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Innovation of the Year

The Innovation of the Year awards recognize and celebrate University of Guelph innovations that have made or have the potential to generate value for Canada. 

Since 2016, innovations representing work conducted by researchers across a variety of university departments have been recognized. These innovations continue to have a positive influence in diverse areas including animal health, food packaging, the environment, and human wellness.

2023 Winner

The Research Team pose for a photo standing in a large dairy barn.

Dr. Christine Baes, Dr. Flavio Schenkel, Dr. Saeed Shadpour, Dr. Filippo Miglior, and Dr. Francesca Malchiodi have pioneered a national genetic evaluation system to identify dairy cattle with low methane emissions. By analyzing data on milk production, feed intake, methane output, fertility, health, and genomics, the team created a substantial reference population. They innovatively used mid-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (MIRS) from milk samples to predict individual cows' methane emissions accurately, paving the way for more sustainable dairy farming.

Past Winners

Discover previous Innovation of the Year recipients

  • Developed by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton and Dr. Briana Hagen, "In the Know": A Mental Health Literacy program, is a bilingual agriculture-based mental health literacy training program aimed at farmers and anyone in the agriculture sector. Through this free workshop, participants cover topics of stress, depression, anxiety, substance use, and how to start a conversation around mental well-being.
  • Developed by Dr. Robert Hanner and his team, "Environmental DNA Biomonitoring" involves two reported inventions that were the foundation of a startup company called Precision Biomonitoring Inc. in 2017. As methods and tools for detecting DNA in environmental samples, these inventions are useful for monitoring the presence of species of interest.

  • Developed by Dr. Wael Ahmed and brought to market by the start-up company FloNergia Inc., their novel airlift pump system does not contain any moving parts or require lubrication. This revolutionary modification has been optimized for multiple food applications and is currently in use at aquaculture facilities around the world where it significantly reduces energy and maintenance costs, creating more sustainable and economically viable practices. 
  • Developed by Dr. George van der Merwe and his team, they have optimized local strains of yeast for brewing. Commercialized through Escarpment Labs, this work has been applied to a diverse selection of specialized yeast strains for craft and industrial brewers alike, including wild Ontario yeast strains, which will improve the sustainability and economics of Canadian craft brewers who previously relied on imported yeast strains. 

  • Developed by Dr. John Lindsay, Whitebox Tools is advanced geospatial data analysis software. An open-source technology that is used around the world for applications that include wetlands mapping, landslide forecasting, soil erosion, and ice cover modelling.  
  • Developed by Drs. Keith Warriner and Mahdiyeh Hasani alongside industry partner Clean Works, they created a waterless cleaning system to disinfect fruits and vegetables using hydrogen peroxide, ultraviolet light and ozone. This process was optimized for the cleaning of N95 masks and other PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

  • Dr. Dave Wolyn was selected for his work and leadership in the breeding and development of asparagus varieties that have become the most popular kinds grown in North America that are fast gaining favour in Europe and Asia. 

  • Dr. Mansel Griffiths was selected for his work, along with co-recipient Dr. Maira Medellin-Peña, pioneering the use of probiotics to reduce the spread of harmful bacteria, enhancing the health and welfare of livestock. 

  • Dr. John Dutcher was selected for his work with nanoparticles of phytoglyocen, which are non-toxic, biodegradable, and water-soluable. The PhytoSpherix technology is now marketed by the formerly Guelph-based company Mirexus (link). 
  • Dr. Bonnie Mallard was chosen for her breakthrough High Immune Response (HIR) technology, which allows farmers to raise healthier animals that require less treatment and antibiotic use. 

  • Developed by Dr. Mario Monteiro and his team, their carbohydrate-based vaccine targets surface polysaccharides exposed by C. difficile.  
  • Developed by Dr. Amar Mohanty and his team at the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC), they worked to create a 100% compostable resin that can be used by industry to make items more sustainabiole, including single-serve pods for coffee and other hot beverages.