Number 2 / Volume 32 / February 21, 2018


The Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) competition for the Liberal government’s most expensive funding program to date has wrapped up after nine months.

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Opinion Leader:
Rob James

Canadian Competitiveness, Cooperation, and the Promise of Convergence

While current innovation policy initiatives are implemented with strong focus, professionalism, and conviction, Canadian policy makers must continue to cast an eye forward to the longer term economic battlefront.

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Industry digital network works with Ontario to help SMEs accelerate time to market

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) is working with the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) to offer the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP) to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Ontario government is contributing $63 million to the partnership, but with matching funds from the private sector, the total will rise to $115 million.

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Opinion Leader:
J. Adam Holbrook

Superclusters: Success depends on far more than tech-focused innovation policy

The supercluster initiative marks a new and positive step in Canadian innovation policy. It is more than a research granting exercise. Instead, it is one that is designed to ensure a clear reaching out to all parts of the research ecosystem in industry, non-profit organizations, academia and government.

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News Bites

News Briefs

HFC sector gets federal help to market to clean tech investors overseas

The federal government has awarded $670,000 to the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) to boost the hydrogen and fuel cell (HFC) sector’s global market activities. The funding is expected to help the Vancouver-based CHFCA develop and carry out marketing strategies and webinars to attract potential overseas clean technology investors, and eventually generate employment in western Canada. At present, the HFC sector contributes 2,000 knowledge-based, high-tech jobs to the economy. Creating strong market strategies for the HFC sector is in line with the CHFCA’s mission to support Canadian corporations, governments and educational institutions that are developing, demonstrating and deploying HFC products and services. The funding will enable the CHFCA to further the federal government’s priorities to support clean technology and innovation. Formed in January 2009 after the merger of the Canadian Hydrogen Association (CHA) and Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Canada (H2FCC), the CHFCA now represents the majority of stakeholders in Canada’s HFC sector.

Glycomics research projects get $3.5M

CRCC releases work plan of priorities

Federal budget due out February 27

PM Trudeau woos tech giants in US trip

CanCode program to equip K-12 teachers, students with digital skills

The federal government is funding 21 projects across Canada in a program that will help develop the computer skills of the future in students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Funding will come from the $50-million CanCode program which is good for two years, starting 2017-18, and intended to equip up to one million students in coding and digital skills. Some 63,000 teachers will also be funded by the program as they are expected to incorporate the skills and technologies in their teaching. The program is intended to encourage more girls and Indigenous people and under-represented groups to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The funded projects are from Actua, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Canada Learning Code, Cybera Inc., Kids Code Jeunesse, Saskatoon Industry Education Council, ICTC, Brilliant Labs, TakingITGlobal, FIRST Robotics Canada, Let’s Talk Science, Grandir sans frontiers, Science North, The Learning Partnership, Pinnguaq, Ulnooweg Development Group, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc., Fusion Jeunesse, Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach, MediaSmarts and Science World.

Canada in international partnership for digital travel ID prototype

Funding from VCs up in 2017 – PwC/CB Insights report

Automotive firms receive $100 million from new SIF

Guelph ON-based Linamar Corp has received $49 million from the new Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to develop its advanced manufacturing capabilities around artificial intelligence and 3D printing, and cleaner automotive technologies. The $1.26-billion fund was announced in Budget 2017 and bundles several existing programs to support a range of high-growth and innovative sectors – such as aerospace and defence, automotive firms, clean technology, information and communications technology, and agri-food. The fund supports R&D projects, expansion of firms, collaborative technology projects and activities that help companies attract large-scale investments. Linamar is the first project to be funded under the SIF, the government said. In addition to Linamar, another 11 automotive companies in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia were awarded a total of $41 million: Blue Solutions Canada Inc, Boucherville QC – $9 million for high-performance, low-cost lithium metal polymer for battery packs for smaller, more efficient passenger vehicles;  SWITCH Materials Inc, Burnaby BC – $8.3 million for advanced glazing technology to help reduce vehicles’ gas emission; Nova Steel Inc, Woodstock ON –  $7.5 million for second-generation advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) for a more efficient production plant; AGS Automotive Systems, Toronto, – $7 million for lighter composite materials for auto parts; Sciemetric Instruments Inc, Ottawa, – $2.9 million for efficient manufacturing processes; Bowman Precision Tooling, Brantford, ON – $2.7 million for a prototype of third-generation advanced high-strength steel “B” pillars for driver and passenger doors; Lakeside Plastics Ltd, Tecumseh, ON – $1.1 million to develop innovative new molding processes for lightweight, more environmentally-friendly materials; Marwood Metal Fabrication Ltd, Tillsonburg, ON – $953,500 to use carbon fibre in its production process; Abraham Innovation Systems Inc, Markham, ON – $701,669 to develop technology for inspecting and repairing painted vehicle bodies without human intervention; Synergx Technologies Inc, Laval, QC –  $782,401 to create a non-contact 3D glass inspection; Meridian Lightweight Technologies Inc, Strathroy ON – $347,840 to build magnesium joints to replace existing steel shock towers to help reduce vehicle weight by up to 57%.

RBC funds Waterloo’s cybersecurity lab, privacy projects

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is investing $1.78 million in Univ of Waterloo for a cybersecurity lab and to support research projects in cybersecurity and digital privacy. The fund will support projects in computer science, mathematics and the new cybersecurity lab for the financial sector in the William G Davis Computer Research Centre, as well as projects in data-driven software defined security, led by Raouf Boutaba; privacy enhancing technologies, led by Ian Goldberg; and post-quantum cryptography, led by David Jao. It will also support work around CryptoWorks21, an enhanced education program on post-quantum cryptosystems led by Waterloo’s Michele Mosca. RBC is funding projects in Waterloo to boost the skills needed by the cybersecurity industry. Working with a university allows the bank to gain access to its talent pool and leverage its unique capabilities in mathematical science.

Canada, Germany to expand cooperation in more research areas


Gordon Harling

CMC Microsystems has a new president and CEO with industry executive Gordon Harling assuming the post February 12. Harling joins CMC from Innotime Technologies, his latest startup, and brings with him more than three decades of working with industry and academia on microelectronics, microsystems and nanotechnologies in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. He is recognized in the industry for his contribution to microelectronics as a founder of several startups, helping raise funds for the startup community, consulting with investors and conducting R&D. Harling’s hands-on fabrication and manufacturing-oriented industry experience is seen as playing a major role in ensuring that Canada’s National Design Network, a key CMC initiative for leading-edge R&D in micro-nano technologies, continues to play its role in strengthening Canada’s innovation economy. Harling has a master’s degree from Polytechnique Montréal (MEng) and a bachelor’s degree in applied science from Univ of Toronto (BASc).

Robbin Tourangeau

David Perry

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) has named David Perry as chief talent officer to focus on developing Canada’s human resources leadership as part of CATA’s innovation agenda. A CEO of the boutique executive search and management consulting firm Perry-Martel International, Perry handled more than 1,000 projects and created an extensive personal network of leading CEOs and executives. This network has enabled him to find the most qualified candidates to help the client-firm grow and boost the shareholder value. A graduate of McGill Univ in 1982, Perry holds a BA in economics and industrial relations.

CCA names five to Scientific Advisory Committee

The Council of Canadian Academies has appointed David Castle, Sophie D’Amours, Malcolm King, Barbara Neis and Nicole Poirier to its scientific advisory committee. The committee advises the CCA’s board of directors on expert assessments, particularly on question selection and expert panel membership. Castle is VP research, and a professor in the School of Public Administration, with an adjunct appointment in the Gustavson School of Business at the Univ of Victoria. D’Amours is a faculty member at Univ Laval’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and became the first female and 26th university rector on April 26, 2017. King is a health researcher at Univ of Saskatchewan and scientific director of the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR). Neis, a John Paton Lewis distinguished university professor at Memorial Univ of Newfoundland, is with the Department of Sociology and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Poirier is president and founder of KoanTeknico Solutions Inc, which provides consulting services to the forest, maritime, environmental, and nanotechnology sectors. Susan McDaniel as chair, and Lorne Babiuk and Daniel Krewski as members have ended their terms on the committee. Eliot Phillipson assumes the role of committee chair.

Number 1 / Volume 32 / January 25, 2018


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 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.


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.