Aug. 31, 2020

Four UCalgary graduates awarded GreenSTEM fellowships

Program fosters careers for ‘deep technology’ entrepreneurship and talent development in Alberta

A group of four graduates who share a goal — to develop a ‘deep technology’ company — were inducted into the second cohort of the GreenSTEM program.

The GreenSTEM program supports recent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) master's and PhD graduates with financial and entrepreneurial support, access to lab facilities, entrepreneurial programming, and mentorship to bring hardware-based technologies to market in Alberta.

The two-year program provides companies founded by STEM graduates a ‘commercialization runway’ to help advance their tech-based products and services’ readiness. Fellows from the University of Calgary will work with Innovate Calgary, the innovation transfer and business incubator for UCalgary, where they will have access to office space, receive technology-focused entrepreneurial programming and mentorship, and have the opportunity to connect to a variety of business support service providers. In addition to this support, each fellow will receive a salary stipend and seed funding to support their technology and business development expenses and entrepreneurial development training.

Ulian Shahnovich, pictured above, a recent graduate of the Master of Sciences in Electrical and Computer Engineering program at UCalgary is a second-cohort GreenSTEM member. His company, WIDR, aims to develop wide-dynamic range image sensors for the machine vision industry.

“This Fellowship will help us take some significant strides as we look to enter the market,” says Shahnovich.

Being part of a group with similar goals and challenges will help us collectively learn and apply best practices that save us time and resources.

Pej Ghanipour, the GreenSTEM program lead and senior innovation manager for Innovate Calgary, says the fellowship program provides a significant stepping stone for early-stage research-based companies.

“Working from the first cohort’s many successes, we are eager to bring together the second cohort of GreenSTEM Fellows. We know the program is effective, with most of our first cohort participants having raised external investment, generating revenue, and creating jobs,” says Ghanipour.

“This program undoubtedly advances participants towards becoming a sustainable and scalable business that will help further diversify the Alberta economy towards a cleaner future.”

Shahnovich sees great value in participating in the fellowship as he looks to transition from academic research and development into starting a viable business.

“After four years of technology development, we needed commercialization support. I also recognized that while I am strong in my academic pursuits, significant business support was needed the most,” says Shahnovich.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to create a new career path that will help me build a sustainable company that began as a product concept, which led to academic research and hopefully becomes a viable industrial solution.”

GreenSTEM Fellows

On July 20, GreenSTEM officially welcomed its second cohort of 13 fellows, comprised of 11 companies from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge. UCalgary graduates inducted into the second cohort include:

  • Dr. Ali Telmadarreie, PhD, and CERC research associate, University of Calgary

His company, Cnergreen Corp., aims to improve oil recovery efficiency and reduce infill drilling related to well damage, while synergistically reducing C02 emissions. Its patent-pending CnerFoam technology helps oil and gas operators significantly improve pore space sweep and maximize the reservoirs’ CO2 storage capacity. The CnerFoam platform is an innovative combination of commodity nanoparticles, surfactants, and any gas type that survives in various reservoir environments that can be rapidly tailored for any reservoir instead of developing new chemical components.

  • Dr. Abdallah D. Manasrah, PhD, and Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary

His company, Carbon Oxytech Inc., is commercializing a new green technology that provides non-combustion utilization pathways for residual feedstocks, low-rank coal, and carbon-based waste into valuable products. The company’s back-end technology produces multiple products, each addressing a unique market ranging from organic fertilizers, fuel, lighter hydrocarbons, carbon nanomaterials, microfibres, and valuable metals routinely present in waste and low-value hydrocarbon feedstock.

  • Apostol Radev, MSc in Sustainable Energy Development, University of Calgary

His company, SolarSteam Inc., addresses the problem of high cost and high emissions associated with process heat. This renewable energy company is developing novel concentrating solar systems designed for northern climate heat-intensive industry markets looking to improve performance and be more carbon- and cost-effective. Some of these markets include petrochemicals, SAGD, pulp and paper, food processing, health care, district heating, materials transformation, and alcohol production.

  • Ulian Shahnovich, MSc and research associate, electronics engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Calgary

WIDR Inc. specializes in digital image sensor design for specific applications where invariant light conditions apply. Their technology captures ultra-low and extremely bright light in a single capture shot, which requires significantly less hardware and computational effort resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions. These wide-dynamic range image sensors are essential for the machine vision industry to improve and optimize their vision systems with essential applications in self-driving vehicles, industrial automation, medical vision devices, detection equipment, and others.

GreenSTEM is a pan-provincial pilot program launched in January 2019 by Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation in collaboration with the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge.