Precarn spreads the wealth, mostly in Ontario

OTTAWA – There are two in Quebec, two in BC, one each in Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, but Ontario snags the bulk of the loot when Ottawa-based, government-funded Precarn Inc. spreads a PrecarnLogo112X103.pngcouple of million among 14 small to medium-sized ICT companies with first-of-their-kind technologies.
Precarn, like its stepsisters at the Networks of Centres of Excellence and NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program, has heard the federal government's call to commercialize, commercialize, commercialize, and is turning cartwheels to show that it's with the program. Yesterday it thought it had scored the very senior Industry Minister Tony Clement to announce its funding initiative. When a family emergency pre-empts him, Precarn settles with a smile for his parliamentary secretary, Mike Lake.
The funding ($2.1 million) is being invested in 14 projects across the country that feature two critical elements: intelligent systems that solve problems in non-ICT industries and a successful R&D partnering model. They address solve problems in a diverse set of industries and involve partnerships among a technology company, a customer and an academic research partner, “a model that has proven to effectively accelerate technology commercialization, reduce risk and share the cost of R&D,” says Henri Rothschild, president and CEO of Precarn.
“Studies show that small and medium-sized companies need investment support to successfully and expeditiously bring their projects from the bench to the marketplace,” Mr. Rothschild says. “Studies also show that the Precarn model of collaboration is a key success factor of ICT commercialization, producing more than $5 of net benefits for every dollar invested, and contributing to Canada’s economic strength, both on a domestic and global scale.”
Following are details of the seven Ontario projects funded (click More below):

Intelligent System for the Control and Management of LEDs: This project will develop a scalable, high-speed, two-way visual optical communication (VOC) system that uses embedded light emitting diodes (LEDs) to monitor, manage and control light sources, whether in the home, office or public environment. The resulting VOC engine will control and interface with a wide variety of sensors for numerous application scenarios, such as power and energy saving. Led by SIGPRO Wireless Inc. of Ottawa, project partners include Advanced Asset Tracking Systems Inc. (Cambridge, ON), and UOttawa .
Underwater Laser Scanner: This project will build on technology used in existing underwater laser scanners in order to develop a new version that can easily be integrated with smaller underwater inspection vehicles. There is a critical need for robotic tools to inspect and maintain aging underground water and waste water infrastructures in order to ensure public safety. Current techniques are limited and cannot detect fine defects such as the size of cracks or displaced joints. The new scanner will be capable of measuring fine details and will be used with companion software that enables end-users to obtain dimensions of the scanned environments, ultimately producing precise three-dimensional models. Led by 2G Robotics Inc. of Waterloo, project partners include ASI Group (St. Catharines) and UWaterloo.
UiRemote – Universal Remote Accessory for iPhones/iPods: The goal of this project is to build a sleek universal remote accessory for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch that will provide users with access to touchscreen, gesturing and content interactions with TV-Guide and other media rich content. The new remote user interface will enable an iPhone or iPod to operate as a universal remote, offering several advanced features not available on today’s top-end universal remotes, including WiFi capability and Internet access. The accessory is expected to be available by mid-2010 and will retail for less than $60 (U.S.). Led by Dreamcube Technologies Inc. of Toronto, project partners include Rogers Communication (Toronto) and UWaterloo.
Educational Software Game for Brain Development: The objective of this project is to enhance the learning skills of young children by developing cost-effective, web-based “brain training” software that is designed to improve multiple cognitive skills after four weeks of use. Specifically, the project will develop a computer module that captures brain activity and sends the results to a behavioural database so that the educational software can be modified according to a specific child’s learning abilities, helping professionals to guide and monitor their progression. The final product will be an interactive, web-based program. Led by MusIQkids Corp. of Toronto, project partners include U of T, YorkU (Toronto) and Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital (Toronto).
SonicGuage Smart Real-Time Sensory System: This project will demonstrate how an ultrasonic smart sensor system – SonicGuage – can be used to achieve operational efficiencies and process improvements in the synthetic rubber manufacturing industry. SonicGuage is used to accurately classify the chemical fingerprint of a substance (solid, liquid or gas), non-invasively through a pipeline, in order to determine quality. The sensor technology will accurately characterize the composition of synthetic rubber slurry used in the manufacturing process, and then analyze process control data in real-time in order to identify and implement process improvements, ultimately leading to decreased costs, reduced waste, and increased capacity, throughput and profitability. The end result is smarter, more efficient factories. Led by NIMTech Inc. of Toronto, the end-user partner is Lanxess Inc. (Sarnia).
PostRank Pro-Media Publisher Registry: This project will develop and maintain a comprehensive database of on-line publishers, the topics they cover, their social profile and the real-time social engagement with each piece of content they produce. The resulting PostRank Pro-Media Registry will automatically assemble and dynamically maintain publisher information using only the URL of their blog or site. By analyzing the page associated with the URL, it will extract hints about the authors’ presence on various social networks, fetch those profiles and combine relevant information to create a comprehensive view of their publishing history. The registry will serve as a valuable tool to help Public Relations, Marketing and Communications firms, as well as corporate entities, to sift through huge volumes of on-line content in order to find individual publishers in specific topic areas, and to more accurately assess their audience influence. Led by PostRank Inc. of Waterloo, project partners include Sequentia Environics (Toronto) and UWaterloo.
Miniature Satellite Star Tracker: The goal of this project is to develop an extremely small star tracker for use by small satellites. Existing miniature star trackers are available only from the U.S. and their export is restricted. By providing a Canadian source, the project will support upcoming Canadian satellite missions and will also be able to market worldwide under less restrictive Canadian export regulations. Miniature star trackers provide precise orientation information to small satellites which would otherwise need to rely on less accurate sun sensors and magnetometers. The product design will incorporate handheld mobile electronics – including image sensors, processors and memory – that could be found in a digital camera or cell phone. Led by Sinclair Interplanetary of Toronto, the project partners include the Space Avionics and Instrumentation Lab at RyersonU (Toronto) and the Space Flight Laboratory at UofT Institute for Aerospace Studies.

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