Best practices developed by the Canadian Stroke Network for stroke prevention, care and rehabilitation could prevent 160,000 strokes, avert disability in 60,000 Canadians, and save $8 billion in health care costs over 20 years.
The Canadian Arthritis Network’s patient-driven approach to arthritis is resulting in more targeted and effective treatments to this debilitating disease. The network’s Consumer Advisory Council, whose members each have some form of arthritis, participate on every CAN committee and in the peer-review process to ensure that research projects meet the most urgent needs of the nearly 4.5 million Canadians with arthritis.
The Canadian Stroke Network is working with nurses and other health groups across Canada to advance the Canadian Stroke Strategy – a national plan to ensure access to organized stroke care across the country. The CSN has also launched major initiatives to educate people to recognize when a stroke is occurring and the importance of getting treatment within the first three hours. Other campaigns are raising awareness of sodium levels in food and helping people to make healthy food choices.
The Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations has pioneered a new type of laser surgery that cuts through soft and hard tissue with no damage. The discovery resulted in a new spin-off company, AttoDyne, which is marketing ultra-fast lasers for medical use well as for semiconductor and solar panel fabrication.
At the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation, space technology company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates has partnered with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and medical robotics experts at McMaster University to design the world’s smallest, most affordable and flexible robotics system for medical surgery. It will mean less post-operative pain, fewer complications, quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays for patients.
The TRIUMF-managed Advanced Applied Physics Solutions is helping industry help hospitals produce their own medical isotopes and deliver personalized medicine to people suffering from cancer, neurological or cardiac diseases. Promising technologies include desktop-sized cyclotrons, which would enable hospitals to generate their own medical isotopes for diagnostics and therapeutics.
The Bioindustrial Innovation Centre in Sarnia Ontario is creating North America’s first biotechnology laboratories and shared pilot plant facilities for gasification, pyrolysis, fermentation and bio-conversion – key technologies involved in converting agricultural and forestry by-products into green fuels, chemicals, products and materials. Anticipated benefits include up to 1,000 new jobs in research and engineering and $1 billion in new bio-based investments to Canada by 2014.
Led by Canada’s major aerospace companies, the Green Aviation Research and Development Network is collaborating with researchers from academia, government and the private sector to develop lighter materials, alternative fuels and quieter engines for a new generation of greener airplanes. Founded in 2009, GARDN has already approved funding for nine projects, which are led by Pratt & Whitney Canada, Bombardier Aerospace and CMC Electronics.
Major companies such as Rio Tinto Alcan, Hydro-Québec, Dupont, Ericsson and Siemens have partnered with the new Centre of Excellence in Energy Efficiency (C3E) in Shawinigan, Quebec. The centre is commercializing technologies that reduce the amount of energy used in buildings, industrial processes, communications technology, bio-industries and transportation. The C3E plans to implement 100 to 140 energy technology projects and partake in the development of another 50 business services projects, for an estimated total value of $50 million over five years.
The next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due in 2013, will feature a new and improved contribution from Canada. Researchers from MITACS, in partnership with Environment Canada, have developed a new computer program that provides climate simulations faster and in greater detail, allowing a better understanding of processes at a global and regional level. The advances will enable experts to better analyze trends in weather patterns and determine their effect on features such as permafrost, coastal erosion and water levels in dams.
Since its inception in 1995, the Sustainable Forest Management Network has translated research findings into policies and practices that support the forests, the environment and the livelihood of forest-dependent communities across Canada. In Alberta, for example, the province is incorporating SFM Network research findings into its Forest Management Planning Standards. Ducks Unlimited Canada is using network research to develop more effective multi-partner initiatives to conserve wetlands and waterfowl habitats throughout the Boreal Forest. SFM Network research is also providing practical knowledge that forest companies need to improve current forestry practices.
The likelihood of vast hydrocarbons beneath the Arctic Ocean seabed is attracting considerable international attention. In response, ArcticNet is working on several fronts to map the seafloor and geological structure of the Northwest Passage and other regions of the Canadian Archipelago as a first step towards the management of resource exploration and increased intercontinental ship traffic. ArcticNet researchers are also examining how these mapping data can assist the Canadian government in securing its sovereign rights over the seabed, even beyond the international 200 nautical mile limit.
The Petroleum Technology Research Centre - Sustainable Technologies for Energy Production Systems (PTRC-STEPS) network is fast-tracking development of technologies that can extract inaccessible heavy oil and bitumen beneath Saskatchewan and Alberta, and in a way that leaves a smaller environmental footprint. The network brings together competitors and suppliers, along with government partners and academic researchers, to identify technologies and systems that can be taken out of a laboratory environment and tested in the field – all within four to five years.
Canadian Water Network researchers have worked with the city of Chilliwack in British Columbia to install rock pits behind each lot in a new subdivision. It means that 95% of rainfall is now absorbed into the soil instead of overflowing storm water sewers or flooding agricultural land. In North Vancouver, CWN researchers have worked with homeowners on ways to harvest rainwater for gardening, ensuring that more water is absorbed into the ground.
In addition to the pain and suffering caused to children from car crashes, a disabled child represents a cost to Canada’s health care system of more than $5 million over their lifetime. Thus, preventing even 15 Canadian children from being crippled by a car crash will pay for the entire public investment in AUTO21 over its 14 year lifespan.
AUTO21 researchers teamed with Magna International to develop the clek™ booster seat, the first of its kind to use a vehicle’s build in LATCH seat attachment system to provide additional safety and protection for Canadian children. The clek™ has been available in stores nation-wide, with strong sales over the past few years. New seat models based on the original AUTO21 research are now coming onto the market and the company is continuing the product development process in collaboration with the network’s research team.
An AUTO21 research team of psychologists, sociologists, criminologists and legal experts worked with the RCMP and the Winnipeg Police Service to tackle one of Canada’s most preventable crimes – auto theft. The study led to the development of prevention initiatives and policies (the Winnipeg Auto Theft Abatement Strategy), such as incentives for people to install anti-theft systems in their vehicles. The Attorney General of Manitoba credits this research program with decreasing auto theft in Winnipeg by over 60% in just a few months.
A new encryption technology based on quantum physics creates decoys to distract hackers from accessing a company’s confidential data. The technology, developed by researchers supported by the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations, uses particles of light to share secret encryption keys transmitted over fibre-optic networks.
Quebec’s Ministry of Public Safety is using special maps generated from a GEOIDE (GEOmatics for Informed DEcisions) research project to better monitor and manage frazil (loose ice crystals), ice jams and flooding in the St. Lawrence River. New technology was developed and new algorithms were generated using data from the RADARSAT earth observation satellite to produce detailed and timely images of icy waters, including information on ice topography and structure.
Risk-taking, innovation, boldness and, most importantly, results and impacts have been the trademarks of the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Networks and centres have spun off over 100 companies, obtained hundreds of licenses, filed thousands of patents and collaborated with 1,700 partners annually.
The NCE program has contributed to Canada’s emergence as a global leader in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) science and surveillance—a disease that has cost this country’s beef industry more than $6 billion since Canada was confronted with its first confirmed case of BSE in May 2003. Through PrioNet Canada, the country has developed a national network of specialists working in this field and developed an Integrated Risk Management framework that is helping countries around the world fight BSE (also known as mad cow disease). PrioNet is also making progress on a prototype vaccine that triggers immune responses in healthy sheep to prevent prion-related infections.
The Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development (PC-TRIADD) in Vancouver has developed a new model for commercializing post-secondary health research. The centre acts as a bridge between academia and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to conduct pre-clinical and clinical proof-of-concept studies. Its primary focus is on the mechanisms of late stage tumour progression and acquired treatment resistance. PC-TRIADD has already identified five key genes that cause prostate cancer to progress and licensed eight drug products to three local biotech companies. Some of those drugs are being tested in clinical trials.
The Stem Cell Network has standardized intellectual property licensing protocols from several universities into one common toolkit, covering everything from licences to non disclosure and material transfer agreements. The toolkit is a landmark achievement: national in scope, it spans hospitals and post-secondary institutions, bridges geography and languages, and was developed with participation from every major region of the country. These agreements are now being used by post-secondary technology transfer offices to facilitate transactions with stem cell companies and with companies in other technology areas.
The Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) is bringing together the tool makers with the tool users, along with skilled workers and venture capitalists, to transform Canada into an international powerhouse for digital media. Based in Waterloo and Stratford, Ontario, the CDMN has partnered with Open Text Corp., Research In Motion, COM DEV International and others to nurture collaboration between Canada’s three digital media clusters in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Its goal is to see about 100 new companies created by offering commercialization support to researchers and entrepreneurs, including access to specialized technology services, business coaching, office space, venture capital and an entrepreneur-in-residence program.
The Networks of Centres of Excellence is dedicated to facilitating multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral networks and centres that contribute to advancing knowledge and public policies in areas as diverse as engineering and manufacturing, health, human development and biotechnology, information and communications technologies, as well as natural resources, the environment and water quality.
The Networks of Centres of Excellence Partners are universities, federal and provincial government departments and agencies, industries, hospitals and other organizations that have supported networks and centres with funding, equipment, facilities and expertise.