Eleven Newfoundland and Labrador companies will receive more than $1.3 million in funding from the province’s Research and Development Corp. (RDC).
The projects funded include research focused on improving petroleum exploration, enhancing marine safety and preventing and detecting money laundering and fraud.
“With an increasingly diversified economy continuing to outpace growth in other regions around North America, Newfoundland and Labrador continues to earn a reputation as a place where business growth and innovation is encouraged,” said Keith Hutchings, minister responsible for RDC. “The provincial government is committed to providing these companies and others with the business opportunities and programs they need to bring their products to markets anywhere in the world.”
RDC works with businesses, providing funding to assist and improve research and development activities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The latest funding supports innovative projects being led by the following 11 companies — Lotek Wireless Inc., NorCan Pozzolan AS, Afinin Labs Inc., Firecraft Products Inc., Oceans Ltd., Technip Canada Ltd., Triumph Atlantic, Verafin Inc., Virtual Marine Technology Inc., Whitecap Scientific Corp. and WYSE Design and Development Inc.
“Investing in R&D projects led by Newfoundland and Labrador’s business sector is a key priority for the Research & Development Corporation,” said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of RDC. “Through our support, businesses are developing new technologies and skills that strengthen R&D and create jobs.”
The province also provided the following information about each company and their research projects.
• Lotek Wireless Inc. (Lotek) — A manufacturer of fish and wildlife monitoring systems. The company, based in St. John’s, has international operations spanning Canada, Europe and New Zealand. This project will evaluate the hydrodynamic performance of an externally tethered Lotek Pop-off SatelliteArchival Tag (PSAT) and smaller Lotek archival tags, used in marine animal research. The PSAT is an electronic device externally attached to a marine animal which collects data (depth, temperature, location) on the animal's environment. The PSAT is designed to release from the animal at a pre-programmed date and floats to the ocean's surface, then in turn transmits data back to the researcher via satellite technology. This project will perform flow testing at the National Research Council’s Institute for Ocean Technology Cavitation Tunnel in St. John’s, to assess the hydrodynamic performance of a pop-off satellite archival tag. RDC’s investment is $7,114 of a total project cost of $9,485.
• NorCan Pozzolan AS — This project will investigate cement formulas that optimize a silica breccia product to be used as an alternative to supplementary cementing material. The newly-developed silica breccia formula could have the potential to have a large impact on the cement and concrete industry as it is expected to extend the structure service life and reduce the cost of repair and maintenance of concrete structures used in offshore applications. Based in St. John's, this project will build on research previously conducted in Norway on silica breccia as well as strengthen the collaborative relationship of NorCan and Memorial University of Newfoundland. RDC is investing $15,000 of a total project cost of $20,000.
• Firecraft Products Inc. — This company is based in St. John’s. The company’s activity has primarily been development of a prototype of Spitfire and its accompanying incendiary sphere Spitball. This project will fund aerial adaptation and flight operational testing of Spitfire. Spitfire is a specialized incendiary launching device designed to ignite controlled forest fires from a helicopter. RDC’s investment is $60,000 of a total project cost of $80,000.
• Oceans Ltd. — This company was incorporated to carry out applied research and services in oceanography. Since that time, the company has grown and diversified substantially into specific work categories with the ocean as the common link. The company has established in prior studies that seaweeds from Newfoundland and Labrador contain a number of potential health promoting properties of special interest for the production of cosmeceuticals and neutraceuticals. In the present project, the company will obtain more comprehensive scientific information on health promoting properties, including those relevant for immunity, aging, and skin condition such as acne and eczema. The project has potential to facilitate the development of a new biotechnology-based industry in the province, in the area of cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals. The project will also benefit from specialized international expertise. RDC’s investment is $167,012 of a total project cost of $296,026.
• Triumph Atlantic — A multi-disciplined engineering firm established in Newfoundland and Labrador with a mandate to provide engineering and geophysical services specifically for the east coast oil and gas operations. The company’s Triumph Atlantic Underground Harmonic Device (THUD) is a prototype device designed to create a seismic wave event for the purpose of petroleum exploration. THUD will provide a more cost effective method of acquiring seismic data than current seismic creation sources while having the added ability to generate seismic signal in currently inaccessible and challenging terrains. The device is designed to leave a minimal ecological impact. RDC’s investment of $49,420 of a total project cost of $72,282.
Virtual Marine Technology Inc. — A St. John’s-based company which develops simulators for survival craft, fast response craft and high speed electronic navigation training. The primary objective of this project is to build a novel simulation platform that will stimulate marine bridge navigation equipment. There is a significant need for a low cost and efficient simulation system that can be used to train operators on the use of complex navigation equipment systems on the delivery of a new commercial system. An embedded training simulator will require a realistic simulation environment that can simultaneously stimulate electronic equipment including marine radar, Electronic Charted Display and Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems and marine sensors. The result will be low cost and efficient means for personnel to gain valuable experience in a safe, controlled training environment using the actual bridge equipment. RDC’s investment is $231,917 of a total project cost of $422,232.
Whitecap Scientific Corp. — Based in St. John’s, Whitecap Scientific is bringing advanced vision system technologies to the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) sector. This project will assist the company to develop a technology which provides visual depth cues to pilots of ROVs. The method and implementation will improve operator productivity at complex robotic manipulative tasks. The technology is based on hands-free control of a computer vision system paired to an active display system. RDC’s investment is $171,509 of a total project cost of $362,005.
WYSE Design and Development Inc. — St. John’s-based WYSE Design and Development Inc. is dedicated to designing and developing innovative new products including a hand-held portable winch that will combine the benefits of a high speed (mounted) manual winch and similar capacity of a low speed portable winch. For WYSE, this represents a new style or generation of winch products that will fill a need in the marketplace. RDC’s investment is $30,425 of a total project cost of $40,567.
Afinin Labs Inc. — Afinin (Automated Financial Intelligence) Labs is a financial algorithm startup company housed at the Genesis Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland’s business incubator. Afinin currently offers a service that gives individual traders a tool to better level the playing field so that they can compete against the army of algorithms they trade against in the markets. The company is developing a new product, a Technical Investment System, with the goal of developing features necessary for a more versatile product. Three main features Afinin aims to develop are: 1) the ability to short sell equities; 2) the ability to backtest; and 3) the ability for the algorithm to instruct trades over a time span longer than one day. With these features, the individual trader will have a full suite of features in an algorithmic based trade recommendation system, helping them compete in a heavily computer based trading environment. RDC’s investment is $106,625 of a total project cost of $186,250.
Verafin Inc. — St. John’s-based Verafin Inc. is a leading provider of software to financial institutions to assist in the prevention and detection of money laundering and fraud. Verafin will use this Proof of Concept project to enhance its application for its 650 plus North America customers to incorporate additional data sources of real-time or near real-time financial transactions. This project will leverage market research that suggests that organizations using software products capable of responding to fraud in near real-time will enjoy a considerable competitive advantage. Approximately 20,000 financial institutions in North America are required by law to detect suspicious financial behaviour. Verafin has a substantial market opportunity to meet this demand with its proven solution and can further enhance this position by embracing a platform model to commercialize the enhancements resulting from this project. RDC is investing $249,959 of a total project cost of $382,813.
Technip Canada Ltd. — One of the services that Technip Canada, based in St. John’s, offers to the offshore oil and gas industry is the deployment of subsea equipment. The deployment of such equipment typically involves lifting heavy, large, multi-shape objects over the side of service vessels with a crane system and lowering these objects into the sea through varying sea conditions. Precise calculations are completed in order to determine the equipment required. When the required objects pass through the “splash zone” of the water, problems may occur depending upon the sea conditions at that time. Varying conditions can lead to changing load requirements on the lifting equipment. This variant often causes the service company to opt for larger equipment to increase the safety factor of the lift, which leads to higher costs. The transport of this heavier equipment also requires a larger vessel for transport, increasing the cost. This Proof of Concept will attempt to develop an accurate determination of the hydrodynamic loads and thereby its lifting requirements. If this is accomplished, a more accurate prediction of the lifting equipment required could be determined, thus reducing the costs but not the affecting the safety of the lift. RDC is investing $243,101 of a total project cost of $455,243.