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Governor General’s Innovation Awards 2020 Recipients Announced

July 14, 2020

Six recipients from across Canada recognized for their ground-breaking work and excellence in innovation 


Ottawa, ON – July 14, 2020 – Today the Rideau Hall Foundation announced the recipients of the fifth annual Governor General’s Innovation Awards. These awards recognize and celebrate exceptional Canadian individuals, teams and organizations for their excellence in innovation and their contributions to helping shape our future and positively impact our quality of life. 


The recipients of the 2020 Governor General’s Innovation Awards are: 


 AccessNow App (Ms. Maayan Ziv – young innovator) 

 Ms. Ziv is the founder of AccessNow, a mobile app designed to empower people living with disabilities to live more independently. AccessNow connects people with ratings, insight and information on the accessibility features and status of businesses and experiences in over 30 countries. This innovation, fuelled by a crowdsourced model, engages a global community to contribute to a more inclusive and accessible world. Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Maayan channeled her frustration on the lack of accessibility information into motivation and making a difference. Her inspiration was personal; her impact is huge. 

 Nominated by Ingenium.  

CHIME: A Revolutionary New Canadian Telescope  

We have entered what scientists call the CHIME Epoch referring to a project called the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, designed to measure the expansion history of our universe and to map the cosmic distribution of fast radio bursts within it and to track radio pulsars.  Conceived, funded, and built by Canadians, CHIME represents an innovative technological achievement as well as a major scientific undertaking that addresses some of the most profound questions facing contemporary astrophysics. 

Nominated by the National Research Council. 

Embers Staffing Solutions  

With a mission to help people rediscover hope and self-sufficiency through meaningful work opportunities, the social enterprise Embers Staffing Solutions (ESS) launched in 2008. For 11 years, ESS has provided temporary and transitional jobs to people facing multiple barriers through low-barrier employment opportunities, helping thousands of individuals transform their lives and, in turn improve the health and safety of the communities in which they reside. ESS is self-sustaining and invests 100% of its profits back into the community through higher hourly wages, equipment and training for workers. In 2018 alone, the organization employed 1,900 people and paid out over $6.5 million in wages and benefits.  

Nominated by Trico Charitable Foundation. 

New Frontiers in Lung Transplant Medicine (Dr. Shaf Keshavjee) 

The Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) System developed by Dr. Keshavjee addresses the shortage of donor lungs needed for life-saving lung transplantation. Transplant surgeons can now objectively assess donor lung function outside of the body for extended periods and then confidently decide whether to use a donor lung for transplant. Since the first clinical trial in 2008, EVLP has been adopted around the world, saving hundreds of lives of patients with end-stage lung disease.  

Nominated by the University Health Network. 

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Law (Dr. John Borrows) 

Through teaching, research, writing and numerous applied projects, Dr. John Borrows has helped transform Canada’s understanding of how Indigenous and non-Indigenous law can co-exist harmoniously. He co-created the world’s first dual Indigenous law program and guides communities in reviving Indigenous legal principles and processes to address today’s challenges. Innovation in law delivers empowerment, better health, economic progress, and renewed cultural vibrancy. Dr. Borrows is Anishinabe, a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation, and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria. 

Nominated by the McConnell Foundation. ​  

Sheertex (Ms. Katherine Homuth – young innovator) 

Ms. Homuth is the Founder and CEO of Sheertex, the company behind the world’s first unbreakable sheer knit. Made with the same type of fibers found in ballistic materials, the Sheertex knit can be used in a variety of high-performance products like the company’s flagship product, sheer pantyhose. Sheertex’s proprietary manufacturing process is bringing new manufacturing jobs to its headquarters in Montreal. 

Nominated by Startup Canada. 


2020 GGIA Selection and Assessment Committees 

 The Governor General’s Innovation Award Selection and Assessment Committees are composed of distinguished individuals chosen for their expertise in and breadth of understanding of the Canadian innovation ecosystem. 

 2020 GGIA Selection Committee: 

  • Heather Munroe-Blum (Committee Chair), Principal Emerita, McGill University and Chairperson, The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board 
  • Charles Deguire, Co-founder and CEO, Kinova Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2016 
  • Chief Clarence Louie, CEO, Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation 
  • Kelly Gillis, Deputy Minister, Infrastructure Canada 
  • Meredith Powell, Venture Partner, Voyager Capital 
  • John Knubley, Senior Business Advisor, InnovAction Advisory Services Inc. 


2020 GGIA Assessment Committee: 

  • Fred Morley (Committee Chair), Founder and Chief Economist, Rising Tide Economics 
  • David Brown, co-founder and COO of Chinova Bioworks, Founder of Mycodev Group and GGIA Laureate 2017 
  • Breanne Everett, physician, President and CEO of Orpyx Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2016 
  • Kamran Khan, physician, Founder of BlueDot Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2018
  • Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research & Innovation OCAD University 
  • Audra Renyi, Executive Director of World Wide Hearing Foundation, Founder of earAccess Inc. and GGIA Laureate 2017 
  • Gena Rotstein, Principal, Karma and Cents 
  • Patricia Francis, Independent Consultant / Archive Coordinator, For the Development of an Archival Complex on The Akwesasne Territory 


The winners were selected in the winter of 2020 and the ceremony will be announced at a later date. 


For media inquiries, contact: 

Mila Pavlovic 

Rideau Hall Foundation 




About the Governor General’s Innovation Awards 

Launched in 2016, the Governor General’s Innovation Awards inspire Canadians to embrace innovation and to emulate innovative, entrepreneurial risk-takers who have developed new or better ways of creating value and who are having a meaningful impact on our quality of life. 

The Awards are given to individuals, teams and/or organizations whose innovations are: 

  • truly exceptional; 
  • transformative; and, 
  • positive in their impact on quality of life in Canada. 

Each year, up to six award winners are identified through a two-stage, merit-based selection process. For more information on the awards, visit 


About the Rideau Hall Foundation 

The Rideau Hall Foundation is an independent and non-political charitable organization established to mobilize ideas, people, and resources across the country to tap into our national spirit and help realize our shared aspirations. The RHF works closely with many partners, including the Office of the Governor General, to connect, honour, and inspire Canadians across four key programmatic areas, including: (1) learning initiatives that strive for excellence and promote equality of opportunity; (2) strengthening Canada’s culture of innovation, (3) widening the circle of giving and volunteering; and (4) building and celebrating excellence in Canadian leadership, and increasing public awareness about and commitment to Canada’s multi-faceted democracy. The RHF manages all aspects of the Governor General’s Innovation Awards.  

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