A trip down memory lane with the Technology Impact Awards

Before we start profiling the finalists for the 2020 Technology Impact Awards, let’s look back at 10 past winners that have gone on to achieve truly remarkable things over the last decade. With innovators like these blazing a trail, the coming decade is shaping up to be more remarkable still.

2010 Team of the Year: MDA

THEN: Having successfully navigated the federal intervention that kept the Canadarm-maker in Canadian hands, Richmond-based MDA went on to earn its 2010 TIA by landing a $200-million-plus contract for two Russian communications satellites, and a $95-million deal with partner Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., among other lucrative agreements.

NOW: Newly acquired for $1-billion by a consortium led by Toronto-based Northern Private Capital, MDA is one of the world’s leading suppliers of space robotics, radar, antennae, ground systems and Earth-imaging data. “We look for companies that can grow materially, three to five times bigger than they are, and we certainly think that opportunity exists here,” Northern CEO Andrew Lapham told the Globe and Mail.

2011 Excellence in Product Innovation: D-Wave

THEN: Less than a month after being named a TIAs finalist, this Burnaby company unveiled D-Wave One. Described as “the world’s first commercially available quantum computer,” this breakthrough led to a multi-year contract with Lockheed Martin and pioneering protein research by a team at Harvard University.

NOW: D-Wave is set to unveil the fifth generation of its quantum computers in 2020, having reportedly raised more than $300-million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm, Goldman Sachs, Business Development Bank of Canada, PSP Investments, and others.

2012 Company of the Year: Avigilon

THEN: With record revenues, innovative product launches, a hiring spree and a new Toronto Stock Exchange listing under its belt, this Vancouver-based provider of HD and megapixel video surveillance solutions was the fastest-growing software company in North America on the Deloitte Fast500.

NOW: Two years after being acquired by Motorola Solutions for $1.2 billion, Avigilon is churning out innovative products, with AI-powered and explosion-protected cameras among its 2020 releases.

2013 Community Engagement: Global Relay

THEN: Founded in 1999 as a three-person start-up without help from venture capital or any external funding, this Vancouver-based provider of enterprise information archiving, eDiscovery, and compliance messaging was celebrated for “Racing for Success.” This 2012 initiative delighted the Canadian cycling community by committing $1 million over five years to revive the Gastown Grand Prix, and a further $400,000 to help young Canadian cyclists qualify for the Olympics.

NOW: No wonder Global Relay has just been named to the Platinum Club of Deloitte Canada’s Best Managed Companies. Its 23,000 customers in 90 countries include investment advisors, private equity funds, 70 percent of FINRA broker-dealers, 70 percent of SEC hedge funds, and 22 of the world’s top 25 banks.

2014 Community Engagement: Traction on Demand

THEN: One of the first certified Benefit Corporations (BCorps) in Canada, Traction on Demand was recognized for its Traction for Good program, which provides pro-bono and grant-based Salesforce.com implementation services, donations and volunteers to nonprofits.

NOW: Traction for Good is still going strong, with $1.5 million in grants to help nonprofits increase capacity, more than $266,000 in donations to causes that are close to Tractionites’ hearts, and 650-plus children taught in coding and philanthropy workshops.

2015 Person of the Year: Jeff Booth, President & CEO, BuildDirect

THEN: Having co-founded BuildDirect in 1999, Jeff had seen more than his fair share of ups and downs in the industry, and through it all, his advice to entrepreneurs has been the same: Stay in the game and keep iterating until you figure it out. Despite the demands on his time, Jeff has continued to be an advocate for the BC tech community, often speaking to the importance of “paying it forward,” and urging others to do the same.

NOW: Jeff is a Founding Partner of OtioLabs, Co-Founder of addyinvest.com and NocNoc, and serves on the boards of Terramera, Cubic Farms, LlamaZOO, Synthiam and the Richmond Hospital Foundation, as well as numerous advisory boards. He also released his first book, “The Price of Tomorrow – Why Deflation is Key to an Abundant Future,” in early 2020.

2016 Emerging Company of the Year: Copperleaf Technologies

THEN: Named one of the country’s Top 20 Fastest-Growing Software Companies by Canadian Business magazine in 2015, this decision analytics provider actively participates in shaping the future of asset management standards, including ISO 55000.

NOW: Copperleaf’s growth credentials extended beyond the software sector in April, when it made the Financial Times’ list of the Americas’ 500 Fastest-Growing Companies. With a revenue growth rate of 213 percent between 2015 and 2018, it ranked 37th among Canadian companies.

2017 Company of the Year: STEMCELL Technologies

THEN: Launched as a UBC startup in 1993, this biotech grew to employ nearly 1,000 people worldwide with revenue growth of 20 percent in 2016.

NOW: STEMCELL’s work in developing advanced cell culture systems to isolate and identify the virus that causes COVID-19 was recently commended by BioTalent Canada.

2018 Excellence in Technology Innovation: Finn AI

THEN: Founded in 2014, Finn AI specializes in AI-powered solutions built for personal banking and finance. With customers on four continents, and services delivered in three languages, Finn AI enables simple, natural conversations with virtual financial assistants.

NOW: Finn AI has grown to become the world’s leading AI-powered conversational banking technology provider, working with top financial institutions including ATB Financial, Banpro Grupo Promerica, Fidor Bank, KOHO and TymeBank, as well as partnerships with MX.com, Liveperson, Temenos, and Visa Global.

2019 Company of the Year (Scale Success): AbCellera

THEN: Having landed a $30 million contract from the U.S. Department of Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a platform that can generate antibody countermeasures to halt a pandemic within 60 days, as well as a $4.8 million award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance vaccine research, AbCellera’s 2019 TIA was as deserved as it was prescient. On that note…

NOW: AbCellera recently received a commitment of up to $175.6 million from the Government of Canada to expand efforts related to the discovery of antibodies for use in drugs to treat COVID-19, and to build technology and manufacturing infrastructure for antibody therapies against future pandemic threats.

That’s just a few of the companies that stand out over the last 10 years, and we can’t wait to share the stories of the 2020 Technology Impact Awards finalists. This may well be the most challenging year to pick winners, what with such a stellar field as we head into a new decade. With a theme of ”Purpose” having added significance this year, you won’t want to miss our finalists’ stories. Check back next week for our first blog post on this year’s finalists.