Canadian Innovators Receive Prestigious Mitacs Awards for Breakthroughs

From a smart garment that makes blood-glucose monitoring as easy as putting on a shirt and a first-of-its-kind non-addictive pain medication aimed at solving the opioid crisis, to breakthrough work to help Indigenous youth succeed, nine Canadian innovators were recently recognized for their game-changing innovations.

The awards — presented by Mitacs, a national innovation organization that fosters growth by bringing together industry and top research and development talent to solve the most pressing challenges of today — celebrate students, professors and business owners who are driving research and development and a thriving Canadian economy through partnerships with Mitacs and participation in Mitacs-funded programs. Mitacs is supported by the Government and Canada, all 10 provincial governments, and the Government of Yukon.

The 2023 winners are:

Reza Eslami, CEO of startup Sensofine – which he launched as a PhD student at Toronto Metropolitan University – who earned the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—PhD for creating a first-of-its-kind smart garment that measures blood sugar levels from sweat, using sensors and a self-powered system recharged from movements like walking.

Ketul Patel, a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary, who earned the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Postdoctoral for discovering a major advancement in pain management: a small molecule that targets a newly discovered pathway for pain relief, effectively mitigating pain without the detrimental side effects of opioids.

Kirsty Choquette, a PhD student in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Alberta, who earned the Mitacs Award for Inclusive Innovation for her game-changing work to ensure Indigenous youth are represented when it comes to evaluating the supports in place to help them transfer out of child welfare services as adults.

Hannah Fronenberg, a PhD researcher in the physics department at McGill University who recently completed a Mitacs internship at New York University, who earned the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—International for uncovering new information about the origins of the universe, pushing the frontiers of current knowledge of how stars, galaxies and planets were formed.

Glenda Watson Hyatt, a Master’s researcher in the department of applied science at Queen’s University, who earned the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Master’s for her disruptive efforts to remove employment barriers facing Canadians living with speech disabilities.

Bern Klein, a mineral process engineer and professor in the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, who earned the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor, for developing disruptive technologies in Canada’s mining sector, including intelligent excavating shovels that sense the quality of materials being mined in real time, and more efficient, energy-reducing ore crushing methods.

Georges Kaddoum, research director of the Resilient Machine Learning Institute (ReMI) at École de technologie supérieure (ETS), who earned the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor, for building an innovation hub to support Canada’s next-generation wireless networks, including 6G technology breakthroughs.

Matthew Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute at the University of British Columbia, who earned the Mitacs Award for Commercialization for advancing a new era in microchips that use photons (light) and electrons, opening up new possibilities for quantum computing, wearable devices, and self-driving vehicles.

Global consumer packaged goods giant Unilever Canada earned the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Industry for its pioneering work to apply artificial intelligence to precision marketing, demand forecasting and promotional planning – improving consumer engagement and pricing strategies.

“Mitacs is honoured to play a pivotal role in empowering industry leaders across Canada to foster game-changing ideas, and we couldn’t be more pleased to celebrate their significant achievements with these awards,” said Mitacs CEO John Hepburn.

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