Ottawa, Ontario, October 17, 2011 – Some of Canada’s leading young researchers were honoured today for applying their leading-edge research to real-world situations. This work included developing technology that reduces earthquake vibrations in highrise buildings, increasing the efficiency of industrial machinery and broadening the uses for lasers in medical diagnosis. Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), noted these achievements today, in announcing the recipients of the 2011 Innovation Challenge Awards.
The Government of Canada is a strong supporter of researchers. “Our government is very pleased to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s young scientists,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “These researchers are highly motivated to bring new discoveries into the marketplace so that Canadians can benefit—through a higher quality of life and a stronger economy.”
"These awards encourage graduate students to explore the real-world implications of their research. I am very impressed with the high calibre of the nominations we received from universities across Canada," said Dr. Fortier. "These young researchers understand that the ability to translate new knowledge into innovative products and services is a crucial factor in pushing Canada to new levels of innovation."
When a highrise building is subjected to an extreme earthquake, significant damage can occur throughout the concrete walls and beams. Michael Montgomery developed an innovative technology for reducing wind and earthquake vibrations in these buildings, called the Wind-Earthquake Coupling Damper. For this work, Dr. Montgomery, who completed a graduate degree at the University of Toronto, received the first prize, worth $10,000.
For broadening the use of lasers that help to diagnose certain medical conditions, Martin Bernier, the first runner-up, received $5,000. In close collaboration with industrial partners, Bernier, who did his graduate studies at Université Laval, developed the FibreLase technology, enhancing the use of lasers in biomedical applications to improve patient care.
In large industrial organizations, shutting down massive machines for a maintenance check can be costly. Viet Hung Vu, who completed a graduate degree at École de technologie supérieure, created MODALAR-STAR, a software program that helps identify and monitor vibration properties in large industrial machinery and structures during operation. Vu received $5,000 as second runner-up for his research contributing to greater machine efficiency.
Nine other researchers each received an honourable mention prize of $1,200.
The Innovation Challenge Awards were launched in 2004 by NSERC and the Canadian Science and Technology Growth Fund. The program is currently funded by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), NSERC and private sector contributions.
Canada's Business Development Bank, BDC, puts entrepreneurs first. With almost 1,900 employees and more than 100 business centres across the country, BDC offers financing, subordinate financing, venture capital and consulting services to 29,000 small and medium-sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada's economic prosperity.
NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.
For more information on the award winners, please visit the Innovation Challenge Awards section of our Web site or contact:
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
The Innovation Challenge Awards honour graduate students in the natural sciences or engineering who have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and have identified ways their research thesis results can be developed into products and processes to benefit Canadians.
There are three awards: one $10,000 grand prize and two $5,000 runner-up prizes. Honourable mention prizes may also be awarded, if applications are deemed meritorious.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada provide the major funding for the Innovation Challenge Awards. Other financial contributors include AB Sciex, Research In Motion, Syncrude, the Dairy Farmers of Canada and 3M.
University of Toronto
Title: Viscoelastic fork configuration dampers
Dr. Montgomery developed an innovative technology for reducing wind and earthquake vibrations in highrise buildings, called the Wind-Earthquake Coupling Damper.
Viet Hung Vu
École de technologie supérieure
Title: Modalar-Star – program for analyzing and monitoring instationary systems in operational mode
Dr. Vu created MODALAR-STAR, a program that allows for identifying and monitoring vibrational properties in large industrial machinery and structures during operation.
Title: Development of a fibre-optic laser for biomedical applications
Martin Bernier developed the FibreLase technology, helping to enhance the use of lasers in biomedical applications to improve patient care.
University of Manitoba
Title: Application of respiratory sounds for sleep apnea monitoring and assessing upper airways
Dr. Yadollahi developed a monitoring device that patients can take home to detect signs of sleep apnea.
The University of British Columbia
Title: 3D TV content generation and multiview coding
Dr. Talebpourazad developed software to convert 2-D television content into a 3-D format.
University of Waterloo
Title: Low income flood-proof technology (LIFT) housing
Prithula Prosun developed the LIFT design, a home that rises with flood waters and then lowers once flooding recedes, preventing damage to the home and its contents.
Title: New catalysts for Palladium coupling reactions
Dr. Lundgren developed novel chemical compounds, known as ligands, which are generating significant interest from pharmaceutical companies.
University of Manitoba
Title: Mustard as a natural food preservative
Dr. Luciano has shown that using mustard meal in dry sausage can eliminate E. coli bacteria.
University of Calgary
Title: A cost-effective air contacter for direct atmospheric capture of carbon dioxide
Geoffrey Holmes is making breakthrough discoveries in the field of air capture of CO2 that could help combat climate change.
École Polytechnique de Montréal
Title: An integrated tool suite for electronic embedded system design
Dr. Moss has contributed to the development of a commercially viable software tool suite known as SpaceStudio. The technology has garnered significant interest from the European Space Agency, leading to research and development projects.
Mohamed Hamid Mohamed
University of Saskatchewan
Title: Sequestration of naphthenic acids from oil sands process water using B-Cylodextrin-based polyurethanes
Dr. Mohamed is studying the use of polymer chemistry to help remediate tailing ponds created by the oil sands industry.
Title: New optrode for neuronal recording
Dr. LeChasseur is creating a new type of electrode that can be used to study individual neurons within a living organism. His work combines expertise from the fields of photonics and neuroscience, with the goal of creating new technologies for biomedical research that could lead to breakthroughs in new drugs and therapies for people with brain disorders.