Fostering impactful industry partnerships at the Nanotechnology Research Centre

- Edmonton, Alberta

Another successful collaboration in the books! The National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Nanotechnology Research Centre in Edmonton and Gastops Ltd. have been in partnership since September 2018, and both teams could not be happier with the results. For 18 months, the 2 groups worked together to develop a microfluidics solution to support Gastops' machinery condition assessment applications. Gastops is a national, innovative engineering company, headquartered in Ottawa, that designs, manufactures, and supports advanced equipment sensing and analysis products.

"Working with the NRC, and more specifically researchers Nikola Pekas, Abebaw Jemere, and Andrew Myles, has been an absolute pleasure—they are wonderful people to work with and have truly treated this as a partnership," said Pooja Suresh, Director of Research and Innovation at Gastops. "They care about our success and recognize the value they are adding to a medium-sized enterprise like us—helping us grow our business and create jobs, train our personnel, and create competitive technology advantages for Canada."

Nikola Pekas, Research Officer at the Nanotechnology Research Centre, expressed his reciprocal gratitude to Gastops. "At the onset of our partnership, Gastops inspired us by presenting a challenging vision of a novel, enabling technology that would push the limits of what is currently possible in the realm of machinery health monitoring. They also demonstrated an impressive level of expertise and a solid technological foundation to build upon. Once we knew where we wanted to go, we started brainstorming on how to get there, ultimately leading to a well-defined collaborative research project."

The NRC researchers worked very closely with Gastops at the start of the project to understand the application and its challenges, and they have maintained a clear focus on ensuring that the work is aligned with Gastops' requirements and targeted towards real applications—not just scientific advancement.

"As an industrial partner, this is what we look for in our research collaborators," said Suresh. The project requirements were challenging to start with, and the goal of phase 1 of the project was to prove feasibility of the technology for the application. The NRC team met this goal successfully and developed working prototypes that Gastops was able to test directly in its platform. "This helped us achieve a significant technology advantage in our market, and with our customers, and added cutting-edge technology capabilities to our group," Suresh explained.

The team started working on phase 2 of the project, and they have already solved the most challenging technical problem and are moving onto microfabrication of the next generation of prototypes. They have taken a very systematic and methodical approach to the project. That, coupled with very regular communication and sharing of results, has inspired a lot of confidence on both sides that the right solution is being developed. Gastops is also excited about exploring other potential applications of the technology within their field of use; this could lead to competitive advantages in the market.

"As a scientist and a public servant, I find the partnership with Gastops extremely rewarding, as it offers an exciting mix of scientific questions and technical challenges, opportunities for learning, and a convincing business case with a clear vision and purpose for our joint efforts," added Pekas.

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