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  • Lenora Thomas

ASTech Awards - Innovation in Alberta

Earlier this year, I was chatting with Gail Powley, President of Technology Alberta, who told me about the ASTech Awards. I was curious to learn more, as I wasn’t familiar with them.


Established in 1989, the ASTech Awards showcase and celebrate science, technology and innovation in Alberta. The event isn’t focused on just one sector or on startups; it broadly looks at industry, government and academia for the next generation of innovation. Award categories include agriculture, construction, cleantech, medical and pharma, and social innovation. Like so many events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the ASTech Awards was uncertain. But now that Gail and her team have stepped up to oversee the awards, the show will go on.


If you aren’t familiar with Gail, she is one of the biggest supporters of Alberta Tech. Gail is a volunteer, advocating on behalf of Technology Alberta and its cross-Alberta board of grass-roots tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Her goal is to spread the word about tech in Alberta. On top of that, Gail works with post secondary institutions to pilot educational programs and build tech company jobs programs.


Here are a just a few of the many award winners that caught my eye for 2022:


Syantra Inc. Syantra has developed a blood test to screen for breast cancer. It measures a panel of gene expression biomarkers from whole blood and then uses a software package –

developed with machine learning – to interpret data and provide a result of positive or negative. In ongoing clinical studies, it has inferred a 98.5% accuracy in detection for women under 60, and a 92.2% accuracy overall.


Tactile Orthopaedics Tactile Orthopaedics has created a platform that replicates the tactile experience of operating on a patient – specifically for knee and shoulder operations. The platform provides surgeons (novices to experts) with the opportunity to learn and practice surgical intricacies before operating on a patient. Their tools provide the ability to practice saw techniques with tactile materials and soft tissue tensions.

Westgen Technologies Westgen Technologies Inc. has created modular, deployable power solutions that help oil and gas producers eliminate fugitive emissions of methane from pneumatic devices. This is especially helpful at facilities that are off-grid and where power generation is a challenge. Westgen’s design was inspired by hybrid electric vehicles. It created a micro-grid solution it calls Engineered Power on Demand (EPOD), which uses a string of batteries charged by either solar panels or an internal combustion generator to run air compressors that in turn replace traditional use of raw gas (mostly methane) in leaky pneumatic devices. ZS2 Technologies ZS2 develops and manufactures advanced building technologies including fire-resistant, non-toxic, mold-resistant, and low-carbon materials. The construction industry is responsible for 40% of worldwide energy usage, and a significant amount of waste and pollution. ZS2 is focused on technology to combat this. For example, ZS2 has developed TechBrick facades that are made from quartz sand and polymer resin. They are half the cost of a traditional brick and have a significantly reduced carbon footprint.


I recommend checking out the ASTech Award site or signing up for Technology Alberta’s weekly newsletter to keep learning more about the innovation taking place in Alberta.

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