It’s Innovation Season in New Brunswick!

  • Mara
  • 2017-04-01



Spring is in the air - well actually innovation is! March kicked off the start of innovation season celebrating and recognizing innovation in New Brunswick.

BreakThru, presented by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, awarded over $1 million dollars to four companies on March 23rd at their signature ‘Late Night’ styled event. It was a high energy, exciting evening, and we congratulate all of the participants, and final winners: Pfera (NB grand prize); Newpy (national grand prize); and SomaDetect & WEnTech Solutions (both NB runners up).

The first Energy Innovations Forum, presented by the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN), took place April 4-5th at the Fredericton Convention Centre, featuring global, Canadian and local industry experts, who are innovating and playing in the smart grid and smart energy space.  In addition to top-notch speakers, 300+ delegates had the opportunity to network with other energy sector businesses, utilities, researchers and industry professionals, as well as thought-leaders from across the country.

From my own perspective, I was amazed at the ‘bias for innovation’, and the energy-related products, services and opportunities now available on the market through the convergence of energy, technology with the ‘Internet of Things’.  People are controlling their home appliances, and actually their entire home, through integrated smartphone apps!  Municipalities are enabling sustainable mass transit, and even bringing buses into malls and convention centres to quickly charge/pick-up/drop-off passengers.  Montreal is a great example, currently running a pilot project with NovaBus, where electric buses can be charged en route through charging stations.  

With mega trends like urbanization, climate change and demographics, and the evolving digital economy - what will the utility of the future look like?  With the emergence of a consumption-based model/charging only for demand, there will be a major disruption in the traditional utility business model.  Power plants are becoming virtual, leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs) available through wind, solar, tidal, etc. Places like California are experiencing what is referred to as the ‘duck curve’ which is a negative cost for electricity due to citizens generating their own energy through solar, storing it and then selling back to the utility.  It was said that solar is likely to be the most economical option, and when soon combined with storage, it will be our primary energy solution of the future.  What this translates to is the consumer owning future energy assets and being an active part of the the electricity grid. What a concept - well, it’s becoming a reality!

NB Power is at the forefront of this major shift, working with its SGIN partners - Siemens and the University of New Brunswick - to ensure that this province is ready for the major changes to come. CEO Gaetan Thomas committed the utility being 90% non-emitting by 2030 and this will happen by integrating all these new distributed energy resources through the use of smart grid.  While this evolves, the bigger conundrum will be managing the transition where we still need to pay for current generation assets over the medium term, as well as deal with the challenge that the rate of innovation is exceeding the rate of required policy and regulatory change.  

Another theme was the ‘smart energy community’.  There were numerous examples cited by Brent Gilmour with QUEST (Quality Urban Energy System of Tomorrow), with over 300 communities building their own Community Energy Plans (CEPs), and tapping federal funding through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  As a matter of fact, the City of Fredericton has just embarked on developing its renewable energy strategy, a step forward on the  smart community energy planning road,  building on its many past successes to be a smart, resilient, and sustainable city.  

The Energy Innovations Forum was presented by the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN), in association with Ignite Fredericton, and supported by Siemens, NB Power, the University of New Brunswick, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and OpportunitiesNB.

For more information - please see: #EnergyInnoForum

The KIRAs are coming!  On Thursday, May 4th, New Brunswick’s most innovative companies across all sectors will be recognized at the 2017 Knowledge & Innovation Recognition Awards (KIRA). The KIRAs also mark the official kick-off to New Brunswick Innovation Week!  

The KIRAS, now in their 19th year, celebrate and recognize private and public organizations in the following categories: Economic Impact through Innovation, Innovation Champion, Innovation through Technology, Most Innovative Product or Service, Most Innovative Start-up, Premier’s Award for Innovation (in both Private and Public Sectors) and the People’s Choice Award to be voted on by attendees at the gala.

As the presenting partner, Knowledge Park received a record number of nominations this year at 118! We attribute this success to the new streamlined nominations process, as well as the engagement of provincial stakeholders through the Premier’s Innovation Week Planning Committee.

KIRA is Fredericton’s premiere awards event, hosted this year by emcees:  Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram.  Individually, Naomi is from CBC's MrD and Matt is from Second City's Guide to the Symphony. Together they are Second City alumnus and the team from the multi award winning, internationally acclaimed company: The National Theatre of the World. The Toronto Star calls them: “The most laughable couple".

In partnership with Ignite Fredericton, 3+ and Enterprise Saint John, there will also be a KIRA nominee showcase and special session about ‘demystifying the innovation myth’ during the day.  It will be moderated by New Brunswick’s Chief Economist, David Campbell, and Dr. Herb Emergy with the University of New Brunswick. Watch for details as they become available, and book your KIRA tickets today at:

In the coming weeks, visit the Government of New Brunswick website for the NB Innovation Week Calendar of Events, and take your front row seat to learn about innovation happening in New Brunswick.


Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch