Local firms going to Paris for global conference
Eric Palmer, left, along with his parents Jane and Mark and brother Andrew are all of Greenland Consulting Engineers. The firm, long-recognized for their innovation will be heading to Paris, France, one of two Collingwood firms representing the National Research Council.
You can drive by a sign on a building for years and never know what in going on in there.
In fact, reading the sign doesn’t necessarily shed any light.
That can be said for Greenland Consulting Engineering on Hume Street.
Starting off a conversation with Mark Palmer, lead partner at Greenland, doesn’t really get you any closer until you realize, they are doing something different.
“Well, we’re a family company,” said Palmer as first his son Eric joins the conversation and soon after Jane, his wife.
An invitation from the National Research Council of Canada is what initiated the reason for the visit.
Palmer and Greenland has been invited to an international symposium in Paris, France later this month to lead one of the sessions during the agenda, but more importantly, expand the company’s contacts globally.
“We are looking for companies that are innovators, ones who would best benefit from networking with other innovative, market-driven contacts,” said Andrew Bauder, industrial technology advisor for the NRC, who is organizing the Canada’s contribution to EUREKA, an international network for market-driven industrial R&D from the EU, Europe, Israel, South Korea and Canada.
Under the umbrella of an international networking forum, it allows companies to meet likewise innovative and market-oriented professionals.
The program supports technology in all sectors. Specific to Greenland, this opportunity facilitates the development of innovative systems in the water sector.
Greenland has been in business for more than 20 years, with Palmer and family taking over the firm ten years ago.
“We are an engineering company but we are unique in as much as we have partnerships with three universities, Guelph, Waterloo and Penn State,” said Palmer. “so we develop software, internet tools for decision-support systems for water sheds, infrastructure, storm water and 20 years ago, our claim to fame was we developed the first computer models for engineers.”
Move forward twenty years and now Greenland, working with partnerships with these universities, develops their own software codes and systems, but decided as a private business to work with universities.
“We have intellectual properties that we can put on the table and if universities want to work with us. We can leverage dollars and share these intellectual properties with these universities,” said Palmer.
This all means that the university students can use the software and materials as training aids and they can use them for the curriculum.
Nationally, fourteen companies were selected for this particular program specific to water sector projects: Greenland and another Collingwood firm, Sensor Technologies were invited.
Greenland’s strength is their forward thinking, to successfully marry science and software.
“The European Union has created a cluster of companies who get together and share what you do within your country’s research group, the NRC here, and then we get together, brainstorm with the participants,” said Palmer.
“I’m actually doing a session on what we have done in Canada, and after that we come out with one-on-one meetings with these other countries hoping to find projects that fit our structures.”
Palmer and his associates deviated from the traditional path of engineering and instead developed technological tools. The firm developed software for Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, for Alberta they are creating a new model for dealing with oil industry, as well as developing climate change models with the University of Waterloo.
This partnership model is unique because Greenland sees independent science along with software coming together with traditional engineering as an integrated tool set, which is now beginning to attract attention from a lot of the larger players.
Looking forward to France, Palmer sees the conference as an excellent chance to increase their international profile.
“It will be interesting, I’m pretty optimistic that something will come out of it,” said Palmer. “The NRC wants us to succeed in the commercialization side.”