Avatar Innovations secures $750k from Cenovus Energy for new $3M fund

The organization also opened applications for its 2023 Avatar Ignite Program focused on solving complex technology challenges.

Avatar Innovations announced the launch of its new Avatar Leadership Fund I with a $750,000 lead investment from Cenovus Energy.

With a target of $3 million, the fund is meant to provide early-stage risk capital to emerging energy transition technologies developed through Avatar’s programs.

Why it matters: The fund is meant to address what Avatar says is the “near absence of risk capital available to early-stage energy technology in Canada” and drive investment focused on decarbonization.

"In only 20 short months, Avatar Innovations has become an engine of value creation in the Canadian energy industry,” said Bryan Trudel, CFO of Avatar Innovations, in a statement. “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."

Earlier this year, Avatar secured $500,000 from the Opportunity Calgary Innovation Fund, in addition to a $2.1 million investment from Prairies Economic Development Canada to the ETC, according to reporting in BetaKit.

In other news: In connection with this announcement, Avatar announced that registrations are open for its 2023 Ignite program. Beginning February 10, 2023, its 14-week energy transition and entrepreneurship curriculum will task hundreds of emerging leaders to generate solutions to complex technology challenges.

Working together on semi-autonomous teams under the guidance of industry and academic experts, they will have the chance to solve major energy transition challenges such as hydrogen, carbon capture, sustainable aviation and more. At the end of the curriculum, they will pitch their ideas to a Shark Tank of industry executives for potential implementation.

Going global: Avatar also announced that its program is expanding to Houston, Texas, creating a North-South corridor where innovative energy transition technologies can be developed, scaled and financed.

By the numbers: Since Avatar launched around two years ago, it has generated nearly 1600 applications from industry professionals to participate in its energy transition and technology entrepreneurship programs, it said. There are 644 alumni of the program that have generated 30 technologies sponsored by industry. The program has also helped two teams which are finalists in the Elon Musk Foundation's $100 million Carbon Removal XPRIZE.