Feds invest $49.3M in Burnaby-based General Fusion

A Burnaby business leading the way in fusion energy research is getting big funding from the federal government.

The Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced today it was investing $49.3 million in General Fusion, a clean technology company that is trying to recreate the energy of the sun for mass consumption.

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Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains told the NOW the investment will have a long-lasting impact on Canada’s economy and the environment.

“This is really part of an overall strategy to demonstrate that we’re making investments, not only in smart technology, but clean technology, and this will just continue to make sure Canada plays a leadership role when it comes to the clean tech sector,” Bains said.

General Fusion is attempting to develop technology needed to build a fusion power plant. Fusion energy is the same energy that drives the sun, created when atoms of hydrogen are forced together and turned into helium. The energy release during the process is converted to electricity. The result is clean, emission-free energy.

“This is really, from our perspective, a very important investment for clean technology,” Bains said.

The company applied for the funding through the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, and it was granted its funding request because of the company’s potential to revolutionize how energy is generated, according to the ministry.

“They made a very compelling business case,” Bains said. “They are making a significant overall investment of $400 million in developing first-of-its-kind nuclear fusion technology, which we believe is going to position Canada as a world leader.”

The money comes with a few strings, as Bains said an investment through the Strategic Innovation Fund has set guidelines for General Fusion to meet. Priorities include hiring and maintaining at least 400 employees, commercializing research and development, and increasing the number of patents.

“They currently have 60 patents and they are looking to grow that, which will allow them to take advantage of the new technology and to make sure that they continue to play a leadership role in that area,” Bains said.

General Fusion was founded in 2002.

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