Dene Moore sums up all 50 innovations across a wide range of industries such as technology, financial services, education, resources, clean tech and consumer products. It’s a collection of eclectic, impressive and promising people and things. We’ve listed the innovations in alphabetical order and had a tough time narrowing it down to just 50!

Abeego Designs Inc.

What they do: Victoria-based Abeego makes reusable food wrap using beeswax.

Why they do it: In 2008 plastic products containing BPA were pulled from store shelves over health concerns. Abeego founder Toni Desrosiers was working as a holistic nutritionist at a health food store when the BPA scare spurred her to explore natural options for food storage. “I felt strongly that nature would have a solution,” she says.

How they do it: Inspired by the lemon peel, Desrosiers came up with her beeswax-based food wrap. Washable and reusable, it is now available in more than 1,000 retail outlets in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. She was Business Development Bank of Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in B.C. in 2014 and second nationwide.

Adaptive Cooling Wear, Kwantlen Polytechnic University design school

What they do: Cooling vests for elite athletes with cervical spine injuries.

Why they do it: Athletes with quadriplegia often have an impaired ability to regulate their body temperature. The buildup of body heat not only impairs their performance but can lead to heat-induced illness. At its worst, it can be life-threatening.

How they do it: In 2015, Melissa Lacroix, a sports physiologist at the Canadian Sport Institute, brought the problem to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design. Design students then spoke to members of the Canadian national wheelchair rugby team, who were all too familiar with the problem, and all too aware that the solutions designed for able-bodied athletes don’t always work for them. The cooling vests designed at Kwantlen use a phase-change material, which is similar to ice, to conduct heat away from the body. It provides a similar function to sweating and circulating blood to the extremities, but in a wearable vest the athletes don whenever necessary. The vests have been used by the Canadian national wheelchair rugby team and by Canadian athletes at the Rio Paralympic Games. The team hopes to see the vests in use at the 2019 Parapan Am Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, says designer Jaymes Williams.

Aircover Inflatables

What they do: Aircover Inflatables, a company founded by four Vancouver-area film industry grips, developed a giant, inflatable green screen suitable for outdoors and smaller spaces.

Why they do it: A traditional visual effects screen is cumbersome, time-consuming to build and not terribly adaptive. It also takes up a huge amount of space, says Steve Smith, co-founder and CEO. Aircover Inflatables’ Airwall creates a screen of up to 12 metres in a much smaller space. Portions of the screen can also be inflated and deflated to suit the project.

How they do it: Each Airwall comes as a “tray” measuring 12 metres by 2.5 metres by 35 centimetres – the same dimension as a cargo container. The tray goes on top of the container, which is filled with ballast to give the wall stability. The wall is then filled with air from small fans. Last year, the Delta-based company won the technical-achievement Oscar for the air-inflated green screen. The product has been used in filming all over the world, including in Ireland, England, Australia, the U.S. and at home. Aircover Inflatables is now working on the next version. The even larger AirPanel will inflate or deflate in under two minutes and will be able to rotate in three directions.

Arctic Apple, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

What they do: Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) Inc.’s non-browning Arctic apples.

Why they do it: Once sliced, apples brown rather quickly. The appearance cuts into the sales potential for packaged, sliced apples and results in higher food waste, says the company. The non-browning apples – and potentially other tree fruits genetically modified to resist browning, pests or disease – reduce food waste and could reduce reliance on pesticides and chemical treatments, says OSF.

How they do it: Using a gene-editing technique called RNA interference, OSF has essentially turned off the enzymatic process that causes apple flesh to brown. While debate may continue among consumers over genetically modified foods, OSF’s Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden have been approved for consumption in the U.S. and Canada. Fresh Arctic Golden slices will be test-marketed in select U.S. Midwest cities this year. The company says the commercial launch of Arctic apple products will follow this year’s Arctic apple harvest – its first commercial harvest – with the availability of products increasing annually. The Summerland-based agricultural biotech company has several more tree-fruit varieties under development.

Austin Wang, scientist, researcher

What they do: Austin Wang was a Grade 12 Vancouver high school student when he won the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for developing microbial fuel cells that more efficiently convert organic waste into electricity.

Why they do it: Waste water poses a huge problem. We create a lot of it and it is expensive and challenging to rehabilitate. “It takes a lot of energy to process waste water but actually waste water contains a lot of energy inside it. We just don’t have a really good way to extract this energy. With these microbial fuels cells you can process the waste water and at the same time recover the energy out of the waste water – it’s killing two birds with one stone,” says Wang, now 19 and a freshman at Princeton University.

How they do it: Wang set out to find a gene that could be genetically modified to generate electricity more efficiently. He found several. The discovery has the potential to make microbial fuel cells commercially viable. He continues his research at the University of British Columbia, during his breaks from studies at Princeton.

Axine Water Technologies

What they do: This Vancouver-based company has developed a treatment for toxic industrial waste water.

Why they do it: Each year, U.S. industry spends $10 billion to $15 billion managing toxic waste water generated by manufacturing plants. Billions of gallons of this waste water is so toxic it can’t be treated with conventional technologies and must be trucked off-site to be pumped underground, incinerated or landfilled at high cost and risk to industry and communities.

How they do it: Axine uses an electrochemical treatment for the most toxic chemicals in industrial waste water. By applying electricity to advanced catalysts, the system generates oxidants that break down toxic pollutants into gases such as O2, N2 and H2 without producing waste. The company has recently completed development and testing of its first-generation commercial system and signed its first service agreement with a multinational computer electronics manufacturer to treat waste water in California, says Jonathan Rhone, president and CEO.

Ballard Power Systems

What they do: Founded in 1979, Ballard unveiled the world’s first hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered, zero-emission transit bus to worldwide fanfare in 1993. Late founder Geoffrey Ballard went on to be named a Hero of the Planet by Time magazine. In 2008, with hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure developing at a slow pace, Ballard sold its automotive fuel-cell development business to Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co. and changed its focus from consumer vehicles to other areas of its business, including larger-scale commercial transport. In 2015, the Canadian Innovation Exchange named Ballard one of the top 20 innovative public technology companies in Canada. Ballard is currently selling out its 85-kilowatt fuel-cell engine, which is typically used to help power large city buses.

Why they do it: Over the past two years, the company has been making inroads in the Chinese transportation sector, where zero-emission vehicles are key to tackling the world’s worst air pollution problem. Seeing a need for smaller fuel-cell engines for smaller commercial vehicles, Ballard unveiled its 30-kilowatt FCveloCity engine last year.

How they do it: Fuel cells are clean, zero-emission devices that produce electricity through a chemical reaction that occurs when you introduce hydrogen gas and air. The only byproducts are heat and water. The electricity produced is used to power an electrical motor, which then turns the wheels of a vehicle, for example.

B.C. Aboriginal Doors program

What they do: Led by the Aboriginal program at FPInnovations, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art and the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia (UBC) worked together on a high-tech approach to produce Aboriginal carved doors.

Why they do it: Highly coveted by collectors and museums, an original carving takes many hours to complete, limiting the output and, therefore, the income of Aboriginal artists.

How they do it: Artists from 10 Aboriginal communities took part in an intensive four-week carving course last summer at Emily Carr and the Freda Diesing School. Using modern scanning and computer-numerical control (CNC), the program produced original carved doors in limited-edition reproductions. “The limited-edition print concept is key, ensuring that the artists and their communities maintain ownership and credit for their designs and for their work,” says Chris Gaston, an associate professor at UBC. “As is the case with limited-edition reproductions by print-media artists, the CNC technology will allow for increased artist productivity, and for increasing the affordability of signed copies for a wider audience of collectors, and in the case of these doors, home/commercial building designers.” Artists can produce either high-resolution reproductions with little finishing remaining, or low-resolution reproductions of the less-skilled carving – essentially templates – to be finished by hand. “It is our hope that in the end the training and application of machine technologies will lead to capacity building and added wealth to Aboriginal communities,” Gaston says.

BCIT Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team

What they do: For more than 10 years, this team at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has been researching and developing smart-grid technologies. In 2016, its Energy OASIS project became fully operational at the BCIT Burnaby campus, Canada’s first campus-based smart power microgrid.

Why they do it: Clean energy is the future but scalable, reliable grids that can rely on clean energy sources remain a challenge. Wind energy is available only when there is sufficient wind, solar only when there is enough sunlight. Energy storage is necessary in order to make these clean sources practical.

How they do it: The Energy OASIS microgrid successfully integrates solar photovoltaics and grid-scale energy storage to support a portion of the campus electricity needs. The system has an intelligent energy management system that optimizes the balance of when and how much energy is stored and when and how much is used directly. It can operate in parallel with the larger utility grid or in isolation. The system generates over 160 megawatts of electricity a year, or about 440 kilowatts per day. That’s enough for 12 to 15 average B.C. homes. BCIT and industry partners, including BC Hydro, are currently looking for remote, diesel-dependent communities where they can replicate the OASIS microgrid. They are also exploring field demonstrations for electric-vehicle charging technologies and infrastructure development.

Bee IPM at UBC

What they do: The next-generation Integrated Pest Management of Honey Bees (Bee IPM) project is about developing new tools to protect honeybees from disease, fungi and pests.

Why they do it: For a variety of reasons, North American honeybees are dying off at an unprecedented rate. About one-third of the population has been lost in recent years. Many of the bacteria, viruses, fungi and pests responsible for these deaths are becoming more tolerant to traditional chemical pesticides used to control them, and the public is becoming less tolerant of agricultural pesticides in agricultural products.

How they do it: Using knowledge from years of basic bee research, the team has developed a means to selectively breed honeybees for disease resistance. The project, funded in part by Genome BC and Genome Canada, looks for protein biomarkers in the antennae of honeybees that predict disease-resistant behaviour. Those bees with the biomarkers are bred; those without are not. “This will enable any beekeeper who wants to select their own stock, or to purchase selected stock that should be more disease resistant,” says Leonard Foster, a team leader and professor at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for High-Throughput Biology. It is the first application of this kind of approach in any crop or livestock, says Foster.


What they do: BioSurveillance of Alien Forest Enemies (BioSAFE) is using DNA to combat the invasive species that threaten Canada’s $33 billion annual forest export industry.

Why they do it: Thousands of foreign insects and pathogens arrive in Canada annually hidden among imported goods, on ships, or even in the boots of travellers. “The challenge is that it is virtually impossible to recognize these potential threats in those states and assess the risk they pose to Canada’s natural resources,” says Richard Hamelin, forest and conservation sciences professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and one of the lead scientists on the project partially funded by Genome BC. By decoding the DNA of known threats, it is possible to test for even microscopic traces.

How they do it: The BioSAFE team – which includes UBC, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Laval University – decodes the genomes to identify unique markers for those organisms. They then design tools to detect those DNA patterns in environmental samples from plants, soil, insect eggs or other suspect material found during inspection. The team has developed DNA detection tools for the Asian and European gypsy moth, and the sudden oak death pathogen. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has performed over 100,000 tests using these tools already. The BioSAFE team continues to decode the DNA of a broad range of insects and pathogens, along with developing a more precise detection tool. They already have a prototype for a portable DNA test that can be done in the field, allowing a more rapid response.

Cannabix Technologies Inc.

What they do: Vancouver-based Cannabix is developing a marijuana breathalyzer.

Why they do it: The legalization of marijuana in Canada and several U.S. states poses a problem for police in enforcing impaired-driving laws. The race is on to develop a practical, portable breathalyzer that would allow police to determine – with certainty enough to stand up in court – whether a driver is impaired by marijuana.

How they do it: The Cannabix hand-held device tests for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a driver’s breath. Recent trials of the prototype successfully detected THC, says CEO Rav Mlait. “We continue to refine and optimize our breathalyzer prototype in preparation for expanded scientific testing,” Mlait says. “Cannabix is working as quickly as possible to commercialize its device due to the growing demand for its device.” The company plans to conduct another round of trials, using blood samples to correlate the breathalyzer findings. Cannabix – or any of the myriad companies developing drugged-driver tests - will have to seek approval from Justice Canada and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. before a device can be used as a court-approved cannabis breathalyzer.


What they do: This Vancouver startup recycles used chopsticks into new products.

Why they do it: An estimated 100,000 pairs of single-use chopsticks get thrown out every day in Vancouver alone in what ChopValue founder Felix Bock calls “the urban bamboo forest.” Bock wanted to divert these chopsticks from the waste stream and create jobs in the process.

How they do it: ChopValue provides restaurants with a recycling program that reduces their environmental footprint and cuts their garbage tipping costs. The company collects the used utensils and screens them, and then they are “densified” under heat and pressure into new components. In its first few months in operation, ChopValue recycled more than two million chopsticks into products including flooring, shelving, coasters, tabletops, cabinets, serving trays and even cutting boards for sushi chefs. In March, the company announced its stylish chopstick yoga block. “We created five new jobs in recycling, manufacturing and design – purely based on a material that previously would have ended up on the landfill,” Bock says.

Coastline Market fresh fish delivery app

What they do: The app connects fishers with local restaurants, so they can purchase fresh off the boat and cut out the middlemen. The product ends up on the plate much faster, with fewer bites out of profits for harvesters along the way.

Why they do it: According to research by Oceana, up to one-third of all seafood items sold in the U.S. are mislabelled. At the same time, domestic seafood harvesters export a majority of their catch while domestic restaurants rely primarily on imported seafood. Seafood changes hands as many as six times from sea to supper, each pair taking a cut of profits. Harvesters earn pennies on the dollar while middlemen make money. “By trimming down the fat in the supply chain, we help increase fishers’ income while providing better value to restaurants,” says co-founder Joseph Lee.

How they do it: Coastline Market doesn’t store or hold inventory – it simply puts the sellers in touch with the buyers with the click of a button. Chefs know where and how their seafood was harvested, and by whom. Already up and running in Vancouver, Coastline plans to expand into Victoria and Seattle this year.


What they do: A surgical drilling system that allows orthopedic surgeons in resource-constrained settings to treat bone fractures at a fraction of the cost of conventional western surgical drills.

Why they do it: In many countries and under many circumstances, surgeons don’t have access to state-of-the-art surgical drills that cost as much as $30,000. They have to resort to drilling holes with non-sterile drills you would find at Home Depot, or even manual hand-crank drills. Four years ago, Dr. Piotr Blachut and Dr. Peter O’Brien – Vancouver surgeons who do humanitarian work in Uganda – asked University of British Columbia engineering students for help.

How they do it: A group of graduate students produced the first prototype for a drill cover made of pathogen-​resistant surgical gown material that keeps the drill sterile, allowing the same drill to be used in consecutive surgeries and drastically reducing the time lost to sterilization. Those students went on to found Arbutus Medical, which teamed with product design students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University to design the covers and prepare for manufacturing. The DrillCover is certified by Health Canada, and with five covers and one drill, surgeons can do surgery all day without having to wait for sterilization. Responding to a call from a humanitarian group, Arbutus Medical provided 40 drill covers for trauma surgeons in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. It has introduced the product in East Africa and Latin America and plans expansion into India, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East this year and next.