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Alberta Research Council

Established in 1921 as the first provincial research organization, the Alberta Research Council (ARC) has been involved in innovation for nearly 85 years. ARC is now owned by the Alberta Science and Research Authority (ASRA) and operates primarily through provincial government funding. Self-described as being in the "business of innovation," ARC develops and commercializes innovative technology for its clients. The focus of ARC has changed from being primarily a government branch to a more innovative corporation that incorporates leading business practices for maximum efficiency.

ARC acts as the bridge between research and the marketplace. Their strategy is to partner the leading edge ideas from universities, research laboratories and technical institutes with the commercial interests of industry. By combining advanced research with corporate profit, ARC policy and focus embodies the inventive spirit. ARC operates in a number of dynamic fields including agriculture, energy, environment, forestry, health and manufacturing. ARC has had numerous successes in each of these fields, including

  • Agriculture. Landview logoARC, in partnership with BCL Landview Systems Inc. developed a new online tool for Alberta's farmers, ranchers, agri-business, agri-retailers and landowners. The $1 million joint research venture resulted in Land View Online. Land View takes information on a particular piece of land and allows for detailed record keeping, mapping, crop management and precision farming. This powerful database tool helps maximize the potential of a farmer or rancher's land
  • Energy. ARC's "Intelligent Systems Application Group" developed the Mariah Heater"brains" for an automated, environmentally safe heater for Calgary's Mariah Energy Corporation. The system has incredibly high fuel efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent, when compared to traditional coal-burning heaters. ARC also helped develop a web-based controller to monitor the system for efficiency, including a live-update of current electricity prices to determine whether or not operation of the heater is economically efficient.
  • Environment. Transforming garbage into gold sounds bizarre, but with the proper innovation, anything is possible. The pulp and paper industry creates a lime-based byproduct that is considered waste. ARC, in a joint venture with two other firms is transforming that waste into valuable fertilizer for acidic soils. Field tests are using this lime waste to boost the pH of acidic soils and improve crop yield. This lime byproduct serves the same purpose as commercially available agricultural lime and reduces the waste created by the pulp and paper industry.
  • Forestry. ARC researchers have created a new machine that allows paper manufacturers to use different materials (such as straw or hemp) instead of traditional pulp. This machine, called a digester, works like a large pressure cooker and allows pulp and paper producers to experiment with different blends and treatments of agri-fibers for optimum efficiency. A possible spin-off to the digester would allow paper producers to create their products from farmer's by-products. Paper could potentially be made with straw-blends and create extra revenue for Alberta’s farmers.
  • Health. ARC, working for an American firm, ZymeTx Inc. based in Oklahoma, developed a more efficient production process for their flu tests. The drug, known as ZStatFlu, allows for a rapid diagnosis of influenza A and B and has recently been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for legal sale in the United States. ARC modified the ZymeTx process of production for the active ingredient of ZStatFlu to allow for greater quantities to be produced.
  • Manufacturing. An ARC engineer has developed a "hot suit", a winter snow-suit equipped with a propane powered heater. This heater warms a liquid that is circulated through The "Hot-Suit"the suit to keep the wearer warm in the most brutal Alberta winters imaginable. The suit is equipped with sensors that allow the wearer to control the intensity of the heat to different parts of the body. The system's heat output equals that of two car batteries, but the unit itself weighs less than two pounds. The suit is expected to retail for less than $500 dollars. ARC is currently looking for investors to mass produce the suit.

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