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First winners of Governor General’s Innovation Awards are announced


Ottawa, ON – Canadian innovators, including several scientists, have been named as the inaugural winners of the Governor General’s Innovation Awards (GGIA). The awards recognize and celebrate outstanding Canadian individuals, teams and organizations whose exceptional and transformative work help shape Canada’s future and positively impact our quality of life.

 “I’m delighted to present the first six Governor General’s Innovation Awards for groundbreaking work in a variety of spheres,” said David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. “In essence, innovation is about finding new and better ways to create value, to foster a more compassionate, inclusive society and to meaningfully impact our quality of life. Hailing from across the country, the recipients of these awards are demonstrating the power of creativity and collaboration to build a smarter, more caring Canada and a better world.”

The 2016 winners are:

Christi Belcourt, Espanola. Métis visual artist Christi Belcourt uses cutting-edge applied arts and design and new technologies in an effort to raise awareness and to create momentum toward innovative societal change while respecting traditional protocols and ancestral cultural traditions. Her initiatives relate to a wide range of social issues and she champions forward-looking collaborations that are models of respectful partnerships and principled adaptation of Indigenous cultural influence. Nominated by the Canada Council for the Arts

Robert E. Burrell, Edmonton. Dr. Burrell’s Acticoat is the first burn dressing to simultaneously kill bacteria and decrease inflammation. This revolutionized approach to wound care increases healing rates, reduces the need for skin grafts and cuts down on long-term scar management issues. With his innovation, he has saved thousands of lives and limbs around the world. Dr. Burrell is currently a Canada research chair in nanostructured biomaterials, the Sorensen chair in the commercialization of biomedical technology, and a professor and chair of biomedical engineering in the faculties of engineering and medicine & dentistry at the University of Alberta. Nominated by Universities Canada

Jeff Dahn, Halifax. Dr. Dahn and his team of researchers have pioneered the method of high-precision coulometry to rank the life span of Li-ion cells in a few weeks of testing. This allows researchers to speed up the R&D process and create a better and longer-lasting Li-ion cell, and will contribute to the switch of energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable resources. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Dahn worked at the National Research Council of Canada and Moli Energy Limited before joining the Physics Department at Simon Fraser University in 1990. He was named the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/3M Canada industrial research chair at Dalhousie University in 1996, where he subsequently became a Canada research chair in 2003. In 2016, he will hold the NSERC/Tesla Canada industrial research chair where he will focus on low-cost, long-lifetime Li-ion batteries. Nominated by Universities Canada

J. Breanne Everett, Calgary. Dr. Everett co-founded Orpyx Medical Technologies to develop her idea for shoe insoles that prompt patients with diabetic foot conditions to move their feet to improve blood flow. This wearable technology has improved users’ quality of life and reduced health-care costs by decreasing the risks of sores, infection and amputation caused by diabetes-related nerve damage and poor circulation. Dr. Everett is also a medical doctor and resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Calgary. Nominated by Mitacs

Kinova, Boisbriand. Co-founded by Charles Deguire, Kinova helps people push beyond their physical limitations and offers a more efficient and safer work environment in industrial settings. Kinova’s sleek, energy-efficient robotic arms are lightweight, quiet, unobtrusive and weather-resistant. Since its launch in 2010, the JACO arm has offered more autonomy, control and range of motion—as well as improved mental well-being—to Canadians with upper-body mobility restrictions. Nominated by the National Research Council Canada

Mark G. Torchia and Richard Tyc, Winnipeg. Dr. Torchia and Mr. Tyc are the creators of the NeuroBlate System, a medical device that combines a novel laser probe system with real-time image guidance. Using magnetic resonance imaging and sophisticated software, the tool allows neurosurgeons in Canada and abroad to treat brain tumours and other intracranial targets in a minimally invasive way that also reduces post-operative care and health costs. Dr. Torchia is the executive director of the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at the University of Manitoba and Mr. Tyc, P. Eng., is the vice-president of technology and advanced development at Monteris Medical Inc. Mr. Tyc teamed up with Dr. Torchia more than 15 years ago to help bring NeuroBlate technology to reality and clinical success. Nominated by the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

The GGIA selection committee is composed of individuals chosen for their expertise in and breadth of understanding of the innovation ecosystem. The members of the 2016 selection committee included Sakchin Bessette, co-founder and creative director, Moment Factory; Jocelyne Bourgon, president of Public Governance International; Erin Egan, chief privacy officer, Facebook; Naveen Jain, board of trustees, XPRIZE foundation; Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO, Cirque du Soleil; Heather Munroe-Blum, former principal, McGill University.

The awards will be presented to the winners by the Governor General, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, on May 19, at 10:30 a.m.