Numbers

Number 11 / Volume 31 / November 15, 2017

Editorial

What steps must be taken for Canada to get its act together on digital research infrastructure (DRI)? It’s a perennial question that’s been bandied about in research and policy circles for years with little progress, while the demand for digitization and its transmission, storage and analysis continues to soar.

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Opinion Leader:
Kelly Nolan

Organizational bias is killing opportunities for diversity — some institutions are changing that

We process information all day long.  If we had to think about each tiny decision carefully we would not be productive, so we make quick assumptions, often, to get through the day. These assumptions are often riddled with our individual “bias” and cause us to see the people around us through that lens.

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Supercluster contenders must include strategies for confronting the risks in managing diverse interests

Managing different organizations with varying interests and different sizes of financial commitment will require a change in culture for the companies and institutions engaged in the Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) competition. Governance and managing millions of dollars in government funds matched by industry are among the key challenges and risks ISI contenders will face, according to panelists at the recent Canadian Science Policy Conference

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Liberals enact new measures pushing for greater diversity in science

The Liberal government is pushing for more diversity and inclusion in science and engineering, even to the point of threatening to cancel some funding to universities that don’t support the agenda. At the recent Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) held in Ottawa, Science minister Kirsty Duncan announced a number of initiatives to encourage equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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NRC announces sweeping changes as part of Stewart-led renewal strategy

The National Research Council (NRC) will appoint a Chief Science Advisor and establish a President’s Research Excellence Advisory Committee as part of sweeping, comprehensive changes planned over the next four years. In August, the 101-year-old research institution launched several short-term actions as part of a renewal strategy undertaken by NRC president Iain Stewart, stemming from his mandate to assess and reinvigorate the organization and establish its future direction. Those actions will be followed by more initiatives in the medium term (two years) and longer term (four years).

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Richard Hawkins

Let’s stop talking about innovation and start talking about what really matters

Following some 30 years of investigating “innovation” as a social and economic phenomenon, it is time for me to admit that I am getting fed up with this term. In the conversation about public policy for science, technology, industry, higher education or what have you, I fear that it is now far adrift in a sea of mythology that has lost all touch with reality.

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Government banks on supercluster initiative to boost economy through innovation

Almost a billion dollars in taxpayers’ funds are the carrot that the federal government hopes will bring industry and other stakeholders together to talk to each other and tap into each other’s resources to boost the Canadian economy through innovation. That’s the logic behind the $950-million Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) which is heading into the final stretch of the two-phase selection process for between three and five winners.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Quebec to train healthcare professionals in genomics with help from UK

OCE funding supports AI-enabled drone for Ontario highways

CFI Innovation Fund supports 117 infrastructure projects

Canada, US agree to share food safety information, collaborate on research

PEARL climate change facility receives a $1.6-million, one-year lifeline

After extensive lobbying from the scientific community, an Arctic climate change research facility has received $1.6 million in federal funding, just enough to maintain operations for one year after its funds expire in 2018. Science minister Kirsty Duncan and Environment minister Catherine McKenna on November 8 announced the stop-gap funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) located in Nunavut. The re-allocated funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council will allow researchers to continue operations, including data collection, until fall 2019. Researchers are working on projects related to air quality, the ozone layer, and climate change. Government said it’s important to fund the research project to understand what’s happening in the region, which is showing signs of heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world. The research community has been struggling to maintain the facility in Eureka, Nunavut. Researchers at the facility had been preparing to scale down operations for fear of closing it down altogether. The permanent facility has been operational since 2005. It was last funded in 2013 when it was one of seven projects funded through an allocation of $32 million to the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Initiative, allowing researchers to continue with their work until 2018. The research community has been lobbying for continued funding after it was not included in the 2017 Budget 2017, says Evidence for Democracy, an Ottawa-based not-for-profit group promoting use of evidence in government decision-making. The group is urging for long-term commitment to fund the facility.

Vector Institute boosts AI faculty roster, gets $30M funding to get more master’s students to go into AI

The Vector Institute in Toronto is doubling its team of experts in artificial intelligence with 10 new faculty members joining its roster. The not-for-profit group — launched by the Univ of Toronto and an impressive group of AI companies — also announced that it is managing new funds from the Ontario government that will help boost more talent to advance Canada’s lead in AI. The 10 new faculty members to be joining Vector Institute for 2017-18 are mostly PhD graduates with mutli-disciplinary expertise and experience in Canada and beyond the borders. They are experts in deep learning, machine learning, natural language processing, machine vision, quantum computing research, health care and music. Vector Institute, which was set up this year and has received plenty of support from government and industry, says it is attracting some top talent because of opportunities to collaborate to do research and launch a startup. The new faculty members are: Jimmy Ba; Juan Felipe Carrasquilla; Murat  Erdogdu; David J Fleet; Marzyeh Ghassemi; Anna Goldenberg; Alireza Makhzani; Sageev Oore; Pascal Poupart; and Frank Rudzicz. Vector Institute is also using the new $30 million in funding it is managing from the Ontario government to help get new master’s students into AI and related disciplines. The funds are intended to graduate 1,000 Applied Master’s students in AI and related fields per year within five years. Details on funding for master’s students will be available soon.

Thales creates Montreal-based cortAlx to provide safe and ethical AI solutions

New cohort of Mitacs fellows to start 12-month immersion in government agencies

New science committee set up to coordinate funding agencies

Ottawa has announced a new committee that will coordinate and support the efforts of research funding agencies to make sure that researchers get the most from the government. The new Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) will coordinate among three federal granting agencies—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). In a joint open letter  to the new committee, Science minister Kirsty Duncan and Health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor say CRCC will address the needs of current and future scientists, scholars and students by harmonizing and coordinating the efforts of the granting councils and CFI. The work of the CRCC will address some of the recommendations in the Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, commonly known as the Naylor report released this spring. Aside from improving collaboration among the research-granting agencies, the report also recommends improving access to funds; strengthening equity, diversity and capacity of Indigenous communities to conduct research and work with the broader academic community; and, providing more flexibility to allow researchers to conduct research with minimal administrative costs. The heads of the three granting agencies will chair the CRCC on a rotating basis with SSHRC president Ted Hewitt as the inaugural chair. The council heads will also work with the deputy ministers of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Health on the committee. The president of the CFI will attend all CRCC meetings, held at least once quarterly to bring valuable perspective on the research infrastructure needs of scientists and scholars. The president of the National Research Council and Canada’s Chief Science Advisor will be invited to participate in CRCC meetings. Other ad-hoc sub-committees or working groups will be created as needed.

Government invests $5.4M to develop solar cell technology for vehicles

$16M donation establishes centre for autism research at McGill Univ

People

Jennifer Archibald and Alun Rees

Liette Vasseur

Malcolm Fraser

Number 10 / Volume 31 / October 17, 2017

Editorial

Is Canada finally getting its innovation house in order? Two recent developments offer encouraging signs that federal (and provincial) policy is beginning to address past shortcomings at both ends of the innovation spectrum, acknowledging the importance of fundamental research and ensuring that rapidly expanding tech firms grow while remaining in Canada.

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Opinion Leader:
Karna Gupta

Immigration: A Canadian imperative in a knowledge economy

Varying opinions abound regarding the immigration policy of Canada – both in favor and against. However, if as a country we want to build a knowledge economy, immigration is a critical piece of the puzzle.  Even before the argument is laid out, let’s understand what a knowledge economy is in its simplest form.

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Competition heats up for $950 million in superclusters as government selects nine to submit full proposals

And then there were nine. The federal government has shortlisted nine proposals under its $950-million Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) from more than 50 letters of intent with up to five expected to be awarded funding by the end of FY17-18. The proposals invited to submit full applications span the nation and represent some of Canada’s most advanced tech-based sectors including ocean science, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and digital technologies.

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New CANARIE program encourages adaptation of research tools across disciplines

CANARIE, Canada’s high-performance computing network, is using $2 million in funding to encourage greater sharing of visualization software and other research platforms in an effort to reduce duplication and accelerate discoveries. Under the pilot Research Software Program, five teams will receive funding to improve software tools they have already developed and adapt them for use by researchers in other disciplines. CANARIE says the pilot program aims to demonstrate the viability of a new approach for making more efficient use of research funds.

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Universities Canada finds ally in public to support Naylor agenda

A recent survey of public perception about university research is overwhelming positive. So encouraging are the results that Universities Canada, which commissioned the survey, is hoping it can get the public to rally behind them to press the government for more funding for university research.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Pierre Bilodeau

Regulatory science: Enhancing Canada’s leadership in regulatory science and technology

In the midst of our eternal dilemma of labelling science as either applied or fundamental, we are forgetting an essential component and one of Canada`s strengths on the international stage – regulatory science.

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CSA appointment lauded but debate swirls over scope and breadth of advisory role

Dr Mona Nemer’s appointment as federal chief science advisor (CSA) is receiving rave reviews in science and policy circles. But it has also reignited the debate over whether the new position will represent a significant improvement over past efforts to advise government on important scientific issues, and how this advice will feed into decision making.

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New bioeconomy framework outlines measures to enhance and expand Canadian expertise, competitiveness

Canada’s forest ministers have produced A Forest Bioeconomy Framework for Canada to leverage the country’s vast biomass reserves and extend their production and deployment far beyond current usage. The report was released in September and unanimously endorsed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), which co-authored the document along with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

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Canadian VC investment strategy hurting VCs and Canadian innovation: Report

Innovation in Canada will be seriously compromised unless domestic venture capitalists start throwing  big bucks into Canadian firms, suggests a new report. Big funding is one of the secrets of success of US firms, whether in Silicon Valley, or in other technology hubs in the rest of the US. In contrast, it is a challenge to get large funding tranches from Canadian VCs.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Quebec’s Tyto Robotics expands marketing with government assistance

Carleton, UNB, Surrey join global cybersecurity network

U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab to be replicated in NYC

ITU accepts ISARA proposal to develop standard in quantum-safe certification

Waterloo tests AI for use in financial sector

Kinova steps up to ‘Factory 4.0’ with $25M investment

Quebec’s Kinova, a robotics designer and manufacturer, has raised $25 million in new investments to expand its R&D, sales and marketing, and manufacturing operations. The funds were pooled from four major investors led by Fonds Manufacturier Québecois S.E.C. II. The co-investors include KTB Network Co of South Korea, Foxconn of Taiwan, and BDC Capital. The new investments will bring the company to its next stage of advanced manufacturing, which it calls Factor 4.0, characterized by more digitization and robotization for better efficiency in production and improvement in quality of output. Kinova says it wants to assume a leading role in medical robotics and build partnerships with hospitals, governments and other players in the industry to improve on their products. The new investments will also go to expand exports, which make up more than 90% of the business. The company says it is looking to open offices in Asia and the US. Earlier in 2017, Kinova set up an office in Germany. Investment advisory firm Keira Capital Partners helped Kinova clinch the deal.

Feds announce chairs of Economic Strategy Tables

Dr Mona Nemer named Chief Science Advisor to PM, Science minister

Prime minister Justin Trudeau on September 26 named Dr Mona Nemer as Canada’s new Chief Science Advisor (CSA) for a three-year term. Nemer is a medical researcher, professor and VP research at Univ of Ottawa. She held the latter role for 11 years before stepping down last summer. In her new position, Nemer will advise both the prime minister and Science minister Kirsty Duncan on key federal science policies and produce an annual public report on the state of federal government science — a function performed by the sunsetting Science, technology and Innovation Council (STIC). The CSA announcement has long been awaited by the science, technology and innovation community since the search was launched in December 2016.  The Liberal Party pledged to create the position of chief science officer during the 2015 election campaign as part of its suite of policies stressing innovation, research and evidence-based decision making. The Liberal government of Paul Martin introduced the position of National Science Advisor in 2004 and appointed Dr Arthur Carty, former president of the National Research Council. But Carty and the office were eliminated in 2008 by the government of Stephen Harper. Nemer, who holds a PhD in chemistry from McGill University, will occupy an office in the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development where she will be supported by a secretariat with a modest annual budget of $2 million.

Canada promotes its innovation agenda, diversity and inclusion at G7 meeting

Canada announced it would be highlighting its Innovation and Skills Plan (I&SP) at the G7 and ICT (information and communications technologies) ministers meetings September 25 and 26 in Turin Italy. The I&SP will be touted for its aim to position Canada as an “ideal investment destination” for global firms and foster the scale-up of Canadian companies to compete on the world stage. Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) minister Navdeep Bains also said the government would be advocating for “Canada’s values of diversity and inclusion” and their role in providing Canada with a competitive edge. While in Turin, Bains is meeting with Italian business representatives with a particular emphasis on the automotive sector. Canada will be chairing the G7 in 2018, which is being pitched as an “opportunity to showcase efforts to strengthen the middle class, advance gender equity, fight climate change and promote diversity and inclusion”.  On September 26, Bains met with his fellow ICT ministers although the government has not provided any details on what issues were on the agenda.

UQAT home to new international cold forest research lab

Ontario and Quebec boost cooperation on artificial intelligence & 5G technologies

People

Peter Wehrly

Dr Marc Fortin

Upkar Arora

Dr Gilles Patry

Yung Wu

Toronto innovation hub MaRS Discovery District has named Yung Wu as its new CEO effective Nov 1. Wu is a pioneering entrepreneur, serial investor and chairman of NFQ Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in seed or early-stage funding. Wu will succeed outgoing CEO Ilse Treurnicht, who has been CEO since in 2005. MaRS board chair Gordon Nixon notes Wu’s extensive experience in, and knowledge of, the innovation cycle. He has a track record for growing companies from seed stage financing to global scaling. At NFQ Ventures, Wu has helped nurture startups from industries such as software, services and biotech, some of which have been sold to large firms. Wu has been recognized as one of Canada’s “Top 40 under 40” leaders and for leading one of the country’s “50 Best Managed Private Companies.”

Garth Gibson

Number 9 / Volume 31 / September 20, 2017

Editorial

Kudos to the tri-agency Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) for finally doing the right thing and offering the prospect of renewed support to deserving networks beyond the current funding limits of three, five-year terms.

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Opinion Leader:
Alexandre Navarre

Entrepreneurs and innovators succeed when they work effectively together

There has been a tendency in recent policy papers to argue that a focus on entrepreneurship is the answer to Canada’s weak innovation performance. There is no academic study to back this assertion and if interested parties to pursue this myth, it will inevitably lead to confusion. Not only do entrepreneurship skills not equate to innovator skills, but rather entrepreneurs often rely on innovators to successfully carry out their projects.

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Colleges, polytechnics say time is right to boost funding for applied research

Polytechnics and colleges are once again making the case for what they say is a fair share of funding for applied research. In their pre-Budget submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, Polytechnics Canada, and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) are asking to double the funding made available to applied research in previous Budgets.

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New Space Advisory Board calls for urgent action to halt decline in embattled sector

The precarious state of Canada’s space sector has compelled the recently populated Space Advisory Board (SAB) to issue an “urgent call to action” for a new national strategy and “long-term continuity” for its space program. The recommendation to the federal government is part of a suite of suggested actions that include taking a whole-of-government approach to space, making space a national strategic asset, boosting smaller programs considered more suited to the so-called New Space environment and a continuing role for the SAB to ensure coordination, stakeholder dialogue and metrics to evaluate implementation plans.

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Scientists raise alarm over future of neutron beam research capacity

Canadian researchers whose work relies on access to a neutron beam source have issued an urgent appeal to the federal government for stop-gap funding to offset the looming impact from the March 2018 closure of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River ON. The Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI) is requesting $24 million over the next three years and $19 million a year between 2021 and 2029 to buy beam time at foreign facilities and to upgrade the small, medium-flux nuclear reactor at McMaster Univ.

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Opinion Leader:
Margaret Dalziel

Using research findings to design a better SBIR for Canada

Among the innovation-related initiatives announced in Budget 2017 is Innovative Solutions Canada, a $50 million program inspired by the US Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Recent research has shed new light on the effectiveness of the US SBIR program, and suggests that Canada may be able to design a superior program by offering modest levels of support to young companies in emerging sectors, and letting the private sector fund provide follow-on financing.

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Sunsetting and former NCEs thrown potential new lifeline in latest competition

A long-standing grievance that has plagued the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) since its creation 28 years ago is finally being addressed in the tri-agency’s latest funding competition. For the first time ever, the NCE is allowing former networks to compete alongside new networks for funding. Up for grabs is $75 million for over five years with the option to renew.

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Report calls for data-driven approach to government investing to grow world-class Canadian firms

A report from the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre is calling for a data-driven approach to maximizing the government’s investments in Canadian firms and growing them to be world-class. The report — Government Venture Capital: Can the Public Sector Pick and Nurture World Class Companies? — says that the strategy for venture capital investments of the Canadian government is not to simply copy what venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are doing.

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CMC Microsystems extends window for securing new financing; prepares for leadership change

The leaders of CMC Microsystems have announced their retirement after saving the organization from a near-death experience and giving it renewed hope of further funding after current government commitments end in 2019. President and CEO, Dr Ian McWalter, will step down at the end of the current FY after 33 years of engagement and — years at the helm. Also stepping down is Dan Gale, VP and CTO, who joined CMC (then known as Canadian Microelectronics Corp) prior to its incorporation 1984.

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News Bites

News Briefs

City of Toronto launches Civic Innovation Office, announces first project

Neptec wins $11.9-million contract for new sensor suite

Ontario invests $8.25 million to boost Apotex productivity

Ontario fund seeks innovative projects in clean tech

Toronto AI firm gets fund boost from Fidelity Investments

A Toronto-based company developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems for enterprises has recently received a fresh round of funding from Fidelity Investments Canada. DeepLearni.ng will use the $9 million in Series A funding to help the company scale the development of its machine learning platform, called Frontiers, which is used for rapid deployment of AI enterprises. DeepLearni.ng, which is based at the University of Toronto, designs, builds and deploys applied AI systems for enterprises. The company also plans to grow outside of Canada, focusing on financial services and other strategic industries. The investment will also help fund the company’s growth plans, which includes growing the company’s talent pool from the current 23. The company is barely a year old, having been established in winter 2016.

Researchers in BC form network to share resources, connect with stakeholders

New website to tally salmon count in Miramichi River

Sepset study to fast track diagnosis of sepsis

GTA bid for second Amazon HQ underway

Mayors in the Greater Toronto Area have mobilized to formalize their bid to woo internet giant Amazon to consider Toronto as its next North American headquarters. Mayors of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton are joined by the chief executives of the regions of Durham, Halton and York to prepare to submit a proposal to Amazon. Mark Cohon, chair of Toronto Global, and Janet Ecker, vice-chair of Toronto Global are tasked to lead the GTA’s bid team. Toronto Global is a not-for-profit organization that markets the entire region to international investors. Municipalities say that with Amazon already occupying two-million square feet of operational footprint across the GTA, the region will make for a good second base of operations.  But the GTA is in for some tough competition as other cities across the US have also expressed interest. Other cities or regions vying to host Amazon include: New York, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Austin, Boston, the Bay area in California, and Washington DC. In what officials say is being “a little un-Canadian,” mayors say they want to showcase the region’s “unmatched cultural diversity to Amazon executives and … show off our amazing quality of life.”

Merck to acquire Burlington-based Natrix Separations

Merck, Darmstadt Germany, is acquiring Natrix Separations Inc, Burlington ON, a provider of hydrogel membrane products used to eliminate impurities during bioprocessing and accelerate the production of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines. Natrix markets both an anion exchange membrane and cation exchange membrane and is developing additional products to enable a fully single-use, full-scale biological purification process — an area of increasing importance to Merck customers. It’s estimated that the market for next-generation processing will triple between 2020 and 2025, increasing plant productivity, facility flexibility, cost efficiencies and reduced risk. Natrix is a privately held company founded in 2005. It has a large portfolio of intellectual property and is expanding rapidly into several vertical sectors including pharma, biopharma, animal health, nutraceutical and other industrial purification markets

ICAMP partnering on project for improving marijuana production

Universities Canada urges feds to adopt Naylor report recommendations

Feds roll out new student-placement workforce program

The Department of Workforce Development and Labour has launched a $73-million, four-year Student Work-Integrated Learning Program (SWILP) that will create 10,000 paid workforce placements for post-secondary students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and business. The new program complements the work of Mitacs, which received $221 million over five years in the last Budget to allow the not-for-profit organization to attain its long-standing goal of 10,000 research internships for post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows each year. The SWILP is open to polytechnics, universities, and colleges and is a key component of the federal government’s objective of creating 60,000 student work placements over the next five years, particularly in sectors where skilled talent is in short supply. In the biotechnology sector, for example, 33% of companies in the biotechnology sector report skills shortages, according to BioTalent Canada, one of several industry groups participating in the program. It will receive nearly $5.6 million to place more than 1,000 students. For aerospace, the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace will receive $4.8 million. Employers and post-secondary institutions will provide eligible employers in STEM and business with wage subsidies for quality student work placements of up to 50% of the wage cost for the placement (up to $5,000 per placement) and up to 70% percent (up to $7,000 per placement) for first-year students and under-represented groups, such as women in STEM, Indigenous students, people with disabilities and newcomers.

People

Steve Xanthoudakis

Rob Annan

Genome Canada has appointed Dr Rob Annan as VP public affairs and communications, effective September 11. In his new position, Annan will be responsible for an overall communications strategy targeting major stakeholders and raising the organization’s profile nationally and internationally. For the past year, he has been an innovation and management consultant as well as an inaugural fellow at the Public Policy Forum.  Prior to that, Annan served as chief research officer at Mitacs Inc for two-and-a-half years and interim CEO for eight months between the terms of Dr Arvind Gupta and Dr Alejandro Adem. He worked at Mitacs for seven years in various senior capacities including corporate strategy, stakeholder relations, research and evaluation, and policy analysis. Annan holds an honours BA (English) from Queen’s Univ, a BSC in biology and ecology from the Univ of Victoria and a PhD in biochemistry from McGill Univ.

Thierry Weissenburger

Thierry Weissenburger has been appointed to the newly created position of head of innovation at the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) at its Ottawa headquarters with Global Affairs Canada.  Weissenburger is a longtime executive with the TCS, most recently in Boston where he served as consul and senior trade commissioner. He managed the Canadian Technology Accelerator and helped launch the Canadian Entrepreneurs in New England (CENE) in 2013 to assist Canadian firms in establishing a presence in the northeastern US. Prior to that, he was consul and senior trade commissioner for San Francisco-Silicon Valley where he was instrumental in establishing C100, a group of ex-pat Canadians working in the tech sector. C100 was also the driving force behind Boston’s CNEN. Weissenburger graduated from the Univ of California Berkeley’s Walter A Haas School of Business and its venture capital executive program. He also received a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA in international business and innovation from the Univ of Montreal and a BSc in marketing from Institut Superieur Commercial.

Number 8 / Volume 31 / August 22, 2017

York region consortium pitches $300 million to support microelectronics supercluster

When the Innovation Superclusters Initiative competition was announced in May, it was only a matter of time before proposals started trickling in from Canada’s strongest tech centres, including York Region. Located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), York Region boasts the second highest number of information, communications, and technology employers in the country, with over 4,400 ICT firms.

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Industry investors, training key to fast-tracking maturation of VC sector: New BDC programs

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is betting that greater corporate involvement in venture capital will bring the know-how, contacts and money needed to move Canada’s VC sector from short pants to full adulthood. Faced with less than satisfactory improvement in Canada’s 30-year-old investment sector, BDC has launched two new programs designed to accelerate the maturation of Canada’s venture capital industry..

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TRIUMF building a new home for nuclear medicine in Vancouver to become leader in niche market of medical isotope production

TRIUMF is in the midst of a multi-year effort to establish an Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI), which would feature major infrastructure for creating and handling these radioactive products, as well as laboratories for testing them in scientific and clinical settings. While similar work takes place in a variety of university and hospital settings across the country, this facility is intended to concentrate all aspects of such work — from the creation of raw materials to clinical trial work of potential therapies — in a single location…

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Opinion Leader:
Paul Dufour

The Henderson Chronicles- Reflecting on Science, Innovation and Skills Agendas over the years

RE$EARCH MONEY has always had impact. Since its founding three decades ago, the newsletter has covered a good deal of Canada’s STI debates and discussions. When it debuted in 1987, Canada had its first and only national science, technology and skills plan—one that was adopted by all levels of government.

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Aquaculture and energy firms team up to bid for oceans supercluster in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada has taken the next logical step in its decade long effort to build a regional expertise in oceans technology with the formation of an industry-led consortium that is vying to become one of a handful of federally funded innovation superclusters. Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador (PRNL) and Clearwater Seafoods Inc have submitted a letter of intent to the federal government in a joint bid for supercluster funding.

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Business lobby calls on Canada to become global champion for nuclear technology

The head of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) is calling on Canada – and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau specifically – to step up as global champions for nuclear technology, notably its civilian applications in medicine and as a low-carbon energy source. President and CEO Dr John Barrett made the comment in response to the release of a House of Commons committee report urging the government to “reaffirm its long-standing support for Canadian nuclear energy and research”.

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News Bites

News Briefs

CNL seeking input for its proposal to build small nuclear reactors at Chalk River

Nova Scotia’s CarbonCure concrete technologies find new market in California

CICan says more funding needed for colleges to reach full applied research potential

Lockheed Martin completes IRB related to sale of Super Hercules aircraft

MDA signs contract with DRDC to advance hyperspectral imaging

Toronto’s ViXS bought by San Jose-based Pixelworks

Toronto-based ViXS Systems Inc, a market leader in media processing semiconductor solutions for video over IP, is being acquired by Pixelworks Inc, San Jose CA. The share-based acquisition, valued at US$17.7 million, was approved by ViXS shareholders July 27 and the firm has been de-listed from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The firm is credited with driving the transition to Ultra HD 4K across the entire content value chain with high efficiency chipsets that boost color and clarity of video content while using 50% less bandwidth than other chipsets. ViXS holds 470 patents issued and pending and has shipped 39 million media processors to date. It was founded in 2001 by Indra Laksono who serves as its chief technology officer.

Ontario matches CFI's $28.8 million investment in SNOLAB

OICR takes lead on project to accelerate treatment for childhood diseases

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is leading a major database initiative aimed at developing disease-specific data sets for children. With funding of $14.8 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health’s Kids First Pediatric Program, the project brings together previously established cohorts on birth defects and childhood cancers, uniting two research communities that have rarely interacted. The projects’ principal investigators are OICR researchers Dr Lincoln Stein and Dr Vincent Ferretti with responsibility to design and develop the Kids First Data Resource Centre. It’s hoped that the combination of the two databases will accelerate the development of new diagnostics, treatments and cures.

CFI announces $52 million in Leaders Fund awards at 51 universities

Aerospace technology and training gets $15-million boost at Red River College

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is committing $10 million as part of a $15.7-million investment in aerospace technology development and training at Red River College (RRC). The funding will go to two RRC facilities — an expansion of the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT) and new space at the Smart Factory situated on RRC’s Notre Dame campus. Additional funding is being provided by StandardAero ($4.5 million) and RRC ($1.2 million). CATT is co-located at Standard Aero’s Winnipeg Plant 5 facility which specializes in testing of new materials and processes. StandardAero, Scottsdale AZ, is a key player in Winnipeg’s manufacturing sector with a focus on maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).  Smart Factory provides an enriched training environment by connecting aerospace and other manufacturing organizations with specialized equipment and new technology for supporting advanced manufacturing processes.

Western Economic Diversification receives $25-million boost

NRC assists in designing tough new US icebreakers

Calendar: Waterloo Innovation Summit

September 14-15, 2017 in Waterloo ON

The Waterloo Innovation Summit Hacking the Future brings together influential speakers to discuss the disruptive and defining trends that are driving innovation. Speakers include Waterloo stalwarts Mike Lazaridis, managing partner and co-founder of Quantum Valley Investments and co-founder of Blackberry, Tom Jenkins, board chair of Open Text and Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice–chancellor of the University of Waterloo. FMI: www.waterlooinnovationsummit.com

 

 

 

People

Sunil Sharma

Nipun Vats

Dr Neil Bose

Sushanta Mitra

Justin Leushner

Number 7 / Volume 31 / July 18, 2017

Editorial

The National Research Council is embarking on a re-alignment of its core strengths by reaching out to academia and other players in the federal innovation system (see lead article). NEOMED is making major strides retaining critical pharmaceutical talent in the Montreal region and its actively considering a third site for its potent combination of research expertise and business collaboration

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NRC to strengthen collaborations with academia and government as part of evolving mandate

Change is coming to the National Research Council (NRC) with plans to modify the ways in which it generates new knowledge and expertise for business. The 100-year-old agency is recalibrating to enhance its role in the national innovation agenda by placing greater emphasis on exploratory research in emerging fields, stepping up collaboration with higher education institutions and enhancing integration within the federal innovation ecosystem.

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Pressure grows to increase support for fundamental research, tie funding levels to demand

Canada’s support for fundamental research has fallen by a third between 2005 and 2015, but many in the Canadian research community are concerned the federal government doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to take action. The deterioration in federal support — occurring over a period closely corresponding to the decade in which the government of Stephen Harper was in power — witnessed a major swing in funding from fundamental to applied research, with 40% of researchers reporting a similar shift in their focus.

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Vector Institute aims to play key role in Canada’s bid to maintain AI leadership

Geoff Hinton, Yoshua Bengio and Richard Sutton may not be household names but in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) these Canadian researchers are superstars at the forefront of a field that is attracting a host of marquee tech titans angling to gain competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving field. Yet many highly accomplished AI researchers have left Canada to seek opportunity elsewhere prompting a remarkable alignment of government, academia and industry to make Canada the go-to destination for AI advancements in an ever-expanding range of industry sectors.

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Opinion Leader:
Kelly Nolan

Innovation sectors continue to fail spectacularly at gender equity and diversity

The UK, US and Canada still haven’t managed to break the average 20% threshold for gender equity across STEM academic disciplines. In some cases, the numbers of women are actually declining and certain disciplines that like to boast higher numbers are still well below parity. To address the lack of progress being made by universities, Canada’s Science minister has made accessing research funding dependent on achieving gender equity and diversity and has called on university presidents to address the lack of women in the Canada Research Chairs program.

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Structural Genomics Consortium expanding clinical and patient reach with new Phase IV funding

Canadian funding for the Toronto-based Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) has been renewed, injecting $33 million into the ground breaking open innovation organization that determines the three-dimensional structure of proteins related to human diseases. The fourth phase of the public-private SGC will see an expansion its collaborative network to include disease and patient foundations while partnering with clinicians and research hospitals to validate new targets for drug discovery by testing its chemical probes on patients.

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NEOMED plans Montreal expansion; proves new pharma R&D model works

Montreal’s NEOMED Institute needs more space to accommodate growing demand for its facilities and services. Discussions are underway with an unnamed third party equity investor to finance the expansion of its Laval facility with a decision expected within weeks. NEOMED’s growth proves it is possible to come up with a business model that can retain top talent in a region when big pharma employers decide to move out.

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Federal spending on S&T declines in FY17-18 with share of intramural spending hitting 34-year low

The share of federal spending on S&T conducted in-house by government departments and agencies declined to its lowest level in 35 years as federal spending intentions for 2017-18 are projected to decline 1.2% to $11.3 billion, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. The drop to 44% of the total is largely attributable to a sharp (6.7%) decline in related scientific activities (RSA) spurred by the absence of StatsCan Census Program survey which was last conducted in 2016 and occurs every five years.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Google-owned DeepMind opens artificial intelligence lab at U of A

Boston’s FinTech Sandbox expands to Ontario in partnership with OCE

Three Ottawa-based research and innovation museums branded as Ingenium

Concordia opens research and innovation incubator with federal and provincial support

SingularityU Canada Summit

SingularityU Canada Summit for start-ups is happening October 11 & 12 in Toronto. The two-day event is being supported by 11 innovation hubs and will be held at Evergreen Brickworks, a global showcase for green design and urban sustainability fashioned from a collection of deteriorating heritage industrial buildings. Participating innovation hubs include BC Tech – Vancouver, Communitech – Waterloo, District 3 – Montreal, DMZ – Toronto, entrepreneurship@UBC – Vancouver, Innovate Calgary – Calgary, NEXT Canada – Pan-Canadian, MaRS – Toronto, OneEleven – Toronto, Start Up Zone – PEI and Wavefront – Vancouver. FMI: www.singularityucanadasummit.org

Crowdfunding survey seeks to clarify emerging capital allocation market

Ciena and the Univ of Waterloo team to boost capacity of optical networks

Element AI goes global with $137.5-million series ‘A’ investment

Ryerson and McMaster team on smart robotics health communications project

Merck and TEC Edmonton partner to create health innovation incubator

Group calls on feds to fund Naylor Report recommendations

A new advocacy group of private and public health innovation organizations is warning that “Canada is on the cusp of forsaking an entire generation of talent” and urging the federal government to implement the multi-year investments called for in a report by the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science, commonly known as the Naylor Report after the panel’s chair, Dr David Naylor. R7 Research Partners released an open letter to prime minister Justin Trudeau on June 21 to “immediately address our acute research funding deficit” by accepting the report’s call for $1.3 billion over four years in new spending on fundamental science. The Naylor report was released in April but the government has yet to respond to the review’s recommendations although there are reports that it could do so as early as this week. The report calls for a $485-million boost to the budgets of the granting councils, stable funding of $300 million annually for the Canada Foundation for Innovation, enhanced support for doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows and research chairs, and support for small capital grants and increase funding for the indirect costs of research. R7 is comprised of HealthCareCAN, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Research Canada, the Health Charities Coalition of Canada, BIOTECanada, Canada’s Medical Technology Companies, and Innovative Medicines Canada.

Two more commercial-scale bio-refineries slated for Sarnia bio-chemical cluster

Quebec’s CATALIS aims to boost province as preferred site of early-stage clinical trials

Eleven-x network expanding nationally to provide low-cost IoT networking capacity

Waterloo-based eleven-x, a self-described next-generation, carrier-grade network purpose-built for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, is expanding to establish a coast-to-coast network aimed at smart cities and industrial IoT usage. From its base in Waterloo where it established its first Low Power Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN), eleven-x is expanding to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Toronto and Greater Toronto Area — urban regions that account for 60% of Canada’s population. Further expansion is planned for later this year. The network is low cost compared to traditional cellular competitors and has low power consumption with secure, scalable connectivity of up to 48 km — features considered critical to accommodate the growing use of mobile, wireless devices used to automate municipal systems (street lighting, water monitoring, vehicle tracking) and industries that are tapping into IoT to increase productivity and reduce costs. Eleven-x was created in 2014 by former Blackberry technical directors Fraser Gibbs and Ryan Hickey along with high-tech consultant and executive Dan Mathers. It currently has 25 staff and is planning to grow that number significantly in the coming months. The global IoT market is expected to reach US$1.7 trillion by 2020.

New centre to research gender-based violence and disseminate knowledge

People

Roger Voyer

Paule De Blois

Number 6 / Volume 31 / June 14, 2017

Editorial

Seizing opportunity and taking risk may not be considered innately Canadian traits but they should be. US president Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, his nativist rhetoric and the Republican Party’s plans to slash spending on key areas of research have opened up opportunities on several levels.

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NRC working with industry, academia to build value chain for lithium-ion batteries

Escalating demand for specialty materials that go into next-generation lithium-ion batteries has prompted the National Research Council to create an R&D group to bolster the value chain for their use in the transportation and stationary applications. Advanced discussions between NRC officials and several companies are already underway to determine the extent of their participation in the new lithium-ion battery technologies (LiBTec) program, which kicked off June 7 with a webinar.

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Canada to lead council of global research funders

Canada’s renewed efforts to raise its profile on the global stage were bolstered last week with news that Dr. Mario Pinto will take over as chair of the Global Research Council (GRC), a federation comprising the heads of 70 science and engineering funding councils from 50 countries. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) president replaces Dr. Yuichiro Anzai, president of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, who now becomes vice-chair. As GRC chair, Pinto will represent the interests of Canada’s major research granting agencies.

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Quantum computing, brain research top list for new US-Canada collaborations

President Donald Trump’s push for major cuts to research funding in the US are fueling even closer scientific ties between our two countries. Preliminary talks have begun between the US National Science Foundation and research funders in Canada to kickstart new research collaborations in quantum computing, the brain, biodiversity and the Arctic. Recent meetings held in both Ottawa and Washington are expected, as a first step, to result in a Dear Colleague letter from the NSF encouraging its researchers to identify opportunities for joint projects the rapidly evolving field of brain research.

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CNL lays out 10-year vision for transformation of Chalk River nuclear facility

The transition of the storied nuclear facility at Chalk River ON to the private sector and its future role in scientific research is becoming clear with the release of a 10-year strategic plan by its new owner Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). Increasing R&D collaboration with domestic and international partners and a greater commercial focus will become the norm following the shutdown of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor on March 31/18 as CNL seeks to leverage both internal and external S&T capabilities into new or enhanced products and markets.

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Opinion Leader:
Tom Tessier

Where is the protection of patents in Canada?

There is a big problem with how Canada deals with goods infringing on patents being imported in Canada. In a nutshell, Canada doesn’t. Canada can seize goods at the border that infringe on a copyright or a trademark. But there is no general mechanism for goods infringing on a Canadian patent. Sure, my legal advisors tell me that in exceptional circumstances a court injunction could be obtained. But this is very rare.

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Time is ripe for boosting support for research and research infrastructure says departing CFI president

Over his seven year term as president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Dr Gilles Patry has witnessed firsthand the dramatic changes in the research landscape and the rise of innovation as a key priority for government, academia and industry. Once considered something of an (albeit expensive) outlier in the research ecosystem, the CFI is now more closely aligned with other players from researchers to industry as well a key driver in efforts to encourage cross-sectoral collaboration nationally and internationally.

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Race is on to secure a share of $950M in supercluster funding

One of the most anticipated competitions for S&T funding in recent memory has begun with the launch of the competition for $950 million in supercluster funding that will see up to five sectoral, knowledge-based initiatives selected to become future drivers of economic and job growth. Since its initial announcement in Budget 2016, groups in several areas — from agri-food to artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles – have formed to develop collaborative proposals that will now have an opportunity to compete for $950 million in funding between 2017 and 2022.

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Angel investment growth continues in 2016 but policy concerns remain unaddressed

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is waiting for a federal policy response to its recommendations to stimulate the investment class as it reports a 15% year-over-year increase of its members’ investment activity for 2016. NACO members comprised of 34 distinct angel groups invested $157.2 million, up from $133.6 million in 2015 when 31 groups reported and the fourth consecutive year of increases.

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R$ talks with Dr. Rebecca Keiser — NSF international chief pursues new collaborations with Canada

President Donald Trump intention to slash key areas of his government’s research spending is inadvertently providing an incentive for new research collaborations between the United States and Canada.
The president’s fiscal 2018 budget, unveiled earlier this year, proposed massive cuts for climate science, medical research and energy projects across government, including major granting organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite a reprieve in early May when Congress voted to mostly maintain current budgets for the rest of 2017, it’s uncertain whether the axe can be avoided again in 2018.

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Genome Canada considers awarding grants directly to companies

Genome Canada may expand its successful Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) and award funds directly to companies with the in-house capacity to develop potentially disruptive technologies. The current GAPP program — which announced the results of its latest competition May 26 — only funds university researchers with industry partners, usually small firms that lack the in-house expertise to undertake research projects.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Sandvine sold to US private equity firm for $483 million

Canada joins SESAME synchrotron project as observer state

Loop Energy receives $760,000 in ASIP funding

Federal researchers gain scientific integrity clause in new collective agreement

Waterloo to create global-scale additive manufacturing lab

The Univ of Waterloo has secured $22.4 million cash and $5 million in in-kind support to establish a Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab that’s expected to generate 18 new partnerships, create more than 80 jobs and commercialize 21 advanced manufacturing technologies. Core funding of $8.9 million comes from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) through the Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative, announced in 2013. The Ontario government is also providing $6.2 million — the largest investment the province has made in post-secondary advanced manufacturing (AM). The lab will focus on AM technologies (industrial 3D printing) to process metals with new sensors, machine intelligence and quality-assurance software. To date it has attracted industry partners from the aerospace, mining and automotive sectors. The lab builds on years of technology development at the university with dozens of professors, engineers, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students and co-op students slated to participate. Once fully ramped up, it’s expected to be among the 10 largest university-based AM facilities in the world.

Canada expands agricultural research with Germany

UNB home to new 3D metal printing centre for marina and defence industries

People

Paul Geyer

Bill Tam

Aharon Aharon

Dr James Orbinski

Dr Bettina Hamelin

Number 5 / Volume 31 / April 27, 2017

Editorial

After several years of low-profile, leading-edge activity, the Communications Research Centre is once again at the forefront of Canadian research and innovation. In addition to pioneering the use of the cloud to conduct public R&D, it has launched a ground breaking Big Data Analytics Centre which is being billed as the world’s first innovation laboratory for telecom regulation and dynamic spectrum management.

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Opinion Leader:
Drs. Janet Rossant and Michael Rudnicki

Time to act on Canada’s stem cell science competitive advantage

Throughout the world, countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan are striving to become world leaders in this promising new area. Canada has an incalculable advantage — we are already there. We have been leaders since James Till and Ernest McCulloch discovered stem cells more than 50 years ago. Canada’s foundational research in stem cell biology has underpinned all subsequent work on clinical applications in regenerative medicine, stem cell-related drug discovery, and cell and tissue engineering. Stem cell science is, truly, Canada’s science.

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Ontario Budget includes new funding for skills, technology development and business growth

Last month’s Ontario Budget included a $674-million boost to support for technology, innovation and skills development as the province posted its first balanced budget since the 2008 financial meltdown and made a commitment of at least two more to come. Fuelled by 2.7% growth of provincial GDP in 2016, the $141.7-billion budgetary plan for 2017 includes funding to support autonomous vehicles, business growth, quantum computing and next-generation wireless consortia.

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Daring to innovate: Quebec launches five-year strategy for research and innovation

Quebec has come a long way in strengthening its knowledge capacity since the early days of the Quiet Revolution. The notion of investing in S&T for its economic, social and cultural development has always been central to its policy platforms irrespective of political party. The May 11 release of the 126-page Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy (SQRI) by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard signals a major shift by the province to aim much higher and up the province’s innovation game.

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Big gains possible with explicit provincial science policies: CCA report

Provinces that develop and deploy explicit science policies benefit from greater coordination, alignment and clarity of their science-based activities, which in turn help leverage federal support. Other than Quebec and the territories which have developed explicit science policies, those of Canada’s other subnational governments are implicit in nature and often conflate science and innovation resulting in less than optimum outcomes, according to a new report from the Council of Canadian Academies.

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A RE$EARCH MONEY Q&A with NRC President Iain Stewart

RE$EARCH MONEY managing editor Mark Henderson sat down with National Research Council president Iain Stewart on April 11 to discuss the organization’s recent internal consultations and plans for the future. Stewart assembled seven Tiger Teams to fan out across the country and report back to him in preparation for a Spring Memorandum to Cabinet.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr. Robert Luke

Budget critics miss the point: The future of education is the foundation for innovation

The most recent federal Budget has garnered headlines more for what people say it did not do than for what it does. It has been branded as anodyne — a do-nothing Budget, a place holder while we wait to see what our neighbours to the south will do. A recent Nanos poll reported in the April 17/17 Globe and Mail shows that “Canadians dislike [the] Liberal budget,” more for not tackling the deficit than for anything it does.

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Quebec life sciences strategy targets $4 billion in foreign investment

The long-awaited 2017-2027 Quebec Life Sciences Strategy is positioning the province to be in the top five North American life sciences clusters within a decade. The strategy aims to leverage its scientific expertise, particularly in precision medicine and big data, by attracting $4 billion in private investment to boost industry employment and increase the number of Quebec-based firms and their contribution to provincial GDP.

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NSERC field robotics network pitches for extended funding

The NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network (NCFRN) put on an impressive display of robots and drones last week in Ottawa as the national network readies its pitch for renewed and increased federal funding. NCFRN, one of 16 active NSERC Strategic Networks, is currently in its final year of a five-year $5 million award. Demonstrations representing the work of 180 researchers from eight universities and 12 industrial and government partners coincided with the network’s annual meeting where high-level discussions took place on how to secure an even larger injection of funding from the federal government…

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Mitacs to realize goal of placing 10,000 internships throughout industry, not-for-profit sector and government

Mitacs’ long-term goal of supporting 10,000 internships annually has become a reality with a $211-million investment from the federal government. Announced in the recent federal Budget, the five-year funding commitment beings this FY at $12 million and ramps up to $80 million by FY21-22, providing an unprecedented infusion of post-secondary talent into industry and the not-for-profit sector.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Canada’s clean tech industry at perilous crossroads: report

Lazaridis receives $2.5 million from FedDev Ontario for scale-up data platform

Arctic Council produces agreement on scientific cooperation

Air Canada to participate in NRC biofuels contrail and emissions project

McGill to open retail innovation lab with $25-million donation

Florida Poly joins Fullbright Canada exchange program

Hamilton post-secondary institutions open pilot innovation hub

CRC program announces new and renewed chairholders

CRC program requires institutions to address underrepresented groups

Uber opens automotive-focused AI research group in MaRS centre

People

Killam Prize winners

Rob Campbell

Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine

Number 4 / Volume 31 / April 18, 2017

Editorial

It’s been a busy few weeks for Canadian research and innovation. Not only did the federal Budget serve up a slew of new initiatives but the Quebec government has tabled a varied yet cohesive series of measures to stimulate both research and business innovation.

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Opinion Leader:
Kamiel Gabriel

Opinion Leader: Big on Twitter, Little on Facts- Will this be the fate of science advice under Trump’s administration?

Scientists in the US fear the United States under Donald Trump could become like the Soviet Union, in which the prevailing political ideology was so powerful that science was unable to contradict it with hard evidence. Speaking at the beginning of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Boston in February, its president, Barbara Schaal, and chief executive, Dr Rush Holt, both expressed concern about the use of the phrase “alternative facts” by Trump administration officials.

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Quebec Budget opens provincial coffers with $834M to stimulate research and innovation

The Quebec government has committed $834 million over five years to research and innovation, including unprecedented increases for post-secondary research after recording its second consecutive Budget surplus. The new funding arrives ahead of the province’s latest research and innovation strategy, due next month, as well as a new life sciences strategy expected before the end of April.

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Is Canada’s Innovation Budget ambitious enough?

Opinion is decidedly split on the federal government’s delivery of its promised innovation Budget. The March 22 budgetary planning document contains a wide range of measures related to skills, company financing, program consolidation and clean technology.

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Budgetary constraints slowing implementation of federal innovation and skills strategy

With Budget 2017, the Liberal government is kicking major components of its much-vaunted Innovation Agenda down the road as ambitious plans run up against an increasingly constrained fiscal environment. Under the Innovation Agenda – retitled the Innovation and Skills Plan – the launch of many new initiatives are deferred for a year or more while unfettered new support for fundamental science is absent – a development anticipated due to the delay in releasing a government-commissioned report delivered three months ago.

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Opinion Leader:
David Crane

Canada lacks the institutional structure to invest in the future

Budget 2017 promises $125 million to launch what it calls a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy by promoting collaboration between centres of excellence in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton. This, it says, will “position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation.” What’s missing as Canada seeks to position itself for the future, and this is critically important, is any institutional capacity to prepare Canadians more broadly for the future.

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R$ Conference - First Impressions

It was a sold out crowd at the 16th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference in Ottawa this week. Over 170 people from government, industry, finance, academia and the not-for profit sector gathered to examine federal Budget 2017 and the Innovation Agenda – renamed the Innovation & Skills Plan in the budget.

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News Bites

News Briefs

TRIUMF Innovations launches UBC-based facility’s commercialization arm

Ford hires Blackberry engineers and opens Ottawa R&D centre

US companies performed 18% of their R&D in foreign countries

Univ of Guelph receives $20 million donation from Arrell Family Foundation

UrtheCast taps SADI to develop 16- radar and optical satellite constellation

SDTC investing $43 million in a range of pre-commercial clean technology projects

CDRD, MNI and Merck join forces to develop new therapeutics

UNB entrepreneurs win big in Breakthru Competition

OCE launching three-phase competition to reduce industry GHG emissions

UQAM launches incubator for tourism, culture and other retail service industries

People

CIHR appoints Dr Roderick McInnes as acting head of CIHR

CFI selects Carleton Univ president Roseann O’Reilly Runte as its new president and CEO

Number 3 / Volume 31 / March 15, 2017

Editorial

It’s only one week until we have an opportunity to assess the federal government’s embrace of innovation with the tabling of the Liberal administration’s second Budget. After a decade of optimistic talk combined with benign neglect, Canadian innovators will once again be presented with policies and programs ostensibly aimed at making Canada – and Canadian business – more innovative.

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Opinion Leader:
Mark Walker

The Knowledge Economy Needs to (and Can) Benefit the Whole Country

Canada’s economy is transitioning from a resource economy to a knowledge economy. I have some bad news and some good news. 

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International review panel critical of CIHR management and flatlined funding levels

The Canadian Institute of Health Research’s recent efforts to reform its underfunded grants competition process was a failure. That’s the sobering conclusion from an international review panel tasked with studying and addressing the issue. The International Peer Review Expert Panel Report found that chronic underfunding and CIHR’s attempt to deal with the issue, combined with other problems, created a ‘perfect storm” that led to a crisis in confidence throughout the research community.

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MEOPAR to increase focus on partner needs as part of $28.5 million renewal

The MEOPAR Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) has been renewed for another five years, including additional funding to implement a research plan that directly responds to the needs of partners and end-users. The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) received $28.5 million from the ‘classic’ NCE program that will leverage an equal amount in cash and in-kind from an array of academic, non-profit, industry and government partners who also have a stake in better understanding and mitigate marine risks and hazards.

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A RE$EARCH MONEY Q&A with Adam Holbrook

Innovation has risen up the government’s priority ranking and will be a major thrust of the federal Budget when it is tabled March 22. Over the past year, several expert panels and councils have been preparing policy papers on fundamental science, innovation and economic competitiveness. On the other hand, the government is running annual deficits and plan to continue for several years to come. We asked Adam Holbrook, adjunct professor and associate director of the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology, Simon Fraser University, for his perspective on what needs to be done to make Canada more innovative and its use of research more effective.

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Opinion Leader:
Conor Meade

Measure for measure: The unique challenge of assessing innovation programs’ impact

If sound measurement of innovation support programs is so important, and everyone agrees that it’s important, why are we having this conversation? Why hasn’t it already been done?

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Canada’s regenerative medicine sector poised to soar with better funding and collaboration: report

Canadian expertise and achievements in regenerative medicine (RM) could be at a turning point if strategic steps are taken to increase stable funding and achieve greater coordination among the many federal and provincial players. Those are the key observations of a report issued by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), which was based on a two-day workshop held last October to provide policy makers with pointers for growing the sector and realizing greater economic and health benefits.

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Study to review national model for offering start-ups free IP advice

A Waterloo policy think tank founded by former Blackberry executive Jim Balsillie is funding a new study that will examine how start-ups can get access to free intellectual property legal services across Canada. The one-year project is examining the success of the Innovation Clinic at York Univ’s Osgoode Hall Law School, with a view to replicating the model nationally.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Ontario and Israel partner on new $20-million bilateral R&D program

Sensibill raises $17.3 million for fintech data analysis app

Ontario seeks input into mandate of new CSO

Former adviser to White House Office of S&T Policy to speak at Univ Ottawa

April 5 in Ottawa: Bromley Memorial Lecture featuring Kei Koizumi, former Assistant Director for Federal R&D and senior advisor to the director of the National Science and Technology Council, US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Koizumi is currently a visiting scholar in science policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The lecture— hosted by the Univ of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) and moderated by ISSP fellow Paul Dufour — will provide examples and lessons learned at the White House OSTP, and offer thoughts on what a solid science-advice organization should look like. Also discussed will be the importance of a central organization at the highest level of government to formulate, implement, and coordinate STI policy.  Click here to register.

Alternative federal Budget released

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released its annual Alternative Federal Budget. Entitled High Stakes, Clear Choices. It arrives 10 days before Finance minister Bill Morneau tables the government’s own fiscal blueprint for the coming year.

New Global Skills Strategy includes fast-tracking stream for high-growth firms

Feds and Alberta fund carbon conversion test facility

Trump signs Canada-inspired bills to promote women entrepreneurship

CFI Leaders Fund awards $52 million to 223 projects at 39 universities

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has announced $52 million in funding from its John R Evans Leaders Fund for 223 projects at 39 universities across Canada. The funding announcement provides a breakdown by province and project. The CFI Leaders Fund provides researchers with foundational research infrastructure support, helping them to become leaders in their field and assisting institutions with creating competitive research support packages for research in their strategic priority areas.

Fusion raises US $25 million for cancer targeting technology

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc, a spin out of the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), has secured US$25 million in series ‘A’ financing to support and accelerate development of new next-generation therapeutics that precisely target cancer cells. The funding round is led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc, and includes investments from HealthCap, TPG Biotechnology Ventures, Genesys Capital and founding seed investor, the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT). Fusion’s lead program — FPX-01 0151 — leverages alpha particle-emitting technology combined with monoclonal antibodies to target cancer cells with reduced damage to normal tissue and fewer side effects. The company’s platform is based on radiolabelling technologies developed by CPDC, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. The financing will also help Toronto-based Fusion build a pipeline through development of its recently acquired centryin-based targeting technology program which is now in preclinical development.

UHN receives $20-million gift from Daniels Foundation

The John and Myrna Daniels Foundation has made a $20-million donation to the University Health Network (UHN). The gift will support three UHN programs — the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, the Krembil Neuroscience Centre and the Multi-Organ Transplant Program. The UHN gift is the latest philanthropic donation made by John Daniels, a real estate tycoon whose developments include the Eaton Centre, TD Centre and the Mississauga community of Erin Mills.

OCE funds 20 IT-based automotive projects

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) has announced $1.4 million under its Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) for 20 projects that contribute to the adoption of information technology (IT) by industry. The funding has been matched or exceeded by industry partners for a total of more than $4 million. The projects, up to two years in duration, aim to increase supplier capability to deliver shorter design cycle times, support the adoption of specific software and IT solutions that enhance efficiency and cost effectiveness, and target smaller supplier firms to increase their sourcing capabilities and expand export markets. ASCIP is a collaboration between OCE, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association and the provincial Ministry of Economic Development and Growth.

York taps SIF for $113 million in facility upgrades

Hifi completes successful testing of O&G leak detection technology

Team Alberta lobbies Ottawa for fair share of research funding

People

Claude Ricks

Ed Holder

Anne Dawson

Number 2 / Volume 31 / February 15, 2017

Editorial

The federal government has been afforded a timely opportunity to move the markers on innovation with the latest recommendations from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth

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Barton panel pitches large growth funds, procurement to improve innovation ecosystem

The creation of two large funds aimed at scaling high-growth tech firms is among the recommendations contained in the second wave of reports from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth. The funds would target what the panel describes as bottlenecks in the innovation ecosystem – early- and expansion-stage companies as well as established small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high impact potential.

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Aerospace sector tempers expectations, despite big asks in federal Budget

Canada’s investment in aerospace innovation likely won’t stop with this week’s announcement by the federal government that it will provide a $372.5 million “repayable contribution” to Bombardier Inc. The interest-free loan, to be provided over four years, will fund R&D for the new Global 7000 business jet, and ongoing activities related to the development of the Montreal-based company’s C Series aircraft.

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Opinion Leader

Budget should reflect that humanities, social sciences are key to resilient economy

Canada needs all of the arts, social sciences and humanities to build an inclusive, innovative, democratic and prosperous society and economy … We urge the Government to ensure that any investments in talent — both international and Canadian — include the humanities and social sciences that are so vital to Canada’s future success.

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Government and business need to identify key growth sectors: Barton council

The Advisory Council on Economic Growth says Canada must choose a small number of promising sectors for growth as the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia have done with varying degrees of success. And while the council does not provide a specific list, it does single out agriculture and food, energy and renewables, mining and metals, healthcare and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, financial services, tourism and education as the best bets.

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NSERC announces 2017 winners for top research prizes

Dr Jeff Dahn has been awarded the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his pioneering research to improve lithium ion battery technology – one of a clutch of high-profile awards announced last night by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council…

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News Bites

News Briefs

CICan offers intensive leadership institute this summer

ACOA jumpstarts Atlantic Aerospace and Defence Association

ACOA renews Springboard Atlantic funding

Pond, SNC-Lavalin partner on CO2 conversion and recycling

Strategic timing key to commercialization success: study

CQDM, Brain Canada partner on novel research projects

Emera funds UNB smart grid research centre and chair

Microsoft acquires Waterloo-based AI start-up

Governments fund Toronto agency for attracting FDI

Energy storage firm receives $11M from pension fund

Versant boosts Canadian presence with key appointments

Math research institute receives $12.8M in new funding

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