Carmanah in Limelight as B.C.'s Top Tech Company

Victoria innovator is lighting up LEDs around the world

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Lighting innovator Carmanah Technologies found itself in the spotlight Wednesday when it was named company of the year at the B.C. Technology Industry Association's Technology Impact Awards.

The Victoria company has won recognition worldwide for designing and manufacturing environmentally friendly LED (light-emitting diode) lighting with more than 250,000 installations of its products in 110 countries.

Almost 800 attendees joined the 14th annual awards gala in downtown Vancouver to celebrate industry successes that mark an upturn from the dark days of the tech meltdown.

"I think the technology industry in British Columbia has really finally emerged from the shadow that was the tech bubble of the late 1990s and early 2001," said BCTIA president Rob Cruickshank. "It is a coming out party and a coming out having learned from all the excitement of that '99- 2000 era.

"These companies are based on solid metrics and that is exciting for the province. The tech industry has re-emerged and it is stronger as a result."

Dot-coms that turned into dot bombs have given way to companies coming up with innovative technologies that find a use across a wide range of industries.

"Unlike a lot of industries, technology is really an enabler for other industries," Cruickshank said.

"This is more than a celebration of our technology industry; it is a celebration of the solutions it provides that our other industries can take advantage of."

In Motion Technology, winner in the best application of technology award, is a small New Westminster company that is demonstrating how made-in-B.C. technology can have an immense impact.

The company specializes in mobile wireless communications for safety organizations ranging from ambulance services to police and fire.

What sets it apart and what has won more than 60 customers across North America is its Vehicle Area Networks that can shift seamlessly from one wireless network to another, finding the best connection whether it's WiFi, WiMax, 3G, 4G or another in the alphabet soup that constitutes today's wireless world.

It's a solution that appeals to chief information officers who don't want to see their mobile communications bogged down by systems so complicated their employees have trouble operating them.

"In talking to CIOs and managers, they say 'if the technology slows down our people in the field we'd rather not deploy it,'" said Kirk Moir, president and chief executive officer. Moir, like many others in Vancouver's tech community, is an alumnus of MPR Teltech.

In Motion focuses on the critical application of communication services in public safety. While lives may not depend on whether you can check e-mail from the local coffee shop, for paramedics, firefighters and other emergency personnel, wonky or blocked connections can have disastrous consequences.

The company focuses on providing an end-to-end system, including building the hardware that goes into the field, in cars, trucks and emergency vehicles to create a vehicle area network.

The transmissions can be anything but simple.

Ambulances could have a number of devices collecting vital information that must be passed along, including videos of the patient. Data from tests and monitors can be sent directly to medical staff at a hospital.Or a specialists can view the information remotely by downloading it into a handheld device.

The event also marked a BCTIA first, the awarding of $10,000 in scholarships from the association to four high-school graduates and three post-secondary graduates.

Three post secondary grants of $2,500 each went to students studying either business or science in a technology-related field and four $500 grants went to high school graduates who are pursuing technology education at a B.C. post-secondary institution.

The B.C. Technology Industry Association named its 2007 Technology Impact Award winners Wednesday night in Vancouver:

  • Company of the Year -- Carmanah Technologies for its energy efficient LED lighting.
  • Person of the Year -- Greg Peet, a high-tech entrepreneur, executive, board director, angel investor and former president and CEO of A.L.I. Technologies Inc.
  • Leadership in Social Responsibility -- JDQ Systems for its 3Spheres of Reciprocity, a program to break down the barriers between business, the community and academia.
  • Team of the Year -- Business Objects' on-demand team that delivered a new Web 2.0 software-as-a-service offering, crystalreports.com, from concept to 37,000 subscribers in 12 months.
  • Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology -- Nutri-Loc, a company that uses a state-of-the-art technology to preserve the flavour, freshness and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables without using chemicals or preservatives.
  • Excellence in Product Innovation -- Top Producer for its "market snapshot", a tool that allows realtors to offer customers real-time Multiple Listing Service market updates and trend analysis.
  • Best Application of Technology -- In Motion Technology for providing mobile wireless communications for police and emergency workers that can shift between wireless networks to find the strongest connection.
  • Most Promising Start-up -- Mobidia, a company that is tackling one of the toughest problems for wireless carriers: Delivering high-value multi-media mobile content to consumer devices.
  • Emerging Company of the Year -- Digital Payment Technologies, a company that has brought digital payment technology to parking.

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