Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) are the backbone of Alberta’s economy but often face barriers to advance their transformative technologies towards commercialization. ERA’s $40 million Emerging Innovators Challenge will help Alberta businesses de-risk projects and reduce the time it takes to get them to market. Funding is sourced from the Government of Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.

Deadline for Submission

Thursday , December 14, 2023
5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (UTC-6h)

SMEs, organizations with fewer than 500 employees, are critical to economic prosperity and represent the largest portion of companies in Alberta. Through the $40 million Emerging Innovators Challenge, ERA will invest in scale-up, pilot, demonstration, and first-of-kind projects led by these organizations. Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, made the announcement alongside ERA’s CEO, Justin Riemer, CEO, on Tuesday, October 17, at the Energy Transition Centre in Calgary.

Successful applicants are eligible for up to $5 million with a minimum request of $250,000. The maximum ERA contribution to a single project will be no more than 50 per cent of the project’s eligible expenses. The Emerging Innovators Challenge application deadline is Thursday, December 14, at 5 p.m. Mountain Time (UTC-6h). An hour-long informational webinar was held on Thursday, October 26, at 1 p.m. Mountain Time (UTC-6h).

Click the links below for more details: 

ERA will work with other innovation ecosystem service providers that provide support to SMEs in the clean technology sector to enhance applicant engagement and awareness, reduce barriers to applicants, and result in higher project success rates.


Small and medium-sized enterprises, organizations employing less than 500 people, and Indigenous communities and/or organizations. Large corporations, government labs, municipalities, post-secondary/research organizations, and commercialization accelerators/incubators are not eligible applicants but may be partners in projects.  Strong preference will be given to lead applicants based in Alberta. All projects supported through this Call must demonstrate a clear and justified value proposition for reducing GHG emissions in Alberta and/or enabling a sustainable net-zero economy in the province.


The $40 million Emerging Innovators Challenge is not technology-prescriptive but will generally focus on under-represented areas in ERA’s portfolio where funding for SMEs can have a significant impact. A non-exhaustive list of example technologies that ERA believes could align well with the Challenge include: 

  • Digital solutions for logistics, agriculture, energy, and industry, including robotics, automation, and Artificial Intelligence /machine learning.  
  • Software-based solutions for managing energy and GHGs, provided they directly enable other emissions reduction technologies. 
  • Technologies to reduce waste (agricultural, plastic, food, etc.) and enhance recycling/value recovery.  
  • Advanced materials and manufacturing, including biomaterials and critical minerals. 
  • Novel low-emission buildings technologies. 
  • Precision agriculture and other novel practice-based solutions. 
  • Vented and fugitive methane abatement. 
  • Omics and other life-sciences-based solutions to reduce GHGs. 
  • Detection, measurement, and quantification of methane, N2O, and other GHGs from agriculture, oil & gas, and other sectors. 
  • Measurement and enhancement of nature-based carbon sequestration (soils, forests, etc.) 

Out of scope technologies include technologies aligned with concurrent ERA funding calls, including hydrogen (Accelerating Hydrogen Challenge) and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure (Reshaping Energy Systems).  Business-as-usual energy efficiency retrofits and audits, as well as technologies previously eligible for ERA’s Energy Savings for Business Program suite of funding are also not eligible. 


Expressions of interest were invited for innovation to the stages of field piloting, commercial demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial implementation, as described below:

  • Field Pilot: At this stage, the technology or innovation is ready to be field-tested in an operational environment. Projects in this category include scale-up of prototypes to representative pilot scale and subsequent in-field testing of pilot units.
  • Commercial Demonstration: At this stage of development, the technology or innovation is approaching the final commercial product and representative systems have been built. Projects in this category include the demonstration of near- or fully commercial scale systems in an operational environment.
  • First-of-Kind Commercial Implementation: At this stage, the technology is ready for first-of-kind commercial deployment. Projects in this category will involve the design, construction, and operation of the technology in its final commercial form, with the intent to operate the technology for its full commercial life.

All projects supported through this Challenge must demonstrate a clear and justified value proposition for reducing GHG emissions or enabling the transition to a net-zero economy in Alberta. While technology solutions can originate from anywhere globally, they must be piloted, demonstrated, or deployed in Alberta. Strong preference will be given to lead applicants based in Alberta. ERA may restrict submissions from applicants based outside of Alberta unless their proposals demonstrate a clear line of sight to establishing permanent operations in the province.  


Submissions will be selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and GHG quantification will conduct an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor.


All ERA funding recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that is shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. Funding recipients will be required to report on project outcomes, achievements, and lessons learned including GHG reductions, job creation, and other environmental, economic, and social benefits.


For more than 13 years, ERA has been investing revenues from the carbon price paid by large emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since we were established in 2009, we have committed $855 million toward 245 projects worth $7.1 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative GHG reductions of 41 million tonnes by 2030 and 105 million tonnes by 2050.


The Technology Innovation Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation is at the core of emissions management in Alberta. TIER implements Alberta’s industrial carbon pricing and emissions trading system. TIER is an improved system to help industrial facilities find innovative ways to reduce emissions and invest in clean technology to stay competitive and save money.