Updated Nov. 14, 2011

The Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) Leadership Foundation will be announcing this year’s awardees at the  22nd Awards Gala being held on October 28, 2011 at the Calgary Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, and Tech Futures has supported 14 of them. The Foundation, which celebrates and promotes the achievements of Alberta’s scientific and technological communities, recognizes Alberta’s top innovators with the help of community and independent adjudicators.

The foundation is a private, not-for-profit society supported by patron organizations from the private and public sectors, including industry, business, government, research and education. All patrons share the goal of promoting and honouring Alberta’s world-class innovation in science and technology. ASTech is the premiere organization in Alberta that works to generate widespread public awareness for these worthy achievements in science and technology.

If you haven’t already purchased your tickets, you may still be able to acquire them by contacting Bev Jones at tickets [at] astech.ca

Interested in learning more about the ASTech Foundation and the awards? Why not check them out online:

ASTech Foundation
2011 ASTech Honourees

Tech Futures Supported Winners

Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology - Dr. Naser El-Sheimy
Innovation in Agriculture Science - Dr. David C. Bresseler
Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology - XSENSOR
Leaders of Tomorrow - Kelly Goss
Outstanding Achievement in Applied Technology and Innovation - Userful Corporation

Check out some of the videos from the gala on the ASTech Foundation's YouTube Channel.

Tech Futures Supported Nominees

Category: Technology

Dr. Naser El-Sheimy, PEng, CRC
Professor and Canada Research Chair
Scientific Director, TECTERRA: Alberta Innovates Centre for Integrated Resource Management
CEO, Trusted Positioning Inc., Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary
President, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) on Sensors and Platforms
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Centres for Research and Commercialization (Tecterra: Alberta Innovates Centre for Integrated Resource Management)

Professor Makes Major Contributions to Geomatics Innovation

Dr. El-Sheimy is a professor in geomatics engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary and a Canada Research Chair in Mobile Multi-Sensor Geomatics. He leads a team of between 15 and 25 researchers and manages funds of $800,000 annually for research and development of geomatics systems for navigation, mapping and GIS (geographic information system) applications.

He led the establishment of TECTERRA, a nonprofit organization that invests in and supports development and commercialization of geomatics technology across Canada.

He is also CEO of Trusted Positioning Inc. (TPI), a start-up company from the University of Calgary. The company has developed an innovative technology platform called the Trusted Positioning Platform (TPP) that harnesses the potential of low-cost sensors. It provides enhanced navigation and positioning technology, products and services that improve on existing navigation and positioning products, and deliver reliable and accurate navigation and positioning indoors and outdoors, underground and undersea and while walking or driving.

Throughout his career, Dr. El-Sheimy has made major and sustained contributions to the development, dissemination and commercialization of mobile mapping and integrated navigation system technology in Canada and internationally. He hopes to further contribute to better manage the planet’s natural resources by building observation systems to monitor forest fires, detect climate change and pollutions and track endangered species.

Dr. Janet Ronsky
Professor, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering with a joint appointment in the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary
Director, Biovantage Alberta Innovates Centre for Research and Commercialization
Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering (07/2001 – 07/2011)
Director, Zymetrix - the Bose Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Technology Development Centre
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Alberta Innovates Centre for Research and Commercialization  (Biovantage: Centre for Integrative Biomedical Technology)
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Supervisor

Influential Leader Proud to Contribute to Alberta Science Legacy

Dr. Janet Ronsky is a strong ambassador for Alberta and has helped to raise the profile of science and technology within Alberta, Canada and internationally.

From early in her career, the professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, has had a passion for engaging individuals in science, engineering and technology. She has influenced many students through her teaching and mentoring.

Responding to student demand, Dr. Ronsky was instrumental in establishing the graduate biomedical engineering (BME) program in 1998 and the undergraduate BME specialization in 2003. She also created the Centre for Bioengineering Research and Education (CBRE) at the U of C, one of the first in Canada, and the model for numerous other programs in the country.

Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale
Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary
Director, Computational Media Design, Canada Research Chair, Information Visualization
Industrial Research Chair, Interactive Technologies
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Researcher, Centres for Research and Commercialization (Biovantage: Centre for Integrative Biomedical Technology)
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Supervisor

Novel Tabletop Technologies Place Alberta as Interactive Visualization Research Hub

Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale is an internationally renowned researcher in information visualization and multi-touch interaction. Her work draws upon her combined backgrounds in fine arts and in computer science. 

“I saw visualization as a way of working with information that makes it more accessible to all people — from scientists and information analysts, to decision makers and the general public,” says Dr. Carpendale, a professor in the University of Calgary’s Department of Computer Science.

Her research combines fundamental advances in information visualization with innovative new interaction techniques. These approaches embed technology in people’s work and social practices to aid information work and promote collaboration.

About five years ago, Dr. Carpendale brought her pioneering work on interaction models for tabletop displays to Calgary’s SMART Technologies. SMART saw potential in tabletop technologies for educational, entertainment and business applications.

Her tabletop interaction research triggered SMART’s early start in this direction, which has contributed to their current position as the leader in the interactive tabletop market.

Recently, Dr. Carpendale’s research strengths and leadership have led researchers from the U.S. to suggest Alberta as the place to help the establishment of nation-wide interactive visualization research in Canada.

Dr. Carpendale’s research is a significant part of the international revitalization of tabletop research, helping put Alberta on the map as a human-computer interaction research destination.

[For images or additional information visit InnoVis]

Dr. Janet A. W. Elliott
Professor, University of Alberta
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Supervisor

Groundbreaking Researcher Opens Up New Frontiers in Science

Recognized for her contributions to the physical and life sciences — in addition to engineering — Dr. Janet Elliott is an unparalleled research leader at the University of Alberta, in Canada and internationally. She has created new paradigms for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research in physics, mathematics, biology and physical chemistry. She has applied these in diverse areas including fundamental fluid and surface science, medicine and industrial chemical engineering.

Her groundbreaking research involves the development and application of thermodynamics, which has opened up new frontiers in cryobiology, quantum statistical thermodynamics, interfacial transport, nanoscale materials and space physical sciences.

She is a world-recognized expert in interfacial phenomena in microgravity fluid science. She was one of the first 100 Canadians to fly on NASA’s KC-135 parabolic flight aircraft.

Dr. Elliott’s research, applied to the cryopreservation field, will be instrumental in making cartilage transplants more available in Canada. Currently transplants are limited by the short time frame the tissue is viable. Dr. Elliott works with what she describes as “a world-class cryopreservation group” at the U of A that includes medical biophysicists, surgeons, and engineers.

Kelly Goss
PhD Candidate in Electrical Engineering, University of Calgary
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Scholarship

Leadership Inspired By Desire to Make Things Better

Whatever Kelly Goss chooses to be involved with, she finds her way into a leadership role. She believes that the only way to affect any change is to get deeply involved with the process, and to make those changes from within. When the PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering at the University of Calgary sees something that is wrong or could be operating better, she gets involved.

Ms. Goss’s leadership, entrepreneurship and initiative is exemplified by her implementation of the first U of C Graduate Student Research Conference. She began with the vision during her tenure as the Vice President Academic of the Graduate Student’s Association (GSA). She was motivated to improve the graduate student experience. She saw graduate students working in isolation, with at most a few colleagues within their own specialization.

“One of the major needs of graduate students was a sense of academic community and specifically an interdisciplinary community,” she says. “I envisioned creating a community built on our common area — research — to create a graduate research conference where we could learn about each other and build bridges with industry.” About 500 students attended the successful conference.

In her other service pursuits Ms. Goss has been no less effective. She has worked on several initiatives, such as starting a university-wide process to have an academic ombudsman; and worked with the university administration to get another career advisor, among several other worthy initiatives.

Category: Bio Science

Mr. Camiel Huisma
CEO & Founder, GrowSafe Systems Ltd.
Tech Futures New Ventures, Industry Associates Award (R&D)

Technology Provides Long-term Solutions for Sustainability in The livestock industry
GrowSafe Systems Ltd. has used true innovation, engineering excellence and an inspired vision for the future to allow Alberta’s six-billion-dollar beef industry to address major market forces pressuring its profitability and sustainability. Worldwide, GrowSafe’s data acquisition platform innovation is defining the standards by which livestock are measured, managed and treated.

The company’s team of multi-disciplinary engineers and scientists — led by CEO and Founder Camiel Huisma — develop intelligent systems that automatically measure biometric and environmental inputs in livestock production, continuously monitoring individual animal health and performance status. Predictive algorithms identify sick and market-ready animals triggering mechanisms that visually identify and treat them without human intervention.

The company’s patented technology offers a scientifically proven, unprecedented ability in real-time to enhance animal well-being and product safety; reduce labour, maximize profits, reduce risks; and minimize environmental impact through feed efficient strategies that reduce manure and methane. 

 “The discovery has been used to implement genetic selection for metabolic efficiency in cattle that will reduce feed input up to 12 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions and manure by as much as 40 per cent,” says Co-CEO Alison Sunstrum.

The beef industry is under significant pressure from rising costs, animal disease, antimicrobial resistance, consumer perception about the safety of beef products, trade barriers and traceability requirements, and animal welfare. Until GrowSafe’s innovation, no technology existed that could be employed to address these multiple issues confronting profitability of animal agriculture and the industry’s very survival.

Dr. Randall Weselake
Professor and Tier I Canada Research Chair, Agricultural Lipid Biotechnology
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments: Graduate Student Supervisor

World-renowned Plant Scientist Focused on Tackling Global Food and Energy Demands

While best known for his research toward increasing seed oil content in canola, Dr. Weselake has made important contributions to lipid biochemistry in both plants and animals. He continues to demonstrate creativity and innovation in tackling some of the field’s toughest biotechnological challenges.

The professor and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Agricultural Lipid Biotechnology in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta has an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading lipid scientists.

Canada is a world leader in the production and export of oilseeds, and canola is a major driver of our economy. The seed oil is in demand globally as both an edible and industrial oil. Dr. Weselake’s work in this area is of strategic importance to the entire oilseed industry.

“Increasing global population, rising incomes, and the demand for renewable liquid fuels have intensified pressure on the world vegetable oil market,” says Dr. Weselake. “Understanding the mechanisms of lipid formation in plants has the potential to increase seed oil content in crops relevant to Alberta and Canada and may also lead to alternative strategies for meeting the food and energy demands of our growing population.”

Above all, Dr. Weselake is an exceptional leader, respected around the world as a team-builder who brings together multidisciplinary expertise in large-scale initiatives focused on solving industry-relevant problems.

Dr. David Bressler
Director, Biorefining Conversions Network, Associate Professor, Biorefining Conversions & Fermentations, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta
Tech Futures, Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Supervisor

Researcher Converts Biomass for Sustainable Economy

Dr. David Bressler pushes the envelope to utilize the full extent of his many talents to play a pivotal role in bringing Alberta to the forefront in the emerging global bio-industrial sector.

He combines traditional academic disciplines of microbiology, biotechnology and chemical engineering with his experience in government collaborations and policy, industrial development and partnerships. He is a leader in bio-industrial processing and bio-products within the Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences faculty at the University of Alberta and throughout Alberta.

He is a primary participant in the Alberta Biorefining Conversions Network (BCN), a major collaborative effort between industry, government and postsecondary institutions in Alberta to establish a multi-million-dollar technology investment in this field.

Dr. Bressler is also an acclaimed researcher. He focuses on innovations in converting biomass to next generation renewable fuels and chemicals to create value added products using thermal, chemical and microbial processing technologies. He has filed several successful patents.

Dr. Bressler believes Alberta needs to create a value-added economy in the province, not by replacing non-renewable energy, but by figuring out how to convert biomass into compatible resources.

Category: Health

Greg Ogrodnick
CEO, Circle Cardiovascular Imaging Inc.
Tech Futures New Ventures, Industry Associate Award 
Tech Futures New Ventures, Executive in Residence

Cardiovascular Imaging Tool Saves Patients’ Lives and Cardiologists’ Time

Circle Cardiovascular Imaging Inc.’s (Circle CVI) product suite — cvi42 — saves cardiologists time and patients’ lives. It also improves efficiency of the healthcare system by eliminating the need for additional diagnostic procedures. The tools provide a range of functional viewing and measurement tools specialized to facilitate efficient qualitative and quantitative evaluation of cardiac imaging studies. They have been developed by experienced medical imaging professionals and are optimized for clinical workflow. The first software in the product suite, cmr42 was designed for use in Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR).

Founded in 2007, the Calgary-based company develops analytical software to meet the needs of the cardiovascular imaging (CVI) community. Circle CVI’s software suite — cmr42  —meets the highest industry standards, is based on a deep understanding of users’ needs and features outstanding algorithms and functions within a remarkable user interface.

In just three years, the company has become a leader in the global CVI market. “What we are doing is the best in the world and it is being adopted by the best cardiac centres in world,” CEO Greg Ogrodnick says. “We have created a tool that helps patients and improves efficiency in the healthcare system.”

Circle CVI’s products are being used at some of the top heart centers and medical universities in 18 countries worldwide. Back in Alberta, Circle CVI is contributing to diversifying the economy and helping to bring a robust technology sector to the province.

Ian Main & Bruce Malkinson
President & COO
XSENSOR Technology Corporation
Tech Futures New Ventures, Voucher Award
Tech Futures New Ventures, Industry Associates Award

Tech Company’s Intelligent Sensors Part of Critical Patient Care

XSENSOR Technology Corporation is the leading innovator in the field of pressure imaging in the sleep, patient safety and automotive testing businesses.

In 1998 XSENSOR developed a pressure sensor specifically for wheelchairs. Since then the company has grown to provide world-leading pressure imaging technology to hospitals around the world.

“These systems provide vital information to aid health care practitioners to identify excessive pressures that can otherwise lead to skin breakdown and pressure ulcers,” says COO Bruce Malkinson. “For individuals at risk, pressure imaging provides information for diagnosis, intervention and prevention that can ensure they maintain or quickly return to their active lifestyle.”

XSENSOR’s latest development, ForeSite PT Patient Turn Management, the first product using continuous measurement technology, will be used on hospital beds to monitor pressures on patient body surfaces to provide nurses with vital information to improve the effectiveness of patient turning strategies.

XSENSOR commits up to 20 per cent of revenues annually to research and development to advance its core competency ― Intelligent and Invisible Sensing — sensors that become part of the environment they were intended to measure and are capable of helping make decisions relevant to the users’ needs.

Over the past 15 years XSENSOR’s revenue has grown steadily, with the health assessment, personal comfort and automotive engineering markets each contributing approximately one third. With over 30 employees and several key new products in development, XSENSOR is positioned for significant growth in revenue.

Dr. Patrick M. Boyle
Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, University of Calgary
Tech Futures Post-Secondary Investments, Graduate Student Scholarship

Young Leader Uses Communication to Excel in His Endeavours

As a recent PhD recipient in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Calgary, Dr. Patrick Boyle excels in his field computational physiology. He is also a respected leader among students.  In both areas Dr. Boyle’s employs his exceptional communication skills to forward the causes he believes in and the projects he is involved in.
Dr. Boyle has received national scholarships for his M.Sc. and PhD studies from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). He was recently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to support a position at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, where he will work in one of the leading labs in his field.

He is already contributing significantly to the field.  He is the only PhD student whose contributions were accepted in the code base of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Research Package (CARP), the most advanced simulation environment worldwide for cardiac electrophysiology simulation. Dr. Boyle has made significant contributions to this sophisticated simulation tool and is able to communicate them to make a difference.

“I feel that I’m part of building relationships between people who provide healthcare,” he explains. “Moving forward we can cross-pollinate ideas, create new knowledge and better solve problems to help patients.”

Dr. Boyle is equally skilled at working with his fellow students. He was awarded an Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award in recognition of his outstanding service as a volunteer.

This is just the beginning of a successful career for this talented, dedicated and hard working individual.

Category: Education

Dr. Arlene Ponting
CEO, Science Alberta Foundation
Tech Futures New Ventures: nanoAlberta Student Development

Alberta on Red Carpet Internationally Because of Small Organization’s Big Vision: Do You Know What Nano Means? Animated Online Video

A small team at Science Alberta Foundation won big at an international competition with an animation about a very small-scale technology — nanotechnology. Do You Know What Nano Means? was chosen for the 15th Annual Webby Award, the leading international award for excellence on the web.

As a result of the organization’s prestigious award, visits to the Alberta-based wonderville.ca website have increased, and Do You Know What Nano Means? has been viewed about 13,000 times by people from 114 countries.  

The success of the animation has made it clear to Dr. Ponting and her colleagues that they’ve got a winning concept.
“In a world of sound bites and multi-tasking, these short animations are powerful learning pieces,” she says. “I think we’ve hit the sweet spot of getting interesting science facts out there in a way that’s embraced and loved.” She adds that kids love to learn visually and adults, too, have responded enthusiastically to the animation.

Science Alberta Foundation consists of 15 individuals who, along with an extended team of creative talent, in 2009/2010 alone provided science programming to nearly 800,000 individuals, reaching 218 Alberta communities. The organization embodies the spirit of nano — “small is the new big.” The win at the Webby’s puts Alberta on the red carpet, while playing a vital role in increasing public awareness of the benefits of science and technology and enhancing the understanding of science and technology in the province and around the world.

Mr. Don Hauck
Founder & President
3D Interactive Inc.
Tech Futures New Ventures, Industry Associates Award (R&D)

Alberta Company Innovates Video Game Technology for Industrial Training

3D Interactive Inc. (3DI) of Edmonton, Alberta, is gaining a foothold in many industries internationally because of its creativity and innovative use of leading-edge game-based technologies for industrial training and visualization.

The world’s largest industries, including mining, energy and construction are increasingly using simulation-based training for young workers entering these industries. These new workers grew up with video games and are naturally attracted to interactive computer-based systems, rather than text based learning.

“Alberta has one of the highest concentrations of heavy equipment in the world,” explains 3DI Founder and President Don Hauck. He started the company in 1995. “Industry is recognizing the long-term advantages of having a workforce trained to operate large and dangerous equipment as efficiently and safely as possible.”

3DI’s technical team comprises engineers, industrial designers, programmers, 3D graphic artists, and artificial intelligence and gaming specialists. They design and create high-fidelity, physics-enabled digital versions of industrial equipment that looks, feels, and performs like the actual equipment.

At the core of 3DI’s development platform is the Epic® Unreal™ Engine 3, one of the most advanced development platforms available, known for cutting-edge graphics and superior development tools.

3DI also developed its own pureLIGHT lighting system that has provided a significant advantage in fine tuning lighting and complex reflections within virtual industrial environments.

“We are raising the bar in terms of physical and training realism, to enhance safety in industrial settings,” says Development Director Danielle Enns. “We want to make this kind of technology-based training pervasive in Alberta and worldwide.”

Mr. Tim Griffin
President and CEO
Userful Corporation
Tech Futures New Ventures, Industry Associates Award 
Tech Futures New Ventures, Executive in Residence

Software Company Makes an Impact by Helping Kids Connect with The World

An Alberta-based software company is performing a sleight-of-hand — turning one computer into ten, and changing the lives of millions of children with installations in over 75,000 schools in 100 countries.

“Our software helps governments deploy two to three times more computers for the same budget dollars, giving a leg up in life to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a computer,” says Userful Corporation’s President and CEO Tim Griffin. “They now can have internet access and can learn anything that they are interested in. Improving the education of two to three times more kids has a huge and long lasting social impact.”

Userful’s multi-station platform allows up to 10 users to share a single computer, reducing hardware costs by up to 80 per cent, and required infrastructure — power plugs, cabling, energy costs, etc. — by a factor of 10 as compared to a traditional PC-per-seat solution.

Additionally expensive software costs are cut to zero because Userful includes the free Linux operating system and application software along with every seat sold. Governments globally are looking to move to Linux due to the massive long-term economic advantages gained by broad scale adoption of the open source operating system within their country.

Most of the company’s products go to international markets. But with almost all of its sales income directed to hiring more staff, mostly in research and development, Userful has made a significant contribution to diversifying the Alberta economy.