Future is on our doorstep

As North America turns to knowledge-based economies, we in Northwestern Ontario often wonder how we can transform the economies of Fort Frances, Kenora, Dryden, and Atikokan from being based on the use of natural resources to ones based on knowledge.
Over time, I have written columns about the need for the Internet, then for faster Internet, then for broadband, and now for even faster broadband.
Last week at the Northern Ontario Business Awards in Thunder Bay, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderfully talented people who are making that leap to a knowledge-based economy.
They also are creating products and services that are being marketed well beyond Northern Ontario.
In Thunder Bay, Molecular World, which was founded in 1998, is now known as the CSI lab of Canada. Headed up by Amarjit Chahal, Molecular World is the only privately-accredited DNA testing lab in Canada to handle material through the use of three separate DNA testing methods.
In talking last Thursday evening with Amarjit, he was extremely proud of the success of his company and its work in Thunder Bay.
The company is licensed to perform mitochondrial DNA testing. It permits smaller samples and is particularly useful where materials recovered have lower DNA samples.
The lab now is being asked by U.S. firms to do testing, as well as Canadian law enforcement agencies.
The lab has attracted Northern Ontario students back to Thunder Bay, and the research that’s being conducted to advance forensic science is breathtaking.
Another Thunder Bay company, DST Consulting, has developed a slope stabilization process that has been patented in Canada and the United States.
The new process has led to licensing other engineering firms across North America to use the process. The technology is so specialized that DST Consulting now is marketing the slope stabilization process globally.
Synergy Controls Corp., from Sudbury, working with paper, mining, and steel companies in North and South America, have used the Internet to automate processes.
They previously had sold high-technology pieces of equipment but no real automation had taken place. With remote monitoring devices, which Synergy developed, the Internet is being used to control the high-tech products that they sell.
The interesting story is that Synergy Controls began in the basement of the Gibbons home and today has expanded to doing more than $10 million in sales.
Closer to home, the Northern Ontario Business Awards recognized Kish-Gon-Dug of Naicatchewenin First Nation for its outdoor furniture manufacturing.
Much of their product distribution is in Europe and the United States.
We can learn from these companies. The knowledge-based economy of the future is on our doorstep.
There are many other Northern Ontario knowledge-based companies which are creating new and innovative products and systems using new and developing technology.
They are found in forestry, mining, and construction, and stretch from Quebec to the Manitoba border.

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