Bala Venkatesh


The NSERC Energy Storage Network (NEST) will receive a $5 million investment from the federal government to create greener technologies for energy storage.

Bala Venkatesh, academic director of Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy(CUE), will lead a team of 27 professors from 15 universities and eight provinces to create a more reliable, environmentally responsible and efficient power system.

“Our research helps to bring clean energy to society,” said Venkatesh at the announcement at CUE on Tuesday.

“Energy storage is a key part of this transformation. Your investment in this network will help develop the next generation of energy storage products for Canada and worldwide.”

NEST will be one of 76 teams of researchers at Canadian universities and companies receiving a total of $48 million in funding, announced Kirsty Duncan, minister of science. The strategic partnerships will connect universities, companies and government organizations to increase research and training in areas that could strongly influence Canada’s economy, society or environment.

The project is an example of Ryerson’s fostering of collaboration across disciplines and sectors to develop new solutions to pressing problems. “We insist that the impetus for innovation can come from any sector: from the business sector; from the academic sector. It’s realizing that one has to make those connections; one has to have feedback groups; and one has to proceed in a collaborative fashion,” said Mario Pinto, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

“As Bala and others were talking, it wasn’t all about electrical engineering,” said Wendy Cukier, Ryerson’s vice-president of research and innovation, at the announcement. “You heard about economics; you heard about customers; you heard about policy; you heard about regulation.

“At Ryerson, more than perhaps anywhere, we recognize that while science, technology, math and engineering are the foundation of much of what we do … we also bring in the other disciplines.”

Founded in 2010, the Centre for Urban Energy develops sustainable solutions to urban energy challenges. It has launched the Smart Grid lab (an incubator for alternative energy research) and iCue incubator, and has spawned startups/projects about electric cars, wind energy, solar power, and an urban battery storage system.

“Today’s announcement is another milestone for the centre,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s interim president. “[Venkatesh] took our shared vision for what the centre should be, and made it into a vibrant and vital part of our university, our city, and our country.”