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Innovation awards recognize Ontario’s local talent

Toronto, ON – Ten people and businesses have been selected as the 2010 winners of Ontario’s Premier’s Innovation Awards.

The awards provide funding that ranges from $200,000 to $5 million. The 2010 awards include the Premier’s Summit Awards in Medical Research, the Premier’s Discovery Award for Natural Sciences and Engineering, the Premier’s Catalyst Award for Start-up Company with the Best Innovation and the Premier’s Catalyst Award for Best Young Innovator.

Summit Awards:

The Summit Awards build research leadership by recognizing exceptional medical researchers and helping them expand their programs. The recipients of these awards are internationally recognized leaders whose work has transformed their fields. Each recipient receives $5 million over a five-year period, including a $2.5-million contribution from the Summit Award program and a matching $2.5 million from the recipient’s sponsoring institution.

The winners for 2010 include:
– Dr Janet Rossant, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. Dr Rossant is a world leader in stem cell research. She has transformed the understanding of human biology and stem cell origins and put Ontario at the forefront of the international global market for stem cell therapies.

– Dr Jeff Wrana, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. Dr Wrana’s internationally acclaimed research on the communication pathways of cells in our bodies has opened entirely new ways of thinking when it comes to fighting cancer. His discoveries have led to new treatments that use intracellular communications to stop cancer from progressing and even reverse their effects. His breakthrough work has already led to new treatment options for breast cancer tumours and groundbreaking advances for other cancers.

The sponsoring institutions for the winners include MaRS Discovery District, The Hospital for Sick Children, and The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Discovery Awards:

– Life Sciences and Medicine: Dr Vladimir Hachinski, University of Western Ontario, London. Neurologist Dr Hachinski is internationally renowned for his stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease research. He pioneered acute stroke units, the most effective treatment for strokes of all types and severities. These units, now in health-care centres around the world, provide specialized treatment that has saved thousands of lives.

– Natural Sciences and Engineering: Dr Geoffrey Ozin, University of Toronto, Toronto. As a pioneer of nanochemistry, Dr Ozin was one of the first scientists in the field to identify the importance of a chemical approach to nanostructured materials, driving many of today’s nanotechnologies in biology, physics and engineering. Through his company Opalux, he is commercializing photonic crystal technology – which holds the potential to create full-colour displays that use dramatically less energy than current products.

– Social Sciences: Professor Michael Trebilcock, University of Toronto, Toronto. Professor Trebilcock is an internationally recognized expert on the economic analysis of law.

– Arts and Humanities: Dr Ruth Phillips, Carleton University, Ottawa. Dr Phillips is a pre-eminent art historian, curator, museum director and humanist.

– Innovation Leadership: Dr Janusz Pawliszyn. University of Waterloo, Waterloo. Dr Pawliszyn is known as the inventor of Solid-Phase Microextraction, or SPME. Environmental testing agencies, forensic scientists and major global players in the food and fragrance industry use SPME to collect and extract samples for chemical testing in one efficient step.

Catalyst Awards:

The Premier’s Catalyst Awards are presented to companies for developing commercially successful innovations, new products and services based on breakthrough technologies. The innovations must have the potential to positively impact Ontario’s economy, society or sustainable development. The awards, each worth $200,000, were presented in the following categories:

* Best Young Innovator
* Start-up Company with the Best Innovation
* Company with the Best Innovation

– Best Young Innovator: Spartan Bioscience, Dr Paul Lem. Ottawa. Dr Lem, the founder of Spartan Bioscience, is one of Canada’s most successful emerging biotechnology entrepreneurs. At age 30, he launched his most notable invention, the Spartan DX-12. This medical device is a quick, affordable and easy-to-use desktop DNA analyzer for infectious diseases, human genetic testing, food safety and water testing.

– Start-up Company with the Best Innovation: Profound Medical, Toronto. Founded in September 2008 as a spin-off from the world-class Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, Profound Medical is developing a prostate cancer treatment that may one day replace complicated invasive surgery with a short out-patient procedure. By using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to create a virtual real-time 3D rendering of the prostate, the company has developed an ultrasound thermal procedure to treat the prostate quickly and precisely, potentially minimizing the damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

– Company with the Best Innovation: COM DEV International, Cambridge. Since its launch in 1974, COM DEV has been recognized as a leading space hardware designer and manufacturer. Its customers include some of the world’s prime satellite builders – the Canadian and European space agencies, NASA and NATO.

The province’s premier, Dalton McGuinty, has also announced a one-time award, the Premier’s Catalyst Award for Water Innovation, for 2011.