Avatar Innovations is a local company that brings together future collaborators to turn new innovations into real start ups, thus improving the energy transition space in the city and around the world. 

“There is this sense of empowerment to really be one of the front runners in pushing energy transition forward,” said Lindsay Sali, a manager at Avatar Innovations.

In partnership with the University of Calgary’s Energy Transition Centre, the company has launched a new initiative with the goal of providing a safe space to research, create, promote, and implement new and efficient energy transition methods. 

“We’re shaking things up right now,” said Sali.

Challenging the status quo 

Earlier this year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that if the world hopes to prevent the worst ravages of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must begin decreasing by 2025 — making it possible to meet the target goal of reducing emissions by 43 per cent before 2030. 

For a very long time, it was easy and profitable to convince people and businesses to invest in fossil fuels, however, Avatar Innovations wants to tackle one of the hardest challenges of all, changing the status quo, in order to pivot the focus to energy transition.

“You’re coming into this brand new spot with this community of like minded individuals and you’re like, let’s just bring this thing to the ground and build it back up,” said Harsimran Singh,  a former company intern and program alum.

The three step process

With the Avatar Innovations team consisting of less than 10 individuals, the company has found a way bring about significant change in an efficient three step process — the Avatar Ignite, Accelerator, and Venture programs. 

Each year, the company hosts Avatar Ignite. This step selects emerging talent to work together in an intensive 12-14 week program to generate energy transition solutions to reimagine the current unforgiving models. The project extends even to areas where no energy transition techniques exist.

“Avatar has taken people from all these different companies, all these blocks of life, all of these different expertise and brought them into one spot with one common goal,” said Singh.

The teams with the strongest concepts then advanced to the Avatar Accelerator. Successful team concepts are used in this 20-week-long course to build ideas into startups — from ideation to implementation.

Last year’s Avatar Ignite program wrap up. PHOTO CREDIT: Avatar Innovations

“This is where the resilience, the leadership, and all that sort of stuff kicks in,” said Singh.

The last step is Avatar Ventures, which assists the small teams in pitching their ideas to investors, showcasing their research, and bringing these new energy transition ventures to life. 

“You’re really unlocking the capital that this team needs, or company at this point, to push forward to that next step of creating a business,” Sali said, describing the last step in the program.

One of companies that successfully completed last year’s Avatar program, and is on the verge of being implemented into the market, is MissionNet. Led by James Inglis, the company is developing a virtual pipeline that will act as an emission monitor and maintenance network across North America.

Small teams lead to meaningful change 

Avatar Innovations began in 2020 as a startup themselves, which helps them understand the process.

“Avatar really is a startup trying to venture out startups,” said Nannette Ho-Covernton, a sustainability leader with the company.

As a result, many of the successful concepts that have completed previous Ignite programs are just beginning to get headwind. However, with aspirations that stretch beyond simply changing the status quo in Canada, Avatar’s endeavours are quickly evolving into something far bigger.

“We really just want to make an impact, and it’s not just a local impact, it’s global,” said Ho-Covernton.

Each year, Avatar invites 300 people into the Ignite program, which typically sees over 1,000 applications.

“Professionals of every age and stage of their career are wanting to make sure they have an impact on what’s happening to us right now,” said Ho-Covernton. “Just because they’re that passionate about it.”

You can learn more about Avatar’s programs and the future of energy transition here.

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