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Number 5

Volume 32 May 16 2018

Editorial

Policy-making in the public sphere is not for everyone. It’s simply not easy to please everybody, especially if there are voters’ opinions to consider. At the end of the day, however, a decision has to be made, favourable or not to the constituents.

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Innovation stakeholders differ on new IP strategy

The federal government has unveiled details of its eagerly anticipated new intellectual property (IP) strategy to help innovators better protect their intellectual assets, encourage innovation and defend themselves against so-called patent trolls. However, different stakeholders who spoke to RE$EARCH MONEY have different perspectives on what the IP strategy means to the innovation ecosystem, suggesting that one size doesn’t fit all.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Brian Wixted

Research Money ≠ Research Effort

Expenditure-based measures have been the most successful and best used indicator of innovation to date because the data can be collected with minimal effort and maximum accuracy (not perfect) and interpreted without huge complexities.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Pfizer Canada funds MaRS Innovation for health sciences research

Pfizer Canada has contributed $800,000 to MaRS Innovation to support new ideas or technologies in health sciences research in areas of therapeutics, diagnostic and treatment tools, and manufacturing technologies. The MaRS Innovation – Pfizer Translational Research Fund will be managed by MaRS Innovation. Priority projects are in cardiovascular disease, inflammation, immunology, rare diseases, vaccines, and oncology. Through this partnership, Pfizer Canada is boosting its support to health innovation and research in Ontario. John Helou, president of Pfizer Canada, described this as an example of pharmaceutical investment in Canada’s innovation ecosystem that is not currently captured in the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. Despite this, Helou said the company’s commitment is aligned with the new Ontario government action plan to develop the province’s life sciences industry. Pfizer’s approach to fulfill this commitment is to collaborate with academic scientists, patient foundations, governments, biopharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, and organizations such as MaRS Innovation, which is a provider of commercialization services and early-stage funding.

Sanofi to build vaccine facility with government help

Sanofi Pasteur Limited will receive up to $70 million to help construct the 150,000-square-foot Bulk Biologics Facility at the Connaught Campus in Toronto. The governments of Canada and Ontario contributed the amount to help establish the $500-million vaccine-manufacturing facility. Through the Advanced Manufacturing Fund, FedDev Ontario contributed $20 million, which is a repayable contribution. For its part, the Government of Ontario is investing $50 million through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund. Considered as one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, the facility is expected to double the production of Sanofi Pasteur’s life-saving vaccines by 2023, which is the target year of operation. The initiative will also launch the Canadian-researched and -developed pertussis or whooping cough vaccine into more than 30 new global markets. An estimated 1,250 jobs will be created or maintained through this project. Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccines division of Sanofi, which invested $130 million into R&D in Canada in 2016, and whose entities employ close to 1,900 people.

Borealis AI expands to BC

Borealis AI will establish a computer vision research centre in Vancouver by fall. Borealis AI, an RBC Institute for Research, will develop a machine learning subfield that trains computers to see, process and understand the visual world even as computer vision is new to the financial services industry. Professor Greg Mori, computing science director of Simon Fraser Univ, will be the lab’s research director. An internationally recognized expert in computer vision, Mori will be joined by Univ of British Columbia professor Leonid Sigal who will work as academic advisor. While at Borealis AI, Mori and Sigal will continue teaching in their universities. Mori’s research includes semantic segmentation or a series of machine learning techniques that seek to label every object in a natural image down to the pixel level. Sigal’s research focuses on the challenges of visual understanding and reasoning. By providing a varied landscape and focusing on green living, Vancouver is also viewed as an ideal location for Borealis AI to expand its research to environmental science. Borealis AI was established by RBC in 2016 and has other labs in Toronto/Waterloo, Edmonton and Montreal.

Sophia awes at OCE Discovery 2018

The Discovery 2018 Conference wrapped up in Toronto, ON last May 1. The annual event organized by the Ontario Centres for Excellence (OCE) brought together technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all over the world. Over 500 exhibitors and 3,000 participants attended the two-day event, which showcased Ontario as a hotbed of innovation and excellence.Featured at the conference this year were some of the latest developments in robotics, aerospace, autonomous vehicles and advanced mobility, as well as advanced applications in healthcare, clean-tech, wearable technology, artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR).The keynote speakers were global media sensation Sophia, a humanoid robot, and her creator, Dr David Hanson, who appeared via hologram, and Megan Smith, former chief technology officer of the United States who served under former President Barrack Obama. Sophia is the first robot to be granted “citizenship,” and in her first visit to Canada, she spoke about the need for collaboration between humans and machines to create a prosperous future for all and to allay the unfounded fears of a robot rebellion. Megan Smith shared her thoughts about how new developments in digital infrastructure such as 5G, AI and other technologies were allowing people to improve their quality of life.

 

Cisco supports Humber College’s applied research with $4M in equipment

Cisco Canada is providing Humber College with $4 million in equipment and infrastructure to allow faculty, students and industry to work together on projects related to cyber, network communication and collaborative digital technologies. The partnership that’s good for over five years will support Humber’s applied research network and activities. The audio-visuals systems using Cisco Webex technology will be installed throughout the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (CTI) at Humber’s North Etobicoke campus. The Cisco Digital Transformation Zone, through the CTI, will showcase how the integration of automation and data exchange into manufacturing technologies can enhance operations of small and medium-sized enterprises. For its part, Humber will demonstrate at the Cisco Innovation Centre in downtown Toronto the influence of technology on the education and training approaches of the community college. Chris Whitaker, president of Humber, describes the collaboration as an example of how the polytechnic education model links industry with faculty and students in utilizing emerging technologies to address business challenges. Aside from technological support, Cisco will offer internships and post-graduation employment opportunities for Humber students, and $50,000 in scholarships.

CABHI funds projects that help dementia patients, their caregivers

More than $7.6 million has been announced to support the development and validation testing of 53 new innovations seeking to help dementia patients and their caregivers, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) announced recently. Part of the funding is for a localized area alert system for missing persons with dementia, assessment of the use of smart-home technologies to support caregivers and older adults at home with dementia, and an augmentative and alternative communication system designed to replace spoken communication for non-verbal individuals. Led by Baycrest Health Sciences, CABHI has supported the acceleration of healthcare and technology-based innovations by point-of-care staff, researchers and companies. The projects got support from CABHI’s programs, including the Spark Program, the Industry Innovation Partnership Program, and the Researcher-Clinician Partnership Program. CABHI emerged out of the largest investment in brain health and aging in Canadian history. Formed in 2015, it is a collaboration of health care, science, industry, not-for-profit and government partners whose aim is to help improve quality of life for the world’s aging population. The home of CABHI is the Univ of Toronto-affiliated Baycrest, which is globally recognized in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education.

People

Jackie Dawson

Dr Jackie Dawson has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA). She is the Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society and Policy (Tier II), and associate professor in geography at the Univ of Ottawa. She has a master’s degree from the Univ of Otago School of Business (tourism), a PhD in geography from the Univ of Waterloo, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Univ of Guelph. Her primary areas of research are Arctic shipping, Arctic economic development, and coastal communities and climate change. Dawson became a member of the CCA’s expert panel on the social and economic value of marine shipping to Canada, which produced the 2017 report titled The Value of Commercial Marine Shipping to Canada. Dawson also participated in a workshop on the CCA’s 2016 report titled Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada.

Sarah Watts-Rynard

Sarah Watts-Rynard is the next CEO of Polytechnics Canada effective July 30, 2018. She will succeed Nobina Robinson who is retiring after nine years of service. Currently serving as executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF), Watts-Rynard has been credited for increasing public appreciation of the skilled trades in Canada and for engaging with education and industry partners to make CAF the premier research body for apprenticeship. Polytechnics Canada expects that her experience in communications and research will help its members raise awareness of the socioeconomic benefits of applied, advanced education. Watts-Rynard views Canadian post-secondary education as more than just a choice between college or university and stresses that polytechnic education blends classroom and work-integrated learning in a way that suits labour market demands. She sees Polytechnics Canada as a voice for the polytechnic system, ensuring that levels of government and the Canadian public are made aware of the significant role Canada’s polytechnics play for the economy and learners.

R$ 32/5