Research That Helps Companies Grow
July 06th, 2015
Across Dal’s campuses, researchers are collaborating with companies small and large to solve industry problems.
Industry collaborations, from partnerships with local start-ups to projects with large multinationals, are a key pillar to research happening at Dal. Dal’s Industry Liaison and Innovation (ILI) office facilitates these collaborations. The results of relationships with industry are widespread, benefiting Dal’s researchers and students, advancing industry and helping to drive the economy.
Industry-university research collaborations can progress with the support of several funding initiatives, including opportunities offered by the Nova Scotia Department of Business, the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). In recent years, the Productivity and Innovation Voucher program offered by the Province of Nova Scotia has facilitated much collaboration at Dal. These opportunities encourage business growth and celebrate knowledge development happening in our own back yard.
Taking an idea farther
Turbulent Research, a local company headquartered in Halifax, designs and manufactures low power data acquisition and signal processing products for sub-sea, industrial and remote locations. The company strives to give their customers the best quality sensor data possible, so when they were looking to build on their product success they turned to Dal and began working with Jean-François Bousquet, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“We had a strong relationship with Jean-François and his team from day one,” says Chris Loadman, CEO. “They immediately applied their thorough understanding of communications concepts to underwater acoustics in our initial discussions, bringing new ideas and concepts to the table that we hadn’t considered.”
The company was looking to build an acoustic sensor prototype that offered improved detection of signals in high flow environments where the signal can be easily lost.
“The sensor is an array of hydrophones that are controlled to receive signals coming from different locations,” explains Jean-François. “It can be used to locate animals, ships or any equipment that generates acoustic noise.”
Jean-François and his team developed, built and tested a prototype that exceeded the company’s expectations.
“One of the key design aspects that Jean-François and his team added to the prototype was its ability to go deeper below the surface,” explains Chris. “They customized a special pressure case that allows the remote sensor to operate in deeper environments, allowing us to offer a more distinct product to our clients.”
Turbulent Research has already begun steps to launch the new acoustic sensor globally and have orders lining up from customers.
“By working on joint projects like this we are able to build stronger relationships and gain experience that can lead to new relationships,” says Jean-François. “This project will lead us to further collaboration with Turbulent Research and others in the industry.”
Projects like this also benefit students at Dal. Jean-François hired Graham McIntyre, a student in Electrical Engineering, to work on the study of flow noise. Graham applied concepts he learnt in an academic setting to help solve real world problems.
“The experience Graham gained by working on this project will help in shaping his career path,” says Jean-François. “This industry experience makes him better equipped to enter the market once he graduates.”
Lighting up ideas
LED SGS Solutions Inc. has a passion for providing business solutions while bringing new technology to life. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia company was given customer feedback that they knew could help improve their product.
“We were familiar with Matt d’Entremont’s and the iDlab’s work,” says Shelley Simpson-McKay, CEO at SGS Solutions. “We knew that they had the expertise to help us improve our product and they felt like part of our team from day one.”
Participants in the exhibit industry are often charged for lighting and power, which can quickly increase the company’s costs. SGS Solutions provides LED lighting and power solutions for companies to light and power their own booths, with a product line known as ShowBattery. ShowBattery allows exhibitors to power their own exhibits during peak show times, reducing their financial costs and helping the environment.
“Shelley and her team came to us with customer feedback asking for a way to know the unit’s battery life,” explains Matt d’Entremont, director of Dal’s iDlab in the Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre (NSPDDC). “So we designed a new generation of product to have an effective battery capacity monitor.”
The new generation of product has features that show battery storage capacity and the new display panel allows customers to plan for the best lighting and power usage when at a trade show.
“We designed the prototype to work within the size and cost constraints of SGS Solutions product,” says Matt. “The team took the time to source the parts we needed including a chip that was sourced and modified by one of our students that allowed us to calibrate the product to display the exact information the customers wanted.”
The new generation product developed by Matt and his iDlab team increases ShowBattery’s value and effectiveness, opening up opportunities for SGS Solutions to expand their product line with future developments.
“I still remember the day they showed us the solution and I’m not sure who was more excited, them or us,” says Shelley. “The solution, which I’m sure to many on the surface may seem small, has exponential value to improving our product’s value in the market.”
Both SGS Solutions and the team at iDlab are looking forward to working together again.
Collaborate on the next level
Dal ILI is constantly working with industry and researchers resulting in win-win collaborations. To access these programs or find out more about industry-university engagement opportunities visit dalinnovation.com and contact ILI today.