TORONTO – An interactive retail display unit for the cosmetic industry, a mass-produced near-field communication (NFC)-enabled carton, and a Sheridan College administrator were among the recipients of industry association Intelliflex’s 2018 Canadian Printable/Flexible Electronics Symposium (CPES) awards on Thursday.
At the end of the conference, which was co-sponsored by ITBusiness.ca parent ITWC:
- Tuku Inc. president Mark Baldwin and Array Marketing research and development specialist Aaron Willinsky received Intelliflex’s New Product Innovation of the Year Award for their cosmetic retail display;
- Jones Packaging Inc. director of technology and innovation James Lee received the Commercialization of the Year Award for both his company’s new NFC-enabled carton and its new blister pack medication monitoring system; and
- Michelle Chrétien, director of Sheridan College’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, received Intelliflex’s inaugural Women in STEM award.
Intelliflex CEO Peter Kallai presented all three awards and expressed sincere admiration for each of the winners.
“Mark and Aaron have been a driving force behind intelligent retail,” Kallai said while presenting the award to Baldwin and Willinsky. “And [this award] is not just about the flexible electronics they’re integrating into a consumer platform for selling cosmetics. It’s also about the software tools, and the innovation this whole technology can represent in the cosmetic industry.”
According to Baldwin, the companies’ winning interactive point of purchase unit combines Tuku-developed software with Array’s point of purchase displays to create a new consumer experience in physical stores, while also giving customers a new opportunity to collect user data and analytics.
“We firmly believe that we have a product that’s innovative, but it was nice to have that validation from Intelliflex,” Baldwin said.
Smart cartons and blister packs
Meanwhile, Jones Packaging’s Lee, who spoke with ITBusiness.ca two years ago, welcomed his Commercialization of the Year Award for a project that he said he’d been working on for around five years.
“We probably won because we didn’t give up we just kept going until we actually had a successful product,” he said with a laugh. “It felt great to get some recognition for getting to the end of the finish line.”
Lee said he won thanks to a pair of breakthroughs in particular: high-speed, high-volume NFC integration into folding cartons, developed in collaboration with Norwegian printed electronics firm Thin Film Electronics ASA; and a monitored blister pack medication system already being tested in Europe.
Intelliflex’s Kallai confirmed that Jones won what he called a “very tight competition” thanks to its integration of NFC technology into high-volume manufacturing.
“They were able to produce up to 50,000 units per hour on their existing production line, which is very, very difficult,” Kallai said, noting that commercialization “is not just about creating a technology, but figuring out how to upgrade that technology for production.”
And now, he said, the company is on track to do the same with its smart blister packs.
“It’s an amazing achievement, both as a technology being commercialized in Canada first… and as a homegrown technology being commercialized and at a high volume,” he said.
Women in (flexible/printable electronics) STEM
Finally, Thursday marked the first time Intelliflex gave out its inaugural Women in STEM award, which was given to Sheridan College Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies director Michelle Chrétien.
Approached by ITBusiness.ca, which spoke with her two years ago when she was serving as the Xerox Research Centre of Canada’s development manager, Chrétien could only call her award “a great surprise” at first.
“I feel really really honoured, and also really, really humbled,” she said. “I think awards like this are really important – diversity is a theme whose importance we need to see repeated over and over again throughout all industries, though [tech] could use some special attention.”
“I hope it leads to an environment where everyone is valued and contributions are brought to the table from different directions, because great solutions come when many minds and many perspectives meet,” she added.
Kallai, for his part, appeared to hold back tears when presenting Chrétien with the award.
“We have a great cadre of ladies, and I want to acknowledge everyone who ran for this award,” he said, before singling out Chrétien as especially deserving.
“You have been wonderful to Intelliflex… and your energy and passion for the industry represents something that we need to recognize today,” Kallai said. “It’s very, very important that we see you as a role model for everybody else.”