The 11th annual SSMARt Innovation Awards hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) took place on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. Held at Grand Gardens Downtown Sault Ste. Marie, the luncheon event honoured companies and influential individuals for their innovative contributions to the science and technology sectors of the Algoma District. Eight “Innovation of the Year” awards were awarded at the ceremony.
“Today was an opportunity to celebrate, appreciate and reflect on the exceptional work being done and talented individuals within our growing science and technology sector in the Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma area,” said Don MacLennan, Acting Executive Director, SSMIC. “We are proud of the nominations put forward and of our SSMARt Innovation Award winners, as well as the community support in celebration of innovation over the past eleven years. Congratulations to the winners and to those who were nominated!”
Nominations were submitted over a four week period, with candidates either being nominated by their peers or self-nominated. Five judges with diverse skill sets and areas of expertise reviewed qualifying nominations and determined winners based on how each nominee met or exceeded innovation award standards.
SSMIC also recognized the leadership and commitment of Tom Vair, who started the SSMARt Innovation Awards eleven years ago, and up until last month was the Executive Director for SSMIC. Sault Ste. Marie Member of Parliament Terry Sheehan was also in attendance and spoke to the guests, as well as presented winners with certificates from the Government of Canada in recognition of their accomplishments.
This year we saw a multitude of high-caliber nominations, which speaks to the depth of talent in our science and technology sectors. Thanks to this year’s Gold Level sponsors including Sootoday.com and OLG, and Bronze Level sponsor DOI Compass Imaging Group; as well as everyone who donated a door prize, including: Jeannette’s Custom Cakes, MET Energy Systems and DOI Compass Imaging Group.
“Village Media is extremely proud to be able to present the Innovation Centre Award for the Web and Social to the Invasive Species Centre, an organization who strives to address the threats of invasive species,” said Chris Belsito, Director of Content and Engagement with Village Media. “They have shown leadership in their online presence, through both their website and other social media channels, to develop greater understanding and discussion by sharing reliable information to advance invasive species management in our communities, across Ontario and beyond.”
Innovation Company of the Year – STUFFF Lubricants Inc.
Founded by Bill and Viktoria Betournay of St. Joseph’s Island, STUFFF Lubricants Inc. manufactures non-toxic, environmentally-friendly lubricants and penetrants that are biodegradable, renewable and made from 100% recycled canola oil feedstock. Since launching in 2014, STUFFF has been progressively growing – even securing a partnership with Home Hardware Canada, and is currently leading the bio-based lubricant market by offering products with applications that are suitable for the environment. Learn more at www.stufff.ca and www.facebook.com/stufff.ca
Steve Butland Innovation Educator of the Year – Micaela Mansfield
Micaela Mansfield is an innovative educator who encourages the use of technology in her classroom to enhance her students’ learning and capabilities. Micaela has incorporated a ‘flipped classroom’ method of teaching, using Google Apps for Education, plus a variety of other applications. In partnership with a colleague, Micaela has helped create an app, called iCanProgress, that supports authentic assessment, documentation of student progress and visible student learning in the classroom with customizable rubrics and checklists, and it links directly back to the Ontario curriculum.
Micaela has recently accepted the position of Curriculum Coordinator for Kindergarten to Grade 6 for the Huron Superior Catholic District School Board.
Innovation Project of the Year – Innovative Teachers Inc. for the iCanProgress app
This project was created in Sault Ste. Marie by teachers, for teachers. Innovative Teachers Inc. aimed to strengthen communication between teachers, students and parents regarding student progress through the development of an app, called iCanProgress. This project is committed to transforming assessment practices in Ontario Elementary Education (K-8), focusing on providing educators with an intuitive platform that combines learning goals, success criteria, and descriptive feedback with parental engagement. iCanProgress was officially launched in September of this year and currently has over 1,300 students at over 15 schools across Ontario.
Innovation Researcher of the Year – Dr. Isabel Molina, Associate Professor with the Biology Department at Algoma University
Dr. Isabel Molina’s innovative research will impact industries ranging from forestry to biomaterials and biofuels, with much experience and expertise in the field of plant biology. Her passion is evidenced by her contributions in working with other researchers studying the genes responsible for making and maintaining the fatty acids and waxes plants use to assemble their cuticles. Helping plants – especially crops – to better withstand drought and high temperatures is increasingly important in an era of climate change.
Dr. Molina has recently been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) for a collaborative research project with The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma, titled “A class II KNOX gene, KONX4, controls see physical dormancy.
Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship – Entomica
Entomica inspires learning in Sault Ste. Marie for both locals and tourists to the region by providing the community with an opportunity to experience and interact with spectacular insects from all over the world – acting as a catalyst for social engagement and education. Entomica is the only insectarium, zoo, natural history museum, and science centre in Canada that not only allows, but also invites each and every visitor to hold the different insects in an effort to inhibit fear and teach people that insects are a natural and critical part of our world and environment. Entomica recently won two prestigious science awards in the same year from the Canadian Association of Science Centres, including Best Program for a Small Institution, and one for the Making a Difference in Canada Award.
Innovation Student/Graduate of the Year – Conner Flood
Conner Flood, an Algoma University graduate currently working on his Masters of Mathematics (Computer Science) from the University of Waterloo, has been working on many innovative projects, including an induction proof generator that has been launched on the Wolfram|Alpha website as a free tool for students. Conner is now focusing on completing his thesis, which involves designing and implementing a web application for Mathbrush – a pen recognition application, which is used for recognizing mathematical expressions as you draw them.
Conner has also been involved with an application that assists users with completing kitchen-related tasks using syndetic assistance processes. As well as conducting research on Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) that allow people with locked-in syndrome to communicate without moving a muscle and implementing various networking solutions including a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).
Innovation in Web and Social Media – Invasive Species Centre for their Asian Carp Campaign
Through the deployment of the Asian Carp Campaign, the Invasive Species Centre developed invaluable digital and social media tools — a website, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and a seven-part Webinar series – informing people of the dangers of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes www.asiancarp.ca , www.facebook.com/asiancarpca and www.twitter.com/asiancarpca. This science-based, multi-platform campaign has met the informational needs of audiences by targeting students, youths, professionals, members of Indigenous communities, academia, and naturalists in the Great Lakes Region. The campaign has developed easy-to-use products and materials that are appropriate for multiple audiences and circumstances.
Innovation Youth of the Year – Michelle Delorme
Michelle is a grade 11 student at St. Mary’s College who has a passion for botany and community outreach and engagement. Under the supervision of her science teacher, Mrs. O’Donnell, Michelle has taken the initiative to create and maintain a vegetable garden at St. Mary’s College. Michelle strategically planned and planted different produce amoung 10 raised garden beds. The harvested produce was weekly donated to St. Vincent de Paul or the Soup Kitchen. Michelle also maintains exceptional grades, while volunteering and working at other organizations in the community. She is a Duke of Edinburgh award recipient, competitive swimmer and Soo Finnish Nordic Ski Club Coach.
Stay up-to-date on SSMIC news and events on Twitter @SSMICnews and on Facebook at Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC).
About the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) is a non-profit organization established in 1999 to function as a catalyst for economic development and diversification in the information technology and science knowledge-based sectors. SSMIC’s mission is to drive business growth, facilitate research and commercialize innovation in globally significant areas of science and technology through partnerships, expert advice, community development, business incubation, youth outreach and sector development activities. Key SSMIC business divisions include the Community Geomatics Centre, Rural Agri-Innovation Network, Business Support Services, YouLaunch and Smart Energy. www.ssmic.com
For more information on the SSMARt Innovation Awards, additional photos, or to speak with one of our winners, contact Angela Corcoran at (705) 942-7927 ext. 3138 or [email protected]