Infusion of funds will complete Atlantic Hydrogen’s push from its humble beginnings – Telegraph Journal
By Adam Huras – Telegraph Journal | link to original article
MONCTON – Next to the idea itself, funding is the most essential element to getting ideas off the ground, according to the chairman of Atlantic Hydrogen Inc. It has helped us get over two major hurdles: getting started and now getting finished,” Bill Stanley said of his Fredericton-based company.
A pioneering developer of clean energy technology, Atlantic Hydrogen is one of nine New Brunswick projects to receive a combined $19.6 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Minister Keith Ashfield made the announcement in Moncton on Wednesday. Round seven of the funds – a total of $62.4 million – has been doled out to 30 innovative ideas across this week.
The projects selected for federal funding in New Brunswick include critical research to further the fight against cancer, new ways to increase the speed and capacity of computer systems, and new technologies to increase the competitiveness of companies working in the forestry industry.
Atlantic Hydrogen believes that its infusion of $2.9 million in funding will complete the private-company’s push from its humble beginnings in the science department halls of the University of New Brunswick to the global markets.
Founded nine years ago with idea that it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Atlantic Hydrogen received funding in the fund’s very first round in 2001.
“That was in the very early stages of our technology and a stage where many good ideas don’t survive,” Stanley said.
It then spurred investor confidence, new sources of funding and further success.
Atlantic Hydrogen was able to grow from one employee and contract workers from the Fredericton university, to now 20 full-time workers including its own team of scientists.
“Climate change is a global problem and what we are doing is quite unique,” said President and CEO David Wagner. “So because of that we have had quite the attention from some very large international gas companies and energy companies and they have opened their doors to talk to us.”
In the past 10 days, Wagner and his team have been hosted by organizations in Calgary, London and Paris. This week, a Norwegian firm visits the 14,000 square foot facility.
It is already collaborating with companies in Great Britain, Italy, and the United States, with talks ongoing in France.
“This funding announcement will allow Atlantic Hydrogen to hire the expertise to assess the world’s carbon networks and to concentrate on the technology adjustments that we need to make to enable us to participate in these global markets,” Stanley said.
The Atlantic Innovation Fund was launched in 2001 to help Atlantic Canadians compete in a global knowledge-based economy through the development of new ideas, products, businesses and markets.
The Umoe Group, an investment company and one of Norway’s largest and most successful private companies, received $3 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund over a four-year period to advance its solar research.
“When we started looking for a location we traveled all over the world,” said Harsharn Tathgar, Umoe Solar’s director of research and development. “We had a list of criteria and that includes the potential for funded research and development to meet our goals.
“No place was perfect, but Miramichi was optimal.”
Currently, it is developing a $600 million renewable energy facility in Miramichi, where it will – in a first step – produce a full range of products from solar quality silicon to solar cell panels, providing new alternative sources of clean energy.
BioProspecting NB Inc., a drug development company focused on therapeutics for cancer and chronic pain treatments located in Sackville, was another company to receive funds to help realize the development and commercialization of a diagnostic tool for early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.
“We are so close and it is so promising that we just want to push it forward as fast as we can because everyone knows someone who has cancer,” said Chair and Chief Scientific Officer Jack Stewart. “It’s exciting and relief.”
Stanley said the success of innovation in Canada relies on government research and development funding.
“The recipients are obviously seizing on specific opportunities,” Stanley said. “However, startup companies can be notoriously difficult to maintain – even those with strong vision – because they are likely pre-commercial, they probably have no revenues and they often developing breakthrough technologies.
“That is why in most industrialized countries in order to have competitive companies, governments play an essential role.”