Posted: August 18, 2010

Government of Canada supports nanotechnology firms' growth in Alberta

(Nanowerk News) Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, today announced contributions of $285,268 to Sonoro Energy Limited and $257,000 to IntelligentNano Incorporated from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). The funding supports innovative research and development projects that will assist both firms in developing high-tech solutions for global markets.
"Our government is investing in science and technology to create good jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians," said Minister Clement. "This government is supporting Canadian firms that successfully develop and apply innovative technologies. Canada's Economic Action Plan is bolstering scientific research and commercialization, while creating good jobs and economic growth."
Edmonton boasts Canada's largest and most technologically advanced nanotechnology research infrastructure, centred around the National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT). NINT is a joint initiative between the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta.
The Government of Canada recently announced $135 million to support community-based technology clusters across Canada, including $23.4 million for NINT over the next two years. Clusters are community-driven and focused on market opportunities. With the support from broad networks and committed local champions, they encourage technological progress and economic growth that reaps benefits nationwide.
"Investing in science and technology is critical for developing highly skilled people and improving the long-term competitiveness of Canadian firms," said National Research Council President John McDougall. "That's why NRC is helping innovative Canadian businesses grow stronger, faster and bigger."
Both Sonoro Energy and IntelligentNano are tenants of the NINT Innovation Centre, an industrial partnership facility within the cluster dedicated to providing laboratory and office space to up to 15 companies. Innovative firms often develop around a government research institution or a university that attracts highly skilled researchers, and the NINT Innovation Centre allows fledgling companies and industrial collaborators to locate near NINT and University of Alberta facilities and expertise.
Canada's Economic Action Plan provided new resources of $200 million to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program over two years to support innovative Canadian firms. To learn more, visit Canada's Economic Action Plan website.
The NRC-IRAP contribution to Sonoro Energy is supporting a project that will seek to accelerate the commercial upgrading of heavy oil into synthetic crude, by small and medium- sized producers in remote areas. As the technology is both scalable and repeatable, Sonoro is actively pursuing heavy oil resource opportunities, particularly in remote global regions where there is heavy oil that could benefit from low-cost upgrading technology. Sonoro Energy has developed and patented a proprietary sonic reactor technology platform that transfers sonic energy on an industrial scale to physical, chemical or biological processes.
IntelligentNano Inc. will use the NRC-IRAP contribution to further development of the "Sonacell," a device for amplifying and accelerating the growth of therapeutic stem cells. Stem cells have an ability to self-renew and the potential to replace diseased and damaged tissues in the body, without the risk of rejection and side effects. Adults have a very small number of such cells; IntelligentNano has developed the "Sonacell," which will make it possible to harvest and grow a sufficient quantity of a patient's own stem cells for use in medical therapies. The "Sonacell" opens the door to the possibility of treatments for diseases like diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries.
National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
The National Research Council's main outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises is through its Industrial Research Assistance Program which provides support to innovative companies in Canada undertaking research and technology development projects for commercial purposes.
The Industrial Research Assistance Program provides a range of both technical and business-oriented advisory services along with necessary financial support to qualified innovative Canadian enterprises. The program is delivered by a field staff of 240 business and technology experts in more than 100 communities across Canada. Working directly with enterprises, the Program supports innovative research and development and helps companies become commercialization-ready with their new products and services.
While the program operates three separate contribution programs ? contribution to firms, contribution to organizations and a Youth Employment Program ? the Program's main contribution component is in the form of a non-repayable contribution that reimburses the labour costs of a research and development project directly to firms.
Science at work for Canada
The Program received an investment in Budget 2009, Canada's Economic Action Plan, of $200 million over two years. It is committed to using this new funding to help the Government build a competitive advantage for Canada based on excellence in science and technology.
The funding includes $170 million to double the Program's contributions to firms and $30 million to help hire more than 1,000 new post-secondary graduates via its Youth Employment Program.
The budget commitment reinforces the Council's mandate to help small- and medium-sized enterprises develop technologies and successfully commercialize them in a global marketplace. The budget commitment also broadens the Program's ability to provide science and technology expertise to enterprises. The Program estimates that this new money will allow it to support approximately 1,400 additional small- and medium-sized enterprises beyond its existing base over this two year period.
Edmonton ? Nanotechnology Cluster
Nanotechnology applies the science of controlling tiny pieces of matter ? atoms and molecule ? to produce revolutionary products and processes. Although still in its infancy, nanotechnology has the potential to alter the way we make everything from transistors to skyscrapers. The focus of NINT's research program is integration ? the combination of separate nano-scale devices and materials into complex nanosystems that are connected to the outside world. NINT explores the integration, at the molecular level, of nature's most powerful nano-devices, like proteins, lipids and other biological structures made from "soft" organic material, with crystalline semiconductors, metals and catalyst made from inorganic "hard" materials. The connection of natural biological or synthetic bio-inspired structures with electronics and information systems will lead to new and extremely powerful tools and technology platforms with broad application in the life sciences, medicine, materials science, and electronics and computation.
Technology clusters bring together innovative companies, government, the research community, supporting organizations and associations and service providers to create a favourable environment for innovation to flourish. In turn, this leads to local job creation, fuels regional economic growth and enhances the productivity and competitiveness of Canada overall.
NINT was established in 2001 as a partnership among NRC, the University of Alberta and the Government of Alberta. The Edmonton cluster consists of more than two dozen commercial organizations with recognized expertise in specialized nano-scale areas. The cluster enjoys the energetic support of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and nanoAlberta. NRC and the University of Alberta are committed to making Edmonton a magnet for talent by recruiting top-flight nano-scale researchers from across Canada and around the world. With its facilities and research programs established, NINT now also works increasingly with Canadian industry to accelerate the application of nanotechnology.
Sonoro Energy Limited
Sonoro Energy Ltd. is a publicly traded company that has developed a proprietary sonic reactor technology platform that transfers sonic energy on an industrial scale to physical, chemical or biological processes which may be utilized across numerous industrial processes. Sonoro's focus is the commercialization of its PetroSonic process that improves heavy oil quality, resulting in improved marketability and pricing of the processed oil.
IntelligentNano Incorporated
IntelligentNano Inc. is a private company focused on developing solutions in cell multiplication technology and nanotechnology as applied to personalized medicine. Their expertise includes molecular and cell biochemistry, and in vitro/ in vivo delivery of genes and proteins.
Source: National Research Council Canada