About Saint Mary's

Saint Mary’s and Missing Link Technologies awarded NSERC CRD Grant

27 September, 2016

Pawan Lingras and Missing Link Technologies

Charles Gervais, President of Missing Link Technologies and Dr. Pawan Lingras, Professor in the Computing Science Department

A partnership between Saint Mary’s University and Missing Link Technologies Ltd. has been awarded a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, Collaborative Research Development (NSERC CRD) Grant.

NSERC CRD Grants are intended to give Canadian companies like Missing Link Technologies access to the knowledge and expertise at Canadian institutions like Saint Mary’s. This funding helps with training students and providing them with applicable skills to work with industry. The NSERC CRD Grant awarded to Saint Mary’s and Missing Link Technologies is for two years and is valued at $82,500.

Thanks to initial consultation with Springboard Atlantic, earlier this year the connection between Saint Mary’s and Missing Link Technologies was made through Saint Mary’s Office of Innovation and Community Engagement (OICE). Kevin Buchan, Director of OICE says that one of the mandates of the office is to help companies and outside organizations access the brainpower within Saint Mary’s.

“It is exciting for us to be working with an innovative and growing company like Missing Link Technologies, and hopefully to be able to play a role in some of their continued success,” he said.

OICE brought together Missing Link Technologies and a small research team led by Dr. Pawan Lingras, a professor in Saint Mary’s Mathematics and Computing Science Department. Dr. Lingras and his team worked on methods to develop an inventory management program that could bridge the gap between Information Technology and data management facilities.

“Inventory management is the key to increasing efficiency in business processes,” said Dr. Lingras.

Missing Link Technologies manages data centers hosting a large number of racks consisting of communication servers. In order to maintain the inventory of servers, an expert needs to physically sift through the racks and make decisions on the reconfiguration of servers. To make this process easier and more efficient Missing Links Technologies and Dr. Lingras’ team will combine advanced image techniques with machine learning to develop an inventory cataloging system.

“A database of images of the server equipment will be used to compare to the servers occupying space on the racks,” explains Dr. Lingras. “An automated system will use this information to improve system performance and at the same time produce feedback to continually improve performance. The system will be able to improve its performance without any required software modifications or external upgrades.”

Missing Link Technologies research has determined that there is currently no comparable production the market to their image based inventory cataloguing system. This will give them a competitive advantage with increased productivity and efficient management of equipment and also lead to more breakthroughs in the future.

This partnership is about more than just developing methods and processes that could revolutionize inventory management. It’s also about integrating the expertise at post-secondary institutions like Saint Mary’s with business and industry.

“Partnerships like this provide a practical perspective on research,” said Dr. Lingras. “Students are exposed to the real world of research and development and by applying research to real-world problems it gives professors more confidence in explaining to their students why the class material is relevant to their careers.”

Charles Gervais, President and owner of Missing Link Technologies also recognizes the importance of the partnership for his business and problem solving.

“This relationship is extremely important as it brings known industry problems to the table,” he said. “These problems are dealt in depth in order to find innovative solutions from experts in the academic sector.  It also helps the students to gain real life experience in order to create jobs for further product development.”