Making the leap from research and development to commercialization is no small feat. Innovators face several challenges that hinder technology advancement and adoption by industry.
To help commercialize promising projects, ERA’s new Innovator Support Pilot (ISP) identified five previous proposals that showed technological promise but did not qualify for funding due to business-related challenges or barriers.
The program connected these organizations with service providers to help strengthen key components of their business model. For example, ISP has helped Quantiam Technologies Inc. connect with potential investors and end-users interested in its innovative approach to utilize captured carbon dioxide emissions, and hydrogen produced from sunlight and water, to produce methanol.
“It’s been a really good opportunity to pivot and reassess our customer discovery model and our go-to market strategies and really optimize those for success,” said Paul-Emile Trudeau, senior researcher and acting manager of technology and innovation for Quantiam.
“We are a catalyst coating company, so our comfort zone is the chemical and petrochemical space. Our depths of contacts in the clean-tech space were shallow; plugging into that has been extremely useful.”
Prior to joining ISP, Trudeau’s primary focus was on developing technology, not its business model. In May 2020, ERA matched Quantiam with Platform Calgary to do just that.
“My role has been to work as an executive in resident for Quantiam to help them review what Paul and his team have been doing from a corporate or business perspective. I helped them focus on how they can improve internal processes and solve any challenges and hurdles they are currently running into, or may run into in the future, so that they are able to more rapidly commercialize their technologies,” said Andrew Watson with Platform Calgary.
Participating in the ISP has helped Quantiam better understand its market niche, customer discovery model, structure agreements, and find vendors. They have built new partnerships and joined organizations like The Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. Trudeau has also had several preliminary conversations with investors interested in its technology.
“We’ve had a few conversations not just with brokers, but with actual fund managers who have been interested in Quantiam because they are looking to invest in Canadian hydrogen production,” said Trudeau.
The ISP program is meant to prepare previous applicants like Quantiam for future funding opportunities with ERA or other funding organizations and future opportunities for company growth and success. In the next six months, Quantiam will focus on securing an end-user or a consumer of hydrogen and sign a contract with an electrolysis company that produces hydrogen.
In the next six months, Quantiam will focus on securing an end-user or a consumer of hydrogen and sign a contract with an electrolysis company that produces hydrogen.
“Within 12 months we want to have the consortium firmed up, we want to have dollars firmed up from both private and public sources, and we want to make modest advances on our technology.”