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Latest Issue:

Number 8

Volume 33 August 21 2019

News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, August 21, 2019: Bio-manufacturing, insurance innovation, women entrepreneurs

The Academic Ranking of World Universities released its list of top 1000 universities worldwide, with four Canadian universities in the top 100: University of Toronto (24), University of British Columbia (35), McGill University (90) and McMaster University (also 90). – ARWU 2019

Genome Ontario has published a proposal to the Strategic Innovation Fund‘s National Ecosystems Stream, to establish a National Synthetic Biology-Enabled, Sustainable Bio-Manufacturing and Bio-Technology Ecosystem in Canada. Together with the Genome Canada Enterprise, the proposed ecosystem would seek to establish Canada as a global leader in novel, industrial scale advanced bio-manufacturing technologies, with a focus on the industrial biotechnology, agriculture and agri-food, and health and biosciences sectors. – Genome Ontario

Bayer is acquiring Blue Rock Therapeutics, a stem cell therapy commercialization venture now headquartered in New York but originally based in Toronto, where it still has offices. Bayer already owned a 40.8 percent stake and will pay US$240 million in cash upfront for the remaining shares, as well as an additional US$360 million payable upon achievement of pre-defined development milestones. – Newswire

The Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) announced the launch of its Innovation and Emerging Technology Advisory Committee, or INNOTECH, to evaluate the application of new and emerging technology and digital innovation in the P&C insurance industry. – Canadian Underwriter

Quebec steel manufacturer Verbom will receive over $960,000 in funding through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) under the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program Steel and Aluminum Initiative to develop production equipment and tools. – Newswire

Innovation Guelph received $1,879,983 from the federal government to expand its Rhyze Project, which helps local women entrepreneurs find venture capital and mentorship. The funding is part of Ottawa’s $2-billion Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy. – BetaKit

Steel manufacturer Stelco will receive almost $50 million in federal funding to modernize its facilities and improve sustainability. The funding joins $451 million in projects that the Hamilton company is undertaking over the next two years, which CEO David Cheney says will add 75 jobs. – CBC

The Ontario government is earmarking $1.2 million for the University of Guelph to fund research into bio-products, waste reduction and recycling technologies. The projects focus on finding replacements for plastic. The money is part of the province’s annual investment of $5.8 million into the Agri-Food Innovation Alliance. – Guelph Mercury

The Tri-council agencies are “looking for a seamless solution” to help manage their research grants and awards. The solution should counter the problems associated with aging systems, out-of-date technology, and inconsistent data architecture. – Twitterbuyandsell.gc.ca


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the creation of a new advisory committee to help promote apprenticeships and skilled trades across Canada. The committee will lead consultations, explore partnerships and provide advice to the federal minister of employment, workforce development and labour. Members named to the committee include Mandy Rennehan, founder and CEO of Freshco, Jamie McMillan, ironworker and founder of Kickass Careers, and Matt Wayland, executive assistant with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. – CTV News

The Government of Canada announced appointments to the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO): Philip Rizcallah as Chief Executive Officer, Paul Claude Bérubé as Chair, and Mary Reid as Vice Chair. CASDO is a new organization that was established by the Accessible Canada Act; its purpose is to develop accessibility standards for the federal jurisdiction. – Newswire

Short Report, August 14, 2019: International research, ocean analytics, smart farm

The Trade Commissioner Service has renamed its Going Global Innovation (GGI) program to CanExport Innovation (CXI). The program offers grants to support the early-stage development of international research partnerships. It is designed to minimize the cost of finalizing relationships where there has already been interest between the research partners. Through CXI, Canadian innovators can access up to 75% of eligible project costs to a maximum $75,000 in non-repayable business grants, typically for targeted trips spanning less than one week abroad. Eligible applicants include small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); universities, colleges, or other academic institutions; and non-governmental research centres. – MentorWorks

Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has officially launched a Sensing, Engineering and Analytics-Technology Access Centre (SEA-TAC), with the help of a $1.75 million investment from the Government of Canada. Located at NSCC’s Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), the centre will offer applied research and problem-solving services to external clients for a fee, allowing them to access capabilities like coastal mapping, subsea imaging, vessel energy audits, data analytics and big data visualization, topo-bathymetric lidar and 3D modelling. – NSCC

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan announced more than $61 million for state-of-the-art research labs and equipment through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). This investment will support 261 projects at 40 universities across Canada. – Newswire

Ottawa is committing nearly $7.5 million in funding for seven projects to support talent attraction, skills development, and digital innovation in Manitoba. The funding includes $2.2 million for the Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba, which received $2,243,972 to establish the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program in Manitoba. Other beneficiaries include Economic Development Winnipeg, New Media Manitoba, Pricerazzi Inc and Tangent Holdings. – Newswire

The federal government is taking a two-pronged approach to supporting Canadian companies, says Navdeep Bains in an interview with the Daily Hive: investing in platforms like the innovation superclusters, and investing in talent, such as by offering access to digital skills training. Bains also attested that that “companies that are really high growth – in the billions of dollars – are staying in Canada.” Looking ahead, Bains is focused on digital transformation and digital transparency. – The Daily Hive

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is awarding $1.9 million in Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) funding for the second phase of the Olds College Smart Farm (OCSF) in Alberta. The funding will enable the smart farm to acquire agricultural equipment and advanced sensor technologies to support its development, testing, validation, and scale-up of agricultural technologies. – Newswire

The Trade Commissioner Service‘s (TCS) cleantech director Jean-Philippe Linteau says that Canada is positioned to lead in cleantech oil and gas innovation. “A key message for you is to remember that Canada is an energy powerhouse, and that we are also a cleantech leader, and so there is no country that is better positioned to be out there leading the transition to the clean resources nexus. This is where we are going and it’s incumbent upon us as Canadians to help the world make that transition,” Linteau told attendees to a Cleantech Global Workshop at the Global Petroleum Show. – JWN


Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains named the directors on the board of Canada’s new College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents: Jeffrey Astle (Associate General Counsel—Intellectual Property for Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp.), Karima Bawa (senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation), Thomas G. Conway (board chair; partner at Conway Baxter Wilson LLP), Ruth McHugh (chief operating officer at the Office of the Auditor General of Alberta) and Douglas B. Thompson (founding partner at Thompson Cooper LLP). The board is tasked with establishing the College, as well as creating a licensing system to govern the profession, which is currently regulated by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. The College will operate as an independent regulator responsible for enforcing a code of professional conduct and implementing requirements for professional development. It is one of the initiatives under Canada’s five-year, $85.3-million Intellectual Property Strategy. – Canada.ca

Data integration and analytics software provider Palantir Technologies announced the appointment of David MacNaughton as president of Palantir Canada. MacNaughton is stepping down as the Canadian Ambassador to the United States at the end of this month. He served in that position since March, 2016 and helped Canada negotiate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2017. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland attributed securing the removal of the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum to MacNaughton’s leadership. MacNaughton’s new role at Palantir will be to build relationships with Canadian organizations that are looking to change how they use and leverage their data. – Financial Post


The Short Report, August 7, 2019: Intelligent communities, advanced wood, cyber security

Montreal came in first for innovation on a ranking of intelligent communities by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). ICF ranks communities by their ability “to generate innovation in business and government for economic but also social and cultural growth.” Their metrics cover innovation programs available in the community; online services provided by local government or public agencies; collaboration among businesses, government and institutions; and projects that seek to develop a self-sustaining innovation ecosystem. Montreal was recognized for its ICT, aerospace, life sciences, health technologies and clean tech clusters, which together contain more than 6,250 companies employing about 10% of the workforce. – ICF

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has announced a new funding program to assess the impact of patient oriented research, or research that engages patients as partners and that focusses on patient-identified priorities. The Patient-Oriented Research Impact Assessment Grants are sponsored by the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), a national coalition of federal, provincial and territorial partners dedicated to the integration of research into care. The total amount available for these grants is $1 million, enough to fund approximately 20 grants. The maximum amount per grant is $50,000 per year for up to one year. – ResearchNet

The government of Canada has announced a $2.5-million investment in the Canadian Wood Council’s Advanced Wood Education Roadmap to promote the benefits and opportunities associated with wood construction. This project will design and implement new Canadian post-secondary learning curricula, resources and tools, as well as work placements. Funding for the project is provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Construction through Wood program. The program aims to position Canada as a world leader in tall wood construction technologies and the low-carbon economy. Plans for wooden skyscrapers are proliferating in Canadian cities, such as the proposal by Sidewalk Labs in Toronto to construct all the buildings from Canadian timber. – Newswire

Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) has announced a new challenge to small businesses, led by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA is looking for a solution that will allow audio and video recordings requested under the the Access to Information Act to be edited automatically so that no individual other than the requestor can be identified on the footage released. – Newswire

The Government of Canada released its National Cyber Security Action Plan for the next five years and relaunched the Cyber Security Cooperation Program with $10.3 million available over five years to support initiatives in the area of cyber security in Canada. The call for proposals will be open from August 7, 2019 to August 28, 2019; proposals will be evaluated by a panel of Government of Canada cyber security experts. – Newswire

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, announced an investment of over $1.5 million to the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning at McGill University, for a project that will test and validate a better approach to fragmenting underground rock deposits using specialized chemicals that expand and break apart rocks without blasting. This project is funded through Natural Resources Canada‘s Clean Growth Program, which invests in clean technology research and development projects in Canada’s energy, mining and forestry sectors. – Newswire

Premier Jason Kenney‘s UCP government has stopped processing applications to an Alberta investor tax credit program that supports investments in sectors like IT, cleantech and healthtech, among others. Justin Brattinga, press secretary for Economic Development Minister Tanya Fir, said the future is uncertain for this and other business tax credits introduced by the NDP government, and indicated that the provincial government has already taken steps to improve competitiveness by cutting the corporate tax rate. – Calgary Herald


Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has appointed its first Departmental Science Advisor, Dr. Shawn J. Marshall from the University of Calgary. Marshall is a professor in the Geography Department and has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, with a focus on glacier-climate processes and glacier response to climate change. Reporting to the Deputy Minister, Marshall’s mandate is to provide specialized advice on fostering a culture of scientific excellence, harnessing opportunities for collaboration, and leveraging external science perspectives on science priorities. He will also participate in senior level interdepartmental discussions on government science, while collaborating with the Chief Science Advisor and other science advisors from other departments and agencies. – R$ Exclusive

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Quebec’s largest pension fund, is seeking a Montreal-based portfolio manager to construct and manage a new $1-2B portfolio of securities dedicated to disruptive business models. The successful candidate will be tasked with a three-part mandate: to invest in disruptive companies, evaluate disruption risks in new investments across CDPQ’s portfolio, and monitor portfolio exposure to risks relating to disruptive technologies. – The Logic (Subscriber), CDPQ

Canada’s chief information officer Alex Benay is leaving his post to become chief client officer at the Ottawa-based firm Mindbridge Analytics Inc., which seeks to transform the auditing industry using AI. In June, the company announced that it had raised $15.1 million in VC financing and secured a federal government funding commitment of $14.5 million to be paid over seven years. “This opportunity was not part of the plan but it’s hard to pass up. The product is maturing, the impact on people is amazing, the team is growing and the money is there,” Benay told the Globe and Mail. During his tenure in government, Benay led the adoption of a “cloud first” strategy, spearheaded the process to find a replacement for the failed Phoenix payroll system, and co-founded the CIO Strategy Council, alongside former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie. – The Globe and Mail


The Short Report, July 31, 2019: Women-led businesses, medical technologies, autonomous greenhouses

Ottawa will invest up to $49.5-million into the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) for the development of AI, robotics and precision agriculture, in order to reduce reliance on temporary labour and improve profitability for Canadian farmers. CAAIN is led by Alberta Innovates, Lakeland College, and the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre out of Ontario. – Lethbridge News Now

Alberta Innovates has put several of its funding programs for entrepreneurs on hold due to uncertainty over the province’s delayed budget. “We are reviewing all funding programs at Alberta Innovates to ensure that they meet these priorities and that these programs are providing the best value for Albertans’ tax dollars,” said press secretary Justin Brattinga. – The Globe and Mail

George Brown College has partnered with robotics companies GlobalDWS and Autonetics Universe to study the potential of service robots on campus. As part of this partnership, George Brown received “Georgie” the Robot, which resides at the Teaching and Learning Exchange (TLX). – George Brown College

The 20 members of the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, announced a platform to fight climate change during its inaugural conference at the University of British Columbia. The universities pledge to accelerate research, lower on-campus emissions and push for progressive climate policy at all levels of government. – Vancouver Sun

A team comprised of researchers from Microsoft Research (MSR) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has won the first international Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge to create an AI greenhouse control system that could grow a successful crop with limited resources and minimal direct human involvement. “Microsoft Research had the AI expertise, but expertise in greenhouse crop science and lighting is also needed for successful crop production. That’s where we came in,” said AAFC’s Dr. Xiuming Hao, advisor to the project. The competition was put on by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands and corporate sponsor Tencent. – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Government of Canada announced investments totalling more than $4.5 million for women-owned or -led businesses in Saskatchewan through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. Businesses receiving funding include Clevor Technologies Inc in Saskatoon and Destination Leadership Inc in Regina. – Newswire

A $20 million proposed project to help healthtech companies commercialize their technologies has received an initial $7 million investment from the federal government. CAN Health Network will enable startups and SMEs to work with early adopter institutions to research and develop medical technologies for market. The project will be spearheaded by Dante Morra, chief of staff of Trillium Health Partners, and Deepak Kaura, chief medical officer of 1QBit. – BetaKit

Carbonix, an Indigenous-led clean technology pilot project for capturing contaminants from industrial waste streams, has received $3.1-million from the federal government through Natural Resources Canada’s $155-million Clean Growth program. – Canadian Mining Journal


Gillian Hadfield has been named the inaugural director of the University of Toronto’s new $100-million Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, and the inaugural Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society. Hadfield re-joined U of T’s Faculty of Law last year after teaching for 17 years at the University of Southern California. Hadfield was a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Her research spans different disciplines and illustrates the centre’s emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. – U of T News

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced the appointment of four new council members: Dr. Susan Chatwood, Scientific Director, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research; Dr. Darren Lawless, Dean of Applied Research and Innovation, Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning; Dr. Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering, McMaster University; and Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Ocean Frontier Institute. The appointments were made under the Government of Canada’s new approach to Governor in Council appointments. – Newswire

Carleton University’s Michael Weiss has received a $560,000 grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), PROMPT and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to develop an Open Source Cyber Fusion Centre. Weiss and colleagues Steven Muegge, professor in the Sprott School of Business, and Tony Bailetti, director of Carleton’s Technology Innovation Management (TIM) Program, will collaborate with industrial partners eGloo and AvanTech, as well as Concordia University.  – Carleton University

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