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Manning Awards Celebrate Innovation

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation presents prizes annually to Canadian innovators of all ages and disciplines. Award winners are chosen by a Canada-wide, independent selection committee of established leaders and authorities from various disciplines. It also organizes an annual Innovation Summit, which this year made its way to Dal.

In front of a packed audience at the Life Sciences Research Building, the following recipients were announced:

  • Dr. Michel G. Bergeron (Quebec City) – $100,000 Principle Award for his Rapid <1hr Molecular Diagnostics for Better Care, which identifies micro-organisms using their DNA, allowing physicians to prescribe antibiotics with precision in less than an hour.
  • Gilray Densham (Toronto) – $25,000 David E. Mitchell Award of Distinction for BlackTrax by Cast Systems, an intelligent lighting solution that tracks in real-time with six degrees of freedom, including 3D and rotation, sending information to controllers on robotic equipment.
  • Frank Bouchard (Ottawa) – $10,000 Innovation Award for Wipebook, a reusable, recyclable dry erase paper notebook that allows users to create, solve, erase and start again.
  • Robert Niven (Dartmouth) – $10,000 Innovation Award for CarbonCure, a breakthrough technology that allows concrete producers to reuse CO2 during the manufacturing of concrete.

“The foundation is helping build a culture of innovation in Canada by recognizing Canadian innovators and rewarding them for the value they add to our provincial and national economies by creating jobs and wealth,” says Jennifer Diakiw, foundation president. “These innovators are positioning our country as a global innovation competitor and we consider them Canada’s most valuable resource.”


The announcement of the award winners was part of a larger Celebration of Innovation Symposium. The symposium provided an opportunity to meet the award winners and hear their stories about the pathways taken to become nationally recognized innovators.

“Our foundation is committed to creating a culture of innovation,” says Jennifer Diakiw. “And to do that — we know we have to share the stories of innovators.”

Five Dal students were selected to be ambassadors for the event, which included having a large role in the planning process.

“I truly enjoyed working with such an amazing group of Dalhousie Student Ambassadors to plan and execute the 2016 Innovation Symposium,” says Margaret Palmeter, the organizer of the symposium, and a manager with Dalhousie’s Industry Liaison and Innovation office. “Their input was invaluable, and organizing the event together was so fun! The enthusiasm that students bring to an event like this is so important.”

Dr. Bergeron, Gilray Densham, Frank Bouchard, along with Dal’s own Dr. Christine Chambers and Daniel Boyd, delivered eight-minute TED-style talks to share their stories and discuss the projects they are working on.

Fifty students then were invited to attend an exclusive “speed innovating” event, where they were able to spend time with each of the innovators and ask them questions. The overall goal of the event was to inspire students to consider innovation as a life and career choice.

“Student involvement in the event meant that we put on an event that had the most impact for the Dal student community,” says Margaret. “I was so thrilled when student participants in the event were asking about how to get on the invite list for next year.”

Celebrating innovation

The recipients of the four Manning Innovation Awards were celebrated at an awards dinner on October 20. More than 400 leaders from across Canada in government, business and academia, including members of the Dalhousie community, were in attendance for a truly inspiring evening.

In addition to the adult winners, four incredibly impressive student innovators were also recognized:

  • Devanshi Shukla – 18 (Guelph, ON) for developing a biosensor for the detection of microbial contamination.
  • Aoife Pucchio – 17 (London, ON) for developing a prototype process for municipalities to efficiently transport waste Styrofoam to a centralized facility for recycling into a highly reusable plastic.
  • Amit Scheer – 17 (Ottawa, ON) for his nanobiotechnology research that developed a novel scaffold vaccination platform, drastically improving the efficiency of how our immune system is recruited, activated, and targeted.
  • Luca Penny – 17 (Grimsby, ON) for his low cost system for detecting breast cancer in its early stages.