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January 2013

Intern’s innovation accelerates global expansion!

“The electronic trading industry is fast-moving. Technology and innovation must be on the cutting-edge; if we stop advancing, large institutions will catch up and we will lose our competitive advantage,” imparts Jason Lukez, VP Finance at Cyborg Trading Systems.

For Cyborg Trading Systems (CTS) – a financial technology services company that serves an international network of banks, brokers and professional traders – keeping ahead of competition is absolutely essential.  Battling huge enterprises like Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs would seem an almost impossible task for a Canadian SME.  With the cost of infrastructure, technology and global employees rising by the second, Lukez is always looking for any and all opportunities to innovate.

While attending a Mitacs event which brought together professors, industry partners and top graduate students from all over Canada, Lukez met Omid Mola, a Computing Science a PhD student from Western University and Dr. Michael Bauer, his supervising professor.  Little did Lukez know at the time, this meeting would spark a collaborative research project that would give CTS a significant advantage.

“The technology that Omid had been working on with autonomic managers at Western University was very innovative – all he needed was a way to bring them into the real world,” said Lukez.  A major issue for automated financial trading companies is that during busy times, the volume of traffic from markets can overwhelm trading engines.  Usually, companies solve this by buying more and faster technology to keep up with traffic.  However, this is extremely expensive and very inefficient when loads decrease during down-times and the expensive technology continues running.  Also, due to the global span of CTS, before applying Omid’s innovation, they would potentially need additional staff to monitor and service their global infrastructure which could prove to be costly.

Omid came to CTS with the objective of building a prototype of an Autonomic Computing system, which is a self-configuring, self-healing, self-protecting and self-optimizing system that can manage computing infrastructure to be efficient, effective and low-cost.  It essentially “manages” all of the infrastructure by scaling back processing resources during down times, and increasing processing when loads are high – all without human intervention or monitoring.  Within eight months, Omid was able to complete his project by designing and implementing a seamlessly working prototype of this Autonomic Computing system – a huge task for such a short period of time.

The system created is completely unique. “No one else in our industry has this technology!” Lukez enthused. The system gives CTS a major competitive advantage, reduces their infrastructure costs tremendously and saves them from having to hire countless employees in global locations. “The savings coming from this project, in the long term, are astronomical as our company grows… I couldn’t even put a number on it, it’s so big!” Lukez professed.

But CTS wasn’t the only one who benefitted from this collaboration.  Omid was able to discover practical applications for the research he is passionate about, and made a real difference with his ideas.  Professor Bauer reports that the project was “an excellent way to validate Omid’s research ideas and make his dissertation stronger with concrete real-world examples”.  He recommends other students participate in Mitacs-Accelerate, as the new environment requires them to rethink how their ideas are presented and really understand the difference their research can make.


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec,  the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: BD@mitacs.ca