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Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada

Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada banner

break·through /ˈbrākˌTHro͞o/ : a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.

Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) ran from May 27, 2019 to March 31, 2023 and resulted in a cohort of 10 companies/innovators being selected for funding, expert advice, and tailored mentorship. This collaborative initiative fostered new financial and in-kind investments into high‐risk, high‐potential Canadian-made clean energy technologies from leading public and private sector investors.

Program background

Forged under a collaboration between Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) supported advancements in clean energy technologies that could significantly reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the manufacturing, electricity, transportation, and buildings sectors.

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Selected projects

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NRCan provided over $21M in funding to support the 10 selected projects, with the BDC providing follow-on funding for five of the 10 finalists, as well as other non-finalist companies engaged through the initiative. As a result, BDC investments significantly surpassed the original commitment of $10M.

While the individual project results continue to be reported, by the end of 2023, nine of the ten BESC projects had advanced one of more technology readiness levels (TRLs). As a collective, the cohort shared knowledge through 54 peer review publications, technical reports or other knowledge products, and had filed for 51 patents or licences in multiple jurisdictions including Canada, US, EU, UK, China, and Brazil.

Additionally, BESC projects have established 55 collaborations or partnerships, increased investment with a leverage ratio of $1.50 for every NRCan dollar, and reported securing over $125M in follow-on funding or investments. Further, two projects reported a reduced cost of production, and three reported new revenue by the end of the project.

The BESC initiative also created 319 direct job years of employment and supported over 550 direct and indirect jobs. Four companies reported exponential growth, expanding company size from micro-enterprise to having 30 or more employees. Collectively, the companies supported the development of 173 highly qualified personnel, providing close to 25,000 hours of advanced training.

So far, two projects have been able to report on annual GHG reductions, citing a collective annual reduction of 209,740 tonnes CO2 per year.

How it all worked

BESC provided a unique opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs and start-ups to access potential funding and valuable insight from private investors, like Breakthrough Energy and BDC. The successful cohort of companies attended annual “accelerator events” where they showcased their innovations to investors for the opportunity to be considered for additional private investment.

The first accelerator event was held virtually on December 8th and 9th 2020 and included panel discussions and information-sharing opportunities between the cohort, NRCan, partners from BDC and BEV, as well as business experts and clean energy entrepreneurs from Amazon, Export Development Canada (EDC), Standards Council of Canada (SCC), Westport Fuel Systems, Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and Third Derivative.

The second accelerator event was held virtually on October 13th 2021 and was an opportunity for the companies to pitch to an audience of investors and other partners about their company and technology development since the beginning of the program. This event aimed to help the cohort attract additional investment and partners.

Between accelerator events, the cohort remained engaged with each other to identify shared challenges and offer peer-to-peer guidance in support of company growth. To compliment this support, the program initiated a series of “BESC Expert Sessions” that brought in subject matter experts and experienced professionals to mentor cohort companies on identified issues of interest. Sessions focused on fundraising and company valuation (in partnership with the Canadian Venture Capital Association), human resources best practices for high-growth companies, project financing considerations, and taking companies public.

Contact us

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Join our electronic mailing list for up-to-date information on our funding calls, and follow us on social media and join the conversation using #energyinnovation

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