Jan. 29, 2019

UCalgary graduates awarded GreenSTEM fellowships

New program fosters cleantech careers through entrepreneurship and talent development
GreenSTEM welcomes its first cohort of fellows. Photo courtesy Jane Humberstone, Government of Alberta
GreenSTEM welcomes its first cohort of fellows. Photo courtesy Jane Humberstone, Government of Alber

A group of six graduates who share a research goal — reducing greenhouse gas emissions — have made University of Calgary history. They are the first cohort of fellows under a new program that supports budding entrepreneurs and the creation of Alberta-based clean-tech companies.

The program is GreenSTEM, which provides financial and entrepreneurial support for STEM master’s and PhD graduates who are entrepreneurially inclined, technically skilled, and who are addressing greenhouse gas emissions through hard technology development and commercialization.

Fellows from the University of Calgary will work with Innovate Calgary, the University of Calgary’s innovation transfer and business incubator centre, where they will have access to office space, receive entrepreneurial and business development advice and mentorship, and have the opportunity to connect to a variety of business support service providers.

Dr. Roger Mah, a member of the first cohort, is a PhD graduate in chemistry from the University of Calgary. His company, ZoraMat Solutions Inc., aims to prototype and scale Zoralite, a solid sorbent for carbon dioxide capture from large industrial emitters, natural gas separations, and other challenging carbon dioxide-related gas separations.

“The GreenSTEM fellowship will be instrumental in my company’s development,” Mah says. “I feel that by being accepted, we have achieved a level of validity and credibility. Now we can move faster and with more impact as we leverage the support of our cohort fellows, mentors, and advisors.”

Dr. John Wilson, PhD, president and CEO of Innovate Calgary, says the fellowship program addresses the need to support technology-based entrepreneurship and encourage upcoming graduates to consider a career in entrepreneurship.

“The program is a win-win for everyone involved,” Dr. Wilson says. “Our students are provided the necessary support they need to bring their knowledge to market, and these highly qualified professionals have the opportunity to continue their work locally.”  

GreenSTEM fellows will receive access to a fellowship stipend, seed funding for technology and business development expenses, and entrepreneurial development training. The two-year program provides “hard technology” companies founded by STEM graduates a “commercialization runway” to help them advance the commercial readiness of their technology products and business ventures. In addition to their financial stipend, each member will access technology-focused entrepreneurial programming and technical and business mentorship through a variety of service providers, mentors, investors, and potential industry partners.

Dr. Mah sees the greatest value of the program as being part of a fellowship of like-minded individuals who will be experiencing the same challenges as they move their tech-based companies forward. “We are all clean-tech companies and even though we will have to face unique challenges with respect to our technologies, our basic business challenges will be similar,” he adds.

GreenSTEM Fellows

On Jan. 16, GreenSTEM officially welcomed its first cohort of 12 fellows, comprised of nine teams, at the Student Innovation Centre at the University of Alberta. In addition to Mah, other UCalgary graduates who are beginning their entrepreneurial journey include:

  • Dr. Paul Addo, PhD, Chemistry, University of Calgary, and Dr. Beatriz Molero Sanchez, PhD, Chemistry, University of Calgary

Their company, SeeO2 energy, aims to develop a symmetrical solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) technology that efficiently converts carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen for specialty chemicals and metal processing users. The platform technology can also convert C02 and water to syngas for fuels and chemicals production.

  • Dr. Mina Zarabian, PhD, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary

Her company, Clean Carbon Tech Inc., is an engineering company developing a technology to produce massive, pure carbon nanofibers (CNF) from greenhouse gases. CNF is stronger and lighter than structural steel and has potential industrial applications for the automobile, wind turbine, aircraft, battery manufacturing, and construction sectors.

  • Shahrukh Shamim, Master’s, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary

His company, EnviCore Inc., is developing a novel nanoparticle/biopolymer treatment for sustainable tailings treatment. The technology has applications in oil and gas, coal and mineral mining, and wastewater treatment originating from the pharmaceuticals and textile industries.

  • Aseem Pandey, Master’s, Chemical Engineering, University of Calgary

His company, InnVTek Inc., is developing a prototype technology that enables the transport of bitumen in the form of an emulsion, reducing or eliminating the need for diluents, which are volatile and flammable in nature, and generally, include carcinogens such as Benzene.

GreenSTEM is part of the Climate Change Innovation and Technology Framework suite of programs. The CCITF was developed to achieve the goals of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan through innovation and technology.