Ottawa's GBatteries vying for $1M grand prize in national tech competition

GBatteries
The GBatteries team has earned the chance to compete for a $1-million grand prize in the Impact Canada “Charging the Future” Challenge. File photo

An Ottawa firm’s “grandiose mission” to mass-produce technology that will charge electric vehicles in the same time it takes to fill up a tank of gas just got another jolt of momentum.

The federal government said this week that GBatteries is one of five finalists in its $4.5-million Impact Canada “Charging the Future” Challenge. The program, which was open to companies, industry associations, educational institutions and research centres across the country, aims to help accelerate the development of battery solutions that have the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Each of the finalists will receive up to $700,000 to develop prototypes of their technology. The five contenders will pitch their projects to a jury of industry experts later this year, with the grand-prize winner receiving an additional $1 million.

It’s another major milestone in what’s been a breakout year for GBatteries, which was founded in an Ottawa basement eight years ago.

In February, the company said it had landed up to $3 million in funding through the Breakout Energy Solutions Canada program, an initiative backed by Natural Resources Canada, BDC and investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures that aims to advance clean energy innovation in Canada.

In early April, GBatteries continued to make headlines when it was one of two local companies to grab a spot in C100’s prestigious 48Hrs in the Valley mentorship program in San Francisco. The two-day event ​– which was postponed from May until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic ​– gives entrepreneurs a chance to network with other startups and benefit from the mentorship of seasoned tech executives. 

GBatteries, which uses artificial intelligence to speed up the battery-charging process, has already demonstrated its technology on electric scooters, cutting the amount of time needed to recharge their motors from five hours under traditional methods to less than 10 minutes. The company is aiming to have its system ready for use on full-sized electric cars within two years.

CEO Kostya Khomutov told Techopia last year that one of GBatteries’ biggest challenges is convincing skeptics the technology is for real. Earlier this summer, he said the company is slowly but surely winning over its doubters.

“I think the world has changed slightly. The challenge of non-believers is disappearing on its own,” he said, adding he hopes those “trust issues” will go away once the firm can demonstrate its solution works on regular vehicles.

Khomutov recently discussed GBatteries’ journey – and shared his advice for entrepreneurs seeking mentorship amid the pandemic – on Techopia Live. To see the interview, watch the video podcast below: