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Canada's best and brightest shine at CME's 2011 Canadian Innovation Awards

By James Careless


They are the best of the best - five ­pioneering ­manufacturers and ­exporters whose efforts were ­recognized at CME's 2011 Canadian Innovation Awards. Presented June 14, 2011, during CME's Business2Business Forum, the awards celebrate groundbreaking products, ­leadership, social ­responsibility, international business acumen and cutting-edge technologies.
The essence of the 2011 Canadian Innovation Awards was captured by federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who presented the award luncheon's keynote address.

"When innovation is ­introduced, productivity improves, your ­value-added goes up and your costs go down," Paradis told the assembled delegates, on-hand for a two-day session exploring ­business opportunities between Canada and Mexico. The truth of this ­statement is demonstrated in the stories of the five award winners, which follow.

"CME is dedicated to helping our members innovate and prosper," said Jeff Brownlee, CME's vice president of public affairs and partnerships. "The companies honoured by the 2011 Canadian Innovation Awards have taken this mission to heart and run with it."

Celestica Inc.,Toronto ON
Zurich's Canadian Innovation Award for Manufacturer of the Year

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and Zurich Insurance named Celestica the 2011 Canadian Manufacturer of the Year.

With headquarters in Toronto, ON, and more than 35,000 employees worldwide, Celestica is a leader in the delivery of innovative supply chain solutions. The company is unique in Canada in that it delivers a complete range of solutions for the technology sector from design and engineering, to global supply chain management, complex manufacturing and after-market services. Celestica serves major global companies in the enterprise computing, communications, consumer technology, healthcare, green technology and industrial sectors such as Cisco, Honeywell, HP, IBM, Alcatel-Lucent, and RIM.

As the manufacturing sector continues to evolve worldwide, Celestica has transformed its business to stay competitive and has successfully identified new opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, green energy, aerospace and defense to help OEMs bring innovative products to market quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

"The concept of manufacturing has shifted away from one company building the entire product to a global network of companies," said Mike Andrade, senior vice president, diversified markets, Celestica. "In today's highly-competitive and extremely fluid high-tech market, managing the complexity of the global supply chain and ensuring all of the parts come together at the right time is critical for business success. Celestica is proud to be one of the very few companies worldwide to offer this level of complex and comprehensive service."

When operating in a global network, many technology OEMs want to ensure their partners are socially responsible companies. Celestica understands it is not enough to just produce green products, but it also needs to produce them in an environmentally responsible manner. Just weeks before the CME award was given, on June 16, 2011, Celestica was named to Canada's Green 30, an annual list based on Aon Hewitt's Employee Green Index. Celestica received this listing by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water, and reducing/recycling waste among many other environmentally sustainable improvements.

"At Celestica, we are committed to environmental sustainability and are proud to be recognized as one of Canada's top 30 green employers," said Elizabeth DelBianco, the company's chief legal and administrative officer. "From our day-to-day safe, efficient and environmentally conscious operations to our leadership in the area of environmental legislation, our dedication to being a solid corporate citizen is evident in all that we do."

BRP, Valcourt QC
EDC's Canadian Innovation Award for Global Business of the Year

Short for ‘Bombardier Recreational Products', BRP is truly a global powerhouse. The Quebec-based manufacturer of snowmobiles, watercraft, all-terrain vehicles and light aircraft, sells products in more than 100 countries around the world.
Not bad for a one-man company that began in 1937, when Joseph-Armand Bombardier got his first patent for a tracked vehicle for traveling over snow - the "B7 snowmobile". Bombardier opened his first plant in Valcourt, QC, in 1942 - ­L'Auto-Neige Bombardier - with the iconic Ski-Doo first produced in 1959. The Sea-Doo personal watercraft was invented by the company in 1968, followed by motorcycles, boats, all-terrain vehicles and ­Can-Am Spider three-wheeled roadsters. Add acquisitions like the Evinrude outboard motor line, which BRP purchased from a bankrupt Outboard Marine Corporation, and this company has gone from strength to strength.

Spun off from Bombardier as a stand-alone company in 2003, BRP is an undisputed world leader in its ­various product catogories. With ­millions of Ski-Doos and Sea-Doos in use worldwide, it is not a surprise that BRP was honoured with CME's 2011 EDC Canadian Innovation Award for Global Business of the Year. EDC provides financing and insurance solutions for thousands of Canadian businesses and their global ­customers in up to 200 markets worldwide. BRP represents just how much a Canadian company can achieve globally when it harnesses innovation, dedication and just plain hard work.
"We are very pleased that CME has recognized BRP with this prestigious award," says Pierre Pichette, BRP's vice president of communications and public affairs. "It signifies how a Canadian company can grow into a global leader, and how Canadian products can achieve the highest standards and desirability the world over."

Today, BRP employs 6,000 people in some 20 countries, with half of the workforce being based in Quebec. The company's major R&D, design and administration facilities remain here, giving the best of Canadian manufacturing talent the opportunity to work at the forefront of this industry.

BRP is mindful that today's marketplace is truly global, which is why it has opened sales and support offices around the world. (The company has manufacturing facilities in Austria, the United States, Finland, Mexico and Canada.) BRP's agility to adapting to market trends - and in many cases, setting them - accounts for much of its success.

BRP has earned many awards over the years. For instance, in 2005, BRP was the first outboard engine manufacturer ever to receive the prestigious US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Technology Excellence Award. This prize recognized the low emission levels achieved by BRP's Evinrude E-TEC outboard engines.

Three years later, the United States Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety presented BRP with its prestigious Boating Safety Award. The award acknowledged BRP's commitment to improving boating safety through the new electronically controlled hand-braking iBR system (intelligent Brake and Reverse), on two of its 2009 Sea-Doo watercraft models.

"Innovation has always driven BRP from its very earliest days," says Pichette. "It continues to drive us today, as we look for new and better ways to deliver maximum recreational enjoyment with environmentally responsible and safe products."

Cavet Technologies,Toronto ON
NRC/IRAP's Canadian Innovation Award for New Technology

What's the easiest way to save power on ­fluorescent lighting? Answer: Turn the power off.

Of course, doing this results in darkness, which is hardly a practical solution. However, if you could turn the power on and off so fast that the gas within the tubes would stay ­energized, thus keeping them ­producing light - the result could be up to 30 per cent saved on electricity bills.

That's exactly what Cavet Technologies' LumiSmart Intelligent Light Controller does. In recognition of the cost-saving brilliance of this concept, CME and the National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) presented Toronto's Cavet Technologies with the 2011 Canadian Innovation Award for New Technology.

"The LumiSmart uses a microprocessor and onboard programing to intelligently control turning the power on and off," explains Albert Behr, president and CEO of Cavet Technologies. "The box couldn't be easier to install. You just wire it into the existing circuit breaker; there's just two wires to put in place. Once the LumiSmart is installed, there's nothing left to do or change. Just walk away and ignore it - and save up to 30 per cent on your hydro bills."

Given its cost-saving power, one would expect the LumiSmart to be expensive. But Cavet Technologies is only charging $2,000 per unit; putting this device within reach of virtu ally any business and office that uses fluorescent lighting. "It takes two-three years at most to pay for your LumiSmarts, based on your power savings," Behr says. "Given that most buildings have a lifespan of 30 years or more, this means that you will start seeing 30 per cent savings very shortly, and these savings will continue for the life of the structure."

That's not all: a 30 per cent power reduction means a reduced carbon footprint, because less power consumed means less energy needed to produce it. It also means less pollution and less strain on the existing power generation system and grid. In other words, LumiSmart is not only an economical technology, but a very green one, too.

Considering that the vast majority of the world's businesses, offices and factories are lit by fluorescent lighting, LumiSmart has the potential to be both a world leader and environmental saviour. The sales and green potential of this technology cannot be overstated. Small wonder that the company received the 2011 Canadian Innovation Award for New Technology.

Not surprisingly, many US states have even courting Cavet Technologies, urging Albert Behr to move south in exchange for tax breaks and other incentives. But he refuses to go: "We started as a proudly Canadian company, and we will stay that way," Behr says. "Even though it may not be the most financially responsible thing to do, Cavet Technologies is committed to Canada and our people here."

As for the future? An entrepreneur who invests in many exciting new products, Albert Behr intends to stay focused on business, innovation, and keeping his ego in check. "No matter how big we get, you won't see us trying to buy NHL teams," he says. "We want to stay centred on what we do best, and what Canadians do best - which is innovation, marketing, and products that make a difference."

Dolphin Digital Technologies, Kitchener ON
BTA's Canadian Innovation Award for Innovator of the Year

Dolphin Digital Technologies' Dolphin Support Stream solution offers live professional IT support anytime, anywhere in the world. Clients access services through clickitwearehere.ca, or a simple ­desktop icon.

But the Dolphin Support Stream is about more than just IT business. The reason - this Kitchener, ON, company is pioneering barrier-free employment for people with ­disabilities, by hiring qualified disabled persons to serve as online support staff. Dolphin's Virtual Technical Support Representatives (VTSRs) receive and deliver IT support in a virtual model. They arrive at work via the Internet and log into a virtual office. Calls for support, or training are broadcast to VTSRs, who are fully interactive with the client and each other, allowing for elevated support tiers in a live format.

This approach combines "business modeling and alignment with social responsibility as a propelling force," says Dolphin president, Scott Burton. "We have developed a business case showing our conviction to this ­alignment makes for greater returns and growth."

Specifically, "We are a professional IT company delivering services on a cutting-edge playing field where intellectual property is our real estate," he says. "Because of this we also have the privilege and distinction of being one of the only companies able to eliminate discriminatory limitations to employment from what are truly gifted individuals. Because physical or visible projection is of no consequence in our industry we are able to review candidates based on skill sets. All of this comes together to create an amazing return on investment both internally, and from clients and how they perceive our business."

This balance between business and social responsibility, explains why Dolphin Digital Technologies won CME's Business Takes Action's Canadian Innovation Award for Innovator of the Year. The Business Takes Action (BTA) program shows the benefits of hiring and retaining candidates with disabilities. BTA helps small to medium-sized businesses leverage the strength and competitive advantages of hiring skilled disabled workers through workshops, networking opportunities and guidebooks.
Not all barriers exist at the employer level: Accustomed to being stigmatized, many disabled people are unaware of how employable they truly are.

To address this lack of knowledge, Dolphin is working with the Making Cent$ of Abilities Coalition to bring a Disabilities Mentoring Day to Canada. "This is an opportunity to promote career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships," says Jamie Burton, the company's director of business development.

"We have begun the process and engaged local municipality leaders to provide an opportunity for local businesses to demonstrate their inclusive approach to hiring, provide mentoring opportunities and industry changes."

By combining solid business practices with social responsibility, Dolphin has grown to be a dynamic, leading-edge technology company. It provides customers with a reliable, knowledgeable and always accessible resource for dealing with IT issues.
Meanwhile, Dolphin's innovative business strategy ­allows the company to hire the best people for the job; whomever they may be.

 

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