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Awards salute university-industry innovation


Halifax, NS – Canada’s largest science and engineering granting agency, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), has announced the winners of its national annual awards for excellence in innovation. The awards were given at a ceremony last week in Halifax.

Six partnerships are singled out for national prizes. The university leaders in the winning collaborations each receive a $25,000 NSERC research grant.

– The University of New Brunswick (Saint John), Irving Pulp and Paper and Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute was honoured for world leadership in pinpointing the source of pulp and paper mill compounds that cause reproductive changes in fish, and in validating a reliable technological remedy.

– The University of Manitoba won a prize with Vector Construction Group for a long-term collaboration that has combined innovative ideas with leading-edge materials and systems to advance the state of the art in the restoration and monitoring of concrete and timber structures.

– The University of Manitoba collected an award for its work with Manitoba HVDC Research Centre and RTDS Technologies. Together, they developed and commercialized state-of-the-art technologies for power systems simulation and created a corps of dedicated, highly trained professionals and leaders in the field.

– Simon Fraser University and VSM MedTech received a prize for a 30-year partnership that has developed revolutionary medical imaging technologies and opened new frontiers in the understanding of brain function and the evaluation and treatment of neurological disease.

– The University of Toronto, TD Bank Financial Group, RBC Financial Group, Bell Canada and BMO Financial Group won for their collaborative work in finding unconventional solutions to such challenges in the financial services sector as evaluating mutual fund performance and corporate failure, estimating the relative efficiency of production units and improving the accuracy of the automated detection of credit card fraud.

– The Universit du Qubec Chicoutimi and Hydro-Qubec received the NSERC Leo Derikx Award for a long-term collaboration that resulted both in the creation of the world’s largest laboratory for understanding the effects of ice build-up on electric transmission equipment, and in the development of new technologies to reduce this damage.

“Synergy prizes celebrate effective partnerships that connect university research leaders with the private sector to deliver research results to the marketplace,” said Nigel Lloyd, NSERC’s executive vice-president and CEO.

Also honoured was Benjamin Hatton of the University of Toronto, top prize winner in NSERC’s Innovation Challenge Awards competition. In this annual competition, launched in 2004, graduate students from across Canada are invited to identify potential products and services that could be created from their thesis findings. Dr Hatton won the top prize of $10,000 for his proposal to develop and commercialize nanoporous films for applications in microelectronics. Two runners-up in the competition – Richard Yuqiang Tu of Simon Fraser University and Razvan Nutiu of McMaster University – will each receive $5,000.

The NSERC Innovation Challenge is co-sponsored by GrowthWorks, Bell Canada, MDS Sciex, and Foragen Technologies Management.