Ingenuity Lab: Tackling global challenges
Special Report - 03/03/17
Ingenuity Lab discuss the development of over the horizon solutions to global challenges
Our modern world seems to get more complex every day. As our technological sophistication increases, it appears that the challenges facing humanity have also grown. As a society we are focused on solving the grand problems of our age; curing cancer, eliminating poverty, ensuring food security and preserving our environment. The solutions always appear to be just out of reach. The Province of Alberta decided to take a bold step to find solutions to these challenges. After a major rethink that evaluated the current best practices employed to try and solve these problems, the Province of Alberta created Ingenuity Lab (www.ingenuitylab.ca). Ingenuity Lab is a solution-driven organisation focused on the development of over the horizon solutions to grand societal challenges.
Ingenuity Lab is crafted around an operational model that redefines the relationship between Higher Education, Industry, and Government. The mission is to develop and rapidly translate technological solutions to socially and economically significant challenges and opportunities. By leveraging Alberta’s considerable strengths in medicine, engineering and, agriculture resident in multiple academic enterprises across the province, Ingenuity Lab functions as a supporting hub to assemble teams focused on solving seemingly intractable challenges in the areas of energy, environment, and health.
Using a unique “Connect and Develop” strategy, problems are defined by industry and governmental leaders, solutions are visioned, and multi-disciplinary teams are assembled specifically to fill gaps in technology and knowledge. The teams are assembled from both industry and academic partners who contribute talent, infrastructure, and domain-specific understanding. The goal is always to develop translatable solutions to problems that matter.
The results of engaging in this focused, multi-disciplinary approach have been significant on multiple fronts. Working to solve the global challenge of delivering effective health to the developing world, Ingenuity Lab is working on developing new health care modalities that are supported by new nanotechnologies. Vaccine delivery in developing nations is expensive and difficult. Refrigeration and medical support infrastructure are often unavailable. Ingenuity Lab is currently testing a new solid-phase oral vaccine delivery system. This solid-phase vaccine can be transported by mail, eliminating the refrigeration and supporting medical supply chain opening access to low-cost vaccine delivery to the remotest parts of the globe.
Another technology that Ingenuity Lab is developing is a non-surgical treatment for cataracts. While cataracts are readily treated in the developed world, in East Asia, it is estimated that approximately 20 million people are blind because of cataract disease. The cost of access to medical treatment makes traditional treatment for cataracts inaccessible to millions. Ingenuity Lab, employing some of the most advanced bionanotechnologies is currently testing new therapies that will hopefully make cataract blindness an affliction of the past.
Addressing the global challenges associated with environmental sustainability, Ingenuity Lab is testing technologies that address two significant sources of pollution, CO2, and Phosphate. The strategy of Ingenuity Lab is to craft solutions that are cyclic, replacing the concept of waste management with value generation. Enabled by advances in bionanotechnology, Ingenuity Lab has successfully captured the natural carbon capture process found in plants into an engineered aero foam. This technology captures CO2 and transforms it into value added products creating value and new market opportunities from waste.
These several examples illustrate the opportunities for reaching societies goals for a better more prosperous world. Founded on the collaborative partnership with Industry, Higher Education, and Government, it illustrates the power of collective thinking by organisations and individuals that are motivated by an inspired vision of betterment. It shows that mankind can use its creativity to achieve great leaps in societal prosperity because it already has started at Ingenuity Lab in Alberta.
To find out more, visit www.ingenuitylab.ca