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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

35 Years of Innovation: 2002 ASTech Winners

In 2002, several household and business names made their debut. Intuit launched QuickBooks, while GoPro and Sonos began their journeys. Microsoft also introduced the .NET Framework, which would go on to underpin many websites and software applications in the years to come.

In Alberta, the government launched the Alberta SuperNet, a broadband network designed to connect rural and urban communities across the province. This network links over 4,200 schools, hospitals, libraries, and government offices in 429 communities. The SuperNet was established to provide high-speed internet access to public institutions, facilitating technological growth and improving communication services.

Another significant development was the establishment of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii). As one of Canada's three centers of AI excellence under the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, this non-profit institute supports cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and machine learning, fostering the translation of scientific advancements into industry applications. Amii's launch has been pivotal in positioning Edmonton as a hub of AI excellence.

Other notable launches in 2002 include LawDepot, founded by Ken Sawyer in Edmonton, which provides legal templates for everyday people. In Calgary, Hongwen Zhang co-founded Wedge Networks, a company specializing in real-time threat prevention solutions to combat malware and cybersecurity threats.

The 2002 ASTech Awards celebrated outstanding achievements across a diverse array of fields, including medicine, land management, microelectronics, agriculture, and energy.

Learn about 2002's ASTech Award Winners
2002 ASTech Awards Winners

Here is a sample of the winners:

Dr. Samuel Weiss received recognition for outstanding leadership in Alberta science due to his groundbreaking contributions to neurology. In 1992, Dr. Weiss, along with his graduate student Brent Reynolds, discovered neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals. Importantly, they demonstrated that these stem cells could divide to produce new cells. This pivotal research has led to innovative approaches for brain cell replacement and repair, as well as experimental therapeutic strategies for brain cancer and treatments for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

As a professor at the University of Calgary, Dr. Weiss leads significant research groups and founded two biotech companies to advance his research into practical medical applications. In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Weiss was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009 and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2014.

Dr. Brad Stelfox, the recipient of the ASTech award for Al-Pac Integrated Landscaping Management, developed ALCES, an innovative simulation model designed to evaluate the cumulative effects of human and natural activities on the environment. This tool integrates with GIS platforms to forecast changes in Alberta’s landscape, assessing impacts on resources such as timber, oil, water, and wildlife. By doing so, it facilitates better management of natural resources. Through his company, ALCES Landscape and Land Use Ltd., Dr. Stelfox has significantly advanced the field of integrated landscape management.

Dr. Michael Kallos, a renowned chemical engineer and medical researcher at the University of Calgary, was honored with the 2002 Leaders of Tomorrow award for his groundbreaking work in neural stem cell research. His innovative protocols for large-scale growth of neural stem cells using bioreactor technologies have significant biomedical applications, enabling the transplantation of these cells into patients suffering from neural disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, and multiple sclerosis.

Currently, Dr. Kallos continues his influential work as the Director of the Biomedical Engineering Calgary Initiative and as the Department Head of the Schulich School of Engineering. His advancements in neural stem cell technology and commitment to biomedical research continue to inspire hope and drive progress in the treatment of neural disorders.

These achievements highlight the innovative spirit and entrepreneurial success that defined Alberta's technology sector in 2002. That year, a total of 15 ASTech Award winners were recognized for their groundbreaking contributions across various fields. For a more detailed look at all the winners and their accomplishments, ASTech Website.

Thank you to Dr. Lisa Carter for her research on 2002!

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