Prestigious Mitacs Awards Celebrate Canada’s Top Innovators

Nine winners were recognized for breakthroughs in health, industry, inclusivity, Indigenous programs, and more during ceremony broadcast live from Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, ON — Mitacs is delighted to announce the winners of the 13th Mitacs Awards. From a smart garment that makes blood-glucose monitoring as easy as putting on a shirt and a first-of-its-kind non-opioid, non-addictive pain medication aimed at solving the opioid crisis, to game-changing work to help Indigenous youth succeed and remove employment barriers for those with communication disabilities, nine Canadian innovators were recognized for their game changing innovation and breakthroughs in research.

Broadcast live from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the ceremony included six awards for outstanding innovation, two for exceptional leadership, and one for commercialization of a novel idea.

The Mitacs Awards celebrate Canada’s top talent — students, professors and business owners who are driving research and development and a thriving Canadian economy through their partnership with Mitacs and participation in Mitacs-funded programs.

“Today we celebrate the best and brightest researchers and innovators across Canada and their projects that are already having impacts in health, social inclusivity, technology, and even our understanding of the world around us. Congratulations to the 2023 Mitacs Award winners and thank you for your work in making Canada, and the world, a better place,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

The 2023 Mitacs Award winners are…

Reza Eslami (Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—PhD)

CEO of startup Sensofine—which he launched as a PhD student at Toronto Metropolitan University—who is earning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—PhD for his work to create a first-of-its-kind smart garment that measures blood sugar levels from sweat, using sensors and a body-adapted self-powered system recharged from everyday movements like walking. Intended to be a precise, continuous and pain-free alternative to finger prick tests or arm-mounted blood monitoring devices, the first iteration of undergarments are currently under development and expected to be on the market as early as 2025.

To learn more about Reza’s impact click here.

Ketul Patel (Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Postdoctoral)

A postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Postdoctoral for his role in discovering a major advancement in pain management: a small molecule that targets a newly discovered pathway for pain relief, effectively mitigating pain without the detrimental side effects of opioids. The breakthrough, which targets T-Type calcium channels and is leading to the development of new drugs in collaboration with Calgary-based Zymedyne Therapeutics, is expected to help solve the growing opioid crisis by bringing safer, more effective and non-addictive pain medications to market in the near future. 

To learn more about Ketul’s impact click here.

Kirsty Choquette (Mitacs Award for Inclusive Innovation)

A PhD student in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Alberta, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Inclusive Innovation for her game-changing work to ensure Indigenous youth are represented when it comes to evaluating the mentoring programs and supports in place to help them transfer out of child welfare services as adults. The inclusive evaluation framework she developed is currently being used by the Alberta Mentoring Partnership and its partner organizations to build a culturally safe environment from the ground up, and to better meet the needs of Indigenous youth in the province.

To learn more about Kirsty’s impact click here.

Hannah Fronenberg (Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—International)

A PhD researcher in the physics department at McGill University who recently completed a Mitacs internship at New York University, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—International for her innovative work to uncover new information about the origins of the universe, pushing the frontiers of current knowledge of how stars, galaxies and planets were formed in the period directly following the big bang. Her novel method is the first to measure fossil sound waves embossed in the universe and is paving the way forward to new discoveries.

To learn more about Hannah’s impact click here.

Glenda Watson Hyatt (Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Master’s)

A Master’s researcher in the department of applied science at Queen’s University, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Master’s for her disruptive efforts to remove employment barriers facing Canadians living with communication disabilities. The unemployment rate for this population is as high as 86 percent compared to 21 percent for Canadians without disabilities. Watson Hyatt, who lives with speech disabilities, completed a groundbreaking study showing that although employers accommodate for hearing and sight loss, more work is needed to accommodate people who rely on augmentative and alternative communication in the workplace.

To learn more about Glenda’s impact click here.

Bern Klein (Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor)

A mineral process engineer and professor in the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor, for his ongoing work to foster collaboration and develop disruptive technologies in Canada’s mining sector, including intelligent excavating shovels capable of sensing the quality of materials being mined in real time, and more efficient, high-tech ore crushing methods that reduce energy usage by 50 percent or more.

To learn more about Bern’s impact click here.

Georges Kaddoum (Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor)

Research director of the Resilient Machine Learning Institute (ReMI) at École de technologie supérieure (ETS), who is earning the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Professor, for his ongoing work to build an innovation hub to support Canada’s next-generation wireless networks, including cutting-edge 6G technology breakthroughs that make it possible to deliver extremely fast and intelligent telecommunication networks that self-heal, self-optimize and self-configure. The transformative work is critical to support both the tactical wireless networks relied on by Canadian emergency, military, and humanitarian relief teams during crises, as well the digital infrastructure businesses, governments and citizens rely on every day. To learn more about Georges’s impact click here.

Matthew Mitchell (Mitacs Award for Commercialization)

A postdoctoral researcher in the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute at the University of British Columbia, who is earning the Mitacs Award for Commercialization for his work to advance a new era in microchips that use photons (light) instead of electrons. Mitchell’s breakthrough — a unique method for 3D printing optical structures called wave guides — solves a critical packaging challenge facing the emerging photonics industry, making it possible to reliably and efficiently connect photonic chips to other components, and opening up new possibilities for quantum computing, faster and smarter wearable devices, and self-driving vehicles.

To learn more about Matthew’s impact click here.

Unilever Canada (Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Industry) 

Global consumer packaged goods giant Unilever Canada is earning the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership—Industry for its pioneering work to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to precision marketing, demand forecasting and promotional planning, ultimately improving consumer engagement and pricing strategies. Unilever’s innovations in the AI space include a first-of-its-kind trade promo engine that results in faster execution and improved performance metrics to ensure promotional events meet retailer business goals, and a unique point-of-sale forecaster that leverages loyalty program, socio-economic and other available data to better understand consumer purchasing habits.

To learn more about Unilever’s impact click here.

In congratulating the winners, Mitacs CEO John Hepburn reflected on Mitacs’s 25-year history of providing Canadian innovators with opportunities for experiential skills development through strategic partnerships between industry, government, and academia.

“Mitacs is honoured to play a pivotal role in empowering industry leaders across Canada to foster game-changing ideas, and we couldn’t be more pleased to celebrate their significant achievements with these awards,” Hepburn said.

 A recording of the 2023 Mitacs Awards ceremony will be available on in the coming days.

 About Mitacs

Mitacs works to bring innovation to more people in more places across Canada and around the world. Mitacs makes investing in new knowledge easier through access to top researchers, flexible project plans, and co-investments in talent.

A not-for-profit organization, Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon.

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