DRAXware, a University of Alberta spinoff company created with the assistance of TEC Edmonton in 2007, has recently struck a new deal with its operating company, the Sherwood Park-based Gemstone Logistics.

The partnership between DRAXware, a software company specializing in industrial project management, and Gemstone Logistics arose out of a need to manage the logistics of booking workers’ transportation and accommodation for large industrial projects. Tom McHale, President & CEO of Gemstone Logistics, used to manage large air transportation programs for oil companies and would encounter issues when trying to fly workers across Canada for major projects.

A fully integrated software solution specifically for the private industrial world simply wasn’t available, so McHale sought to solve the problem. He partnered with DRAXware in 2013 to tackle the travel component and then bought a complementary software company specializing in accommodation management in 2015, which led to the current integrated system, CIRYS, that handles room, flights, and ground transportation.


Partnerships with other companies like DRAXware is allowing the software to become fully integrated: “We are the Expedia for the private industrial charter world,” says Tom.

Though the two companies had a previously existing commercial partnership, Gemstone Logistics recently bought an equity stake in DRAXware. This deeper partnership is allowing the companies to achieve a larger reach and expand uses for the software, using DRAXware’s platform, UniEngine.

The deal resulted from a long standing relationship and synergy between the two companies. “They’re pretty much married,” describes Tom.

“The technology that we used to develop all of our software resided with DRAXware,” says Tom. The ensuing deal solidified an already long-standing relationship.

“DRAXware technologies offered great promise since its inception ten years ago, but when the GTMS product was conceived, the full potential of these technologies started being realized,” says Dr. Simaan Abourizk, Co-Founder and Director of DRAXware and Civil and Environmental Engineering professor at the University of Alberta. “Tom’s vision was critical in pushing DRAXware from a company focused on creating technologies for integrated software solutions to one that backends remarkable software that can generate solutions for the flight management and camp booking industry. This gives us significant focus and would not be possible without the marriage between DRAXware and Gemstone.”

The software is currently being used in large industrial projects throughout Canada and the United States. It’s used to manage travel and accommodation for major oil, gas, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and hydro projects, for example.

In the near future, DRAXware and Gemstone Logistics want to expand their reach within North America and abroad. Last year, they entered into a long-term partnership with American Express Global Business Travel to develop a web-based solution for large corporate clients, obtaining access to new markets while providing an enhanced software solution to clients.

“The goal moving forward, is to consolidate with a singular focus to hit the market with our brand and our product,” McHale says.

TEC Edmonton’s Technology Management team works with regional innovators and companies, as well as serving as the technology transfer agent for the University of Alberta. Technology Management offers patent, trademark and copyright evaluation; IP strategy, protection and licensing; and licensing and commercialization services.