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Number 6

Volume 33 June 19 2019

Editorial

Two leading life sciences innovation organizations are merging to provide the scale and depth Canada’s industry needs to compete globally.

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Emerging Tech: Creating a Quantum Canada

Seed-stage companies are bolstering Canada’s position as a global leader in quantum science and technology. The question of how to maintain and grow that advantage—built through sustained investment in quantum research and development—has never been more urgent and is preoccupying academics, policymakers and innovators across the country.

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Opinion Leader

Canada needs small-scale vaccine manufacturing to support research, and help save human and animal lives

The lack of affordable small-scale manufacturing has been a persistent challenge for Canadian researchers, and a gap in the country’s biomedical landscape.

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News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, June 19, 2019 – Research chairs, cybersecurity, Strategic Innovation Fund

Science and Sports minister Kirsty Duncan has announced over $275 million for 346 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 52 institutions across Canada. It was the most gender diverse competition yet: 47% women, 22% visible minorities, 5% persons with disabilities, and 4% Indigenous peoples. The Canada Foundation for Innovation is contributing another $5.2 million for research infrastructure, supporting 30 chairs at 18 institutions. – GoC

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is granting $31.6 million, and the Alzheimer Society of Canada and other partners are contributing $14.4 million more, to support Phase II of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, a national hub for collaborative research on dementia. The five-year funding will support an ambitious research program, including a large-scale study evaluating the effectiveness of new approaches to dementia prevention. – GoC

The federal government made two new awards under the Strategic Innovation Fund. Ottawa-based MindBridge Analytics Inc. will receive $14.5 million to support a $140.8-million, seven-year project to develop an AI-powered software tool to help companies better analyze their data. Energy utilities, for example, might use the platform to analyze power grid data to better observe patterns, improve efficiency and reduce energy use. – Newswire

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada is the latest winner under the federal Strategic Innovation Fund’s Stream 5—National Ecosystems. The AIAC will receive up to $49 million “to establish a national aerospace innovation ecosystem that will take on the technological challenges of the industry, accelerate the commercialization of new and improved products, and create more highly skilled jobs for Canadians”. The government recently opened a new competition under Stream 5 related to large-scale, collaborative innovative initiatives. Applications are accepted on a continuing basis; there are no submission deadlines. – GoC, Newswire

In related news, the AIAC released its Vision 2025 report at the Paris Air Show June 17. The report recommends six key priorities for prosperity, and identifies several areas for collaboration to increase the sector’s competitiveness. – AIAC

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded a $30-million contract to Honeywell for the design and implementation phases of its Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission—the culmination of a series of research and technology development activities undertaken by the Institute for Quantum Computing. Honeywell will build, test, deliver, provide training for and commission the QEYSSat satellite, which will create a secure link between ground and space to transmit encryption keys. The work is expected to extend until the end of 2022. – GoC

FedDev Ontario is investing $10 million in Ryerson University’s Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst—a new national centre for innovation and collaboration in cybersecurity in Brampton. With an additional $20 million from Rogers Communications, Royal Bank of Canada and the City of Brampton, the Catalyst will offer specialized training programs in the cybersecurity sector, establish 40 partnerships, and provide commercialization support to 60 companies as part of a new small business accelerator. – GoC

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has awarded 17 new Technology Access Centres (TAC) to colleges and cégeps, bringing to 47 the number of applied research and development centres across Canada. One of the recipients, Loyalist College in Belleville, ON, received $1.75 million to launch the country’s first TAC for natural products and cannabis. Six TACS were also renewed for another five years. – Newswire

Over $73 million will be dispersed to help 90 college researchers partner with local employers to translate research into new technologies to help businesses grow. Funding will also go towards specialized equipment to help companies develop local solutions to pressing issues in their regions. Funding was provided through the College and Community Innovation Program and College-Industry Innovation Fund. – Newswire

Intellijoint Surgical, a Waterloo-ON medical device company, is spearheading the launch of Canada’s first industry-led hub dedicated to scaling southern Ontario medtech start-ups. Opening in June, the Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX) will occupy 2,787 square metres of the Kitchener building with Intellijoint as its anchor tenant. The hub can house about 200 people. – Newswire

The pan-Canadian Consortium for Industrial Research and Innovation in Medical Technology, MEDTEQ, has announced the first recipients from its $14-million investment fund, which aims to mature technologies, accelerate innovation and de-risk companies. Co-investors include Anges-Québec, Anges-Québec Capital, Innovacorp, Real Ventures and others. The funding recipients are: Densitas (Halifax); MIMs (My Intelligent Machines) (Montreal); My01 (Montreal); Optina Diagnostics (Montreal); Saccade Analytics (Montreal); Spinologics (Montreal); Spring Loaded Technology (Halifax); and THORASYS (Montreal). – Newswire

A $5-million gift to Toronto’s Sinai Health System will fund the new Dovigi Family Sports Medicine Clinic and a research chair in sports medicine. The donation was made by entrepreneur and former NHL player Patrick Dovigi, founder and CEO of GFL Environmental Inc. – Newswire

The National Research Council and the University of Waterloo have launched the Collaboration on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Cybersecurity. Housed on the University of Waterloo campus, the new hub brings together 20 researchers and students from the NRC and UWaterloo. – GoC

Access to talent is the main reason Canadian companies have been slow to adopt artificial intelligence, according to a new report from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University. The skills gap includes “technical, managerial, and translation talent required to support the effective development, implementation, and use of fundamental AI infrastructure, develop effective business strategies, calculate risk, manage business processes, and identify and address unintended consequences.” – Brookfield Institute

Canada has earned the dubious distinction, along with Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia, and South Africa, for having a weak intellectual property regime that inhibits innovation, concludes a new report from the Global Trade & Innovation Policy Alliance, a global network of independent think tanks based in Washington DC. The report questions whether the federal government’s new IP strategy, launched in 2018, will actually strengthen IP rights, noting “that’s where the Canadian government’s IP strategy should have been focused first and foremost”. – GTIPA

Toronto-based fintech company Borrowell has raised $20 million in Series B funding, bringing its total raised in equity to $36.7 million. The company also reached more than a million users, which Borrowell claims now makes it Canada’s largest consumer fintech company. – Borrowell

APPOINTMENTS

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has recruited an international team of scientists at the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics, which is moving into a new open-concept space at CAMH’s College Street location in Toronto. Team members are: Dr. Shreejoy Tripathy (USA), leading the Computational Genomics team; Dr. Etay Hay (Israel), leading the Brain Circuit Modelling team; Dr. John Griffiths (UK), leading the Whole Brain Modelling team; Dr. Andreea Diaconescu (Romania), leading the Cognitive Network Modelling team; Dr. Leon French (Canada), leading the Integrative Neuroanatomy team; Dr. Daniel Felsky (Canada), leading the Whole Person Modelling team; and Dr. Joanna Yu (Canada), Senior Project Manager of the BrainHealth Databank initiative. – CAMH

Dr. Nicholas Vukotic, principal scientist at Proto Mfg., is the University of Windsor’s new Industrial Research Chair in X-ray Diffraction and Crystalline Materials. The $3.7-million research partnership is jointly funded by UWindsor, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Proto Mfg., a Windsor company that manufactures X-ray diffraction instrumentation and provides laboratory services to companies around the globe. – UWindsor

The Short Report, June 12, 2019 – artificial intelligence, tech demos, cybersecurity

Gaming company Unity Technologies is expanding its operations in Montreal with a new artificial intelligence lab. More than new 450 hires are expected over the next few years, including artificial intelligence experts, developers and engineers. – Newswire

The federal government is awarding $50-million to three private equity funds under the clean tech stream of its Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative. The winners are: Renewal FundsCycle Capital Management and ArcTern Ventures. – GoC

The federal government is investing $10 million over five years, matched by the BC Women’s Health Foundation, to support cervical cancer research led by Dr. Gina Ogilvie and her team at the Women’s Health Research Institute, and her colleagues at the Gynecological Cancer Initiative. Researchers will study human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and screening methods and work to implement their findings nationally. – GoC

The fifth stream of the Strategic Innovation Fund has been launched to support industrial research and technology demonstration, with the goal of accelerating commercializing and scaling up businesses in Canada’s most innovative sectors. Funding will support collaborations between large and smaller companies, academia, non-profits, accelerators and incubators. – GoC

Sixteen consumer-interest R&D projects will receive more than $3 million over two years under a federal program managed by the Office of Consumer Affairs. – GoC

Dawson College will spend over $1 million in a new artificial intelligence initiative, which includes: peer-to-peer mentoring for faculty; the development of AI teaching materials; research funding for AI and machine learning, ethics of AI, and digital humanities; development of programs of study; professional development, knowledge sharing and networking; hiring of external consultants; and licensing cloud based computing engines for AI programing. A new Dawson AI Advisory Board will help guide the project. – Dawson College

The National Research Council of Canada and the University of New Brunswick have opened the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity-NRC Cybersecurity Collaboration Consortium in Fredericton, NB. Some 50 researchers and students from both institutions will conduct cybersecurity research for critical infrastructure with a focus on internet of things security, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and natural language processing. – GoC

More than 200 women entrepreneurship projects will receive up to $100,000 each under the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, which recently saw its federal funding increase from $20 million to $30 million. To date, 107 projects have been funded and more will be listed as announcements are made. – ISED

The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, led by Baycrest in Toronto, and Tokyo-based SOMPO Digital Lab, are partnering with companies globally to test, validate, disseminate, adopt, and scale promising innovations to assist older adults living with dementia and their caregivers. SOMPO operates innovation hubs in Tokyo, Silicon Valley, and Tel Aviv. – Newswire

Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal today have signed an agreement to launch a double bachelor of business administration (B.B.A.) and bachelor of engineering (B.Eng.) degree starting in 2021. The program—a first for Canada—will ensure engineering graduates also have strong management, entrepreneurial and communications skills. – Polytechnique

Appointments

Spectrum Therapeutics, Smiths Falls ON, has appointed Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller as global clinical scientific director. The former director of cannabinoid research at Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Bonn-Miller brings 18 years of experience researching cannabinoids and their various effects, including leading or contributing to 19 clinical trials. – Newswire

Vancouver-based Pasha Brands Ltd., Canada’s largest organization of craft cannabis brands, has brought aboard a chief scientific officer to ensure cannabis it purchases is of high quality and traceable. Dr. Brigitte Simons is an expert in technical quantitative reporting using mass spectrometry to deliver accurate potency and testing of cannabis products. For over 16 years, she operated mass spectrometers for the U.S. National Institutes of Health and contracted partners of Canadian federal and provincial government agencies. – Newswire

Dr. Neil Owens, director of scientific affairs at Medicure Inc., will take over as the Winnipeg pharmaceutical company’s president and chief operating officer effective July 1. Current president Dr. Albert Friesen will continue as CEO and board chair. – Newsiwre

Science minister Kirsty Duncan has appointed six new members to the National Research Council Canada Council: Dr. Susan Blum, associate VP Research and Innovation, Saskatchewan Polytechnic; Norma Beauchamp, former president/CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Canada; Dr. Steven Murphy, president, University of Ontario Institute of Technology; Dr. Karen Bakker, Canada Research Chair in Political Ecology, University of British Columbia; Ray Hoemsen, president and Managing Director, NEXUS Manitoba and executive director, Research Partnerships and Innovation, Red River College; and Dr. Pierre Rivard, founder and executive chair, TUGLIQ Energy. – GoC

Five new members have been appointed to the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Dr. Jeannie Shoveller, research director, BC Centre on Substance Use; Don Ferguson, former deputy minister of Health for New Brunswick; Debbie Fischer, executive associate, KPMG; Dominic Giroux, president/CEO, Health Sciences North and the Health Sciences North Research Institute; and, Dr. Brianne Kent, postdoctoral research fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. – GoC

Dr. Anthony Clarke starts a five-year term as dean of science at Wilfrid Laurier University beginning August 1. Clarke is currently a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph. – WLU

CANARIE has launched an open call for applications for its board of directors. Two candidates are being sought: a researcher at a Canadian higher education institution and a VP Research at a Canadian university. To apply, visit CANARIE’s Board of Directors page.

CanWIT (Women in Tech), a division of CATAAlliance, has named Suzanne Grant, CEO of Stealth Company in Ottawa, to its board as Executive in Residence to help advance advocacy for women in tech. – CATA

People

The Short Report – May 29, 2019: CRCC progress report, poultry research, bio-refinery

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee has released its first progress report, highlighting accomplishments to date on five priority areas: interdisciplinary, international, high-risk/high-rewards, rapid response research; key emerging research areas; equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); Indigenous research; and, the needs of early career researchers (ECR). Activities over the coming year include: calls for applications under the New Frontiers in Research Fund; implementation of tri-agency EDI and ECR action plans; co-development of new models to support Indigenous research and training. – SSHRC

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency want to see SSH research play a bigger role in informing best practices related to environmental and impact assessments for major natural resource-sector and infrastructure projects such as mines and pipelines. Up to 13 Knowledge Synthesis Grants worth up to $30,000 will be awarded to identify the current state of knowledge and gaps. – SSHRC

The Saskatchewan government is renewing its support to the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation with $11.6 million over five years, bringing the province’s total funding for the centre to $45.4 million since 2012. The centre funds research in nuclear medicine, materials science, nuclear energy systems, and environmental and social topics related to nuclear technology. USask

The federal government is investing up to $8.24 million to the Canadian Poultry Research Council under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Program Clusters program. The funding, in addition to $3.78 million from industry, is expected to result in the development of alternatives to antibiotics through research on antimicrobial use and resistance, as well as healthier and safer products by the poultry food chain. – GoC

The Natural Resources Canada‘s Clean Growth Program is providing $2 million to FPInnovations for a thermomechanical pulp bio-refinery that opened this month in Thunder Bay, ON in partnership with Resolute Forest Products Inc. With the capacity to treat 100 metric tons of biomass annually, the $23-million pilot plant will use FPInnovation’s patented TMP-Bio technology to convert wood sugars to biomaterials, such as wood adhesives, animal feed and composites. – FPInnovations, Newswire

The Office of the Chief Science Advisor is seeking candidates for a potential Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council (CSA-YC), open to youth between the ages of 18 and 30 interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and their societal dimensions. The council’s mandate is to provide a youth perspective, identify and inform key issues and challenges facing the Canadian science community, and advise on and take part in outreach activities of the Office of the Chief Science Advisor. – Application

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is creating an external Advisory Committee on Aquaculture Science, in response to the 2018 Report of the Independent Expert Panel on Aquaculture Science led by Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer. The five-member committee will be comprised of one Canadian scientist, two international scientists, one Indigenous Canadian representative, and one member at large. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is now accepting nominations and expressions of interest for these positions. – GoC

Natural Products Canada, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, has signed a memorandum of understanding with New Frontiers in Food, a cluster of food-focused companies and organizations in Europe that is fast-tracking the development of innovative food technologies. Canada is one of several countries in the cluster, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain – NPC

The Canadian Defence and Security Network officially launched on May 24 to create stronger linkages between academic scholars and defence scientists. Led by Dr. Stephen Saideman at Carleton University, the centre will focus on five research themes – defence procurement, military personnel, operations, security, and civil-military relations – and each theme will have a joint academic/government/civil society/defence team associated with it. – CDSN; Backgrounder

Dr. Dean Regier, a scientist at BC Cancer has received $500,000 from Genome BC’s Genesolve program and Illumina Inc., San Diego CA, to generate evidence for using whole exome and whole genome sequencing to diagnose and guide treatment for the two million Canadian children with rare diseases. The two-year project, which includes collaborators from the University of Oxford, the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, will draw upon health care data from BC as well as the 100,000 Genomes Project in the UK. – Newswire

Toronto-based Electrovaya Inc., which received $3.8 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada last November, has received its first purchase order for an electric bus battery system shown to power a bus for more than 200 kilometres. The name of the customer was not revealed. – Electrovaya

Cape Breton University plans to open the island’s first innovation space by September to provide training and support to new and existing entrepreneurs. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre will be one of several innovation spaces to open across the island as part of the Creative Island Network, led by the Cape Breton Partnership. – CBU

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has announced the recipients of the 2018 CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes: CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery – Dr. Tak Wah Mak, University Health Network; CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact – Dr. Deborah Cook, McMaster University; CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator – Dr. Tracie Afifi, University of Manitoba; and the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation: Patient Engagement – Dr. Erin Michalak, University of British Columbia. – GoC

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has appointed an expert panel to review the Labour Market Transition of PhD Graduates. The review, initiated at the request of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, will examine the main challenges PhD students in Canada face in transitioning to the labour market, and how these differ by field of study. The panel members are: Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, president, University of Calgary (chair); Dr. Marcelline Bangali, associate professor, Department of Foundations and Practices in Education, Université Laval; Dr. Dwayne Benjamin, vice dean, Graduate Education, University of Toronto; Dr. John (Jay) Doering, associate VP (Partnerships), University of Manitoba; Dr. Bryan Gopaul, assistant professor, Warner School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester; Diane Gray, president/CEO, CentrePort Canada and chair, Mitacs; Dr. Tina Gruosso, scientist, Translational Research, Forbius; Dr. Jennifer Polk, co-founder, Beyond the Professoriate; Dr. Susan Porter, president, Canadian Association of Graduate Studies; Dr. Reinhart Reithmeier, director for Professional Development and Alumni Engagement, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto; Dr. David Walters, associate professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph; and Dr. Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Department of English, McGill University. More information about this project can be found here.

University of Alberta chemist and associate dean of science Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour died May 25 at the age of 79. Armour was a tireless advocate for female scientists, having co-founded the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology program and the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology. – UAlberta

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