Media Release | Jan. 15, 2013

UBC and Fraunhofer Society enter $4.9 million clean energy partnership

A $4.9-million research partnership between the University of British Columbia and Germany’s Fraunhofer Society – Europe’s largest applied research institution – will advance clean energy research in five critical areas, from wind energy to zero emission vehicles.

The international partnership builds upon the memorandum of understanding signed by UBC President Steven Toope during a trip by Canada’s top 15 universities to Germany in March. The three-year agreement will support collaboration on biomass-to-energy conversion, fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies, wind-turbine manufacturing, electrolysis and industrial aspects of solar-cell technology.

“This partnership will allow both institutions to accelerate solutions for sustainability challenges facing the world,” said Prof. John Hepburn, UBC Vice President Research & International. “The partnership is also a key component of UBC’s International strategy to actively link with other global leaders to further knowledge discovery, development and demonstration that will benefit current and future generations.”

UBC is the first Canadian partner chosen for Fraunhofer’s ICON program. While Fraunhofer research is typically funded by industry, under the ICON program the German institution will contribute $3.26 million to the project, with UBC providing the remainder in the form of basic and applied research.

UBC’s principal investigator on the project is Prof. Walter Mérida, associate director at UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, leading a team of four senior engineering professors: John Grace (solar), David Wilkinson (electrolysis), Tony Bi (biomass) and Yusuf Altintas (wind).

Learn more about sustainability at UBC at


Fraunhofer has more than 60 institutes and 21,000 employees across Germany, with extensive expertise in commercialization, industry partnerships and applied research.

The partnership builds on the strengths of UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre and UBC’s Campus as a Living Laboratory initiative, where researchers, students, operational staff and partners develop and demonstrate, at a city scale, sustainable solutions to the operational needs of communities.

Today’s agreement follows UBC’s recent partnership with the Max Planck Society, another major German research organization.


“With UBC we have found an excellent international partner for energy research,” says Dr. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “Sources of energy in the 21st century change, and this brings up many questions we have to solve.”

“This alliance will strengthen and expand the leading position of the UBC and Fraunhofer in this market,” says Dr. Christopher Hebling, head of the Energy Technology division at the Fraunhofer ISE. “Both partners do not only provide excellent research in this field, but also stand out due to their common strategy for cooperation with the industry.”

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Basil Waugh
UBC Public Affairs


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