2022 ASTech Awards Winners

We are excited to announce the Winners of the 33rd Annual ASTech Awards!

Best in Sector Award Winners


Award – Outstanding Innovation In Digital Technologies: Customer Applications

Initiative: IOT, AI & ML – Predictive Maintenance & Condition Monitoring, Efficiency Monitoring

Nanoprecise Sci Corp specializes in implementation of Artificial Intelligence and IoT technology devices for predictive asset maintenance and condition monitoring. Timely and accurate diagnosis of machine faults provides insights that allow operators to make decisions that will save considerable time and resources, while reducing incidents and emissions, at the same time as improving equipment performance.

Sunil Vedula, Chief Executive Officer 
Sunil earned his MBA from University of Alberta, specializing in Finance and Natural Resource, Energy & Environment. Prior to being an entrepreneur, Sunil’s professional career had him working on projects associated with Oil & Gas and Mining firms. He observed a need for innovative & affordable solutions to material issues of these companies, and launched Nanoprecise. 


Award – Outstanding Innovation In Digital Technologies: Research

Initiative: AI/ML, Education – Artificial intelligence for Logistics

Dr. Xin Wang, Professor, University of Calgary

Dr.Wang develops and implements innovative AI/ML methods and software tools for optimizing logistics networks and providing smart truck routing for goods delivery services under extreme weather conditions. Through this research and the developed technologies, delivery service companies are able to cut down transportation costs by better routing planning, reduce operational costs and improve productivity by optimizing the planning and better managing vehicle fleets. The results of this research help industries to evaluate potential solutions to improve their business practices. 

Award – Outstanding Achievement in AI/ML Advancement: Energy and Environmental Innovation 

Initiative: Sustainability, AI/ML – Making Buildings Smart and Efficient using Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.

Dr. Omid Ardakanian, Computing Science, University of Alberta
The operation of buildings accounts for more than 30% of the total energy consumption in North America. The team has developed machine learning algorithms for data-enabled optimization and control of buildings and energy systems – that reduce energy consumption and improve their indoor environmental quality (IEQ) performance.


Award – Outstanding Achievement in AI/ML Advancement: Social Innovation

Initiative: Health Technology – Creating Scalable Digital Solutions to Support the Mental Health and Wellness of Albertans

Dr. Linda Duffett-Leger, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary
A nursing leader whose sustained program of innovative research is leveraging digital technologies to solve real-world health challenges for individuals, families, healthcare providers, and communities.  The awards she has received have included: the Faculty of Nursing Excellence in Research Award, and the UNB Alumni Award of Distinction for her research, entrepreneurship, innovation, and knowledge engagement activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

The team is focused on the urgently needed virtual delivery of mental health and wellness programs, to mitigate the lifelong consequences of socio-environmental adversities on health and psychological outcomes. Developing artificial intelligence (AI) enabled smart tools – decision support and programs by other researchers will become more accessible to clinicians and the public they serve.   

Award – Outstanding Achievement in AI/ML Advancement: Adaptive Learning and Simulation

Initiative: AI/ML Simulation & Synthetic Data – AI/ML Applications in Adaptive Learning and Simulation, Indigenous Entrepreneurship

RUNWITHIT Synthetics helps leaders worldwide design better, more sustainable, equitable, and resilient futures for all.  Responding to the unprecedented, interconnected, and critical futures of growing cities and their stakeholders who face decarbonization imperatives, extreme acute and chronic events and disasters, along with compounding stress from changing industry, demographics, economics, and growth, RUNWITHIT generates complete Synthetic Cities to dial-forward limitless scenarios and optimize solutions for investing in policy, technology, built environment, and infrastructure.  RUNWITHIT’s Synthetic Futures Platform provides world-leading 3D, Synthetic Modelling and Data environment – modelling 24 cities and growing, from Kuala Lumpur to Gibbons, Alberta.

Myrna Bittner, CEO, Founder

Armed with her BA in English, and finishing her MBA, Myrna started her first tech company in 1992, developing a commercial internet groupware product used by NASA and US West for real-time remote communications, followed by co-founding a 3D neural net visualization research company funded by an Australian billionaire. When they told her she couldn’t, she didn’t listen. Myrna passionately lives and promotes the imperative for inclusion, diversity, and representation..

Dean Bittner, CTO, Founder
Dean is an early web pioneer – delivering thought- and market-leading ventures in hypermedia clients, artificial intelligence and visualization, communications and cryptography, medical software and devices, television and advertising, and large-scale enterprise. He is an incurable dreamer, non-conformist, and coding funder and founder.

Award Outstanding Achievement in Energy and Environment: Environmental Innovation in Energy Applications

Initiative: Energy and Environment – Biopolymer based adsorbents for water and tailing remediation

Dr. Aman Ullah, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences
Dr. Ullah focuses on chemical conversions of biomass and synthesis of Biopolymers, Biochemicals, Biocomposites, Bionanocomposites, Biosorbents and Bioconjugates from Lipids & other Renewable Resources for Industrial Applications

 Dr. Tariq Siddique, Renewable Resources
Dr. Siddique studies the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons under anaerobic conditions; metabolic pathways of hydrocarbon degradation; molecular fingerprinting of hydrocarbon-degrading microbial communities, and the Biogeochemistry of oil sands tailings ponds 

 This work shows that natural biopolymers are equally effective for the flocculation of clays to enhance tailings consolidation and can provide a better alternative to the existing synthetic polymers – and can be a game changer in industrial wastewater treatment and consolidation of produced tailings.

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Energy and Environment: Excellence in Clean Energy

Initiative: Developing a New Technology for the Clean and Efficient Extraction of Lithium

Dr. Ghada NafieLitus / University of Calgary
Conducting research with nanoparticles, Dr. Nafie has developed a method of lithium extraction that has the potential to be a game-changer in the industry, and affect environmental considerations in a very positive way. Dr. Nafie has recently won the Elevate pitch competition award from the Firehood for $100,000, and the Inventures Net Zero Category 2022. Her research has been funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF). 


Award – Outstanding Achievement in Energy and Environment: Environmental Innovation in Energy Applications 

Initiative: Oil & Gas – Oil & Gas – Eliminates Methane Emissions from Pneumatic Devices at On or Off-Grid Locations.

Team Submission: Connor O’Shea – CEO, Ben Klepacki – CRO, Curtis Lynn, James Freeman – Sr. Digital Strategy

Westgen Technologies Inc developed proprietary technology to overcome the two traditional limitations associated with low power range reciprocating internal combustion engines: maintenance interval and fuel gas quality. Westgen applied their proprietary power generation design to develop the EPOD integrated system. This cost-effective 6, 20, or 30 kW remote power generation solution powers an instrument air compressor using solar power and variable quality gas. 

The Westgen executive team of mechanical engineers Connor and Ben (Rising Star recipients)  Curtis Lynn, and experienced scale-up executive James Freeman are combining technologies and approaches to eliminate venting in specific applications – resulting in emissions reductions by more than 98%.

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Sustainability: Excellence in Forest Management Research

Initiative: Sustainability Solutions/Approaches, Environment – Application of Remote Sensing Technologies in Forest Fire Management

Dr. Quazi Hassan, Professor of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary
Dr. Hassan’s work includes the development of advanced forest fire danger forecasting system using publicly available satellite data from NASA; a wildland fire risk modelling framework for the Greater Athabasca oil sands region; and a policy framework for forest fire-induced risks and community resilience for the people of Fort McMurray.


Award – Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Sustainability: Innovative Applications in Environmental Sustainability

Initiative: Environment, High Tech – Warning Systems to Improve Train Detectability and Reduce Collisions with Wildlife

Dr. John Nychka, Professor, Chemical and Materials Engineering,. Vice-Provost (Learning Initiatives), Provost & Vice-President Academic – Admin

Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair, Professor, Biological Sciences – Behavioural Ecology, Conservation Biology in the discipline of Conservation Behaviour.

Dr. Jonathan BacksEngineering Scientist, Wilson Analytical

University of Alberta – In response to deaths of grizzly bears and other wildlife from train collisions in Alberta’s mountain parks, the team developed and tested a warning system, consisting of light and sound that are triggered by approaching trains, similar to road crossing signals that reduce risk of train collisions for people. This pioneering work on warning system technology and understanding of collision risk has the potential to support mitigation of wildlife–train collisions in Alberta and beyond, both for existing railways with known collision hotspots and new projects where high-risk locations could be predicted in advance.  Recognized by National News and the Discovery Channel – this team’s work was supported by Alberta Innovates, the Alberta Conservation Association, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Pacific, and the University of Alberta.

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Sustainability: Innovative Applications in Environmental Protection

Initiative: Biotechnology –  Insect Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering to Manufacture Sustainable Recombinant Proteins.

Future Fields – uses fruit flies to make sustainable recombinant proteins. Produced by the EntoEngine™, Future Fields’ insect biotechnology, Future Fields provides scientists with the quality biomolecules they need to economically and sustainably do great science. Producing serum-free proteins with the EntoEngine™, Future Fields helps agritech, health tech, and other life sciences industries in growing their innovation, while radically reducing their environmental footprint and production costs.

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Urban Development: Research

Initiative – Transportation, Smart Cities, Sustainability

Lina Kattan, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary
Dr. Kattan is the Canada Research Chair in Integrative Transportation through Automation and Connectivity; Director of NSERC CREATE on Integrated Infrastructure for sustainable Cities; Urban Alliance Chair in Transportation Systems Optimization.

Dr. Lina Kattan’s most recent work in emerging transportation technologies focuses on integrating Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) into existing transportation systems—a deployment that will radically change those systems. Depending on how they are deployed, the emergence of CAVs will bring tremendous opportunities, complexities, challenges. CAVs can collect and disseminate information in the traffic network through vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and more.


Award – Outstanding Achievement in Urban Development: Applications

Initiative: Sustainability, Construction – Development & Commercialization of Low-Carbon Prefabricated Cement Technologies

Team Submissions: Scott JenkinsDoug BrownKristin Davis – Co-Founders   

 ZS2 Technologies has developed and is rapidly commercializing proprietary Made in Canada cement products which are high strength, fire resistant, sustainable and cost effective vs. conventional building materials. ZS2’s proprietary TechBoard, TechFloor, TechTile and other solutions in various stages of development have been recognized as a Solar Impulse Efficient Solution and ZS2 was recently recognized as Milestone Finalist in the Carbon Removal X-Prize sponsored by the Musk Foundation.


Award – Outstanding Achievement in Health: Application

Initiative:  Surgical Training – Realistic, tactile surgical training

Team Submission: Tactile Orthopaedics;
Tactile Knee and Tactile Shoulder learning platforms replicate the tactile experience of operating on a patient, allowing novices to experts to learn the surgical intricacies before operating on a patient. 

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Health: Research

Initiative: Alberta’s Wastewater COVID-19 Monitoring

Team Submission: Pan-Alberta Team Monitoring COVID-19 in Wastewater – including the Universities of Alberta and Calgary.

Dr. Xiao-Li (Lilly) Pang – University of Alberta


Dr. Casey Hubert – University of Calgary

This team is testing wastewater from throughout the province for traces of the virus that causes COVID-19. This cost-effective and inclusive molecular tracking technology reveals community trends in COVID-19 in real time. Data is made public three times per week, empowering Albertans to make evidence-based decisions about COVID-19 and other infections such as influenza.


Award – Outstanding Achievement in Health: Medical Diagnosis

Initiative: Health Care, AI, Software – Applications of advanced markerless human motion capture in health care

Kinetisense is based in Medicine Hat, and is the world’s first patented markerless motion capture technology that is forever changing how human motion is assessed and treated.  The Kinetisense system is being used worldwide by health care and human performance organizations to better assess their patients/clients and track changes over the course of care, with advanced population norm comparisons.

Dr. Ryan D. Comeau, CEO 
Co-Founder and CEO of Kinetisense. Dr. Comeau played NCAA Division 1 Hockey at the University of Alaska before completing his Doctorate at the Southern California University of Health Sciences. His love for sports performance and neuromusculoskeletal rehabilitation drove Dr. Comeau to develop an efficient and objective markerless motion capture system.

Award – Outstanding Achievement in Health: Pharmaceutical

Initiative: Medical/Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals – Genetic Medicines

 Entos Pharmaceuticals, develops next generation genetic medicines with Entos’ proprietary Fusogenix proteolipid vehicle (PLV) drug delivery system – and has partnered with pharmaceutical companies, sister companies, and in-house programs to develop genetic therapies that will change the way diseases are treated and cured.    Entos is passionate about playing a role in the development of Alberta as a global leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. John Lewis, Founder and CEO
Dr. Lewis is the Bird Dogs Chair in Translational Oncology at the University of Alberta. As a scientist and serial entrepreneur, he pioneered the use of intravital imaging in the in vivo study of tumour cell invasion and metastasis to discover key targets for cancer therapeutics. Dr. Lewis also develops novel nanotechnology, nanoparticle drug delivery technologies, and imaging-based treatments for chronic diseases, such as aging and cancer, as well as for early detection of cancers.

Leading Change Award Winners


Award – Social Innovation: Programs Promoting Women (Gender Inclusion)

Sector: Non-Profit – AWSN Equitable Scholarship

AWSN, Team Submission
AWSN designed an innovative scholarship program for undergraduate and re-engaging STEM students using an intersectional lens. Through the guidance of a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+), the program allows AWSN to distribute the awards in an equitable manner, limiting unconscious bias, stereotypes, and other barriers commonly faced by underrepresented groups.


Award – Social Innovation: Programs Promoting Indigenous People

Initiative: Environment – I-STEAM Pathways Environmental Education and Research program for Indigenous Undergraduate Students

Dr Makere Stewart-Harawira, Faculty of Education
Dr Greg Goss, Faculty of Science – Biological Sciences
Jessica Vandenberghe, Asst Dean, Indigenous Engineering – Faculty of Engineering– University of Alberta

I-STEAM – Providing opportunities for Indigenous youth to participate in experiential post-secondary environmental research at the University of Alberta and pathways to advanced degrees; Providing hands-on mentorship or students by experienced researchers who undertake training in reconciliation. Introducing and interweaving western science and Indigenous knowledge systems throughout the program, drawing on Indigenous elders as well as scientists. 

Since launching in a pandemic in 2019, I-Steam Pathways has provided 49 Indigenous students from across Canada with four months of fully-paid, mentored internships in cross-disciplinary environmental research.

Award – Social Innovation: Programs Promoting Autism (Neurodiversity Inclusion)

Initiative: Education – Empowering Autistic Individuals and Employers to Build More Inclusive Workplaces.

Autism CanTech!

A federally funded program to teach employability and technical skills to Autistic individuals, while also working with and training employers to diversify their workforce. This successful initiative is improving employment outcomes for Autistic individuals, with 48% of our participants employed in technical roles – while employer data shows that they too are benefiting from the operationalization and growth of their inclusive policies. Russell NDE Systems Inc. – PICA Corp

Autism CanTech! is a recipient of the Higher Ed XR Innovation Grant through Unity Technologies and Meta and will be presenting at the Disability and Work in Canada 2022 Conference, the Cannexus 2023 Conference, the Future Works of Canada Conference, and the ASU+GSV Summit. 

Award – Social Innovation: Innovative Approaches for Learning

Initiative: Education – Lowering Barriers to Health Education through Hybrid Learning

LX Labs by Onlea – Sherwood Park Primary Care Network (PCN) quickly pivoted to online learning at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic. The PCN recognized that a hybrid of online and in-person learning could meet diverse patient needs while expanding the capacity of busy clinician educators. The Onlea team supported this goal through the lens of universal design and learning design.

William Fritzberg, Lead Design Strategist & LX Labs Lead
William is a human-centred designer, technologist, strategist and storyteller. He has a Masters in Research for Design and Innovation from the ELISAVA School of Design at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from the University of British Columbia. Today with Onlea’s LX Labs, he works with a wide range of organizations, educators and creatives to develop innovative, engaging and accessible online learning experiences and strategies..

Award – Social Innovation: Early-Career Change-Maker: Company

Initiative: Insurance, Law, SaaS – Applications of Graph Architecture and ML for Legal and Insurance Claim Automation

 Michael Zouhri, Co Founder 

Painworth helps victims and insurers calculate, manage and settle injury claims without the need for expensive middlemen. The system is faster, cheaper and easier than the status quo and allows all citizens to get access to fast and equitable justice regardless of income, race, gender or age. Painworth has helped over 2,000 of the most vulnerable victims with over $200 million in claims and was the first to discover and highlight real data in our justice system around the implicit negative biases found in the status quo system that had been prejudiced against sex, race and age.

Painworth was awarded the 2021 title of the ‘Global Best Emerging Insurance Product,’ and Mr. Zouhri was recognized as one of the 50 global leaders transforming the law by the Fastcase 50 award program. Through direct personal injury experience, Mike was motivated to change the system. Less than a year after the accident, he started his company, collaborating with legal and technology experts to create the award-winning PainWorth.


Award – Social Innovation: Early-Career Change-Maker: Research

Initiative : Medical sciences – Study of brain development in children using magnetic resonance imaging

Dr. Catherine Lebel, Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Radiology
Over the past 10 years, Dr. Lebel has made substantial contributions to pediatric neuroimaging and mapped structural and functional brain development across early childhood in unprecedented detail. Dr. Lebel has also forged new understanding of how the prenatal environment affects child brain development, both in terms of prenatal substance exposures and psychosocial stress. She and her team continue to investigate brain development in these children to understand how these brain changes may relate to behaviour and learning.  


Award – Social Innovation: Early-Career Change-Maker: Industry Community Leader

Initiative: Energy; Leading Advancement of Technology and Innovation Solutions in the Energy Industry; Advocating for Advancement of Women in Engineering and Technology Roles

Monika Rao, P.Eng, Products Lead – Enbridge Technology and Innovation Lab; Chair of the FEMINEN Calgary Chapter
Monika is a young, emerging leader at Enbridge – uniquely positioned to be an innovation leader. Monika’s team is charged with developing digital products for the largest energy transportation company in North America. By providing product leadership to agile development teams that use disruptive technologies such as AI/ML, advanced visualization, agile, and design thinking practices – Monika and her team have made a material impact on business value returns.  Collectively these products will optimize operations and processes, while ensuring safe and reliable operation. 

Monika is also advancing Enbridge’s diversity and inclusion goals – in her role with FEMINEN (FEmales IN ENgineering), an employees resource group at Enbridge that strives to improve the attraction, engagement, and retention of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) roles. 

Awards of Distinction Winners

Award – Applications in Agri-Food Production

Initiative: Agriculture, Solar – Improving Horticulture through LED Light Technology

G2V Optics Inc. – G2V was founded because the world’s leading researchers, engineers, designers, and dreamers are creating a better future — and that future revolves around the power of the sun. To create scalable, real-world solutions, dreamers need precise solar simulations. Product: Precise LED solar simulators.

Richard Glen Uhrig, Principal Scientist-G2V Optics Inc, Assistant Professor – University of Alberta    
Publication record in applying biochemistry and molecular biology to elucidate the biochemical characteristics and biological function of proteins. Focus on use of precise LED plant lighting technology to increase plant productivity with zero increase in energy inputs – improving vertical farming and controlled growth environment sector’s productivity and economic feasibility.

Michael Taschuk, Ph.D, P.Eng., Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Taschuk is a renowned expert in optoelectronic systems, managing multi-disciplinary teams to develop advanced lighting, electronics, and characterization systems including sensing and forensic techniques in collaboration with industry partners. He is the named inventor on several patents, and author of a textbook and 50 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Award – Programs Promoting Youth

Colin Tran, Founder & President of NXT-GEN, VP Corporate Affairs of Trust Science

NXT-GEN is a University of Alberta student group whose members have a passion for education and entrepreneurship with a mission to address the gaps in business education in high schools. NXT-GEN inspires the entrepreneurial spirit through experience-based learning and competition – and has gained recognition from several organizations.

Award – Early Adoption of Alberta Innovation

Zero Point Cryogenics – Zero Point Cryogenics manufactures cryogenic equipment called dilution refrigerators, which are the primary low-temperature platform for quantum computers. The company is focused on designing robust and reliable dilution refrigerators to enable quantum technology research and innovation. ZPC is the only manufacturer of its kind in Canada and is working to support Canada’s National Quantum Strategy.

Dr. John P. Davis, Founder and CTO, an accomplished researcher in the field of low-temperature physics and recipient of multiple international awards, his vision is to improve the size and operability of dilution refrigerators. Through innovation, Zero Point Cryogenics has improved the ease of use and cost-effectiveness of dilution refrigerators with a mission to enable researchers to advance quantum technology.

Christopher Cassin CEO, Zero Point Cryogenics – leads Zero Point Cryogenics’ talented team and manages the planning, organization and general controls to optimize the operational activities of the company. Chris is a serial entrepreneur and is actively involved in the Edmonton tech community.

Award – Recognition of Significant Achievement in Academia

Dr Thian Yew Gan, University of Alberta — Dr. Gan was one of two Canadian professors invited by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as a lead author of its AR6-WGI (Assessment Report #6 – Working Group I) published in 2021 on the global water cycle change under the impact of climate change. The report demonstrated that future hydrologic extremes are expected to occur more frequently and in greater severity, including the Canadian Prairies. The IPCC report is the basis of most studies on climate warming impacts, mitigations, and adaptations conducted worldwide.

Award – Indigenous-led Leadership in Community & Entrepreneurship
Sector: Tech / Telecommunications – Ohpinitotan Social Enterprise / IndTech Program at Norquest College

Tim Carwell, Entrepreneur, Investor, Community Supporter
Timothy (Tim) Carwell is the President of The CommAlert Group of Companies and a citizen of Beaver First Nation. A social entrepreneur by nature, he devotes considerable time on projects that create goodwill and visibility for under-represented people and communities. He has a keen interest in technology and its ability to create opportunity for everyone, no matter where they reside.

IndTech Program Norquest College is a social enterprise helping Indigenous peoples access the digital economy, find & better themselves.  We know that with the right support, we can help remove any barriers to employment for Indigenous youth and help employers fill those worker shortages. Participants work online and in small class environments to develop employability skills. Graduates learn communication, teamwork, and technical skills in data processing, data management, and software literacy.

Award – Recognition of Leadership in Alberta-wide Community Building

AltaML was named the winner of Start Alberta’s Most Significant Cross-Community Collaboration of the Year award for the Applied AI Lab; a Canada’s Companies-to-Watch in Deloitte’s Fast 50 awards; and a winner of a Responsible AI Award by the Responsible AI Institute. In 2022, AltaML placed 18th on the Globe and Mail’s national ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies.

Nicole Janssen, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at AltaML.  A serial-entrepreneur currently tackling AI/Machine Learning and Online Media. Nicole is an Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Award Recipient, a member of Forbes Technology Council and on multiple Canadian tech community leadership initiatives.

Cory Janssen, Co-founder and Co-CEO of AltaML. Co-founded Investopedia.com in 1999 and helped to grow it into one of the web’s largest financial sites devoted to investor education, selling the company to Forbes Media in 2007. Cory has built multiple companies and is on numerous Canadian tech community leadership initiatives.


Award – Recognition of Significant Achievement in Innovation: Start-up Company

Initiative:  Robotics/Automation – Making the Most Advanced Robotic Hand in the World

Sarcomere Dynamics Inc. is bringing to market a near-human robotic hand. Weighing only 800 grams, with 19 degrees of freedom and generating over 2.25 kg of force at the fingertips, the ARTUS Dex is 80% lighter and over 200% stronger than the best robotic hand on the market today. Avtar’s patent pending shape memory material actuators are at the heart of this accomplishment, with force to weight ratio an order of magnitude better than conventional actuator.

Avtar Mandaher, Founder/CTOSarcomere Dynamics
Avtar went to school in St Albert, graduating as AP Scholar with Distinction. He graduated from the University of British Columbia, with a degree in Integrated Engineering, specializing in Mechanical and Computer Engineering – and has won top prizes IGEN.

He is now working with a cross-provincial team to build his robotics companySarcomere Dynamics – returning to St. Albert to grow his business.


Award – Recognition of Significant Achievement in Innovation: Growth Stage Company

Initiative: Logistics – Maximize throughput of the Attabotics robotic fulfilment platform using AI

Attabotics replaces the rows and aisles of traditional fulfillment centers with a patented storage structure and robotics shuttles that use both horizontal and vertical space, reducing a company’s warehouse footprint by 85%. This year, Attabotics engaged the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) research and commercial adoption, to leverage machine learning to help improve both speed and efficiency without sacrificing safety or reliability.

Sean Murphy, Director of Innovation
A high energy, entrepreneurial technology leader who is passionate about creating and unleashing innovative disruptive technology to drive business results. Deep understanding of how adaptably leveraging technology creates a competitive advantage.

Recognition of Regional Innovation Award Winners

Region – Peace River

NAIT’s Centre for Boreal Research (CBR) provides scientific findings, methods, and technologies to advance the capacity of industry to lessen its environmental footprint through best practices in mitigation of disturbance through front-end planning and interim reclamation, reforestation and forest land management and ecological restoration of disturbed lands. The CBR operates within a network of forest products companies (woodlands), oil and gas companies (environmental, decommissioning, and reclamation groups), environmental service firms, reclamation enterprises (e.g., contract planting, vegetation management), and commercial greenhouses.

Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze, NAIT, Applied Research Chair in Plant and Seed Technologies, Manager Boreal Forest Plant and Seed Technology Access Centre. Jean-Marie is focused on developing practical technologies for native plant propagation and seed delivery, and is experienced in forest management and oil and gas industry-related reclamation research. Jean-Marie received his Ph.D. in Forestry in Germany, and is a registered Professional Forester with AAFMP. (AAFMP).

Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker, NAIT, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation.  Amanda received a Ph.D. in Forest Biology and Management (University of Alberta) and a BScF in Forest Sciences (University of British Columbia).  Amanda and her team work on a wide range of research topics involving forest reclamation of post-industrial sites, reforestation and forest management as well the use of native plants as passive dewatering and treatment strategy for oil sands mine-tailings. Since joining the centre, Amanda has mentored over 30 students as well as several research assistants and associates, seeing many move on to other exciting roles in both the private and public sector. 

Dr. Bin Xu, NAIT, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Peatland Restoration. Bin is a peatland ecologist with a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Calgary. His research focuses on the impact of human activities on the ecology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem functions of boreal peatlands. He works closely with university collaborators, industry partners and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop science-based, techniques and methods to reclaim disturbed peatlands in Alberta’s boreal region.

Region: Athabasca and Beyond

Initiative: Athabasca University’s IDEA Lab is Leading in Digital-first Research Solutions

IDEA Lab is a collaborative venture between the Athabasca University Research Office and the IT Cloud Research Architecture team – recognizing the collective achievements of the group and celebrating the ongoing insights and discoveries of faculty and students.  

As Canada’s only open and online-by-design university, Athabasca University’s IDEA Lab is leading in this space by crafting digital-first research solutions to enable researchers to go further, faster – and investing in Alberta’s emerging talent through training and application of cloud technologies for research and innovation through IDEA Academy.  

IDEA Lab enables researchers to leverage cloud computing assets—virtual servers, storage, databases, networking, software, and innovative A.I. and machine learning tools – and is discipline agnostic. Partnering with researchers of any field or specialty to design solutions that are innovative in their approach and impactful in their outcomes  –  work to date has included: intelligent agents to query complex data sets on COVID-19 research; machine learning to assess barriers to inclusion in RCMP survey data; remote field hydrology sensor networks; bias detection in nursing notes; network solutions for digital twinning of telepresence robotics in smart labs. 

The activities and aims of IDEA Lab and Academy support key elements of both the Alberta Technology and Innovation Strategy and Alberta 2030.


Region – Medicine Hat

Initiative: Waste Recovery/ Agriculture – Economic and Environmental Waste Recovery through On-site Vermicomposting 

TRAD Industries Ltd – Through a circular approach to organic waste utilization TRAD’s on-site vermicomposting modular system provides a financial and environmental advantage – turning contaminated waste into a biologically-rich soil amendment, in a fraction of the time. Using site-produced vermicompost reduces the dependence of synthetic fertilization, transportation costs (and associated GHG’s) and ground water contaminating leachates. Trad has worked with Medicine Hat College on programs and new ways to track, recover data, and promote waste stream diversion.

Roxanne Doerksen, CEO – Trad Worm Industries, Medicine Hat 2022 Leading Edge Winner Chamber of Commerce 2021 Small Business Winner Chamber of Commerce 2020 New Business of the Year Chamber of Commerce 2020 Draper University top 16 Pitch Finalist. 

Region – Lloydminster

Initiative: Community Champion in Indigenous Student Services and Indigenous Lead Initiatives.

Lakeland College (Indigenous Student Supports)  embraces cultural diversity and provides a space where Indigenous students feel safe, acknowledged and at home. With a direct connection to the President of Lakeland College, Indigenous learners have the opportunity to express the impacts of their learning experiences.  Indigenous learners have access to cultural spaces, traditional experiences, and connections to Elders that support their education at Lakeland College.

Rikki Ducharme, Manager of Indigenous Student Support Services, Lakeland College
Rikki is part of the team that provides a supportive and welcoming environment for Indigenous learners, through a grassroots approach – where Elders, students, and staff develop activities that support student success.   By identifying the needs of Indigenous students –  Indigenous Student Support Services has evolved to support Reconciliation and educational Calls to Action. 


Region- Nisku

Initiative: Agriculture – Molecular Diagnostic Innovation of Commercial Seed and Soil Testing

20/20 Seed Labs Inc.  Bridging the gap between research and commercial implementation, the R&D team has a 20 year record of developing, validating, and introducing timely new molecular-based diagnostic test services for use by the Canadian agriculture community.  The developed portfolio includes many commercial industry firsts such as Fusarium graminearum, blackleg, virus, and bacterial pathogen testing of seed; clubroot, aphanomyces, and soybean cyst nematode testing of soil; varietal identification, and quarantine weed species differentiation. DNA-based diagnostics have been revolutionary in an industry that has traditionally relied on microbiological culturing and visual recognition. On-going adaptations of technology have led to use of refuge and resistance genetic matching to protect genetic resistance and crop yields.

20/20 Seed Labs Team Submission: Dr. Kimberly D. Kenward; Alex Playdon; Holly Hamilton; Katie Ingvardsen; Trevor Blois; Samiya Fatima; Joel Wenaus.

The team’s work has been recognized with a nomination for the Manning Innovation Award, receipt of an AgInnovation Award, and named as one of Germination Magazine’s Top 10 Innovations of 2022.

Region – St. Albert

Wilson Analytical – Building rugged field and laboratory instrumentation for clean tech measurements. Unique offerings include the flexible Open Platform System (OPS), for fluorescence, absorbance, transmission or reflectance measurements on solids, liquids, gases, or slurries -requiring only quick adjustments of the “Lego-style” spectroscopy system. A new system under development will automate rugged excitation-emission fluorescence spectroscopy (EEM) for wastewater cleanup in agricultural, pulp and paper, or oil and gas wastewater streams before and after water treatment. Wilson’s OPS is a centerpiece for two NSERC funded research projects: a multi-university project on microplastics in Canada’s Great Lakes and a project working on development of a hydrogen sensor. Wilson’s light sources and detection systems are now being developed to measure greenhouse gases such as CO, CO2, CH4, H2S, NOx, and SF6. Joint project partners include: ACAMP, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, University of Windsor, Concordia University of Edmonton, Thompson Rivers University, Lakehead University, Oklahoma State University, and the Northern Alberta Business Incubator.

Kathy Janzen BSc, PChem,Vice-President and Founder. Kathy Janzen is a Professional Chemist with 25 years of experience with the RCMP as a forensic scientist, followed by 2 years as one of the principles of the analytical services side of Wilson Analytical. Also involved in several high tech start-ups, she worked with entrepreneurs at the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI).

Ken Schmidt, PhD, PChe, President and Founder. Ken Schmidt is an Alberta based Professional Chemist and entrepreneur. He completed his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Calgary in 1990. Over the last 25 years, he has worked with universities and the mining and energy industries to solve industry specific problems in sulfur chemistry, catalysis, ceramics, chemical vapour deposition (CVD) coatings and spectroscopy.

Region – Red Deer

Initiative: Education, SME Support – Regional Innovation – Women in Manufacturing (Centres for Manufacturing and Energy Innovation)

Women in Manufacturing (Centres for Manufacturing and Energy Innovation) – Supporting women and gender diverse people as they grow their skills and knowledge in manufacturing and energy innovation directly affects their success. This team provides mentorship opportunities for girls and women to help them to succeed in technical fields such as engineering and technology, which enables a broader range of solutions for Alberta businesses. 

Dr. Tonya Wolfe, Director, Centres for Manufacturing and Energy Innovation    Red Deer Polytechnic
Dr. Tonya Wolfe is the Manager of the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. Tonya is responsible for directing the use of the CIM-TAC’s advanced manufacturing capabilities to design, simulate, create, and validate prototypes as well as to solve the processing and productivity challenges faced by Alberta’s manufacturing industry.

Team Submission: Alicia Cafferata-ArnettJennifer DornstauberEryn BeddoesPrateeksha Aggarwal; Dylann Sikstrom; Sherri O’Muir


Region – Vermillion

Initiative: Education – Lakeland College Student-Managed Farm (in Vermillion) – Powered by New Holland

On the Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New HollandLakeland College students have the rare opportunity to manage a working commercial farm. They lead commercial-scale crop, livestock and ag research enterprises. With access to modern ag facilities and equipment, hundreds of head of livestock and 3,000+ acres of crop and pastureland, the real world comes to Lakeland’s ag students before they graduate.     

The Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland is a learning model that puts students in real-world scenarios, challenging them to think critically and learn through tangible experiences. Students are integrated early and often with industry, leading to strong collaborations and partnerships with industry. Our graduates are highly sought after and help address the labour shortage in the agricultural industry.

Lakeland College earned a Silver Award of Excellence for college-industry partnership from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP).  


Region – Cremona

Initiative: Environment – Design of Floating Islands to remediate contaminated water

GP Restoration Solutions Inc. has created an innovative type of floating island that maximizes growth of native wetland plants to remediate contaminated water. With a mobile design these islands can be pre-planted at a nursery and shipped stacked. they are designed to be able to be moved from wetland to wetland with a focus on ease of installation and use.

Dr. Steven Tannas, President    
A senior Vegetation Ecologist, Reclamation Specialist and Wetland Scientist and a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag.) through the Alberta Institute of Agrologists.  In addition, he is a qualified wetland science practitioner (AIA). His primary areas of focus have been in Western Canadian ecosystems including: Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. He has extensive experience working with industry oil and gas, electrical grid, mines and agriculture.

Thank you to the sponsors and supporters who made the 2022 ASTech Awards possible.