Government of Canada

Government of Canada

October 17, 2006 12:27 ET

NSERC Synergy Awards Honour Canada's Innovation Leaders

Award-Winning Advances Help Two Million Heart Patients, Fight Climate Change, Make Better-Fitting Prostheses and More

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 17, 2006) - Canada's largest science and engineering granting agency, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), last night honoured seven partnerships between some of Canada's leading-edge companies and the university researchers that collaborate with them. Together, they have developed technologies that put them ahead of the pack, both in this country and internationally.

One of these partnerships is responsible for more than 40 patents on controlled-release drugs and "drug-loaded" implants, used in more than two million heart patients. Another involves world leaders in technologies to reduce industrial CO2 emissions, especially those produced by coal-fired generating stations and refineries. A third consists of leading Canadian telecom companies that have teamed up with top-notch research engineers and scientists to develop new optical transmission technologies.

At the individual level, a recent Ph.D. recipient was recognized for his revolutionary new computer algorithm for rapid real-time processing of three-dimensional images, with potential applications ranging from better-fitting prostheses to video games.

"The 2006 NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation honour and highlight the best achievements in research and development collaboration between universities and industry across Canada," said the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry. "Collaborations such as these allow the wider community to share in the economic and social value that is found in the world-leading research conducted at Canadian universities."

The university leaders in the winning collaborations each received a $25,000 NSERC research grant. Industry partners received the prestigious Synergy sculpture. The winning partnerships were:

- The University of British Columbia and Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc. for their ongoing collaboration in the development of a number of controlled-release drug delivery systems and drug-loaded medical devices.

- The University of Regina, EnergyINet, SaskPower, EnCana, HTC Purenergy, E-On, Saudi Aramco, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI), Neill & Gunter, Babcock & Wilcox, Natural Resources Canada, and Saskatchewan Industry & Resources for their leadership in developing world-class technologies to reduce industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, including research into permanent storage and alternative industrial uses.

- McGill University, Nortel, TELUS Communications Inc., JDS Uniphase Corp., BTI Photonic Systems Inc., and Anritsu Electronics Ltd. for advances resulting from their collaboration in the Agile All-Photonic Networks, which seeks to improve Canada's communications infrastructure through research into developing ultra-high bit-rate optical networks.

- The Universite de Sherbrooke and Tekna Plasma Systems Inc. for the development and marketing of innovative induction plasma torch systems for use in industrial processes such as the synthesis of nanopowders, deposition of protective layers, and fabrication of shaped parts by plasma spraying.

- Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and LTRIM Technologies for the development of a unique laser-based technology for fine-tuning high-performance analog integrated circuits for use in a variety of microelectronics products.

- Concordia University and Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. for major innovations in the use of carbon-epoxy composite materials in aircraft engineering resulting from their 18-year collaboration.

- Twelve Canadian universities (represented by the University of Waterloo) and IBM Canada received the prestigious NSERC Leo Derikx Award for the technological advances and productive relationships that have emanated from the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies, an innovative model of university-industry collaboration.

"The Synergy awards celebrate those partnerships that stand out as leaders in transferring tangible research results to the community by connecting the best and brightest of Canada's university researchers with the most innovative leaders in the private sector," said NSERC President Dr. Suzanne Fortier.

Also honoured at a gala dinner last night at The Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel was Dr. Dragan Tubic, of Universite Laval, the top prize winner in NSERC's Innovation Challenge Awards competition. In this annual competition, graduate students from across Canada are invited to identify potential products and services that could be created from their thesis research. Dr. Tubic won the top prize of $10,000 for his outstanding work in developing computer software that allows real-time data capture and modelling of three-dimensional structures.

Two runners-up in the competition - Dr. Lucien Junior Bergeron of the Universite de Sherbrooke and Elizabeth Gray of McGill University - received $5,000 each. Dr. Bergeron was honoured for his proposal to develop and commercialize a gene-inactivation system that can target specific RNA sequences at the cellular level. Ms. Gray was recognized for her discovery of a new bacteriocin, named Thuricin 17, and her proposal to develop and commercialize it for medical and food-processing purposes.

The NSERC Innovation Challenge was supported financially by GrowthWorks, a leading venture capital fund manager, as well as by Bell Canada, MDS Sciex, Research In Motion Inc., Syncrude Canada Ltd., and 3M Canada.

NSERC is a federal agency whose role is to make investments in people, discovery and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports some 22,000 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 10,000 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 800 Canadian companies to participate and invest in university research projects.

Contact Information

  • NSERC Public Affairs
    Michael Dwyer
    Media and Public Affairs Officer
    Cell: 613-794-9170
    Office of the Honourable Maxime Bernier
    Marc-Andre Plouffe
    Press Secretary