About the Fellowship

Driving transformative change in an increasingly polarized world

Tackling current and future energy system challenges requires a diversity of perspectives and abilities. No single person or organization has the knowledge or capacity to independently create the energy system that the future requires of us. To do so, we require a diversity of stakeholder insights and contributions.

This is why we’ve convened a diverse Fellowship to help co-create an energy future aligned with our shared 2050 vision. Fellows are the heart of the Lab, driving our portfolio forward with passion and enthusiasm. With change-makers from the startup ecosystem, digital innovation, utilities, academia, Indigenous communities and elsewhere, the Fellowship is intended to reflect a broad diversity of perspectives, needs and interests related to our evolving energy system. As we work to shape our energy future, we’ve discovered the importance of fostering “creative tensions” in a way that respects and elevates all voices within safe, collaborative spaces.

EFL Fellows have the opportunity and responsibility to deepen their understanding of our evolving energy system by engaging with a diversity of stakeholder perspectives. Fellows build trust, share knowledge, and work together to refine ideas and scale the impact of collaborative initiatives that support the transition to a more resilient, prosperous and inclusive energy system.


Lead and influence

Play a leading role in identifying, testing and scaling social innovation projects that will have a long lasting impact for people in Canada and our evolving energy system.

Gain strategic insight

Acquire systems perspective and latest insight into opportunities and challenges facing our current and future energy system.

Develop partnerships

Foster relationships with collaborators in the EFL network and leverage their diverse expertise to move on ideas that require input and support from other actors in the system.

Access new tools

Gain access to leading edge tools to facilitate learning and collaboration in response to energy transition challenges and opportunities.

Develop leadership skills

Grow personal leadership skills to better collaborate with a diverse set of actors and perspectives across the energy system and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Energy Futures Lab (EFL)?

We are a coalition of diverse innovators and leading organizations working together to accelerate the transition to the energy system the future requires of us.

As a trusted convenor, connector, and catalyzer of innovative energy system initiatives and solutions, our platform supports change-makers as they collaboratively explore Innovation Challenges for our energy future.

Since its public launch in 2015, the EFL has established itself as a trusted forum for building leadership capacity, fostering cross-sectoral collaboration, stimulating new narratives, and supporting early-stage development of new initiatives and innovative solutions.

We aim to inspire alignment and connectivity across sectors, while bridging ideas, people, and resources in a way that helps refine and develop solutions for our energy future.

What is the role of the EFL Fellowship?

The EFL is a multi-interest, collaborative platform that facilitates constructive dialogue around our energy future and enables real-world experimentation and learning. At the heart of the EFL is its Fellowship, representing diverse perspectives from across our energy system. For the last six years, EFL Fellows have established working relationships, created a shared vision for our energy future, and prototyped numerous initiatives together. These successes have created the platform to test, refine and implement collaborative initiatives. The Fellowship comprises tight cohorts of changemakers who are ready to lead in the energy transition.

The role of a Fellow is to:

  1. Participate in a series of interactive Fellowship Workshops (see below at “What does a Fellow workshop commitment look like?”) to make sense of the dynamic and complex nature of our energy transition and identify the big Innovation Challenges where we need to mobilize, learn and act together.
  2. Work closely with the Energy Futures Lab Team to lead, inspire and mobilize other actors to take action on the Innovation Challenges.
  3. Propose and develop actionable collaborative solutions for the EFL Impact Studio.
  4. Build the EFL community by communicating and sharing relevant ideas and activities to your network.

Where is the Fellowship based?

The majority of Fellows are based in Alberta with some coming from other areas of Canada, given the importance of bridging regional-based initiatives to Canada’s national energy system and transition.

While the Fellowship is open to participants outside of Alberta, they need to be prepared to travel to Alberta for the in person workshops.

What are the responsibilities of an EFL Fellow?

The EFL has a social contract that describes what it means to co-create and innovate together. This agreement stands for what we believe in as Fellows within the EFL community. By signing this agreement, new Fellows agree to join and actively participate in the EFL community. The social contract is a commitment to demonstrating EFL values and principles, and to contributing to accelerating progress towards the energy system the future requires of us.

Fellow terms last one year, after which the Fellow will be asked to reapply should they wish to continue.

What is an EFL Innovation Challenge?

EFL Innovation Challenges are a limited set of critical challenges around which the EFL mobilizes its resources and community to go deeper in order to make progress towards its vision and mission. They are major challenges in the energy system that:

  1. Need to be addressed to achieve our vision and mission, and is not being addressed sufficiently by others.
  2. Respond to the urgency and scale of Canada’s response to energy transition.
  3. Require collaborative social innovation solutions.
  4. Can be addressed using the EFL’s resources, networks and skills.
  5. Benefit people across Canada if addressed.

Fellows help to identify Innovation Challenges that they address together. The EFL currently has four active Innovation Challenges.

What is a social innovation?

A social innovation is any initiative that challenges and, over time, contributes to changing the defining routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of the broader social system in which it is introduced. (Frances Westley, 2014)

In the energy transition space, social innovation involves looking at our energy system holistically to enable, shift or encourage new ideas, policies and practices conducive to energy system transformation. Social innovations are oftentimes thought of as “beyond technology”, under the observation that a needed technological innovation will not succeed if it is embedded in social systems that are working against its widespread adoption.

In the EFL, examples of social innovations include new policies, new collaborations, new narratives, new platforms, new programs, new processes, and / or new business models.

How are Fellows selected?

Applications will be reviewed by the EFL support team, with input from the Steering Committee. Selection of Fellows is based on the merit of each potential applicant as compared to the selection criteria, while ensuring that the EFL as a whole reflects a broad diversity of actors and voices representing Alberta’s energy system.

Once the 2022 Fellowship has been finalized, applicants will be notified in January 2022.

What is required for the application?

New applicants must fill out the application form and send the following:

  • Letter of Support: organizational support and endorsement from senior leadership is essential for participant success in the EFL. Fellow applications must be supported by a brief letter of organizational support from the executive level, reflecting a commitment by the organization to formally learn about EFL concepts and outcomes and to explore possible actions and collaborative opportunities arising from the EFL. If applying as an independent contractor, applicants may submit a letter from a colleague or collaborator.
  • One additional reference letter
  • Resume
  • Headshot photo – 800px X 800px with some space around the head and shoulders. Please refer to the current Fellows page.

All documents must be sent to eblocksom@naturalstep.ca before November 29, 2021 for the application to be deemed complete.

Why does the EFL require submission of an organizational letter of support?

Experience has demonstrated that organizational support and endorsement from senior leadership is an essential component for participant success in the EFL. Organizational endorsement supports each Fellow to be an active and engaged participant and to get the most out of their time within the Fellowship.

The EFL Fellowship incorporates concepts of social innovation, collaboration, and systems change, which requires Fellows to immerse themselves in EFL learning experiences, including exploring systems change and sustainability frameworks, relevant collaborative projects, and occasionally bridging these learnings or initiatives back to their respective organizations.

In order to support applicants making the case for Fellowship participation to their organization or company, below are a few tips and talking points, which can be customized to reflect the organization’s specific needs, culture, and objectives:

  • Fellows support their respective organizations by gaining strategic intelligence and insights about the energy space from peers and system-sensing research;
  • Fellows are able to bring both personal and organizational goals to the Lab. Through the Lab, individuals can participate in the EFL as a way to address an organizational challenge or seize an opportunity that cannot be achieved alone;
  • Fellows are able to build on existing EFL Innovation Challenges or may explore the possibility of creating a new initiative that aligns with the EFL vision and organizational goals;
  • Fellows can expand their personal and organizational network through the Lab and build a strategic and systems-level understanding of the energy system, its players and interrelationships.

Please refer to the “Why become a Fellow?” section at the top of this page.

What does a Fellow workshop commitment look like?

In order to become fully oriented to the EFL, its activities, and its social innovation concepts, new Fellows are required to attend all Fellowship Workshops. In 2022, the EFL team has confirmed the following events and workshops:

Fellow Online Orientation Sessions (virtual):

  • Session 1: Tuesday January 18, 9:30-12:00
  • Session 2: Thursday January 20, 9:30-12:00
  • Session 3: Tuesday January 25, 9:30-12:00
  • Session 4: Thursday January 27, 9:30-12:00

Fellowship Online Learning Journeys (virtual):

  • Session 1: Thursday, February 3, 10-12
  • Session 2: Thursday, February 10, 10-12
  • Session 3: Thursday, February 17, 10-12
  • Session 4: Thursday, February 24, 10-12

Fellowship Winter Retreat (in person, Alberta location TBD):

  • March 8,9,10

Fellow ½ day Workshop (virtual):

  • June 15 – 9-12

Fellowship Fall Retreat (in person, Alberta location TBD):

  • September 27 & 28

Year End Showcase and Celebration (in person, Calgary, Alberta):

  • November 24

Optional, as relevant:

  • A number of EFL Innovation Challenge workshops will occur throughout the year. Fellows and key stakeholders in the EFL community will be invited to participate in relevant sessions in order to unlock solutions that will enable movement towards our Shared 2050 Vision.

Fellows are expected to actively engage with one another, working collaboratively on shared initiatives. While Fellow workshops are mandatory, the collaborative opportunities that emerge are equally important.

*** Important note: While convening in person is something we all miss and look forward to, the EFL is moving forward with Covid protocol and safety in mind and will continue to work in a virtual format until further notice. We commit to regular reassessment on this matter and will keep comfort levels of our Fellows and our Team as top priority while we navigate together. ***

How has the EFL built diversity into the program?

The Energy Futures Lab Fellowship forms the nucleus of the Lab, comprising changemakers, innovators and influencers from industry, government, non-profit organizations, First Nations, academia and community interest groups. Fellows are selected based on merit as compared to the selection criteria, as well as consideration for the overall diversity of the group and its ability to tangibly influence the energy system. The Fellowship is intended to reflect a broad diversity of actors and voices that play a vital role in shaping our future energy system.

“A new generation of leaders is poised to take the reigns in business, government and community organizations across Alberta. Their future-focused orientation and global outlook will create a wave of innovation and change for our communities.”

Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton