Innovate BC, the government agency that helps tech ventures start, scale, and stay in British Columbia, has awarded $1.2M to four B.C.-based research projects through its Ignite Program. The four projects are developing innovative solutions to challenges across a variety of sectors, including forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing. The funding will accelerate commercialization efforts and bring these projects to market within three years.
The four winning projects, with their industry and academic partners, are:
TimberOps: An Immersive Visual Analytics Platform for the Forestry Industry
Dr. Dominik Roeser (UBC) and industry partners LlamaZOO and FPInnovations are working on a research platform called TimberOps. This innovative platform integrates heterogeneous datasets into a common visualization context and delivers immersive analytic experiences through state-of-the-art virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) head-mounted displays (HMDs), as well as desktop workstations and mobile devices. The platform provides an alternative to expensive field trips for silviculture, harvesting, and transportation planning, saving valuable time, money, and resources for end-users.
Development of the Next Generation Wearable Lower-Limb Exoskeleton for Mobility Assistance
Dr. Edward Park (SFU) and industry partner Human in Motion Robotics Inc. are developing Exomotion - the next generation, wearable lower-limb exoskeleton that’s designed to get people out of wheelchairs and walking with full legged mobility and independence. Exomotion is a breakthrough medical technology for daily use and offers a dramatic improvement in mobility challenged persons’ daily living and overall quality of life due to increased mobility and independence.
Reduction to Commercial Practice of a Universal Polymer Crosslinker & Adhesive
The Wulff research group, led by Dr. Jeremy Wulff (UVIC), is collaborating with Epic Ventures Inc. to develop a new class of molecules that function as universal crosslinking agents for polymer chemistry.
This game-changing technology is the first approach that allows virtually any material to be crosslinked using the same basic technology, including existing, commercially available polymer materials like wood and paper (e.g. cellulose), textile fabric (e.g. nylon or cotton), high-performance materials (e.g. ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene), and industrial plastics (e.g. silicone and polypropylene). These materials have increased mechanical strength relative to non-crosslinked polymers and have increased resistance to degradation by solvents or microbial contaminants
As an added benefit, these crosslinkers can be employed as universal adhesives, allowing the user to “glue” essentially any two pieces of polymer together, even in cases where traditional adhesives like super glue show barely measurable bonding.
Computational Platform for Developing Actigate™-enabled Formulations for Agricultural Applications
Dr. Martin Ester (SFU) and industry partner Terramera are developing a new computational platform to design antifungal formulations and accurately predict their efficacy on important crop diseases in Canada, such as wheat leaf rust. The platform will incorporate Terramera’s proprietary Actigate™ technology, meaning an increased efficacy and lower use of the active ingredient that kills pests. This project will generate machine learning models built on details of Actigate™ and active ingredient chemistries, crop and pest genomics, varied growth conditions, and evaluate results including quantified phenotypes, to predict the best active ingredient formulations to kill specific fungi on specific crops.
These formulations will be continually generated and tested, and their performance will be analyzed using machine vision and algorithms to quantify efficacy, leading to new rounds of testing and analysis. The continual feedback loop will improve the machine learning models, leading to better predictions and better control of crop pests. The outcome will be new pest control products for agriculture in Canada and worldwide.
The $1.2M in total funding is the most ever awarded through the Ignite Program. Since the Ignite Program launched in 2016, Innovate BC has awarded $6.5M to 28 projects. When including matching funds from industry and government sources, total investment into these projects jumps to more than $24.8M. Notable past awardees include partnerships between Aspect Biosystems and UVIC; Jetti Resources and UBC; and Advanced BioCarbon 3D and Selkirk College.
Successful projects are selected based on their promising commercial and technical viability, as well as their ability to be market ready within three years. To be considered, projects must address an industry problem in the natural resource or applied sciences, have the potential for significant benefit to British Columbia, and be realized by a group of academic and industry members.
Raghwa Gopal, Innovate BC President + CEO:
“Despite the ongoing global uncertainty, it’s extremely encouraging to see our local tech companies and researchers continuing to change the world with homegrown innovation. Since 2016, the Ignite Program has been a catalyst to help B.C.-based research projects access funding, accelerate commercialization, and transform industries.”
Rick Glumac, Parliamentary Secretary for Technology:
“These projects are evidence of the remarkable companies and people leading innovation in the province. Innovate BC’s Ignite Program continues to showcase ground-breaking work that will benefit people and sectors throughout the province, and reinforce the tremendous strength of B.C.’s tech sector.”