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CAPI report fleshes out targets and actions required to make Canada a globally competitive agriculture and agri-food superpower

Last year’s Barton panel report on the agri-food sector continues to resonate with additional consultation and analysis of its recommended policies and actions aimed at sustainably boosting exports to $75 billion by 2025.

The Canadian Agri-food Policy Institute (CAPI) launched a series of workshops to determine what specific actions are required to achieve the sector’s export objectives with a subsequent report – Barton Forward: Optimizing Growth in the Canadian Agri-Food Sector – posing and answering four key questions:

Innovation Conversations: Q&A with CDRD president and CEO Gordon C. McCauley

Vancouver-based Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is an 11-year-old organization that helps “bridge” scientific discoveries and commercialization in the life sciences sector. RE$EARCH MONEY spoke to CDRD president and CEO Gordon C. McCauley about how it is helping companies scale up and its strategy for attracting capital in a sector that is growing exponentially but is perceived to be risky.

TRIUMF business arm looking into broader industry collaborations

Can science and business fruitfully cohabitate? It’s possible. And it’s happening in a Vancouver university campus where physicists can be found hard at work on their cyclotron particle accelerator in one room while industry people are in another room testing for radiation particles. These are common-day activities in TRIUMF, one of Canada’s large-scale research facilities, which is home to hundreds of researchers from academia, other research institutes and industry from across Canada and around the world.

No STI minister in Ontario cabinet

The newly elected Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has eliminated research and innovation as a separate ministry as it unveiled its slimmed-down 21-person Cabinet.

Canada invests $12M to participate in CERN research

The federal government is providing $10 million to build new specialized equipment at the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dominic Barton

The Univ of Waterloo has appointed international business adviser Dominic Barton as its 11th chancellor.

Denise Amyot

Denise Amyot will continue to lead Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) as president and CEO. Amyot’s contract was renewed for a second five-year term by the CICan board of directors and announced at its Annual General Membership meeting on June 19.

Dr Michael J. Strong

Dr Michael J. Strong has been appointed the new president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) effective October 1.

Latest Issue:

Number 6

Volume 32 June 20 2018

Editorial

In the last few weeks, Canada has been in the global spotlight with its focus on science, technology and innovation (STI). Canada hosted the G7 leaders summit this year where two of the five themes were related to STI.

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G7 leaders commit to STI concerns

G7 Leaders have committed to act on key issues brought to their attention by the science, technology and innovation (STI) community, particularly around artificial intelligence (AI) and climate change. However, the US stayed away from any further climate change commitments, while Canada’s STI stakeholders are asking for action beyond signatures on a piece of paper.

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PC majority vague on STI plans

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives (PCs) are set to govern come June 29, but it remains to be seen what the new leadership will mean to science, technology and innovation in the province.

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CATALIS welcomes new partners

The CATALIS Quebec Clinical Trials initiative has announced new public partners and industry funding as it moves closer to its goal of doubling private sector investment in the province’s early stage clinical trials (ESCT) and providing patients early access to innovative healthcare.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Douglas Ruth

Engineering Design: The Neglected Link in the Innovation Chain

A large number of policy statements and reports on innovation have been published by the federal government over the last 20 years. These studies all reached the same conclusion – Canadians are exceptional at generating new ideas but very poor at converting these ideas into economically beneficial activities.

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Reports: Q1 2018 records strong VC interest, but PE growth ‘slow’

Investments in innovative companies were up in the first quarter of 2018 (Q1/18) across several sectors with venture capital funds leading the way, according to two new reports on Canadian activity. However, when it comes to private equity investments, one report indicates that investments were relatively slow but still bigger in value.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Bank of Canada teams up with CDL on new tech for financial services

The Bank of Canada will team up with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) to learn more about emerging technologies and their applications in financial services. In line with its 2019–2021 Medium-Term Plan, the Bank forged the partnership to keep abreast of developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, crypto currencies and quantum computing. The partnership with CDL, Univ of Toronto’s start-up program, will also help the Canadian central bank learn how the new technologies can strengthen innovation in their own operations, and help in their research and analysis. The Bank plans to deepen its learning by inviting experts to share their knowledge with Bank staff. Over a three-year period, the Bank, as an AI stream partner, will work with CDL-Toronto and CDL-Montreal.

Science minister Duncan meets with CRCC for updates

Science minister Kirsty Duncan met with members of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) this June to outline her expectations for the committee created in fall 2017 to harmonize research initiatives among federal granting agencies. Duncan’s office said the meeting was held in Ottawa where she made clear her expectations of the CRCC, how it is engaging with the research community, ongoing collaboration and operating in an open, transparent and collaborative manner. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of Health, also weighed in on the CRCC’s ongoing work. Taylor and Duncan penned an open letter to CRCC outlining their mandate. In light of Duncan’s recent meeting with the CRCC, Taylor said she is expecting the committee to bring about transformative and lasting change to empower Canada’s researchers to fulfill their ambitions. Aside from coordinating research, the CRCC is also mandated to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in the research community, and work with Indigenous communities to develop interdisciplinary Indigenous research. The committee is composed of the heads of the three granting agencies who will head the CRCC on a rotating basis, starting with the president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The committee also includes the heads of Canada Foundation for Innovation, National Research Council, the Chief Science Advisor, and the DMs of Health Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Last May, the CRCC chair outlined the committee’s progress in an interview with RE$EARCH MONEY.

Quebec tools company gets federal, provincial support to acquire equipment

Clortech Tools, a small and mid-sized family-owned company in Quebec, has received a total of $812,500 from the federal and provincial governments to add to their project investment to acquire equipment that will increase their production capacity. A repayable contribution of $250,000 will come  from the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. The Quebec government will provide $562,500 in loans from its ESSOR program and from Investissement Québec. These funds, which boosted project investment to $1.3 million, are intended to help the innovative manufacturing sector.  The funds are to acquire eight-axis numerically controlled grinding machine to serve Clortech’s clientele in the aerospace, marine, military, automobile and pharmaceutical sectors. Among its clients are Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney.

Toronto hosts Samsung’s second AI centre in North America

Samsung Research America (SRA) will establish an AI centre in Toronto’s downtown core at MaRS Discovery District. The AI centre seeks to hasten the adoption of AI using machine-learning technology on multiple devices — ranging from household gadgets and appliances to vehicles — with the goal of reducing friction between the user and the device. The Toronto AI centre joins a network of similar centres also announced recently in the UK and Russia. It is the second AI centre to be established in North America, the other one being in Mountain View, California. The Toronto team will work in partnership with the company’s Silicon Valley team. Dr Sven Dickinson, computer vision technologies expert and past chair of the Department of Computer Science at the Univ of Toronto, will head the Toronto centre. He is expected to play an important part in Samsung’s research on core AI technologies that entail language, vision and other multi-modal interactions. A key factor in choosing Southern Ontario to host the AI centre is the availability of talent, particularly AI researchers at the Univ of Toronto and Univ of Waterloo, which both have longstanding relationships with Samsung. Other considerations by Samsung for its location at MaRS Discovery District are stronger collaboration with regional start-ups and enlargement of the present ecosystem, and the encouraging environment by the MaRS community itself of cross-disciplinary collaboration ending in breakthrough discoveries and solutions.

BC invests $125M in tech, innovation opportunities

The provincial government of British Columbia is investing more than $125.1 million in the next three years to support its technology and innovation sectors, primarily through talent development for research, entrepreneurship and job opportunities. The biggest investment — at $102.6 million through the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) — will support 75 post-secondary research projects. The fund helps build up the talent pool through state-of-the-art research equipment and infrastructure. The province is also allotting $12 million for graduate scholarships in science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for the next three years. This fund also helps support Indigenous students and regional programs. There’s also $10.5 million for co-op and entrepreneurship training for post-secondary students. Aside from providing funds, BC is also expanding its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot, which seeks to attract top international talent by allowing for priority processing of applications for jobs such as biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers. BC’s investments are also encouraging women to get into STEM. The province said it would invest in women-in-technology scholarships but did not specify any financial commitments for this initiative. In boosting support for the technology sector, BC Premier John Horgan noted in his announcement that the sector has over 10,000 companies that employ more than 106,000 people. The BC government said it will unveil a province-wide tech strategy next year.

Feds pay for innovative training solutions for aerospace, defence

The federal government is putting in $7.6 million to support a $19-million project that will help design and develop training and simulation products for use in aerospace and defence. The repayable investment being made through the Strategic Innovation Fund will be provided to Bluedrop Performance Learning Inc., a company that provides simulation technology, simulators and training programs to these sectors. The funds will help the company incorporate gaming and mobile technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, to improve the use of artificial intelligence in its products. The government support will create or maintain more than 200 jobs, and help improve cost-effective training systems for the safety of air and marine crews. Bluedrop Training and Simulation Inc., a division of Bluedrop Performance Learning, was founded in 2012 and is based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, but the project will be based at its location in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

People

Mitacs Entrepreneur Awardees

Mitacs recently recognized seven researchers and alumni who have become entrepreneurs. Each awardee of the 2018 Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards is either a former Mitacs intern, postdoctoral fellow or training participant. They will each receive $25,000 for their groundbreaking industry contributions. The awardees are environmental entrepreneurs Maxim Bergeron and Mathieu Kirouac, co-founders of Quebec City-based Glacies Technologies; outstanding entrepreneur Calvin Cheng, co-founder of Edgehog; social entrepreneur Erin Goldberg, co-founder of Winnipeg-based ViTal Functional Foods; global impact entrepreneur Alli Murugesan, founder of Saint John-based BioHuntress Therapeutics; change agent entrepreneur Roger Mah, co-founder of Calgary-based ZoraMat Solutions; and honourable mention Ghalia Baki, co-founder of Lumbrick.

Fom left to right: Alejandro Adem, Ghalia Baki, Erin Goldberg, Natacha Mainville on behalf of Calvin Cheng, Alli Murugesan, Maxim Bergeron, and Mathieu Kerouac. (CNW Group/Mitacs Inc.)

 

Jean-Charles Fahmy

The Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN), an industry-led consortium helping accelerate the commercialization of next generation communications solutions, announced the appointment of a new CEO, Jean-Charles (JC) Fahmy, effective June 4. Fahmy is an alumnus of McGill Univ (MBA) and Univ of Ottawa (BASc in Electrical Engineering). He has more than 20 years of industry experience, most recently as VP for product management and business development at Coriant, an independent telecommunications company doing networking solutions. He has also held senior leadership positions in other telecommunications companies and private equity, including Nortel Networks, BTI Systems and Marlin Equity Partners. The CENGN consortium includes big telecommunications and networking companies, academic institutions and researchers working with  small and mid-sized firms. It is a federally funded Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). It also gets support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). As CENGN CEO, Fahmy is tasked to manage the day-to-day operations of the not-for-profit, and lead and direct a team of over 30 engineering, technical, and professional staff. He also acts as the chief ambassador who engages with stakeholders, the R&D ecosystem, and the information and communication technology sector.

Sue Paish

Sue Paish has been appointed CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster (DTS), one of five industry-led groups funded by the federal government under the Innovation Superclusters Initiative. She will take on the responsibility of building and leading the supercluster that will put BC and Canada in the global forefront of the digital economy. Paish served as president and CEO of LifeLabs Diagnostic Laboratories from 2012. Under her leadership, LifeLabs bought two major diagnostic laboratory operators and expanded to become BC’s fourth largest technology company. Paish led the forging of a partnership with GenXys Health Care Systems to offer advanced precision healthcare based on individual genetic profiles. She has thus been credited for initiating integration of new technologies and advancements while ensuring high-quality outcomes. Paish is expected to exact the maximum from the huge potential of the DTS, with its more than 350 member-organizations, in data analytics, quantum computing and virtual mixed and augmented reality.

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