KIRA Awards Celebrate 20 Years of New Brunswick Innovation

  • Mara
  • 2018-05-01




Gleaner Column

Igniting our Economy: KIRA Awards Celebrate 20 Years of New Brunswick Innovation

Innovation is both exciting and critical to our economic fabric. Embracing innovation will not only lead to pathways for growth, but it will also position us to compete on the global stage. This year, Fredericton will be hosting the 20th annual Knowledge and Innovation Recognition Awards (KIRA) on May 3rd, at the Fredericton Convention Centre, in celebration of innovative excellence across various sectors in New Brunswick. Recognizing the importance of innovation begs the question of “what exactly is innovation?” and “are we innovative?

The Conference Board of Canada defines innovation “as the process through which economic and social value is extracted from knowledge through the generation, development, and implementation of ideas to produce new or improved strategies, capabilities, products, services, or processes.” Innovation flows from invention, and it is a core competency sought by both companies and governments alike. Through definition, it is easy to deduce that New Brunswickers are innovative, and that the innovative spirit of New Brunswick individuals and organizations is alive and well. Communities harnessing innovation and entrepreneurship are proven to witness an increase in productivity, competitiveness, and overall output. From the earliest days in New Brunswick there has been innovation, and over the years we have been home to:

  • The worlds’ first chocolate bar - the Pal-O-Mine from Gangong Brothers;
  • First snowblower created by Robert Harris in Dalhousie in 1870;
  • The first Computer Science Faculty in Canada at the University of New Brunswick;
  • The world’s first digital telecom system at NBTel;
  • First in social media monitoring and data analytics at Radian6, and still one of Canada’s largest exits;
  • Home to IBM’s Global (Cyber) Security Centre;
  • World’s first big data platform for IP Network analytics – Mariner XVU;
  • First jurisdiction to be fully mapped digitally, and home to CARIS’ global headquarters, a world leader in marine digital mapping.

These are just some of our innovations. While we often recognize innovation outside our borders, the KIRA Awards gives us permission to pause and reflect, and as a region we stop to recognize the innovative output from our own backyard. The KIRA Awards has allowed us to celebrate our homegrown innovators for 20 years now, proving that innovation continues to fuel our economy. Through the years, the KIRA Awards have grown and evolved as our own economy and community has, with awards given out to recognize individuals and organizations - both in the private and public sector. This year’s KIRA finalists represent innovation in a variety of sectors, and demonstrate the depth and breadth of world-class innovation happening right here in our province. The 2018 finalists are:

Innovation Champion
This award recognizes the efforts of an individual, company, or group who has demonstrated a commitment to creating, fostering, promoting and encouraging innovation (technological, social or economic):

  • BioNB 
  • East Valley Ventures
  • Les Productions FUSION Productions

Most Innovative Product or Service
This award recognizes a successful launch of an innovative product or service by a private sector company over the past 12 months:

  • Beauceron Security
  • Blue Roof Distillers
  • Stash Energy

Most Innovative Start-up
This award recognizes a company in business less than two years with something fresh to say in the marketplace or using an innovative approach to addressing an old problem:

  • Chinova Bioworks
  • Knalysis Technologies, Inc.
  • SomaDetect Inc.

Premier’s Award for Innovation
This award recognizes the adoption of an innovative new solution or approach for the delivery of a new or existing service over the past 12 months that has resulted in measurable impact for government services:

  • Alongside Inc.
  • Family Medicine New Brunswick
  • Treasury Board, Government of New Brunswick

Innovation can’t happen on its own, and while we’ve recognized more than 120 people and organizations over the years, the KIRA Awards and gala didn’t happen without a team of dedicated volunteers. Assembling year after year, volunteers from industry came together to not only create a premier awards gala, but to be innovative in creating a memorable event for 20 years straight.