National Research Council Canada-NRC

National Research Council Canada-NRC

May 02, 2008 14:29 ET

Government of Canada Invests Over $13.6 Million in Vancouver's World-Class Fuel Cell Industry

Public-Private Partnerships Work to Commercialize Green Energy Technologies

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 2, 2008) - The Government of Canada today announced a $13.6 million investment in the National Research Council (NRC)'s Vancouver-based fuel cell and hydrogen industry and officially opened the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Gateway - a technology demonstration and exhibit centre showcasing Canada's world-leading fuel cell and hydrogen industry. Representing the Honourable Jim Prentice, Industry Minister and Minister responsible for NRC, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, reconfirmed the Government of Canada's support for the work NRC and its partners have been doing to catalyze science and technology-based partnerships in Vancouver's fuel cell and hydrogen technologies cluster.

Today's announcement is part of a larger $118 million Government of Canada investment in six NRC technology cluster initiatives - Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies in Vancouver; Nanotechnology in Edmonton; Plants for Health and Wellness in Saskatoon; Biomedical Technologies in Winnipeg; Photonics in Ottawa and Aluminium Transformation in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

"Our Government supports private-public research collaborations that accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen-based energy and alternatives that will lead to cleaner, renewable fuels," said Minister Lunn. "The time is right to develop solutions that respond to our environmental and energy-related challenges and create a competitive advantage for our country."

In addition to the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Gateway demonstration centre introduced at today's announcement, a world-class NRC research facility that works with all of Canada's major fuel cell developers and users has been created; construction has begun on the only publicly available hydrogen-rated environmental test chamber in North America; and Vancouver now is generally recognized as an international leader in membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and in modeling and materials research on membranes and catalysts.

Innovative firms have also made significant headway in commercializing hydrogen and fuel cell solutions. For example, local firm MagPower successfully raised $22 million to commercialize its magnesium-based fuel cell based on a catalyst developed by NRC; Plug Power, a recent graduate from NRC's Industry Partnership Facility, is now considered a leader in the fork lift market; and several local companies have partnered to become leaders in the commercialization of fuel cell technologies in niche markets.

"This technology cluster initiative highlights how NRC is focused on collaborative research with public and private sector partners that is inching Canada ever closer to making the commercialization of environmentally friendly fuel cell and hydrogen technologies a real possibility," said Dr. Pierre Coulombe, NRC President. "The impacts this technology will have on our environment and economy are limitless."

Technology clusters are broadly based community partnerships between industry, academia and all levels of government, focused on building competitive advantage for Canada through research and innovation. These S&T partnerships position communities to attract talent, investment and economic activity.

In addition to six Western and Central Canada technology cluster initiatives, NRC also spearheads initiatives in Regina: Sustainable Infrastructure; Fredericton/Moncton: Information Technology and e-Business; Halifax: Life Sciences; Charlottetown: Nutrisciences and Health and St. John's: Ocean Technologies.



About the Vancouver Cluster

Responding to the world's energy and environmental challenges is a priority in the Government of Canada's Science and Technology Strategy. Developing and commercializing fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in the Vancouver region is a core element to that response. The Vancouver region is already home to the world's most sophisticated grouping of companies and organizations focused on fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. By 2016, when experts say the global industry could be worth well over $8.4 billion annually, NRC's early strategic investments will have primed the Vancouver cluster to seize a significant market share.

While pockets of fuel cell research exist in other locations across Canada, Vancouver remains the national hub for groundbreaking R&D, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the roughly 2,000 Canadian jobs in the field.

Cluster facts at a glance

- The global fuel cell market is projected to be worth US$8.4 billion by 2016.

- In 2006, Canadian fuel cell companies generated revenues of $133 million.

- Vancouver is home to nearly 75 percent of the roughly 2,000 Canadian jobs in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry.

- Nationally, R&D expenditures were over $200 million in 2006.

Partnering to commercialize research

NRC's focus is to secure Canada's leading-edge competitive edge in hydrogen and fuel cell R&D and commercialization. To reach this goal, NRC supported Canada's Fuel Cell Commercialization Roadmap, a federal government initiative that assembled 40 stakeholders to identify opportunities in fuel cell R&D and map a strategy for technology commercialization. The number of organizations partnered with NRC to bring pioneering technologies to market doubled over five years, bringing the total to 19 industrial collaborations, 14 university partnerships and 10 international projects.

NRC has also strengthened its relationships with three local universities to help develop and attract talent for local industry, establish hydrogen and fuel cell consortiums, and leverage resources to build a knowledge advantage for the region and Canada.

Blazing a trail

British Columbia's Hydrogen Highway™ - led by Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Canada and Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance - is an integral component of NRC's cluster strategy. Envisioned as a key attraction at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Highway will extend from Vancouver's airport to Whistler. The NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Research (NRC-IFCI) will be one of seven centres along the highway, providing hydrogen refueling infrastructure as well as transportation, micro and stationary fuel cell demonstrations.

Unique opportunity for SMEs

As part of its strategic investment in fuel cell research, NRC operates a cutting-edge, public testing facility that is unique in North America and an example of Canadian science and technology at work. Its Hydrogen Environmental Chamber can simulate the climatic extremes from polar to tropical environments - enabling small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to test fuel cell ideas and prepare innovations for international markets, complementing private sector investments in research and development.

Demonstrating Progress

In early 2008, a technology demonstration and exhibit centre showcasing Canada's world-leading hydrogen and fuel cell industry was officially opened. The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Gateway is located at the NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation in Vancouver, and was conceived through a public-private partnership between NRC, Natural Resources Canada, Industry Canada, the Government of BC and Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Canada (the national industry association for this sector). This location provides visitors with a window into fuel cell and hydrogen demonstration projects and is the headquarters for BC's Hydrogen Highway™ and the Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle Program. It is critical to generating greater awareness of the importance of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.

NRC Technology Cluster Initiatives

The National Research Council (NRC) is meeting the Government of Canada challenge to mobilize science and technology to Canada's advantage. NRC is partnering with industry, universities and all levels of government to build dynamic technology clusters in communities across the country. By fostering world-class R&D with a clear focus on generating economic opportunities for Canadian communities, NRC research facilities and skilled people are accelerating community-led innovation. The results: new knowledge, new skills, new partnerships and new business opportunities focused on the priorities of Canadians and people around the world - from innovations and technologies that support health and wellness to new ideas in energy, transportation and environmental improvements.

Contact Information

  • National Research Council Canada
    Leslie Meerburg
    NRC Media Relations
    Cell: 613-302-1225
    National Research Council Canada
    Michelle Gagnon
    Communications Officer
    Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Bernadette Murphy
    A/Director of Communications