Water contamination adversely affects the lives of two billion people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population will struggle with water scarcity by 2025, with 785 million people currently lacking basic access to clean drinking water. However, the demand for consumer products requires mining, which can lead to water contaminants that affect aquatic wildlife, vegetation, and humans.
Enter InteliRain. The Alberta start-up has its sights set on solving inefficient outdoor sprinklers that waste water due to poor design. The company’s intelligent sprinkler systems only water the lawn or fields, while avoiding sidewalks.
However, when InteliRain CEO Cam Cote realised that wind was thwarting the efficiency of his sprinklers, he turned to University of Alberta mathematician Yile Zhang to develop an innovative solution through a Mitacs internship.
Luckily, with the help of Mitacs — a national not-for-profit organization that designs and delivers research and training programs for Canadian academics — Concordia students are being given the chance to do just this.
With the support of Pierre des Lierres, Business Development Director at Mitacs, the company obtained the financial support of Mitacs Accelerate Quebec and connected with Iban Harlouchet and Professor Pierre Lafaye de Micheaux from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Université de Montréal. Iban undertook research at Odotech to optimize algorithms of the e-nose sensors that analyze olfactory emissions.
By diagnosing oral premalignant lesions that might progress to cancer and making better clinical decisions, clinicians can significantly lower the mortality rate, increase quality of life with earlier and less traumatic surgery and reduce healthcare costs.
Toronto-based ProteoCyte Diagnostics Inc. developed a new diagnostic testing system, StraticyteTM, which can accurately and objectively identify premalignant oral lesions that have a high risk of becoming cancerous, allowing patients to undergo early treatment to ensure survival and improved quality of life.
Bojan Ramadanovic, a postdoctoral fellow at the Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences (IRMACS) Centre at Simon Fraser University, specializes in mathematical modeling of complex social systems, including the spread of disease and delivery of healthcare. Through Mitacs-Accelerate and working under his academic supervisor, Dr. Alexander Rutherford, he partnered with pharmaceuticals company Merck Canada Inc.
The idea had its fair share of skeptics at the time, but also some influential champions within the NCE. In 1998, after reviewing a slate of about 80 applicants, the NCE selection committee decided that four would become Networks of Centres of Excellence, including the Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems or Mitacs.
Mitacs was created to overcome three main hurdles facing the academic community and the very people and sectors that could benefit most from advanced mathematical and statistical techniques, tools and methodologies.
However, it is difficult for doctors to determine which patients are not responding to the drugs early in the process, so alternative treatment options can be tried. As a result, patients can be over-treated, and unnecessarily suffer the side-effects of chemotherapy before realizing it is having little effect.
Masters student Xiaohui Wang at the Department of Computational Mathematics at the University of Waterloo set out to change this through a Mitacs-Accelerate internship with Ontario-based Rna Diagnostics.