Numbers

Number 1 / Volume 32 / January 25, 2018

Editorial

It’s been a promising start to the New Year with several substantive announcements that are hopefully an indication of more to come with forthcoming federal and provincial budgets.

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Opinion Leader:
Robert Luke

Canada is Missing an Important Trend: Design Research and the Role of Experimental Development

To increase its capacity to innovate, Canada needs to move away from simple resource extraction in favour of valued-added design and the production of new products and services for global markets. Against a background of climate change, this pivot is essential: lowering carbon emissions is commensurate with moving to a green or even low- or no-growth economy.

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StatsCan data show cleantech contributing to GDP

Environmental and clean technologies are contributing to the Canadian economy, accounting for 3% of the gross domestic product and employing more than a quarter of a million, according to the first ever set of data released by Statistics Canada last month. 

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News Bites

News Briefs

Canada to catalyze innovation in chemical sector

Canada in top 10 among innovation champions in CTA scorecard

Feds beef up clean tech support with $700 million in BDC assistance

Brain Canada & CQDM fund AbCellera’s cell screening platform technology

AbCellera Biologics Inc and the Univ of British Columbia (UBC) received non-dilutive funding of $1 million from pharma-based consortium CQDM and charitable organization Brain Canada Foundation to advance a discovery platform for next-generation antibody therapeutics. With the additional contribution of $450,000 from AbCellera, the program will leverage AbCellera’s high throughput, single-cell screening platform to allow rapid identification of functional antibodies against complex membrane proteins. The collective financial contributions were made by five CQDM industrial members — GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and Sanofi. The funding will help AbCellera, which spun off from UBC in 2012, enhance its capabilities for antibody discovery against high-value complex membrane proteins. These proteins have proven intractable by conventional approaches, including hybridoma, phage and yeast display. The project also calls for the application of the technology to the generation of function-modifying antibodies against an undisclosed G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) target.

 

TD acquires Toronto AI firm

TD Bank has acquired Layer 6 Inc, a Toronto-based artificial intelligence firm, for an undisclosed amount. The bank said its latest investment is part of a transformation strategy to deliver personalized customer experience. Layer 6 offers an AI platform to financial institutions and e-commerce for prediction and personalization. Layer 6 is co-founded by co-CEOs Tomi Poutanen and Jordan Jacobs who are also co-founders of Vector Institute. Poutanen and Jacobs are credited for securing $190 million as initial funds for the Vector Institute, which TD also supports along with over 30 other companies and the federal and provincial governments. On their LinkedIn profiles, Poutanen and Jacobs posted that they are TD’s Chief AI Officers effective January 2018. Another co-founder is Maks Volkovs, the company’s lead data scientist with a PhD from the Univ of Toronto. TD’s latest acquisition builds on its other investments and partnerships in AI, including working with conversational AI provider Kasisto, and Amazon.com on Alexa, and investing in data and analytical talent development at Western Univ and Univ of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

UNB gets $2.9M for surveillance applications in defence

Apple acquires BC’s Buddybuild

New appointees to CIHR Governing Council

The Governing Council of Canadian Institutes of Health Research has announced six new members appointed by Health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. The council members, with a term of three years each, will provide advice to the minister and help the council develop CIHR’s strategic directions, goals and policies. The new appointees are Dr Alice B. Aiken, VP Research at Dalhousie Univ; Dr Brenda J. Andrews, professor of molecular genetics and Charles H. Best Chair of Medical Research, Univ of Toronto; Dr Mark S. Dockstator, president of the First Nations Univ of Canada; Dr Nada Jabado, professor of pediatrics and human genetics at McGill Univ; Dr Jean Anne Shoveller, professor at the Univ of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health; and Dr Marcello A. Tonelli, associate VP Research at the Univ of Calgary. The CIHR Governing Council also appoints scientific directors and Institute Advisory Board members.

Ontario announces major new research funding

Ontario has announced $137 million in funding for 53 research projects in the latest round of awards from the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure. The funding includes large-scale and collaborative projects undertaken by 17 large provincial institutions. Ontario says the funds will cover the cost of building, renovating or equipping facilities. Some projects cited include the Univ Health Network‘s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Precision Medicine Program on genetic and non-genetic aspects of cancer; Univ of Waterloo’s RoboDrive research facility and test track for autonomous vehicles; and Carleton Univ‘s Centre for Advanced Building Envelope Research on new insulation technologies for Canadian homes and buildings. The projects, which span across different disciplines – from healthcare to advanced manufacturing and clean tech to computer technology – are also aimed at supporting high-quality jobs.

People

Polytechnics CEO to step down

Joe Allen

Mike Pedersen

The board of directors of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has a new chair, financial industry executive Mike Pedersen. Pedersen will succeed former chair Samuel Duboc and will hold a term of four years starting March 5, 2018. Robert Pitfield, a member of the board since May 2014, will be the interim chair until March. Before this appointment, Pedersen served as president and CEO of TD Bank in the US, and occupied senior leadership positions, including group head for TD Bank Group’s wealth and insurance businesses. He also worked as managing director for Barclays Bank in London, UK, and senior executive vice-president of retail and small business banking for CIBC. Pedersen once assumed the chair of the Canadian Bankers Association and has served on boards in the private and not-for-profit sectors.