The Pulse: Jan. 27, 2023

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -5°C: Flurries. Local amount 2 cm. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40. Temperature falling to minus 11 in the afternoon. Wind chill minus 7 in the morning and minus 19 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • Dark Blue/Orange/Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit dark blue, orange, and green for Family Literacy Day. (details)
  • 8pm, Jan. 28: The Edmonton Oilers (27-18-4) play the Chicago Blackhawks (15-28-4) at Rogers Place. (details)

Graham Kawulka wearing a white collared shirt and grey sweater

Nanoprecise scales up to cut emissions through predictive maintenance

By Mack Male

Nanoprecise Sci Corp is scaling up to help companies around the world reduce their carbon footprint by improving the efficiency of their industrial equipment.

Earlier this month, the company announced it had raised US$10 million in a Series B round led by Export Development Canada (EDC). Honeywell Ventures, NSK Ltd., and EC Mergers & Acquisitions — all new investors — also participated in the round.

The company, founded in Edmonton in 2017, offers an end-to-end predictive asset maintenance and monitoring solution that uses artificial intelligence and IoT technology to help companies reduce unplanned downtime and gain clarity about the right things to fix.

But another interesting benefit — one that Graham Kawulka, chief commercial officer at Nanoprecise, told Taproot was of particular interest to EDC — is the improved energy efficiency that comes from having better-maintained equipment.

"It might sound funny, 'machine health monitoring' — it doesn't sound like cleantech at first, but it really is," Kawulka said. "When you have healthy machines, you use less power to run them, and it can be substantial, the amounts of wasted power and excessive greenhouse gas emissions just because you have poor maintenance."

The company has so far focused on serving the mining, metals, oil and gas, chemical, and cement industries, several of which are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. "We're seeing a lot of interest from industrial players who are looking to improve their overall efficiency, while also getting all this other stuff."

The latest funding round, with participation from government and some of the largest industrial companies in the world, should help Nanoprecise close more deals, as it shows its target clientele that "we're growing up, and we're into that more mature startup phase," Kawulka said.

"We're really after enterprise-level customers that are pretty large, and when they look at startups there's an element of risk," he explained. "As you get along these milestones, it really helps to establish credibility."

Kawulka said about 30% of Nanoprecise's business is in India, thanks in part to founder and CEO Sunil Vedula's connections in the country where he was born. The company, which already has customers in more than 30 countries, also plans to expand further in the United States and is starting to enter the European market.

"We have lots to do, and we have so much runway. Some of the biggest opportunities we've seen in the history of the company started to come through in the last six months," Kawulka said. "We're starting to really experience brand recognition, which for a startup is amazing."

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Headlines: Jan. 27, 2023

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • City staff have begun looking for $60 million in savings from the 2023-2026 operating budget, which council directed administration to do in December. City manager Andre Corbould said staff will also redirect $240 million toward new budget priorities and report back to council monthly on the progress. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the process is "not about austerity" and that staff and council will try to minimize front-line impact.
  • Imperial Oil, the second-largest integrated oil company in Canada, is moving forward with plans to build a $720-million renewable diesel facility at its Strathcona refinery. The project, which was first announced in August 2021, is expected to be complete in 2025. It will be the largest facility of its kind in Canada and produce 20,000 barrels of renewable diesel per day. Building the facility will create about 600 construction jobs, the company said.
  • Edmonton Tamil communities are celebrating to mark Tamil Heritage Month this January. In 2021, there were 238,000 Tamil speakers in Canada, which has one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world, including just over 10,000 in Alberta. Today, the Edmonton Tamil Cultural Association supports more than 1,000 Edmontonians, including students, refugees, and skilled workers, said association president Ravi Subramaniam. The House of Commons voted in 2016 to recognize the month every January to coincide with Thai Pongal, a harvest festival.
  • Rental demand for purpose-built apartments in Edmonton outpaced rental supply in 2022 due to an economic rebound and record migration flows, according to the latest Rental Market Report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The vacancy rate fell from 7.3% in October 2021 to 4.3% in October 2022.
  • Retired teacher Stacy Long found an Ice Age mammoth bone while walking her two dogs west of Edmonton last spring. She sent the Royal Alberta Museum photos of the discovery, which museum staff identified as a shoulder blade bone that belonged to a mammoth alive about 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. "I was definitely shocked," said Long, who donated the specimen to the museum's research and reference collection.
  • The Clareview Recreation Centre closed temporarily on Jan. 25 following an incident that sent a man to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in critical condition. "As part of our protocols, safety, life-saving staff and management meet to debrief and review practices following emergency events. That work is ongoing," a city spokesperson said. The facility resumed operations on Jan. 26.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of NATO's wider coordinated effort to supply equipment. The army's fleet of Leopard 2 tanks is primarily located at the Edmonton-based unit Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) as well as at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick and a maintenance depot in Montreal.
  • Rhett Melnyk has been named the 15th captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The right winger from Fort Saskatchewan started his WHL career with the Tri-City Americans and was acquired by the Oil Kings last off-season. "It's an unreal feeling, I was speechless when they told me the news," Melnyk said.
  • The province said it is freezing auto insurance rates for private passenger vehicles and will not approve further increases for the rest of 2023. Previously approved rate increases or those resulting from an at-fault claim or ticket will still occur. In a release, the Insurance Bureau of Canada called the move "disappointing" because it "does nothing to improve the affordability of auto insurance in the near term and only pushes today's challenges down the road."
A portrait of Celeigh Cardinal in blue satin, smiling mischievously

Weekend agenda: Jan. 27-29, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers the warm voice of a decorated singer-songwriter, the farewell episode of a music-loving podcast, and free tunes in the ICE District, plus ice sculptures in Old Strathcona, a winter carnival for kids, and a polar plunge.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup.

Photo: Celeigh Cardinal brings her award-winning roots music to St. Basil's Cultural Centre with opener Kat Zel Music. (Celeigh Cardinal).