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Tapping into technical talent

Technology is everywhere. From the filtered water in your bottle, to the microSD card in your phone – engineers and researchers are developing unfathomable technologies faster than we can imagine them. But how do these inventions get from the laboratory to your hands? Technology development companies like GABAE Industries are helping companies in a multitude of industry sectors to engineer the technology behind the innovative products you use every day.

GABAE Industries, a subsidiary of GABAE Development, is a startup technology development company that must be on the cutting edge of research in order to supply their clients with novel technologies for their products.  GABAE’s current focus is on a method of making novel nanoporous filtration media, which will perform better than any other purification product available in the filtration industry today.  In order to pursue this complex scientific initiative, GABAE engaged with Mitacs-Accelerate intern Shanshan Bian at UWaterloo who has experience synthesizing and characterizing nanomaterials, giving them access to the academic novelty that fuels their innovations.

Shanshan is a PhD candidate from the UWaterloo department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with research expertise in an emerging nanofabrication technology, electrospinning, which is a novel method of creating porous media called nanocomposites, or “gels”.  Her research was exactly what GABAE was looking for to get ahead.

During her Mitacs-Accelerate internship, Shanshan conducted experiments using electrospinning techniques, and her results provided GABAE a much better understanding of its processing systems. Shanshan’s insight enabled GABAE to offer their clients novel systems for producing nanoporous materials, which perform significantly better than conventional microporous materials available in the filtration market today.  The businesses GABAE serves can now use this technology to develop new portfolios of products to their customers, such as a more efficient way of filtering that water in your bottle, or a way to make your microSD card hold even more data.

For GABAE, engaging with Mitacs-Accelerate was a way to tap into technical talent that the small startup would not have otherwise had access to.  “I think Mitacs is doing great things to bridge the disconnect between academic research and industrial problems,” said Ryan Gerakopulos, a program manager at GABAE. “There is a strong need to enhance the employability of recent graduates and inspire academic researchers to focus on industrially-relevant problems, which will help to diffuse innovative technology into society.  Mitacs-Accelerate is leading Canada in the right direction.”

In the four months of Shanshan’s Mitacs-Accelerate internship, she not only applied her research on electrospinning to a concrete industry challenge, but she also learned about teamwork, time management and catering to a commercial agenda.  “The working environment in industry is completely different from school… it teaches you how to manage multiple tasks in order to complete your goals before a deadline.  Most importantly, at GABAE I learned how to be part of a team that works efficiently towards the goal of making a product that will guarantee customer satisfaction.”

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program and the Government of Ontario for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.