ASTech Awards recognize wide range of innovators

"Originally published by By Karen Unland for Taproot Edmonton"

A long-running awards ceremony that almost didn’t happen doled out 42 honours to leaders in science and technology in Alberta in front of a sellout crowd, with 22 of the awards going to Edmonton-area innovators.

The ASTech Awards nearly ceased after 2021, but Technology Alberta stepped in to keep the showcase for science, technology, and innovation alive. A crowd of 300 attended the 33rd annual ceremony at NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre on Nov. 4.

“When Technology Alberta had heard that this awards event was in danger of ending in 2021, we rallied our board and the greater community to take on the operating role,” Technology Alberta president Gail Powley told Taproot. “And we are so pleased that many, many supporters joined in to make it an outstanding success and celebration.”

Powley said planning has already begun for the 2023 awards, which may be held at multiple locations, including some outside of Edmonton and Calgary. She noted the sense of community in the room this year, “inspired by the words of our passionate researchers and entrepreneurs, who are so thankful to their teams and for the community support that has gotten them there.”

Among the Edmonton-area winners on the list of award-winners was Mike Zouhri of PainWorth, whose personal-injury claims service won the award for early-career change-maker in the company category. Zouhri noted on LinkedIn that the last time he was at the Innovation Centre at NAIT, he was booed by an audience of pro bono lawyers as he presented his idea.

“I think the message here is to have the courage to follow your beliefs,” he wrote. “It’s hard. I know. And sometimes you will want to give up or give in; but if you can surround yourself with just enough of the right people who can lift you up when you are feeling darkest, then the courage to push forward becomes a little easier to find.”