The Pulse: Sept. 23, 2022

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  • 20°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 20. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 4.5: The province will partially reinstate its fuel tax, charging 4.5 cents per litre as of Oct. 1. (details)
  • Dark Blue: The High Level Bridge will be light dark blue for Deaf Awareness. (details)

Christopher Cassin and John P. Davis smile beside a furnace-sized box attached to a stand with pipes feeding into a cylinder

Zero Point Cryogenics closes deal involving National Research Council

By Karen Unland

Zero Point Cryogenics has been awarded a contract to build an ultra-low temperature dilution refrigerator — a piece of equipment that enables researchers to explore the possibilities of quantum technology — for testing by the National Research Council of Canada.

It's a deal that will help the Edmonton-based company catapult to the next level, said CEO Christopher Cassin.

"It is a huge opportunity to showcase deep-tech for Alberta and for us as an organization," he said. "To have trust in us all the way up to the federal government, it's an honour."

The test will be funded through the Innovative Solutions Canada Testing Stream program, which partners with small and medium-sized Canadian businesses to award contracts to innovators who are developing novel solutions. The contract was awarded by Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Dilution refrigerators cost $500,000 to $2.5 million, Cassin said. The customers are big — academic institutions, government labs, or quantum computing companies — and the sales cycle is long. But a federal contract makes it a lot easier to go to the bank for the kinds of resources the company needs to keep growing.

"We are hiring, we are selling, and we are growing," Cassin said. "And we're building systems," added chief technical officer John P. Davis, who co-founded the company in 2017 at the University of Alberta and spun it out into its own space in 2021.

Davis, a physicist who has been studying the effects of ultra-low temperatures for decades, caught the entrepreneurial bug as he noticed that more and more of his students were entering industry instead of academia. "I started diving deeper and deeper into entrepreneurship ... to better help train my graduate students for their future careers," he said.

Grant applications tended to ask how his research would diversify the economy or otherwise benefit Alberta.

"I took that question very seriously," he said. "I started asking myself, how could we turn what we do in the lab into a business? What we decided was it wasn't really the research we do that we could commercialize. But it was the tools we use to do our research that we could commercialize."

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Headlines: Sept. 23, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Edmonton Police Service has released surveillance footage of a Sept. 15 incident after calls to produce evidence that the woman pushed to the ground by an officer was carrying a knife. The requests had been denied until the video was played at a police commission meeting on Sept. 22. Deputy chief Devin Laforce maintained that the officer did his job appropriately, while some community members stood by the view that the officer used excessive force. Police commission member Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse said the officer was in the right, but noted that incidents like this will continue without a strategy to address houselessness among Indigenous women.
  • The Edmonton Police Service spent $164,000 on overtime for officers covering the "freedom convoy" protests that took place in January and February, CBC reported based on documents obtained by activist Haruun Ali after he filed a formal complaint about police conduct during the protests. A police spokesperson described the event as an "adequately resourced police operation" that resulted in no injuries, mass arrests, or riots. Criminology professor Temitope Oriola noted that the counter-protestors who blocked one side of River Valley Road "attracted far more punitive measures than the right-leaning freedom convoy folks."
  • EndPovertyEdmonton, an organization founded six years ago with the goal of ending poverty within a generation, has had $600,000 in funding withheld until it can demonstrate its value at a review before council next week. Last year, a city evaluation found EndPovertyEdmonton lacked a way of measuring success, clarity around roles and governance, and involvement from people who have experienced poverty — issues that have only partly improved, according to another evaluation in June 2022. "It's been a long time, and I want to see results," said Coun. Keren Tang.
  • Catholic Social Services is aiming to raise $2.6 million through its Sign of Hope fundraising campaign. The organization has seen an increase in demand for services with the rising number of immigrants arriving from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
  • The city's Change for Climate team launched the new Changing for Climate video series to showcase Edmontonians who reduced their environmental footprint through anything from home retrofits to corporate net-zero initiatives. Episode 1 launched Sept. 22 and features Howaida Hassan, who explains how her family transitioned from gas to electric vehicles.
  • MacEwan University has announced plans to build a new School of Business as part of its strategic vision. The seven-storey building will be on the corner of 109 Street and 105 Avenue. The university expects to reach enrolment of 30,000 students by 2030.
  • The city signed a pledge as part of the 30X30 Initiative by New York University's Policing Project to increase the number of women serving as peace officers in the Community Standards and Neighbourhoods branch. The city wants the number of women in the branch to grow from 19% to 30% of all officers by 2030.
A graphic of a stylized car with an electrical cord snaking out of it

Weekend agenda: Sept. 23-25, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers chances to get spooked, prepare for hockey season, help the food bank, celebrate women, test-drive an electric vehicle, or take in the Edmonton Recital Society's season opener.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup.

Photo: Learn more about zero-emissions vehicles, including electric vehicles, e-buses, hydrogen buses, e-bikes, and e-scooters, at this weekend's EV Expo. (YouTube)