C-FER originally stood for the “Centre for Frontier Engineering Research Institute.” It was a research consortium of industry, academic and professional organizations.

Our initial mandate was to tackle problems with offshore structures used in Canada’s Arctic. In our first years of operation, a small handful of employees worked out of office trailers on the University of Alberta campus.

May 1990 was a big event in our history. We moved into a 4,000 m2 combined office and laboratory facility in the Edmonton Research Park. Funding for the $18M facility was shared between C FER and the Provincial and Federal Governments.

In 1997, we changed from being industry-owned to a self-sustaining, not-for-profit company. We focused on providing fee-for-service engineering and testing services to industry.

In 1999, C-FER Technologies became a subsidiary of the Alberta Research Council (ARC). ARC was later re-named Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF). AITF was then consolidated into the present-day Alberta Innovates (AI) in 2016. Upon AI’s consolidation, C-FER Technologies became a wholly-owned subsidiary of AI, along with its applied research sister company, InnoTech Alberta.

In August 2014, we opened a second testing facility in Edmonton. Our corporate headquarters remain at our facility in the Edmonton Research Park.

Our Evolution

Over the years, our business activities have stretched well beyond our original “Frontier” Arctic and offshore focus. We have helped the energy industry tackle challenges in areas such as:

  • Heavy oil and oil sands recovery;
  • Mature oil and gas field production;
  • Deepwater and arctic pipeline design; and
  • Wellbore and pipeline integrity management.

Our expertise and large-scale testing equipment make us unique in Canada. In response to industry needs, we have added various large-scale testing systems over the years, including:

  • Deep Well Simulator to test high-pressure well equipment strings up to 50 m long;
  • Horizontal Testing System to test large pipeline specimens with loads up to 72 MN;
  • Deepwater Experimental Chamber that can collapse subsea pipelines;
  • High-temperature, multi-phase flow loop that can test pumps up to 260°C; and
  • External Leak Detection Apparatus that can test pipeline leak detection technologies with real liquid hydrocarbon products.

We have also developed a strong reputation for running Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) to address key challenges faced by the energy industry.

One of our largest JIPs has more than 30 industry participants. One major result from the JIP was the development of our PC-PUMP® software. The JIP helps well operators and pump vendors design and operate progressing cavity pumping systems. C-FER also began to offer PC-PUMP courses to train operators around the world on this emerging technology.

Another long-running JIP developed our PIRAMID software. This is a risk-based integrity assessment and maintenance planning tool for pipelines. The software is used by pipeline operating companies around the world.

Our staff are well-known throughout the energy research community, and over the years have authored over 500 technical papers and patented 14 technologies.

Major Testing Projects

From regions and industries around the world
  • Subsea pipeline projects from Europe and the Middle East
  • Military equipment from the United States
  • Aircraft panels from commercial aerospace manufacturers
  • Geothermal well equipment from Southeast Asia

About Alberta Innovates

Alberta Innovates is a provincially-funded corporation tasked with delivering on the research and innovation priorities of the Government of Alberta. Alberta is blessed with abundant natural resources, world-class infrastructure and research institutions, a highly-skilled workforce, and a dynamic, entrepreneurial business community.

Alberta Innovates harnesses these strengths by acting as the catalyst between government, industry and academia, to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the province.

This is accomplished by:

  • Directing targeted funding toward game-changing projects and programs that support provincial innovation targets;
  • Developing and implementing strategic research and innovation initiatives;
  • Providing third-party technical counsel and support;
  • Building and fostering networks, partnerships and collaborations – locally, nationally and internationally; and
  • Leveraging relationships and connecting the right people to get things done.

Our Alberta Innovates Connection

C-FER is a self-sustaining, wholly-owned subsidiary of Alberta Innovates. We operate independently and work with industry to address critical engineering challenges. C-FER also supports Alberta Innovates in meeting its goal of demonstrating economic and social benefit to Alberta.

C-FER is a key part of the network that Alberta Innovates uses to support technology development and commercialization. Small and medium enterprises can use funding from the Alberta Innovates Voucher Programs to support technology development and commercialization activities. These can include product validation and qualification testing at C-FER.

C-FER and its sister company, InnoTech Alberta, also have access to technical resources within each other’s organizations. Each subsidiary has experts in different technical areas which may complement the services offered by the other, enabling joint projects over a broad spectrum of industries.

Alberta Innovates Subsidiaries

Alberta Innovates has two Applied Research Centre subsidiaries: C-FER and InnoTech Alberta.

InnoTech is formerly the applied research arm of the Alberta Research Council that was later rebranded as Alberta Innovates Technology Futures.

C-FER and InnoTech Alberta are key components of the Alberta Innovates system that help private and public-sector organizations of all sizes transform their great ideas into commercial applications to support a thriving Alberta economy.


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