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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #188
Program Date: 11/27/2008
Program Category: Nanotechnology

Nano Alberta at Nanotech Showcase

PROGRAM #188 INTERVIEW WIDH DR. GARY ALBACH

MP3: 5.9 MB
Time: 6:27 Minutes

Intro: Gary Albach, PhD is the Executive Director of NanoAlberta with Alberta Advanced Education and Technology. He participated in the Nanotech Showcase in Edmonton during November 2008.

Gary Albach, PhD

GA: Well NanoAlberta was set up as a provincial organization to deliver the Alberta Nanotechnology Strategy. This is an industrial strategy that the province has for the development of nanotechnology research, the development and commercialization.

CC: YOU’VE JUST COME FROM BC TO COME AND HEAD UP NANOALBERTA AS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU HERE?

GA: Well a couple of things. First of all, Alberta is currently one of the centres in many of the ways, the top centre in Canada for nanotechnology. If you’re doing nanotechnology across Canada it’s important to either be in or be associated with Alberta.

Edmonton, we have the University which has a very strong materials science, engineering, medical, all of the basis for nanotechnology. And we also have the Canadian National Institute for Nanotechnology, NINT, which is one of the federal government’s National Research Council institutes in partnership with the University and the government.

So it’s an opportunity to be in the centre of Canadian nanotechnology.

CC: WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND IN NANOSCIENCE?

GA: I’m a lapsed physicist. My background is in business, in the tech industries. I spent my career building technology industries in the semi-conductor industry and semiconductors are a form of nanotechnology and materials science and applications. And most recently in Vancouver I was the CEO of a nanomatierals company doing nano structured ceramic coatings.

CC: WHERE ARE WE AT IN TERMS OF THE BUSINESS APPLICATIONS OF NANOTECHNOLOGY OR NANOSCIENCE RIGHT NOW?

GA: Oh, at the very early stages. We’re just in the early days of applying the science of nanomaterials to products. And that’s our next goal here in Alberta.

We have a very strong background in research and development. There’s been upwards of $300 million over the past 5, 8, 10 years that has been used to build the foundation for that. The next steps are to move the research into commercial products, into applications, into solutions for some of the problems we have in the province and apply those to some of the global efforts.

CC: WHAT ARE YOUR IMMEDIATE GOALS?

GA: Well the first thing is getting NanoAlberta started. It’s a start up company. All of the excitement around that, of course, staffing, new people, the budgets, the direction.

The strategy for the province was introduced about a year ago. It’s an industrial strategy for nanotechnology in Alberta. It’s generally recognized across the country as being one of the best articulated, best funded and best thought out industrial strategies. But as a strategy it provides the direction for nanotechnology. It doesn’t provide the details and the priorities and the operating plant. So our first job is to prepare the operating plan for that. Much of that work has been done, we’re putting the details, and the priorities for the next several years.

CC: WELL WHAT WOULD BE THE RELATIONSHIP THEN BETWEEN NINT WHERE THE RESEARCH IS BEING DONE AT THE UNIVERSITY SCALE AND NANO ALBERTA WHERE YOU ARE LOOKING AT BUSINESS STRATEGY?

GA: Yes, Nano Alberta main job is just the facilitation of the various assets that we have in the province. We’re working very closely because NINT is a partnership between the University, the provincial government and the federal government

We’re the provincial government’s part of that, the collaborative efforts within the province are really what are going to pay off. NINT is one of those. The University of Alberta’s labs are part of that. The University of Calgary’s labs are very much a part of that. The Alberta Research Council. A whole range of assets that the province has that NanoAlberta will help facilitate the cooperation.

CC: YOU’RE HERE AT A CONFERENCE, A TWO DAY CONFRENCE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY IN ALBERTA AND THERE ARE WELL OVER 200 PEOPLE HERE. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THIS CONFERENCE?

GA: Well this is the first one which we hope is the inaugural one of a number. And for this first one it really is a means for the various members of our community to get together, to get to know one another, put their hands up and be counted. I’m a firm believer in the network and networking. A lot of the strengths organizations have come from the connections they have, either with each other or with other organizations around the world.

So it’s events like this that will allow us to share and celebrate the work that we are doing.

CC: THANK YOU VERY MUCH GARY.

GA: You’re welcome.

Dr. Gary Albach is the executive director of NanoAlberta.

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