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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

35 Years of Innovation: 2004 ASTech Winners

In 2004, Google had a standout year. They launched Gmail and went public, signaling a recovery from the 2001 tech bubble crash. Facebook was created in a Harvard dorm room as “thefacebook,” and Flickr was introduced for online photo management. The U.S. government enacted COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, requiring parental consent for collecting personal information from children under 13. (Canada lacks a direct equivalent, although it has similar guidelines; this was a missed opportunity for Canada.)

Several Alberta companies were founded in 2004 and are still thriving today, including Blackline Safety and PureWeb. Blackline Safety specializes in creating, manufacturing, and managing gas detectors, area monitors, and lone worker devices to enhance worker safety. Initially focused on healthcare, PureWeb now provides a scalable, secure, and accessible way to transmit 3D graphics and applications.

The ASTech Awards in 2004 celebrated winners across diverse fields, from agriculture and aquaculture to neuroscience and engineering.

Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS) received the ASTech Industrial Research Award for pioneering enzyme technology in animal feed, revolutionizing the livestock, poultry, and aquaculture industries. Founded by Owen Jones in 1984, CBS is nearing its 40th anniversary, with planned expansion in the US and worldwide. The team developed enzyme supplements that enhance nutrient absorption, improve animal health, and reduce environmental contaminants in excretions. They have since expanded their range of bio-based products used in feed and food. Through rigorous scientific research and partnerships with experts like Dr. Bogdan Slominski, CBS continues to innovate, aiming to reduce antibiotic use and enhance feeding value in animal diets, contributing to sustainable agriculture practices worldwide.

Dr. Bryan Kolb, a prominent neuroscientist and neuropsychologist, was recognized for his research demonstrating that the mammalian brain can regenerate following injury. His groundbreaking work includes developing one of the first courses in human neuropsychology, authoring the major textbook "Fundamentals of Neuropsychology," and disproving long-standing myths about brain recovery. This paved the way for new therapeutic approaches. Along with his collaborator, Dr. Ian Wishaw, Dr. Kolb is considered a founding father of modern behavioral neuroscience in Canada. Prior to his retirement in 2022, Dr. Kolb held a Research Chair at the University of Lethbridge and was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to scientific understanding of brain function and development.

Dr. David T. Lynch, known as the "Building Dean," was honored for his Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community in 2004. Dr. Lynch significantly expanded the University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering, doubling undergraduate and graduate student enrollments to over 6,000 students, hiring over 280 professors, establishing more than 50 endowed and industrial chair positions, and increasing research funding from $6 million to over $65 million annually. He spearheaded major initiatives, including the National Institute for Nanotechnology, the Imperial Oil Institute for Oil Sands Innovation, and the Canadian Centre for Clean Coal/Carbon and Mineral Processing Technologies, fostering research, development, and growth within Alberta’s ecosystem.

In 2004, there were 12 ASTech Award Winners, you can dig into their achievements here.

This post is in partnership with Technology Alberta and the ASTech Awards, celebrating the impact of 35 years of innovation in Alberta, tying our past to our present. Our thanks to Lisa Carter and Neil Goud for their research and support.

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