November 22, 2017

2017 Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership Awarded to Professor Xue (Steve) Liu

By Claudia Torregrosa

Prof. Xue (Steve) Liu was awarded the 2017 Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership in the Professor category due to his strong collaboration with TandemLaunch and our portfolio company Aerial.

The Mitacs 2017 Awards were announced on November 21 in Ottawa


Mitacs builds partnerships between academia, industry, government and the world – to create a more innovative Canada. Mitacs Awards is a series of honours that recognize outstanding students and professors who have participated in the Mitacs Accelerate, Elevate, and Globalink programs that allow students to intern in highly innovative companies aligned with their research.

Prof. Liu has been conducting innovative research and product developments as a professor and educator in universities in both the US and Canada. He currently is a Professor and William Dawson Scholar at McGill University where he shares his expertise in big data and data-intensive computing, cyber-physical systems and IoT, machine learning systems and applications, and communication and computer networks and more. Prof. Liu has also been a researcher in corporate research labs, and is a practitioner and entrepreneur in high-tech startups: he is the Chief Scientist at Tinder Inc, a TandemLaunch Fellow, and a Technical Advisor at Aerial.

Aerial is a Montreal-based startup that leverages existing wireless infrastructure and machine learning to give context, meaning and value to motion. Launched in 2015 at TandemLaunch by a team of experts in the fields of wireless communications and artificial intelligence, the company provides a unique cloud-based, low-cost solution able to perform behavior and profile detection for the smart home, home care, security, healthcare and targeted media applications. In July 2017, the startup raised $2.25M and it recently also announced enhanced collaboration with Vidéotron.

Prof. Liu receives the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership as a Professor


Thanks to Mitacs, Aerial, Prof. Liu and his students were able to collaborate on two projects: Wi-Fi based activity recognition and device-free and device-oriented approaches for people’s activity identification using Wi-Fi signals. The collaboration resulted in several papers, including one published at IEEE INFOCOM 2017, as well as 2 provisional patents and 2 PCT applications.

Prof. Liu comments “Through the collaboration with TandemLaunch, Aerial, and Mitacs, not only did the participating students get to work on meaningful real-life problems and were trained to work in industry, but also we were able to expedite the process for knowledge and technology transfer to industry to Aerial.”


Michel Allegue, co-founder and CTO at Aerial, who co-supervised the Mitacs interns, concurs: “Thanks to Mitacs, several PhD students were able to get involved with actual day-to-day data and apply their University education to real life situations. New skills get developed including excellent time management, prototyping and being able to demo results to various audiences. It is also a great opportunity to gain familiarity with programming languages and open source tools used in industry.”


TandemLaunch would like to congratulate both Prof. Liu and Aerial for the award!

Few things are more thrilling to us than witnessing long-term collaboration between academia and industry. We are proud of professors who help bring technology to market like Prof. Liu. Other recent examples include collaboration between Prof. Jim Little and SPORTLOGiQ, as well as between Prof. Geoffrey Fox and C2RO.

We would also like to thank Mitacs for enabling such collaboration: being awarded the 2015 Mitacs Industry Award for Outstanding Leadership as an industry partner is one of our great honors.

Finally, we are constantly looking for entrepreneurial individuals like Michel Allegue from Aerial: if you also want to bring more technologies to market while launching your company, we are always glad to chat about our Entrepreneur in Residence program!


Missed the ceremony? You can watch Prof. Liu short interview after receiving the award.