Lab Canada

Synergy and innovation in the spotlight for NSERC awards

Ottawa, ON – Successful university-industry partnerships are the focus of NSERC’s annual Synergy Awards for Innovation and the Innovation Challenge Awards, which were awarded recently in Halifax.


The awards were established in 1995, and their value increased substantially this year, with each winner receiving a $200,000 research grant. Industry partners also received the prestigious Synergy sculpture.


François Gagnon, of École de technologie supérieure, and Ultra Electronics TCS received the Synergy Award for a partnership with a small or medium-sized company. The project has helped revolutionize military communications with a software-defined, tactical radio that provides vital multimedia links between soldiers and commanders in combat zones.


Jim Hendry, of the University of Saskatchewan, and Cameco won the award for a partnership with a large company. Their collaboration has improved mine waste management through research into the chemical properties of mine tailings and the movement of contaminants.


University of New Brunswick marine biologist Thierry Chopin’s collaboration with Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist Shawn Robinson and industry partners Cooke Aquaculture and Acadian Seaplants on Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture earned the Synergy Award for a partnership with two or more companies of any size. This project will allow the industry to reduce its environmental footprint, while also boosting productivity and diversifying product lines.


James Finch, of McGill University, along with Vale Inco, Teck Cominco, COREM, Xstrata Process Support, and SGS Lakefield won the Leo Derikx Award for a long-standing university-industry partnership in pre-competitive R&D that has improved the general well-being of an industry. Their 20-year collaboration on mineral processing has significantly enhanced the recovery and purity of base metals from ore deposits.


Also presented, were the Innovation Challenge Awards, which recognize graduate students’ entrepreneurial spirit by identifying potential products or services that could be developed from their thesis research. Darren Kraemer, of the University of Toronto, won the $10,000 first prize, Jiang Liu, also of the University of Toronto, won $5,000 for second place, and Mehrdad Rafat and Kris Woodbeck, both from the University of Ottawa, received third-place prizes of $3,250. Seven other researchers received honourable mention prizes of $1,500.