified as a barrier for many startups. 

The program’s focus on innovative technology supports the GRI’s goal to significantly reduce unconventional resource development’s carbon footprint and contribute to a climate-neutral energy system. Ian Gates, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and director of the GRI, sees this fellowship as an exciting and collaborative opportunity for them and the broad field of energy and environment research.

“The GRInSTEM program, an initiative of the GRI, UCalgary’s $75M Canada First Research Excellence Fund program, provides funding, resources, and support to grow research to commercial outcomes,” says Gates. 

To serve society, it is important that we have our research translate into impactful benefits to our communities and the public. The GRInSTEM program is designed to accelerate this translation.

Successful GRInSTEM applicants will receive seed funding, facilitated labs, mentorship, and technology commercialization skills development to advance their startup. This fellowship model has been proven successful through the GreenSTEM program, which is currently running its second iteration. The first GreenSTEM cohort of 11 fellows, which began in 2019, have completed the program and taken their technologies out into the world, hoping to make a difference.

Check out our track record in supporting startups

One startup, EnviCore, went on to further develop their mining waste water treatment technology by participating in, and graduating from, the Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies. When COVID-19 began to result in a shortage of supplies such as hand sanitizer last spring, EnviCore saw an opportunity to think outside the box and support their community. With some creative thinking and collaboration, they were able to use their knowledge as chemical engineers to make and distribute hand sanitizer to the Calgary Drop-In Centre, and families with immune-compromised children, free of charge. Other startups have also seen success, including partnerships with international companies, large industry investments, and development grants.

Pej Ghanipour, GRInSTEM program lead and senior innovation manager for Innovate Calgary, is eager to continue building upon the success of GreenSTEM with this second cohort of GRInSTEM fellows focused on energy and environment-related technologies at UCalgary.  

“The success of the fellowship programs clearly demonstrates our need to continue commercializing the new technologies developed at the university. These programs also play a key role in talent retention and attraction for graduates while providing experiential learning in entrepreneurship,” says Ghanipour.  

GRInSTEM is now accepting applications on an ongoing basis. The program is open to all aspects of energy research with capitalization potential at UCalgary. For more information about the program and to apply, visit the GRInSTEM webpage.