Home About SAIT News & Events New SAIT KICS lab gives entrepreneurs essential services

New SAIT KICS lab gives entrepreneurs essential services

May 17, 2017


For entrepreneurs, the road from planning to production is rarely smooth.

You've had your "a-ha!" moment. You've done your share of research. But what about building and testing a prototype? Protecting your intellectual property? Finding government grants?

How do you connect with an industry partner? And how do you take that final step into full-scale commercialization?

"For a university research-based start-up like ours, that next step after the research stage can be quite difficult," says Dr. Kaushik Parmar, co-founder and technical lead with Calgary's Direct-C Ltd., which is developing leak detection systems for crude oil pipelines.

"You need suitable space, a prototype plan, and proper facilities to validate the commercialization potential of your technology," he adds. "It can be very difficult-and quite expensive-to find such specialized places."

KICS resources support innovation

The Kinetica Innovation Centre at SAIT (KICS), opened last November, is a "one-stop shop" for clean energy technology start-ups and researchers.

A two-year pilot project, KICS is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, in partnership with SAIT, Innovate Calgary and the University of Calgary. SAIT's contribution to KICS includes a 2,200-square-foot, fully functional laboratory in the Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department, as well as a part-time lab coordinator to ensure operational and safety protocols."Until KICS opened, a lab like this simply didn't exist in southern Alberta," says KICS program manager Peter Zyla.

"A lot of ARIS clients would say: 'OK, I'm ready to build. Where do I go?' And we wouldn't be able to point them anywhere. Now we can."

Beyond the drawing board

KICS helps entrepreneurs from across industry, as well as U of C researchers, design, prototype and test their proprietary technologies.

This wide-ranging suite of services includes:

  • A dedicated wet and mechanical lab, with ample bench space and access to fume hoods;
  • An accelerated  prototype program;
  • Access to world-class, on-campus ARIS services; and
  • Innovate Calgary's entrepreneur development and commercialization services.

Direct-C is the first tenant company to set up shop in the KICS lab.

After conducting extensive research at the U of C, Direct-C is developing a polymer-based leak detection system for new and existing pipelines in the upstream and midstream sectors.

Parmar expects Direct-C will be working at KICS for about a year and hopes to begin field testing with pipeline industry partners by summer 2017.

"To work on our nanocomposites, we needed a laboratory with fume-hood access, and chemical processing services," he says. "KICS has been able to provide us with all of that and work with us on a prototype plan at the same time. A very good-quality laboratory."

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