Oil and gas innovation network offers $80 million in clean technology competitions

Mark Lowey
April 7, 2021

The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) is making up to $80 million in federal funding available through oil and gas industry challenges to accelerate the development and commercialization of clean technology.

CRIN, a pan-Canadian network based in Calgary, launched two of its three long-anticipated major technology competitions in late March and plans to launch the third competition in May.

Ottawa committed $100 million to CRIN through the Strategic Innovation Fund in the March 2019 federal budget. But a contribution agreement to start the flow of funding wasn’t signed with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada until the end of July 2020.

In early March 2021 — two years after the funding announcement and seven months after the signing of the contribution agreement — Research Money reported that CRIN still had yet to spend the bulk of its SIF funding or launch its technology competitions.

CRIN launched its first competition three weeks later on March 24. Each of the three competitions is run by an independent competition coordinator to ensure fairness and transparency while allowing all CRIN members, including oil and gas companies, to participate without conflict of interest.

“CRIN competitions are designed to advance breakthrough technologies that focus on enhancing environmental performance, including greenhouse gas emissions from source to end use,” CRIN president Joy Romero, who is also vice-president, technology and innovation at oil sands producer Canadian Natural, said in a statement.

First two challenges offer maximum of $10 million to any one project

All three CRIN competitions are open to technology developers, industry operators, industry associations, academic institutions, multi-national enterprises, municipalities, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and others.

Applicant project teams must consist of at least one SME and at least one oil and gas producer. All eligible projects must:

  • include a minimum of 25 percent funding for eligible project costs from industry collaborators (private sector funding);
  • request no more than 50 percent of eligible project costs from CRIN; and
  • ensure no more than 75 percent funding from government sources (including CRIN and Strategic Innovation Fund).

In addition, all eligible projects must be at a Technology Readiness Levels 6 to 9 — which range from prototype demonstrations to proven technologies.

See the table below for more details about the three technology competitions:

Name of Competition Starting Date Funding Available Focus Areas

Competition Coordinator
Reducing Environmental Footprint Technology Competition March 24, 2021

$50 million total

Maximum $10 million to any one project

Methane gas emissions; novel hydrocarbons extraction solutions; water treatment technologies; and land and wellsite reclamation for inactive oil and gas wells. Emissions Reduction Alberta, a not-for-profit provincial corporation
Low Emission Fuels and Products Technology Competition March 31, 2021

$25 million total

Maximum $10 million to any one project

Innovative products from hydrocarbons, such as carbon fibre; carbon capture and utilization; hydrogen and geothermal and low-carbon intensity alternatives and new fuels. Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, a not-for-profit based in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and the Delphi Group, an Ottawa-headquartered consultancy firm
Digital Oil and Gas Technology Competition May 19, 2021

$5 million total

Maximum $1 million to any one project

Digital solutions for environmental monitoring; health and safety; capital project execution; and operations excellence and efficiency.


MaRS Discovery District based in Toronto

Focus areas determined with industry input

The focus areas for each competition were determined with the oil and gas industry’s input to ensure that the solutions meet the industry’s needs and challenges, CRIN said.

“This industry pull ensures clear pathways to commercialization and wide-spread adoption," the CRIN said in a statement.

The overarching goal is to identify solutions that contribute to CRIN’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million tonnes by 2033, which would cut more than half of the 193 megatonnes emitted by Canada’s oil and gas sector in 2018.

That goal makes it likely that industry members of CRIN’s network will apply for one or more of the competitions, since several CRIN member-companies have publicly committed to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, oil sands producer Cenovus Energy intends to lower its emissions per barrel by 30 percent by 2030 and is aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050. Suncor, another oil sands producer, has set a target to reduce its emissions per barrel by 30 percent (from 2014 levels) by 2030.  Oil sands producer Canadian Natural has committed to net-zero emissions, but hasn’t set a timeline to reach the goal.

All three companies are members of CRIN, and are generating billions more in free cash flow during a faster-than-expected pandemic rebound.

Some investors and lenders told Reuters in early April that they may begin divesting or voting against management if the companies don't spend more of the cash on the transition to a low-carbon future.


Other News

Events For Leaders in
Science, Tech, Innovation, and Policy

Discuss and learn from those in the know at our virtual and in-person events.

See Upcoming Events

You have 1 free article remaining.
Don't miss out - start your free trial today.

Start your FREE trial    Already a member? Log in


By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.