On the beam: Nelson firm captures worldwide markets

April 29, 2009— Nelson, British Columbia

Dehnel - Particle Accelerator Components and Engineering, Inc. (D-PACE)

Around the world, laboratories dedicated to the most sophisticated work in physics offer dazzling displays of hardware. Researchers are dwarfed by huge rooms filled with gleaming metal gantries and towers, packed with all manner of devices linked by intricate webs of wiring. To the casual observer it raises at least one question: where does all this high-tech equipment come from?

D-Pace staff with their NSERC
Synergy Award for Innovation.

Some of it comes from Nelson, in the mountains of southeastern British Columbia. This small town is home to Dehnel - Particle Accelerator Components and Engineering, Inc. (D-Pace), which provides products and consulting services to places like particle accelerator facilities.

Morgan Dehnel founded the company in 1995 after completing his doctoral work in Vancouver at TRIUMF, Canada's leading centre for work in particle and nuclear physics. Home to the world's largest cyclotron where charged particles are manipulated for various scientific and medical applications, TRIUMF was one of D-Pace's first clients and remains its most important, even as the company has expanded into the international marketplace.

Dehnel and his colleagues design and build specialized items such as vacuum chambers, electromagnetic equipment for generating charged molecules (ions) and systems for directing particles in the form of a beam. After establishing its expertise with the commercial accelerator industry in Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe, D-Pace began to diversify its activities by licensing technology developed at TRIUMF.

This collaborative technology transfer earned D-Pace and TRIUMF a Synergy Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council in 2007. Much of this work was made possible by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), which has regularly supported the company in its research and marketing efforts.

NRC-IRAP is a federal initiative offering a range of both technical and business-oriented advisory services along with potential financial support to growth-oriented small- and medium-sized Canadian enterprises. Delivered by an extensive integrated network of Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs), a group of some 240 professionals in 100 communities across the country, the program supports innovative research, development and commercialization of new products and services.

Most recently, NRC-IRAP enabled D-Pace to hire an intern, who played a key role in creating commercially viable equipment for customers in Europe. The company is looking forward to a new partnership with Selkirk College, aimed at constructing a local test facility for some of the company's products.

Dehnel acknowledges the contribution of NRC-IRAP in helping D-Pace compete on a global stage, even as a firm with fewer than 10 employees located far from any major city.

"NRC-IRAP has helped us tremendously. Assistance from the program has allowed us to keep up with market requirements and to develop a wider platform of products and services that we are able to offer to our clients," says Dehnel. "NRC-IRAP's programs have enabled us to learn more about our markets and business in general - skills and knowledge without which we would not be effective and successful."

Enquiries: Media relations


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