NSERC Prizes 2017: Maroun Massabki
February 7, 2017
Since 2011, a collaboration between Cégep André-Laurendeau’s Optech technology-transfer centre, led by Maroun Massabki, and Dental Wings has developed fast and precise new tools that help dentists and technicians get their patients smiling again in no time. The partners have been on an innovation streak, quickly moving ideas from concept to marketplace and churning out new products almost as fast as they conceive them. The approach has made Optech and Dental Wings’ partnership a fast-growing Canadian success story. This partnership earned Maroun Massabki one of NSERC's Synergy Awards for Innovation in 2017.
Dental Wings was going through a large transition from its historical base as a dental laboratory supply company for digital tools, transitioning into new devices for dentists. And the most interesting device in digital dentistry for dentists is the ability to 3D scan the patient’s teeth directly. And we were innovating a very interesting new device that had very specific optical requirements. And fortunately for us, right here in Montreal, we found one of the best research institutes that could provide very specific answers with industry-focused knowledge that helped us accelerate our time to market with this project.
Optech is a technology-transfer centre, so it is largely focused on development leading to manufacturing. From the start, the intent in design has been manufacturing. We knew we had to build it. We knew we had to build it at a reasonable cost. We already had guidelines for production costs. So, this team — given that most people on the team had already worked in the private sector, had already worked in production — was already aware of these issues.
And given that the goal of this development is commercialization, it is very important to be aware of client needs and to take them into consideration when developing the product.
We took that technology we developed together with Optech and brought it to the world’s largest dental trade show in an extremely short period of time at a launch in 2015 to huge reviews. So over the last several years, we’ve been growing double digits in terms of revenue and profitability year after year after year.
Being able to work with partners like Optech, learn from experts and then bring that expertise in house, then turn that into jobs for the local community, that’s pretty special.