ITAC Online - ITAC in Saskatchewan  - September 2010
In ITAliCs

All Lit Up by a Synchrotron

Among the pictures we brought back from "ITAC in Saskatchewan" is a photo of me standing in front of the synchrotron at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon. I am, literally, all lit up like a kid at Disneyland. It was the highlight of a great week of events.* It provided an eye-popping look at the capabilities of modern physics and it even stirred my patriotism.

The CLS synchrotron is the only one of its kind in Canada. It competes for research mandates with 27 other similar facilities throughout the world. It represents a $60 million public sector investment to help ensure that Canadian science can compete with the best in the world and empower the next generation of technological solutions in environmental sciences, natural sciences, energy and life sciences, as well as ICT. It is a large, highly visible and reassuring manifestation of a decade of progressive science policy.

Essentially, a synchrotron is a source of bright light that enables scientists to study the microstructure and chemical properties of materials (everything from vapour samples to large animals) right down to the atomic level. It's an amazing place where scientists come to work on very big problems – like the search for intelligent life in the universe – as well as more mundane matters like how to get the stink out of the average Canadian hockey bag.

While the folks at CLS work closely with some of the best brains in Canadian discovery science, they also have a mandate to develop industrial applications. CLS dedicates about 20 per cent of its capacity to industrial research. With the energy sector playing such a big role in the Saskatchewan economy, it's no surprise that it plays an active role at CLS. And some of the more interesting applications this has produced occupy the landscape between energy and ICT. Synodon Inc., for example, has used the facility to help develop efficient detection systems for monitoring natural gas pipelines for leaks. The traditional method for protecting against costly and dangerous gas leaks is to have workers walk the length of the pipeline with hand-held sensors. Synodon's technology is an infrared optical instrument that can be attached to a helicopter that can fly over 100 kilometres of pipeline in an hour, providing earlier and more efficient leak detection.

CLS' mandate firmly embraces information technology as well. A team of scientists from McMaster and Belgium is currently studying ways to improve the production of nano-tubes. Nano-tubes – rolled sheets of atoms – are being developed for applications that have an impact on next generation electronics devices and medical sensors.

What I love about this industry, and the science that supports it, is its persistent ability to show us new ways to look at our world. In Saskatoon we got to see the inside of a knee and a rat's head with as much depth and clarity as a high-def photo taken of the outside. We got to peer into archeological sites without lifting a shovel. We got to see the future. I had an inspiring time and I am proud to welcome the Canadian Light Source into the ITAC community.

*The Riders' win was pretty cool too.

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Q & A with ITAC Chair, Robert Watson

Robert Watson, President/CEO of SaskPower and Chair of ITAC (left), with RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown (centre) and Bernard Courtois, President/CEO of ITAC (right). Robert Watson, President/CEO of SaskPower and Chair of ITAC (left), with RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown (centre) and Bernard Courtois, President/CEO of ITAC (right).

ITAC: As Chair of ITAC, what does it mean to you to have hosted the Board of Governors reception and other “ITAC in Saskatchewan” events?

RW: With so much of ITAC’s membership based in Ontario, I think it has been challenging for the association to extend the reach of its programs, events, and frankly, its membership outside of Ontario and Quebec. I’ve been told I am the first Chair of ITAC to represent a company outside of “Central Canada.” This makes my mandate pretty clear. I want to use my vantage point in Western Canada to extend the reach and the relevance of the association in the parts of the country where it is under-represented. The meetings this month provided an excellent opportunity to do this in my own backyard. Having the board and the governors come out to Regina accomplished two things. Our local ICT community got to meet and interact with the leadership of the ICT industry, and those leaders got a pretty good exhibition of what’s going on in technology out here.

What do you think Saskatchewan has to contribute to Canada’s ICT industry?

Saskatchewan has the fasted growing economy in Canada at the moment, and it has a progressive public policy regime especially regarding science, education and innovation. I was really pleased that Minister Norris accepted our invitation to speak at the Board of Governors dinner. He did an excellent job of mapping that policy context out for us, pointing out among other things that Saskatchewan has some of the best R&D credits available in Canada.

The province has placed a high priority on investing the dividends from its prosperity in education. The universities and colleges in the province are booming as visitors to Innovation Place at the University of Regina could see. And the province hosts one of Canada’s most ambitious scientific investments in the synchrotron at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon. The research going on up there offers a tremendous portal into the future of photonics, microelectronics and diagnostic imaging. It’s the kind of big science investment that we expect will drive knowledge-based economy growth in the region.

I was particularly proud to introduce the ITAC community to some of the smart customers we have out here – notably, the RCMP. Our visit to “Depot” where all RCMP cadets are trained was, for many, the highlight of the visit. We got to see firsthand the huge impact that simulator technology is having on training cadets to prepare for potentially life-threatening situations.

I also think it’s useful for those of us in the industry who are concerned with innovation policy to be reminded that ICT innovation and excellence can occur anywhere in Canada. The time we spent with the members of Saskatchewan Advanced Technology Association (SATA) and at the Regina ICT Forum certainly underscored this. And it’s useful for us to hear the particular challenges innovator-entrepreneurs face outside of major markets and financial centres. I think meetings like this make the association stronger and I’m committed to ensuring there will be more of them.

You recently assumed a new position as President and CEO of SaskPower. How do you see SaskPower fitting in as an ITAC member?

When I was at the WCIT Conference in Amsterdam in May, I was surprised to see just how much focus there was at this – the largest ICT conference in the world – on the smart grid and technologies aimed at driving the maximum efficiencies from our power infrastructure. It’s very clear to me that 21st century power enterprises are driven as much by information as they are by electrical current. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to my new job. And this perspective creates new growth and opportunities for ITAC as well. We are planning to leverage my role to help drive recruitment in the energy sector and in the segment of the ICT industry that serves the needs of the power grid. So I’m an evangelist – not only for regional diversity and expansion, but for new ways of looking at our power infrastructure as well. Apart from everything else, with SaskPower’s membership in ITAC, we’ve doubled the size of the Saskatchewan contingent in our membership.

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Community Building 101

Stacey Sandison, Vice-President of Holdco Marketing, SaskTel Stacey Sandison, Vice-President of Holdco Marketing, SaskTel

To kick off “ITAC in Saskatchewan,” SaskTel, ITAC and Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) hosted a luncheon and panel discussion on women in ICT. CWC Board member, Julie Cork, moderated the tripartite panel, consisting of ITAC Board members Jen Evans of Sequentia Environics, Lally Rementilla of LavaLife, and Karen Wensley of Ernst & Young.

While ITAC and CWC worked together to arrange the speakers and content for the panel discussion, SaskTel was integral in ensuring strong attendance. Stacey Sandison is Vice-President of Holdco Marketing with SaskTel. She said the panel provided an ideal reason to bring together Saskatchewan’s community of female ICT professionals.

“With the ITAC board meeting taking place in Regina, this was a great opportunity to target in on women in the industry, and engage a number of employees across Regina in particular to come and talk to the subject of ICT,” Stacey said. “It was great to get women in the industry networking, and to expose them to some new information and ideas from the panelists’ own experiences. ITAC did a great job lining up speakers, and the CWC moderator made sure there was never a lull in the conversation.”

Stacey said she was pleased to find a number of people from within her own organization drawn in by the event, and she was blown away by the demand from across the community.

“We underestimated the interest,” Stacey said. “Whenever you offer up an interesting, engaging topic, and you back that up with quality speakers, you’re going to have people knocking at the door to attend.”

In the days leading up to the event, organizers had to actually turn some prospective attendees away.

The goal behind joint ITAC/CWC events is to provide a forum through which women in ICT can share past experiences and lessons learned, and to address the issue that women are underrepresented in ICT across the board. Stacey said the challenge, as she sees it, is not to address the lack of women interested in ICT, but rather to foster environments in which women in ICT can evolve, grow and advance.

“My perspective would be that we don’t have a lack of women interested in pursuing this category of work,” she said. “I think we have women who, number one, grew up with an IT interest and an IT background and want to continue on and pursue that; and secondly, I also think we have a number of women who are constantly looking at new ways of applying their skills and competencies, having an interest in the building and doing something different than what they’re doing today. I think the challenge is not to create an interest in IT, I think it’s continuing to nurture and expose women to other opportunities, continuing opportunities that they can consider as part of their career.”

She said much of this comes from realizing that many of our industry leaders’ careers have followed very untraditional trajectories, and that in order to be successful, one must balance risk-taking with deliberate, intelligent decision making. And that’s exactly what the panel’s speaker demonstrated through their stories.

“We often don’t understand the impact of opportunities until we get into them,” Stacey said. “And the panel’s speakers really proved the importance of going into career decisions with purpose, a sense of adventure, and confidence – even if you’re heading down a non-traditional path.”

Stacey said she left the discussion truly feeling as though she was taking something with her, both from the discussion as well as the opportunity to mingle with her community.

“We will come together to do this again, with another approach and different speakers, so this was a great foundational activity to start building those bonds and create exposure in the ICT industry – and the more options there are for women to come together to hear these types of success stories, the better.”

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Showcasing the Prairies’ Finest

Dave Schroeder, Vice-President of Operations for Saskatchewan, TRLabs Dave Schroeder, Vice-President of Operations for Saskatchewan, TRLabs

“ITAC in Saskatchewan” also coincided with the 4th Regina Information and Communication Technology Forum at Innovation Place. The Regina ICT Forum is an initiative started many years ago, but this year’s was only the second consecutive forum after a several-year hiatus.

Dave Schroeder is Vice-President of Operations for Saskatchewan with TRLabs, the main organization responsible for hosting the forum. He said the goal of the forum is to create a unique experience for the entire Saskatchewan ICT community – from new, smaller firms to the larger, established companies, as well as academic partners – to come together, and ideally, strike a partnership or two as a result.

Leading up to this year’s event, Dave was extremely excited to see the Saskatchewan ICT community meet and talk shop with ITAC members from across Canada.

“When you look at the list of ITAC people and companies that are coming, they are really the leaders of the ICT industry in Canada,” he said. “I know they have a lot to offer the Saskatchewan community, but I also think they’ll be impressed by what they see and who they meet.”

TRLabs is the result of collaboration between industry, government and academia, and works to foster an environment conducive to research, innovation and commercialization in the Western Prairie Provinces – Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Fifteen of the organization’s 80-plus industry partners are based in Saskatchewan, and Dave said the organization works together with students and professors at various educational institutes to provide these industry partners solutions that drive innovation in the region.

About a year ago, Dave said TRLabs’ focus has really shifted to commercialization more than any other aspect of the innovation process.

“Canada’s productivity in most of our industries is behind many, if not most of our peer countries, so there is currently a tremendous amount of pressure to gain the efficiencies necessary to close that gap,” Dave said. “We are doing better in some areas, but I think there is a gap in commercialization. Combine that with state of industries in general, whether mining, agriculture or energy here in Saskatchewan – people are looking for ways to be more productive through solutions that won’t take a lot of time to develop and implement. And that drives need for solutions to be commercialized as quickly as possible.

“TRLabs has a proud history of developing technologies, but now we want to be sure these technologies will be used. We want to partner with firms who provide some of commercialization solution, so that even if we don’t have the strength end-to-end, we can still go straight from customer-need to delivering a valued product or service,” Dave said.

Over the next year, Dave says he will be exploring how to best introduce the ICT community to other leading areas of the Saskatchewan economy – such as the aforementioned mining, agriculture and energy – to create cross-industry linkages and opportunities for collaboration.

“That’s really where all the opportunities for ICT growth are – and there is plenty of room to grow,” Dave said.

With the Canadian Digital Economy Strategy nearing completion, it’s an idea all Canadians will soon be faced with – that the ICT industry does not stand independent of other sectors of our economy; rather, it educates and improves the operations of organizations who use it, regardless of industry.

So at future Regina ICT forums, perhaps you will have just as good a chance of meeting a miner or farmer as you will an ICT solution provider.

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Other News and Events

ITAC/CWC Speakers Series – “Letter to My Younger Self: Reflecting on a Career in ICT”: October 6, 2010

If you were your own mentor, what kind of career advice would you give yourself? Recently the IBM Women’s Council posed this question to its members suggesting that they write letters to their younger selves. The exercise was revealing, suggesting that we may ourselves be a rich and overlooked resource for guidance and counsel as we make our career decisions.

By any measure, Christine Alford has made some pretty savvy decisions in her career. Today, as Managing Partner, Global Business Services for IBM Canada, Christine leads thousands of consultants dedicated to bringing together business insight with technological expertise for clients all across Canada. She was a key leader of the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting with IBM in 2002, is currently an Officer of IBM Canada and is recognized as one of the most influential senior executive women in Canada. The younger self to whom Christine addressed her letter was a high school graduate from Sault Ste. Marie with a passion for marine biology. This interactive presentation will chart the career path that led from there to a BSc from Guelph University to a successful career in consulting. Christine will reflect on the challenges, opportunities and surprises she has encountered over the last 28 years. This special event will be a great occasion to learn from one of the most prominent women in Canadian ICT and network with other professionals at various stages of their careers in all aspects of ICT. We hope you can join us!

WHEN: October 6, 2010, 7:30am – 10:00am
WHERE: IBM Canada Headquarters, 3600 Steeles Avenue East, Markham

ITAC and YTA Strike Strategic Partnership for 2010/2011

The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) and the York Technology Alliance (YTA) have formed a strategic partnership in order to work together to serve and represent the ICT industry in the Greater Toronto Area – Canada’s largest technology cluster.

Read more about the partnership here:

2011 Branham300 Now Accepting Applications

Now in its 18th year, the Branham300 is a listing that ranks the top publicly-traded and privately-held organizations operating in the Canadian ICT industry by gross revenues.

Appearing on the Branham300 provides companies with free exposure to a targeted national audience with comprehensive details on our website ( and through it’s publication in the April/May edition of Backbone Magazine (, which is distributed with the Globe and Mail.

For many up-and-coming firms, recognition on the Branham300 listing has provided them with increased market exposure and brand awareness, while in many cases also opening the door to new business opportunities, both domestically and abroad.

The application to appear on the listing is now live! Branham Group invites all Canadian ICT companies to visit – - to apply.

For more information on the Branham300, please contact:

Darren Anderson
(613) 745-2282 ext. 122

Click here to read the official Branham300 press release.

Industry Events

2010 SAP World Tour

The 2010 SAP World Tour is the premier event for Canada's business leaders. This one-day forum features a timely and engaging series of presentation tracks focused on visionary ideas, innovative strategies, and customer testimonials. Discover how Best-Run Businesses are using SAP to close the gap between strategy and execution, and learn more about the technology and business strategies that are driving greater results at every level, in all departments.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to connect in-person with industry experts, SAP customers, partners, and your Canadian peers.

The 2010 SAP World Tour will be in Montreal on October 21st, in Vancouver on October 26th, and in Toronto on October 28th.

For more information, or to register click here.

IIC 2010 Annual Conference: “Riding the Next Digital Wave” – October 18-19, Barcelona, Spain

The IIC's Annual Conference is just three weeks away. Don't miss out on the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with over 150 delegates and speakers, including regulators from Europe, North America, Africa and Asia-Pacific, telecoms operators, internet service providers, broadcasters, content providers and other senior experts. View the program to see the issues for debate at the conference.

All conference participants are invited to join the speakers at a Gala Dinner on the evening of 18 October, providing a relaxed environment for further discussion and networking in the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I.

Register now!

Centrallia 2010: October 20-22, 2010

Centrallia 2010 is a global business to business (B2B) forum for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that will be hosted in Winnipeg from October 20-22, 2010. This event will bring together more than 600 SMEs from around the world for 2 ½ days of match-making meetings.

Centrallia is organized by ANIM, Manitoba’s bilingual trade agency, in collaboration with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. Centrallia is an excellent opportunity for businesses looking to:

  • Strengthen global market position
  • Develop new export markets or grow an international clientele
  • Explore new trade and investment opportunities
  • Establish future alliances with international market leaders
  • Learn about business and investment opportunities in Manitoba, Canada, as well as the NAFTA region

More than a traditional tradeshow, Centrallia is a platform for international business development that matches business leaders with partners of their choosing, to focus on specific objectives and discuss collaborative projects.

Cost: $700 early bird rate for the first 250 participants ($850 after).

For more info or to register visit:

MergeMedia Conference – October 22, 2010

This one-day conference has been designed to connect leading brand decision makers (marketers/advertisers) with content producers to help provide the necessary tools to:

  • Help Canadian brand leaders understand the key success factors and tools for growing their business through successful online branded entertainment, and
  • Provide content producers with the necessary brand and business perspectives to better shape their content and approaches to support brand integration opportunities.

A custom, quantitative research study by Ipsos Reid has also been commissioned and findings to be presented at the event.

The conference takes place October 22, 9a.m.-3p.m., at the MaRS Centre. For more information, please visit:

2010 British Columbia Extended Producer Responsibility Workshop

In partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the North American Centre for Leadership in EPR at the Recycling Council of British Columbia presents the 2010 EPR Workshop, November 2-3, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

B.C. supported the CCME's Canada-wide Action Plan for EPR in October 2009. Contained in this plan is a list of products targeted by Canadian jurisdictions, including;

  • Packaging and printed materials
  • Electronics and electrical products
  • Mercury-containing products (including lamps)
  • Household hazardous and special wastes
  • Automotive products
  • Construction and demolition materials
  • Furniture, textiles and carpet
  • Appliances (including ozone-depleting substances)

While many of these product categories are already regulated in BC, the Ministry of Environment Service Plan 2010/11 - 2012/13 commits to adding 2 new products every 3 years to B.C.'s Recycling Regulation, as well as a commitment to the CCME Canada Wide Action Plan Phases, listed above.

In 2010, British Columbia will consider developing new programs for the remaining products from the Phase one of the Action Plan, such as adding packaging or expanding the programs for household hazardous waste and automotive products.

If you are a producer of any products listed above, you don't want to miss day one. This is your chance to learn more about B.C. results based Recycling Regulation (enacted in 2004) and to better understand your compliance options.

Find more information here:

CIX 2010

The Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) is on the hunt for Canada’s Hottest Innovative Companies in Information and Communication Technology, Clean Technology, and Digital Media.

Being recognized as one of Canada’s Hottest Innovative Companies is a tremendous accolade and will enable you to:

  • Showcase your innovative company in front of industry experts at CIX
  • Meet with potential partners, customers, investors and your peers in facilitated meeting exchanges
  • Achieve broad media recognition as one of Canada’s Hottest Innovative Companies
  • Gain insight into the market as industry experts, visionaries and trailblazers share their knowledge and experience

There is no cost to enter Canada's Hottest Innovative Company. Submit your companies profile today – deadline is October 1, 2010.

Join Canada's innovation community at the Canadian Innovation Exchange, December 7, MaRS, Toronto Ontario. Register with your exclusive ITAC Registration Rate. Offer expires November 5, 2010.