2014 Winner: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community
40 Years Of Promoting Innovation In Energy And The Environment
Since earning his PhD at the University of Alberta in 1974, Dr. Eddy Isaacs has been promoting innovation in energy and the environment across Canada. As CEO of Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES), Isaacs continues to be an ambassador for Alberta’s science and technology community.
Isaacs says that his transition into leadership roles occurred serendipitously. Opportunities presented themselves and he realized he was in a position to learn and benefit Alberta’s energy and environment sectors.
“Once I started getting into it I saw that energy innovation is a critical component,” says Isaacs. “Alberta is an energy province, very few jurisdictions in the world that have the magnitude of resources that we have here. It was a natural challenge but it was also an exciting opportunity.”
Creating an Industry
Isaacs began his career in the oil sands at a time when there were few people involved in research to harness the resource. The intent was to develop the technology and make the oil sands a viable resource for Alberta.
“It was mostly researchers in academia and government driving the technology and trying to make it competitive with conventional crudes,” Isaacs says. “It was a stimulating time and led to a lot of things that emerged as a result of a lot of innovative work that resulted in the creation of an industry.”
Now Isaacs is on the other side of energy in Alberta with AI-EES. The organization has built very strong capabilities to evaluate technologies and their commercial opportunities.
“It is critical to engage industry and the academic community to ensure that the programs that we fund are application oriented and also provide industry with the capacity to properly assess and evaluate technologies,” Isaacs explains.
He says that the success of AI-EES is about connecting with various people in industry, government and academia to recognize the priorities and gaps and implement the needed solutions.
Ambassador of Science
The primary reason Isaacs has been successful in promoting growth of the energy, water and environment communities comes from his ability to be both innovative and flexible.
“It’s creating the climate where innovation can happen and technology can be transferred to industry,” Isaacs says. “I think generally it’s being able to work with people and being able to move the organization to the next level of performance.”
To propel Alberta into the international spotlight, Isaacs says he is very clear about Alberta’s priorities with science, technology and innovation as key components.
“Very few people internationally actually know who we are and what we do here in Alberta and it is vitally important in this global age to provide factual science based information.”
Since 2012, Isaacs has received invitations to provide thought leadership as a speaker at international conferences, workshops and meetings with delegations from around the world. He has accepted over 50 invitations, both within Canada and internationally. Isaacs is recognized as an expert on Alberta’s energy industry and he continues to provide his perspective on Alberta energy opportunities.
In 2014, Isaacs was sought out to take on the additional role of Director General at CanmetENERGY. In this new role he brings together research in Alberta with the research conducted by the federal government.
“The main priority is making sure the research is not fragmented. In the end, the objectives are the same,” explains Isaacs. “The challenge in the next while is to try to bring together provincial research with federal research so we can accelerate the research and innovation capabilities and capacity in Alberta and Canada.”