Creating Community to Spark Innovation

Innovation Hacks_P1

As COSIA looks to innovators to find solutions for technical challenges in the oil sands, we have explored various ways to create the collisions between key innovators that spark opportunities to collaborate on real world, practical solutions. 

One recent success is the collaboration between LOOKNorth, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), and Innotech Alberta, which are now jointly collaborating with industry on a three-year pilot on new modelling techniques that offer better ways to monitor peatland in the oil sands. 

LOOKNorth is a national Centre of Excellence that enables the commercialization of Canadian remote sensing innovations and Innotech Alberta accelerates technology development. With NAIT, the work of these three COSIA Associate Members is already showing promising results!

So how did this all come about? In 2016, when we reviewed our oil sands challenges, we discovered that no one Associate Member could provide the full technical solution that was required for the challenge. Our analysis showed instead that a number of Associate Members individually had different elements of a potential technical solution. We asked ourselves how we could bring together Associate Members to collaboratively develop solutions. 

We first canvassed our COSIA technical teams of Water, Land, Tailings and Greenhouse Gases to identify specific areas where there was a deep need to collaborate to create a full solution. Where could Associate Members combine their respective skills to advance one comprehensive path?

We then hosted a workshop with Associate Members to do a deep dive on specific technical challenges. The objective was to get the Associate Members to share their experiences so that they could better appreciate and understand each other’s technical strengths and experience.

We then got oil sands technical teams to work with Associate Members to clarify the details of the oil sands challenges. This was a key component, as it helped Associate Members focus on the root-cause technical issues that oil sands companies are looking to resolve. Various Associate Members then formed consortiums around their interests and developed a brief joint proposal to move forward.

One of these proposals was a potentially innovative modelling solution for peatland monitoring that combined different monitoring tools, such as terrestrial field analysis and remote sensing techniques, to better inform decision making around reclamation. LOOKNorth, NAIT and Innotech Alberta are now engaged in a three-year trial across 15 industry field sites to validate this technology.

“COSIA is an exceptional forum for bringing people and technologies together,’’ said Paul Adlakha, Managing Director of LOOKNorth. “The work we are doing, with our partners, is unique and is clearly addressing best practices in environmental monitoring and engineering in Canada’s oil sands.’’ 

Interested in innovation? Check out Peter’s other blogs:
•    COSIA Associate Members get the inside track 
•    Innovation road a crooked path  
•    Innovative ideas and the power of open sourcing  

Find out more about our Associate Member program!

Explore our website and check out other examples of innovation success in the oil sands. 

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