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Grad students pitch projects, receive awards

Graduate Students' Association honours entrepreneurial thinking at first-ever Innovation Development Awards
May 1, 2017
President Elizabeth Cannon, far left, along with GSA President Sam Hossack and Anne Katzenberg, associate vice-president (research), presents Suzanna Crawford, second from left, with the top prize at the GSA's Innovation Development Awards. Photos by Katherine Lidgren

President Elizabeth Cannon, far left, along with GSA President Sam Hossack and Anne Katzenberg, associate vice-president (research), presents Suzanna Crawford, second from left, with the top prize at the GSA's Innovation Development Awards. Photos by Katherine Lidgren

Anne Katzenberg presents opening remarks at the Innovation Development Awards.

Anne Katzenberg presents opening remarks at the Innovation Development Awards.

Suzanna Crawford pitches her project, Enable, which received first place honours at the GSA’s Innovation Development Awards.

Suzanna Crawford pitches her project, Enable, which received first place honours at the GSA’s Innovation Development Awards. 

GSA President Sam Hossack, left, and UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon, far right, present Rehable with the second place prize at the GSA’s Innovation Development Awards. Award winners are Riley Booth, Isaac Acosta and Jacob George.

GSA President Sam Hossack, left, and UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon, far right, present Rehable with the second place prize at the GSA’s Innovation Development Awards. Award winners are Riley Booth, Isaac Acosta and Jacob George. 

Bryce Besler and David Garrett present their pitch on BClean.

Bryce Besler and David Garrett present their pitch on BClean.

Ghada Nafie pitches Nanoparticle for Oil Sands Applications.

Ghada Nafie pitches Nanoparticle for Oil Sands Applications.

As the University of Calgary continues to emphasize the importance of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) recognized those values and initiatives at their inaugural Innovation Development Awards ceremony and pitch contest on Thursday, April 13.

Khobaib Zaamout, GSA awards committee co-chair, led the team that created the Innovation Development Awards. They were created to provide financial resources and guidance to graduate students who are developing an innovative product or service. Award recipients receive funding from the GSA and work with a professional mentor from Innovate Calgary to help guide them in bringing their product or service to market. The GSA received a generous donation of $10,000 from the Office of the Vice-President (Research) to support the Innovation Development Awards.

Volunteers from Innovate Calgary and the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation evaluated the award applicants.

Leading up to the groups’ pitches, Anne Katzenberg, associate vice-president (research), gave opening remarks.

  • Enable, led by Suzanna Crawford from the Faculty of Nursing and Michael Purdy of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, won the top prize of $10,000. Enable is a program that helps to match individuals with disabilities with post-secondary support workers.
  • Rehable, led by Jacob George, Isaac Acosta, and Riley Booth of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, came in second place and received $7,000. Rehable is a project that developed portable robotic braces to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke patients.
  • In third place, receiving $4,000, was BClean, led by Shahum Chadhry and Ziad Paracha of the Haskayne School of Business, and Alexander Sheldon, Bryce Besler and David Garrett of the Department of Electrical Engineering. BClean is a project that developed a wearable device and mobile app for health-care professionals to help improve the compliance of hand hygiene.
  • The Fan Favourite Award for the best-presented pitch was given to Nanoparticle for Oil Sands Applications. The project team, led by Ghada Nafie, Gerardo Vitale, and Nashaat Nassar of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, has created a process for removing effluent in the oilsands through nanotechnology applications.

President Elizabeth Cannon was in attendance to present the awards to the recipients.

“Our students, faculty, staff, and certainly our community supporters have said that we need to focus on entrepreneurial thinking,” says Cannon.

"Graduate students are already engaged in innovation every day,” says Sam Hossack, GSA president. “Taking that innovation to the next level and designing a product or service that benefits the community is what these awards support. We are very excited to have launched this program this year, and look forward to what it will support in future years."

More information about the Innovation Development Awards can be found on the GSA website