Mayor's Innovation Challenge
The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge invites creative thinkers to share their ideas for how The City of Calgary can advance innovative energy solutions to build a more resilient community. If you have an idea for a pre-commercial venture, a commercial-ready product that just needs a push, or a new way that we can improve our policies and processes, we want to hear from you.
Calgary has and always will be a place for entrepreneurs and risk-takers. This competition seeks to tap into our entrepreneurial spirit, attract new talent and leverage local expertise to spur energy innovation and transformative economic development.
How might we advance innovative energy solutions on the path to net-zero emissions in order to achieve economic, social and environmental resilience?
Participants are encouraged to incorporate data and emerging technology into their ideas to address the challenge. We have provided links to The City’s Open Data portal, as well as to other organizations within the community with expertise in innovation, start-ups, and the future of energy to help you tailor your idea to Calgary’s unique circumstances.
Calgary has an opportunity to become a world leader in advancing innovative energy solutions, and The City of Calgary is establishing itself as a collaborative partner to achieve that goal. We want to be part of your success, and we know that together we can all be better off.
May 12, 2021 - Competition opens
June 18, 2021 – Submissions deadline (extended to June 18 at midnight).
June/July 2021 – Finalists announced
July to August 2021 – Phase 1 workshops and mentor opportunities
September 28, 2021 – Final pitch competition and winners announced
The video starts with a two-minute introduction to the challenge. The video continues with a challenge bootcamp with Mayor Nenshi and his guests from ATCO and ENMAX. Learn more about participating in the Innovation Challenge and gain inspiration from our utility partners in Calgary. Hear questions and answers of the Mayor and our innovation experts to help fine-tune your submissions.
After doing an extensive review of the 131 submissions received in the inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge, we are excited to announce the finalists in each of the three streams. Paring it down was not easy and we want to thank everyone who participated for sharing their ideas and ingenuity with us.
For their submission on blue hydrogen blending into City facilities and fleet.
For their submission on using wastewater to develop a more sustainable type of cement.
Canada Chemical Company / Reform Earth Technologies
For their submission on turning municipal solid waste into synthetic diesel and aviation fuel.
Pre-commercial / start-up stream
Marlon Norona /
SAIT Centre for Energy Research in Clean Unconventional Technology Solutions
For their submission on developing a vanadium redox battery to help stabilize our energy grid.
For their submission on using post-consumer recycled plastic to create structural insulated panels that can be used in new construction.
3DPHC - 3D Printed Homes Corporation
For their submission on using their 3D printing process to build affordable housing.
City policy and planning
For their submission to create a new, lightweight solar thermal roof over the existing Platform Innovation Centre.
EXP Services Inc.
For their submission on developing the Mountain River Energy Centre.
For her submission on developing a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Building Standard in The City of Calgary.
Phase 1: finalists
Nine finalists will be chosen, three from each stream (pre-commercial/start-up opportunities; commercially-ready technologies and processes; or city policy and planning).
Those submissions chosen as finalists will receive:
- An opportunity to participate in an innovation prototyping workshop. The workshop is a series of facilitated exercises with experts to refine their idea within the context of the competition criteria.
- A dedicated mentor to guide them through the process and to provide input on how to bring their idea to market or scale-up their enterprise.
- Access to curated workshops and seminars provided by challenge supporters including Western Economic Diversification, Platform Calgary and Energy Futures Lab.
- The evaluation committee includes representatives from Avatar Innovations, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Energy Futures Lab, ENMAX, The City of Calgary, Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies, Alberta Innovates, Platform Calgary and Calgary Economic Development.
Finalists will be notified in late June of their success through the first phase of the challenge. Finalists will participate in several workshops and specialized sessions throughout July and August, leading toward a pitch night.
Phase 2: pitch competition
- Each finalist from phase 1 will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of community leaders and experts on September 28, 2021.
- The panel will select three winners, one from each stream (pre-commercial/start-up opportunities; commercially-ready technologies and processes; or city policy and planning).
- Each winner will be paired with an innovation champion from The City of Calgary or ENMAX, and receive grant funding to help guide their idea towards implementation.
- Each winner will have the opportunity to work with a dedicated mentor from the Energy Futures Lab Fellowship continue to further develop their business plan.
- Each winner will have the opportunity to meet with senior officials from Western Economic Diversification to demonstrate their business case directly to the federal government.
Pitch competition winner
A pitch night will take place on September 28, 2021. A panel led by Mayor Nenshi will select three winners from the pitch competition.
What we are looking for
We’re looking for submissions that:
- Fit within one of the following streams:
- pre-commercial/start-up opportunities;
- commercially-ready technologies and processes; or
- city policy and planning.
- Are new and have not been piloted in Calgary.
- Are data-driven, utilize technology and have the potential to deliver results.
Criteria and evaluation
A team of experts in energy transition and business will evaluate all the submissions and shortlist nine finalists, one from each stream (pre-commercial/start-up opportunities; commercially-ready technologies and processes; or city policy and planning), against the following criteria:
- Will it have a measurable impact on moving The City towards net-zero emissions?
- Will it solve a municipal problem?
- Does it demonstrate a connection between the solution and achieving economic, social or environmental resilience?
- Will it grow Calgary’s economy in a sustainable and equitable way?
- Will it attract new talent or leverage our existing talent to help build this sector of our economy?
How to submit your idea - submissions now closed
Prior to submitting an idea, please review the terms and conditions of the challenge.
Each Innovation Challenge Participant (individual or company) must complete a Participant Application Form before submitting a challenge idea.
- Ideas can be submitted at The Innovation Lab using the IdeaScale platform. This easy-to-use system will guide you through the submission process. Submissions closed June 18.
- You can login to IdeaScale two ways:
- Using an existing or new City of Calgary myID
myID is an online service that provides citizens and business owners access to multiple City of Calgary services using a single account. For more information and to sign-up, see Calgary.ca/myID.
- Creating a new account through IdeaScale
Create a new account. On The Innovation Lab's website and click on the “Login” link in the top right corner. In the login window, click “Log in with IdeaScale.” Requests will be approved within 24 hours.
- Using an existing or new City of Calgary myID
- Once logged in, select the Mayor's Innovation Challenge and then click on the red submit button on the top of the screen and follow the instructions.
- Please provide a description of the project and attach any supporting documents you feel are relevant. Remember, a good description should include:
- A summary of the proposed idea;
- How the idea helps address the challenge question;
- Your recommendation of why the idea is a good fit for Calgary; and
- Any examples of how the idea has been put into action anywhere in the world.
- Identify the stream (pre-commercial/start-up opportunities; commercially-ready technologies and processes; or city planning and policy) to which you are submitting your idea.
- Add as many tags as possible to help us sort your ideas. The more relevant tags, the higher your Idea will rank over time. A tag describes what the idea is all about (transit buses), the types of energy it may impact (electricity), and the sector to which the idea belongs (transportation). You can create your own tags as well.
- After submitting, share with the world that you have submitted an idea to the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge through Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter right from your project in IdeaScale using the hashtag #GeneratingOpportunity.
- You can also review the other submissions and vote on the ones you like best. Your votes will help inform the selection committee.