Enabling Earlier Diagnosis

26 January 2017

Imaging Technology Opens the Doors to New Global Markets

Canadian Company: Redlen Technologies

Israeli Company: Spectrum Dynamics

Sector: Life Sciences

Challenge

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 17 million people die from cardiovascular disease each year. This number is expected to surge to 23.6 million by 20305. The ability to detect and diagnose cardiovascular diseases before the onset of a heart attack or stroke can enable early treatment that saves lives. Physicians often use cardiac imaging devices to evaluate the structure and function of the heart, and diagnose and manage heart diseases. Many existing imaging technologies fail to deliver all the functionality required by physicians – and the comfort required by patients. This prompted leading Canadian and Israeli firms to combine their know-how and create the first cardiac camera of its kind.

Objective

This bilateral R&D project brought together:

  • Redlen Technologies, a leading Canadian manufacturer of high resolution Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) semiconductor radiation detectors, devices that are used to detect, track or identify high energy particles in high performance detection and imaging equipment; and
  • Spectrum Dynamics, part of the Biosensors International Group; this Israeli medical device company is dedicated to bringing clinicians state-of-the-art nuclear medicine systems and technology including advanced imaging products.

The partners integrated Redlen’s CZT radiation detectors inside a Spectrum heart scan imaging device called D-SPECT. The team incorporated nine rotating columns of Redlen CZT detectors into Spectrum Dynamics D-SPECT cardiac camera, creating the ability to focus on specific anatomical points in the body. It eliminates the need to rotate the structure that holds the camera or the patient when sampling the organ of interest. With low radiation, this flexible imaging increases patient safety and comfort. Moreover, it improves the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac issues and diseases.

Outcomes

Gilad Yoeli, Chief Financial Officer, Spectrum Dynamics, a part of Biosensors International Group

“This CIIRDF-supported innovation represents an important product for Spectrum. Over the last three years, we have sold multiple imaging systems to hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world that incorporate Redlen’s detectors, generating millions of dollars in sales. This is tremendous return on our CIIRDF-supported technology partnership. We established a strategic supplier relationship with Redlen in 2013 as their CZT detector differentiates our products. As there is a shortage of CZT worldwide, this agreement served as an important driver for Spectrum’s recent acquisition by Biosensors International Group. With the global market for cardiac cameras expected to grow significantly by 2018, we are well positioned to grow our share of this market year over year.”

Eric Erikson, Chief Financial Officer, Redlen Technologies

“CIIRDF provided critical seed funding that enabled Redlen to develop a gamma imaging module for applications in nuclear medicine. Redlen’s single high quality Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) crystal is at the core of these modules. Over the last four years, we have improved CZT quality and performance, reduced production cost, and increased yield by 50 percent to meet Spectrum’s order volumes. These efficiencies enabled us to pursue broader applications for our technology, and develop new products such as customized detectors for baggage scanning systems in airports. The impact of this CIIRDF project on Redlen is perhaps best illustrated by the growth of our detector business. In 2009, detectors comprised 20 percent of our sales. Today, they represent 60 percent of our total revenue generation. CIIRDF influenced all aspects of our technology and business development, and helped us to acquire additional investment including $3.2 million under Canada’s Western Innovation Initiative (WINN).”

Preserving Global Water Quality

26 January 2017

New Water Quality Testing System Expected to Generate Millions in New Sales

Canadian Company: Real Tech Inc.

Israeli Company: Mekorot

Sector: Environment

Challenge

Each day, millions of people draw water from their kitchen taps, trusting it is safe to drink. The need to proactively manage the health of drinking water is underscored by tragedies such as the deadly E. Coli contamination in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada in May 2000. This incident claimed seven lives, hospitalized hundreds of others, and cost more than $64 million. It is just one of many threats to drinking water quality. In 2011, it is estimated that almost 10,000 tonnes of chemicals spilled into US waters14. These and other risks led a Canadian and Israeli firm to join forces and develop a novel water monitoring system that guards against contamination, and ensures the safety of drinking water.

Objectives

Leveraging funding from the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program managed by CIIRDF, this bilateral R&D project brought together:

  • Real Tech Inc., an award-winning Canadian company that has developed a product line of portable and real time water quality analyzers; and
  • Mekorot, Israel’s national water company which provides 80 percent of the nation’s drinking water.

The companies collaborated on the development of custom software for Real Tech’s leading-edge Ultra Violet (UV) absorption technology real time monitoring solutions. These systems use light to assess water quality and rapidly detect contaminants such as organics and nitrates. If the experiments are successful, Mekorot will consider customizing this Canadian technology to address their unique needs, and distribute the systems throughout their national water network. Although Mekorot employs many instruments to monitor drinking water quality, the company aims to continuously strengthen its contaminant detection capabilities.

Leveraging their shared R&D expertise, Mekorot and Real Tech’s joint partnership has resulted in the development of new water quality testing algorithms. The team integrated these step-by-step procedures into the software that manages Real Tech’s UV-based monitoring system. Preliminary field trials generated outstanding results.

Outcomes

Jodi Glover, CEO, Real Tech

“We are very thankful for the funding and guidance provided by CIIRDF. It made our joint partnership with Mekorot possible. As a growing business, this support has an enormous impact on our firm as it helps to foster innovation, and open-up new global market opportunities. The technical and commercial development emerging from this partnership will not only drive Real Tech’s growth, and create an estimated seven new jobs within our company. It will improve water quality and security for Mekorot’s many customers. We look forward to providing this new solution to global clients in more than 40 countries. The outcomes of this project have also helped us to secure the opportunity to supply water quality systems to the Government of India. This CIIRDF-supported partnership is helping us to achieve our vision of improving global water quality.”

Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, places high value on advancing and implementing innovative technology, such as that developed by Real Tech. For example, the company established WaTech®, a center for entrepreneurship that provides a platform for partnerships between Mekorot and start-ups, entrepreneurs, academics and established companies.

Avraham Ben Yossef, Engineering & Technologies Vice President, Mekorot

“This CIIRDF-supported water quality system further increases Mekorot’s technological capabilities. If our experiments generate effective results, it will enable our plant operators to continually improve the assessment of Israeli water quality; mitigate water contamination threats; and take immediate action when needed. This will help increase the security of our water supply, and our citizens. This is a top priority for Mekorot. If proven efficient, this new technology will also help us to reduce the overall cost of water quality monitoring, further maximizing our resources.”

Operating in a Virtual World to Develop More Highly Qualified Surgeons

24 January 2017

Surgical Training Tool Generates Tens of Millions for Collaborating Firms

Canadian Company: Quanser Inc.

Israeli Company: Simbionix Corporation

Sector: Life sciences; Information and Communication Technologies

Opportunity

Imagine peering through a keyhole and having the ability to see the inner workings and organs of the human body. Laparoscopic (or keyhole) surgery is a minimally invasive technique that offers this capability. It enables a surgeon to use a laparoscope, a tiny telescope with a camera, to explore the inside of a patient’s body. The physician makes tiny incisions in the skin; inserts the instrument; and then maneuvers it while viewing the surgical site on a video screen. This approach offers many patient benefits, enabling faster recovery; reducing pain and blood loss; and lowering the risk of infection. It is used to diagnose diseases such as liver, pancreatic and colorectal cancer; assess trauma to internal organs; and monitor chronic conditions. Recognizing the importance of this innovation, a Canada- Israel R&D team aimed to help increase the quality of training in this surgical field.

Objectives

Industry leaders in Canada and Israel have developed one of the most effective surgical training tools of its kind. Drawing on haptic technology3 to recreate the sense of touch, the product simulates a laparoscopy procedure, enabling a physician to visualize the surgical site and experience the physical sensation of an operation. Supported by the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program managed by CIIRDF, this bilateral R&D project brought together:

  • Quanser Inc., a Canadian world leader in the design and manufacture of advanced systems for real-time control design and implementation used in industry, education and research; and
  • Simbionix Corporation (acquired by 3D Systems in July 2014), a world-leading provider of a full spectrum of innovative training and education solutions for medical professionals and the healthcare industry based in Israel.

The partners combined Simbionix software and Quanser hardware to develop this training system. CIIRDF funding catalyzed the development of a working prototype, enabling the team to refine and productize the tool. Driven to capitalize on the global market for laparoscopic devices, which is expected to reach US$8.5 billion by 2018, the partners launched the commercial product in 2009.

Benefits

Over the last five years, Quanser and Simbionix have continued to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of the product. To date, the firms have sold more than 300 medical training systems, generating tens of millions in sales.

“This CIIRDF project had a significant impact on our company, catalyzing our rapid and dramatic growth. When we kicked-off the project in 2007, Quanser had 34 employees. By 2010, our revenues doubled. Our team now exceeds 60 people. CIIRDF enabled us to undertake higher-risk R&D, and develop teaching and research products that are now in use across more than 80 countries. This training tool has opened-up new worldwide academic markets for us. Our customers now include more than 3,500 leading universities across four continents. Lastly, this product has established a sustainable revenue stream for us. This is invaluable for a company like Quanser.”

Paul Gilbert, CEO, Quanser

A Perfect 10: Increasing the Data Throughput of Satellite Communications Ten-Fold

24 January 2017

Enabling Smart TV Consumers to Receive More Data, Faster

Canadian Company: Advantech Wireless

Israeli Company: SatixFy

Sector: Aerospace and Defence; Information and Communication Technologies

Opportunity

Today, the global market for connected TV devices, such as smart TVs and game consoles, is estimated to be 1 billion installed units. By 2018, the size of this market is expected to reach 2 billion. The data that streams from these connected devices is enabled by satellite communications. Embedded within these systems, modulators are unsung heroes that help to facilitate the transmission of this data.

In telecommunications, modulation is the process that enables a signal to be transmitted from one point to another much like a musician might modify the pitch or volume of a tone from a musical instrument, modulators are tiny devices that alter the characteristics of a signal, and transform it into data that can be received by connected devices such as smart TVs. A Canada-Israel R&D team aimed to create a world-first modulator that increases the data throughput of satellite communications, enabling connected consumers to receive more data, faster.

Objective

This CIIRDF-supported R&D project brought together:

  • Advantech Wireless, a leading Canadian wireless broadband communications solution provider for commercial, critical infrastructure and military clients; and
  • SatixFy, an Israeli fabless company that develops Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), microchips designed to significantly enhance ground equipment performance, lower costs and allow a broader audience to enjoy a large variety of applications via satellite.

The team aimed to design a modulator that increased the rate of data transmission in satellite communications. Advantech Wireless developed the hardware for the device, while SatixFy developed the chipsets embedded inside. Much like the engine of a car, these chips power the modulator and enable it to perform the actions required.

Modulators typically transmit signals at a rate of up to 60 mega symbols (the number of signal changes) per second. The collaborators developed a modulator unit that generates 500 mega symbols per second, providing ten times the data throughput of any competing technology on the market today. This increases the information transmitted in each communications signal by a factor of 10, significantly improving the performance of satellite communications. It will enable satellite television subscribers to download a much higher volume of data more rapidly. The new modulator also enables satellite service providers to use more bandwidth in the communications spectrum. It is a significant
breakthrough in the satellite communications industry.

Outcomes

“This new modulator offers satellite service providers significant cost savings that could exceed $2 billion over the lifetime of a satellite. With no competing product on the market today, we are well positioned to increase our share of this $100 million market. We have already started to promote this new modulator to satellite service providers. We delivered a presentation to more than 350 prospective customers at VSAT, the premier event for the satellite industry, in September 2014. CIIRDF helped us to hit this critical market window. We aim to bring this modulator to market, and generate an estimated $30 million over the next five years.”

David Gelerman, CEO, Advantech Wireless

“Without the support of CIIRDF, it would have been impossible for us to undertake this R&D in its entirety. It would have taken us five times longer to complete this project on our own. More importantly, we may have missed the opportunity to develop a game-changing technology for satellite communications. This partnership increased our R&D capacity by providing access to complementary expertise and technology. By combining our know-how and resources, we accelerated our time to product development and commercialization. It was a true team effort, enabling collaboration that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Yoel Gat, CEO, SatixFy

Increasing the Productivity and Profitability of Manufacturers

24 January 2017

Metal Extrusion Technology Opens Up New Global Markets for Collaborators

Canadian Company: Castool Tooling Systems

Israeli Company: SHL-Alubin

Sector: Manufacturing

Challenge

Light metal extrusion is an established manufacturing process that is used to create a product with a fixed cross-sectional profile. The metal billet, often an alloy or combination of different metals, is heated until soft and then pushed through a die of the desired cross-section.

While this process enables manufacturers to economically create very complex cross-sections, the extrusion of hard metal alloys is riddled with challenges. For example, it is difficult to maintain a consistent temperature and ensure the alloy forms properly and uniformly. As the extrusion of hard alloys is relatively slow, the die gets progressively colder and press pressure gets higher, which can cause the extrusion to slow down or stop. An Israeli and a Canadian firm joined forces to develop a groundbreaking innovation for the light metal alloy extrusion industry.

Objectives

Leveraging funding from the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program managed by CIIRDF, this bilateral R&D project brought together:

  • SHL-Alubin, Israel’s largest aluminum profile manufacturer; and
  • Castool Tooling Systems, a Canadian company that develops and manufactures innovative tooling for the light metal extrusion and die casting industries.

With CIIRDF support, the companies developed a smart tooling system that improves the process for extruding hard alloy metals such as aluminum and magnesium. It provides extrusion equipment operators with data on temperature, speed, time and pressure to support optimum die heating. It also records the formula for each die to enable re-use and benchmarking for future runs. For tool and die manufacturers, this increases productivity, reduces operating costs, and minimizes scrap and energy consumption. The collaborators estimate that the system will generate cost savings of $10,000 to $50,000 per day from the elimination of wasted billets.

Outcomes

“We installed the complete thermally controlled tooling system from Castool on one of our extrusion presses, with initial pilot tests yielding excellent results. This CIIRDF-supported system reduced breakthrough pressure that can bend or break the die by 40 percent as opposed to the 20 percent we typically achieve. Delivering faster extrusion speed, it also enables the creation of more aggressive die designs and maintenance of cooler billet temperature. This increases our competitiveness in many ways, as it is something that has not been done before. It boosts our production rates, ensures consistent and optimum extrusion, and allows us to produce more advanced profiles. This positions us as a supplier of choice for entirely new, high-end markets such as aerospace, and improves the performance and productivity of firms such as SHL-Alubin. CIIRDF helped to make this innovation possible, and we are now reaping the benefits on our production floor, and in our business.”

Yoram Rami, Technical Manager, SHL-Alubin

“The knowledge acquired during our CIIRDF project is helping us to build more competitive products – and a more competitive business – every day. We have applied the know-how garnered through this collaboration to many aspects of our R&D and operations. Since the conclusion of the project, we have realized 20 percent sales growth, adding millions to our revenues. And we are proud of the resulting product and the strength of our cooperation. This partnership has allowed us to access new and high growth sectors. This includes high speed train, aeronautical, and other industrial manufacturers that require complex profiles in hard alloys. We look forward to building on the outcomes of this collaboration, and developing new technology partnerships that will increase our visibility and traction in new global markets. These alliances are required to continue building the brand and commercial success of Castool around the world.”

Paul Robbins, CEO, Castool Tooling Systems

Equipping Surgeons with New Tools to Improve Accuracy and Patient Outcomes

24 January 2017

CIIRDF Enables the Development of Novel Surgical Navigation and Implant Technologies

Canadian Company: Claron

Israeli Company: BrainsGate

Sector: Life sciences; Information and Communication Technologies

Opportunity

Across North America and Europe, physicians increasingly perform image-guided surgery (IGS) on the brain, cancer tumors, and spinal cord injuries. During this computer-assisted surgery, the IGS system tracks the movement of the surgical instrument, and the surrounding patient anatomy. At the beginning of the procedure, the system captures and registers 3D images of the patient’s body. During the surgery, the IGS system displays the position of the surgical instruments within this imagery, which serves as a map for the surgeon. It is an innovation that improves surgical accuracy, and helps to prevent navigation errors that can impede treatment outcomes, or damage patient anatomy. A Canada-Israel R&D team aims to broaden the use of IGS to include stroke treatment and in-office sinus surgery.

Objective

This CIIRDF-supported R&D project brought together:

  • BrainsGate, an Israeli medical device company that develop innovative therapies for Central Nervous System diseases; and
  • Claron, a Canadian firm dedicated to the development of medical image processing solutions.

BrainsGate has developed the Ischemic Stroke System (ISS) to help those who suffer from ischemic stroke, a condition that prompts a loss of blood flow in the brain, impairing neurological function. The ISS features an electrode that is implanted in the roof of the patient’s mouth. It delivers electrical stimulation to a nervous centre, prompting the dilation of blood vessels and increasing blood flow in the brain. While existing treatments must be initiated within a few hours of a stroke, the ISS extends the patient treatment window up to 24 hours. To facilitate broad adoption of this technology, BrainsGate incorporated an IGS device into the system to further increase ease of use. With support from CIIRDF, the company is partnering with Claron to further simplify and improve the implantation process by incorporating innovative IGS technologies into this medical product.

Claron has acquired extensive expertise in 3D imaging and optical positioning technology for medical applications. Through its collaboration with BrainsGate, Claron has developed two new surgical IGS products including:

  • Navient which guides ears, nose and throat surgeons as they perform sinus surgery in their office or at small clinic; and
  • Navident which guides dental surgeons as they place dental implants in patients.

With support from CIIRDF, BrainsGate and Claron combined their technological expertise, and developed improved surgical navigation and implant delivery technologies. The companies are now integrating these technologies into the ISS, Navient and Navident products.

Outcomes

“CIIRDF enabled us to develop a new neurosimulator implant and delivery system that enhances the capabilities of our ISS. This represents a major milestone towards the development of many other novel applications that we are working on to treat central nervous

system disorders. Our company is devoting many resources to the conduct of a costly, large-scale ISS clinical trial. CIIRDF enabled us to undertake this R&D with Claron in parallel with the clinical trial, accelerating our technology development. We will apply the expertise acquired during this project for years to come.”

Srulik Dvorsky, Vice President, R&D and Operations, BrainsGate

“This CIIRDF project enabled us to develop and commercialize novel technology in collaboration with BrainsGate. We have recently completed patient trials, and acquired regulatory approval from Health Canada for Navident. We are now pursuing regulatory approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CE Mark in Europe to broaden our global marketing. We expect regulatory approvals for Navient to follow shortly. We have also established a new production facility, and expanded our navigation products team. We expect revenues from Navident and Navient to exceed $100 million within the next 10 years.”

Doron Dekel, Co-CEO and Director, Navigation, Claron

Catalyzing Wireless Innovation

3 August 2016

New R&D Expertise Drives Long-Term Commercial Success

Canadian Company: SiGe Semiconductor (now Skyworks Solutions, Inc.)

Israeli Company: Altair Semiconductor

Sector: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Challenge

In our technology-driven society, mobile device users take wireless connectivity for granted. We trust that smart phones, tablets and laptops will immediately connect to a network or the Internet. WiFiTM is the standard wireless system that provides such access, but it is a short-range system that only allows connections for users who are within several hundred metres of the wireless service point.

In 2008, the technical world was buzzing with the promise of Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) as a next-generation technology for enhanced wireless connectivity. This long-range system proposed to enable users to connect to an Internet connection up to several kilometres away.

With a focus on the potential of this new communications standard to improve the capability and experience of wireless users, companies around the world raced to address the technical challenges that limited its uptake. Among the most prominent issues: the power required for data transmission and reception over an extended wireless range. An Israeli and a Canadian company aimed to address this challenge and develop a complete WiMAX solution that delivered more power with greater efficiency.  Although the promise of WiMAX waned with LTE (Long Term Evolution) emerging as the 4th generation of wireless communication, this collaboration delivered long-term benefit to both firms.

Objective

With support from the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program managed by CIIRDF, this R&D project brought together:

  • Altair Semiconductor, a leading developer of ultra-low power, small footprint and high performance 4G chips for LTE based in Israel; and
  • SiGe Semiconductor (now Skyworks Solutions, Inc.), a multinational innovator of high-performance analog semiconductors with an R&D team in Canada.

The companies aspired to develop a highly efficient power amplifier (a device that amplifies the power of an electrical signal) that incorporated the WiMAX communication standard into hand-held mobile devices. SiGe designed, prototyped, and tested versions of the amplifier, and Altair successfully evaluated and integrated SiGe’s prototypes with their solutions.

Outcomes

The lessons learned from this CIIRDF R&D project have generated new market opportunities for both companies.

Steve Kovacic, Former Technology Director at SiGe Semiconductor; Director of Technology, Skyworks Solutions, Inc.

“As a direct result of our CIIRDF project, SiGe gained 30 percent market share for WiFi power amplifiers for laptop USB ports, generating $10 million per year. This helped to catalyze its acquisition by Skyworks Solutions in 2011. This $290 million deal enabled us to maintain our talent base in Ottawa, and grow the capabilities of our team. By the time of the acquisition, SiGe had shipped wireless technology solutions valued at about $400 million. CIIRDF played a key role in this success. We aimed to generate higher radio frequency (RF) power within our amplifiers than anything we had ever designed before. While working towards this goal, we learned about the limitations of our technology. This forced us to be creative, leading to the development of a novel methodology that reduced design time and cost by 50 percent. We save more than $200,000 per year from this CIIRDF learning alone.  Today, Skyworks is guiding for revenue of $718 million for the fourth quarter of our current fiscal year.”

David Hasenfeld, Finance Executive, Altair Semiconductor

“This CIIRDF project enabled our company to develop new expertise and gain valuable power amplifier technology experience. Although this CIIRDF project focused on WiMAX, we apply the knowledge acquired during this project to various other technology areas we are involved in. Our collaboration with SiGe accelerated our progression into LTE.”


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