Number 5 / Volume 32 / May 16, 2018


Policy-making in the public sphere is not for everyone. It’s simply not easy to please everybody, especially if there are voters’ opinions to consider. At the end of the day, however, a decision has to be made, favourable or not to the constituents.

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Innovation stakeholders differ on new IP strategy

The federal government has unveiled details of its eagerly anticipated new intellectual property (IP) strategy to help innovators better protect their intellectual assets, encourage innovation and defend themselves against so-called patent trolls. However, different stakeholders who spoke to RE$EARCH MONEY have different perspectives on what the IP strategy means to the innovation ecosystem, suggesting that one size doesn’t fit all.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Brian Wixted

Research Money ≠ Research Effort

Expenditure-based measures have been the most successful and best used indicator of innovation to date because the data can be collected with minimal effort and maximum accuracy (not perfect) and interpreted without huge complexities.

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News Bites

News Briefs

City of Toronto supports civic innovation space

The City of Toronto and partners recently launched a space that will bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, providers, professionals and citizens to be able to work together to develop solutions that will improve services to Torontonians. Called Civic Hall Toronto, the innovation space will be located at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) on Spadina Ave. in downtown Toronto. Aside from being a collaborative space and hub for social innovation, Civic Hall Toronto also offers services, training, networking opportunities and organizes events to promote a culture of innovation. City officials said the initiative will help grow the civic tech sector in the GTA. It was also created to provide a safe place for learning and testing ideas while engaging the community. CSI hosts the space while Code for Canada, a national non-profit that helps government deliver better digital public services, will manage the initiative. Civic Hall Toronto is patterned after similar initiatives in New York and Paris. It is open for membership to both the government and the community.

Governments, Apple invest in Alcoa-Rio Tinto JV for carbon-free aluminum project

OCE supports six regional sites for C/AV

Pfizer Canada funds MaRS Innovation for health sciences research

Pfizer Canada has contributed $800,000 to MaRS Innovation to support new ideas or technologies in health sciences research in areas of therapeutics, diagnostic and treatment tools, and manufacturing technologies. The MaRS Innovation – Pfizer Translational Research Fund will be managed by MaRS Innovation. Priority projects are in cardiovascular disease, inflammation, immunology, rare diseases, vaccines, and oncology. Through this partnership, Pfizer Canada is boosting its support to health innovation and research in Ontario. John Helou, president of Pfizer Canada, described this as an example of pharmaceutical investment in Canada’s innovation ecosystem that is not currently captured in the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. Despite this, Helou said the company’s commitment is aligned with the new Ontario government action plan to develop the province’s life sciences industry. Pfizer’s approach to fulfill this commitment is to collaborate with academic scientists, patient foundations, governments, biopharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, and organizations such as MaRS Innovation, which is a provider of commercialization services and early-stage funding.

Sanofi to build vaccine facility with government help

Sanofi Pasteur Limited will receive up to $70 million to help construct the 150,000-square-foot Bulk Biologics Facility at the Connaught Campus in Toronto. The governments of Canada and Ontario contributed the amount to help establish the $500-million vaccine-manufacturing facility. Through the Advanced Manufacturing Fund, FedDev Ontario contributed $20 million, which is a repayable contribution. For its part, the Government of Ontario is investing $50 million through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund. Considered as one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, the facility is expected to double the production of Sanofi Pasteur’s life-saving vaccines by 2023, which is the target year of operation. The initiative will also launch the Canadian-researched and -developed pertussis or whooping cough vaccine into more than 30 new global markets. An estimated 1,250 jobs will be created or maintained through this project. Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccines division of Sanofi, which invested $130 million into R&D in Canada in 2016, and whose entities employ close to 1,900 people.

Borealis AI expands to BC

Borealis AI will establish a computer vision research centre in Vancouver by fall. Borealis AI, an RBC Institute for Research, will develop a machine learning subfield that trains computers to see, process and understand the visual world even as computer vision is new to the financial services industry. Professor Greg Mori, computing science director of Simon Fraser Univ, will be the lab’s research director. An internationally recognized expert in computer vision, Mori will be joined by Univ of British Columbia professor Leonid Sigal who will work as academic advisor. While at Borealis AI, Mori and Sigal will continue teaching in their universities. Mori’s research includes semantic segmentation or a series of machine learning techniques that seek to label every object in a natural image down to the pixel level. Sigal’s research focuses on the challenges of visual understanding and reasoning. By providing a varied landscape and focusing on green living, Vancouver is also viewed as an ideal location for Borealis AI to expand its research to environmental science. Borealis AI was established by RBC in 2016 and has other labs in Toronto/Waterloo, Edmonton and Montreal.

Sophia awes at OCE Discovery 2018

The Discovery 2018 Conference wrapped up in Toronto, ON last May 1. The annual event organized by the Ontario Centres for Excellence (OCE) brought together technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all over the world. Over 500 exhibitors and 3,000 participants attended the two-day event, which showcased Ontario as a hotbed of innovation and excellence.Featured at the conference this year were some of the latest developments in robotics, aerospace, autonomous vehicles and advanced mobility, as well as advanced applications in healthcare, clean-tech, wearable technology, artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR).The keynote speakers were global media sensation Sophia, a humanoid robot, and her creator, Dr David Hanson, who appeared via hologram, and Megan Smith, former chief technology officer of the United States who served under former President Barrack Obama. Sophia is the first robot to be granted “citizenship,” and in her first visit to Canada, she spoke about the need for collaboration between humans and machines to create a prosperous future for all and to allay the unfounded fears of a robot rebellion. Megan Smith shared her thoughts about how new developments in digital infrastructure such as 5G, AI and other technologies were allowing people to improve their quality of life.


Biotech firm gets federal, provincial funds for advanced manufacturing

Salesforce venture funds to invest $100M in Canadian cloud startups

Mitacs expands innovation-focused internships to colleges, polytechnics

Cisco supports Humber College’s applied research with $4M in equipment

Cisco Canada is providing Humber College with $4 million in equipment and infrastructure to allow faculty, students and industry to work together on projects related to cyber, network communication and collaborative digital technologies. The partnership that’s good for over five years will support Humber’s applied research network and activities. The audio-visuals systems using Cisco Webex technology will be installed throughout the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (CTI) at Humber’s North Etobicoke campus. The Cisco Digital Transformation Zone, through the CTI, will showcase how the integration of automation and data exchange into manufacturing technologies can enhance operations of small and medium-sized enterprises. For its part, Humber will demonstrate at the Cisco Innovation Centre in downtown Toronto the influence of technology on the education and training approaches of the community college. Chris Whitaker, president of Humber, describes the collaboration as an example of how the polytechnic education model links industry with faculty and students in utilizing emerging technologies to address business challenges. Aside from technological support, Cisco will offer internships and post-graduation employment opportunities for Humber students, and $50,000 in scholarships.

CABHI funds projects that help dementia patients, their caregivers

More than $7.6 million has been announced to support the development and validation testing of 53 new innovations seeking to help dementia patients and their caregivers, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) announced recently. Part of the funding is for a localized area alert system for missing persons with dementia, assessment of the use of smart-home technologies to support caregivers and older adults at home with dementia, and an augmentative and alternative communication system designed to replace spoken communication for non-verbal individuals. Led by Baycrest Health Sciences, CABHI has supported the acceleration of healthcare and technology-based innovations by point-of-care staff, researchers and companies. The projects got support from CABHI’s programs, including the Spark Program, the Industry Innovation Partnership Program, and the Researcher-Clinician Partnership Program. CABHI emerged out of the largest investment in brain health and aging in Canadian history. Formed in 2015, it is a collaboration of health care, science, industry, not-for-profit and government partners whose aim is to help improve quality of life for the world’s aging population. The home of CABHI is the Univ of Toronto-affiliated Baycrest, which is globally recognized in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education.


Jackie Dawson

Dr Jackie Dawson has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA). She is the Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society and Policy (Tier II), and associate professor in geography at the Univ of Ottawa. She has a master’s degree from the Univ of Otago School of Business (tourism), a PhD in geography from the Univ of Waterloo, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Univ of Guelph. Her primary areas of research are Arctic shipping, Arctic economic development, and coastal communities and climate change. Dawson became a member of the CCA’s expert panel on the social and economic value of marine shipping to Canada, which produced the 2017 report titled The Value of Commercial Marine Shipping to Canada. Dawson also participated in a workshop on the CCA’s 2016 report titled Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada.

Sarah Watts-Rynard

Sarah Watts-Rynard is the next CEO of Polytechnics Canada effective July 30, 2018. She will succeed Nobina Robinson who is retiring after nine years of service. Currently serving as executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF), Watts-Rynard has been credited for increasing public appreciation of the skilled trades in Canada and for engaging with education and industry partners to make CAF the premier research body for apprenticeship. Polytechnics Canada expects that her experience in communications and research will help its members raise awareness of the socioeconomic benefits of applied, advanced education. Watts-Rynard views Canadian post-secondary education as more than just a choice between college or university and stresses that polytechnic education blends classroom and work-integrated learning in a way that suits labour market demands. She sees Polytechnics Canada as a voice for the polytechnic system, ensuring that levels of government and the Canadian public are made aware of the significant role Canada’s polytechnics play for the economy and learners.

Number 4 / Volume 32 / April 18, 2018


The recently concluded 17th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference proved to be another success. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, and already there are new ideas about how to make next year’s conference yet another must-attend event for the STI policy and investment community.

It’s not every day that STI stakeholders gather to discuss the pertinent issues of the day. So it was exciting to hear from a wide range of different geographies, sectors and levels of government. Whether it was in the plenary or break-out panel discussions or in networking breaks, discussions were insightful and productive.

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CCA report fuses research and industrial R&D data to expose weak linkages between home-grown S&T and wealth creation

Canadian science and technology and industrial R&D are faced with a growing risk of becoming branch plants of research, innovation and competitiveness for other countries. While not new, this conclusion reached by an expert panel tasked to examine the issue that says the severity and urgency of the situation are increasing due to rapidly evolving global trends, the “start and sell” mentality of many tech entrepreneurs and the ecosystem damage inflicted between 2006 and 2015.

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Opinion Leader:
Paul Dufour

‘Reimagining’ National Academies: A Northern Minerva Reboots

‘Reimagination’ is very much in the news today (not to be confused with the imagineers at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D subsidiary). We saw the word trotted out in the 2018 federal Budget on how the 101-year-old National Research Council (NRC) was going to form a new conception of itself — not that it hasn’t been reimagined several times before.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Call for Proposals: Canada-Israel research partnership seeks to fund R&D projects to commercialize

The Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (CIIRDF) is accepting proposals for bilateral R&D projects focusing on the commercialization of new technologies. Private sector companies from the two countries are invited to propose joint research, R&D and technology development projects for the creation of innovative products or processes with a non-defence application. The priorities are small- and medium-sized enterprises or firms with fewer than 500 employees. Maximum project length is 24 months. They can leverage academic expertise and engage students jointly with the the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Universities and research institutions can be involved in projects as subcontractors or consultants but not as applicants. Special considerations are for information and communication technologies, life sciences, aerospace, clean tech and sustainable technology, plus limited energy, as well as agriculture and agrifood. CIIRDF selects and awards qualified applicants with up to 50% of the eligible project costs and to a maximum of CDN$800,000 per project. Deadlines: May 31 for summary proposal submission; June 29 for full proposal submission. Notification of approved projects: October 2018.

Aerospace sector gets federal support for innovative helicopters

An aerospace consortium led by Québec-based Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. is receiving $49.5 million from the federal government to develop innovative technologies for integration into next-generation helicopters. Support was provided through the Strategic Innovation Fund. With fully autonomous aerial systems, the innovative helicopters will be designed to fly either with or without crew on board. Other planned innovations will relate to energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and noise pollution reduction. The project is touted to generate or maintain more than 300 Canadian jobs, gain unprecedented sizable grounds in international markets and pour in $178 million to Canada’s GDP in the next five years. Among the 18 industry and academic partners bent on solidifying Canada’s position as the leading global centre for innovation in the vertical lift and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) segments are Pratt & Whitney Canada, CMC Electronics, Esterline Technologies Corporation, several small and medium-sized businesses and nine Canadian universities. Through this project, Bell Helicopter and its partners are infusing more than $125 million in Canada’s aerospace industry, which includes 700 firms. The sector contributes $28 billion in GDP and supports more than 200,000 jobs.

Zucara Therapeutics secures funding for diabetes drug

Life sciences firm Zucara Therapeutics Inc. has secured non-dilutive funding of US$3.9 million for the pre-clinical advancement of its lead drug candidate for diabetes, ZT-01. Zucara’s partner, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, will provide the funds in the form of a loan under a program-related investment (PRI). ZT-01 is focused on the prevention of hypoglycemia or dangerously low blood glucose levels, which may lead to unconsciousness or death, in patients with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and other types of insulin-dependent diabetes. For its lead drug to be on schedule for Phase I clinical trials in 2019, Zucara is pushing forward with GLP toxicology, GMP manufacturing and other investigational new drug/clinical trial application enabling activities. Zucara chief scientific officer Richard Liggins, who has helped several similar-stage therapeutics reach clinical trials, will lead the preclinical development work. To build and advance its products, Zucara is working closely with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD).

Kraken Robotic pre-qualifies for BCIP

Kraken Robotic Systems Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of TSX-listed Kraken Robotics Inc., has pre-qualified to the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) for the company’s ThunderFish 300 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). Under BCIP, Kraken can sell its pre-qualified innovations to the federal government as its first reference sale. The company will receive feedback from federal departments on the performance of ThunderFish in an operational setting after the AUV testing. Built for military and scientific applications, the ThunderFish AUV is a marine robot for ultra high-resolution seabed imaging and mapping applications. Its uses include underwater surveys, environmental monitoring, habitat mapping, marine archaeology, inspection of submerged structures, searching for downed aircraft and naval mine countermeasures. ThunderFish possesses an array of sensors and custom payload modules, including Kraken’s AquaPix Synthetic Aperture Sonar. With a platform that can be configured to operate at depths of up to 6,000 meters, it is ideal for monitoring or surveillance tasks where cost efficiency, ease of deployment and operational simplicity are of critical importance. Rapid sensor reconfiguration and battery replacement are possible because of its modular design.

New Canada 150 chairs announced in Ottawa

Ottawa recently announced more appointees to the Canada 150 Research Chairs, a program which attracted some of the top international researchers from all over the world to consider Canada their new home or to consider coming back home. The Canada 150 research chairs competition is funded in Budget 2017 for $117.6 million. The chairs come with a seven-year term at $350,000 per year and $1 million per year. The two tiers are intended to “acknowledge the varying costs of research objectives” with the proviso that the higher amount will be awarded to candidates of “exceptional calibre”. The funds are invested through the three granting councils, and Canada Foundation for Innovation is providing another $830,000 to support the program. More than 58% of the 24 chairs announced are women and 42% are Canadian expatriates. The 24 Canada 150 Research Chairs named to date, including those announced last December, hail from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and South Africa. The complete list of chairs can be found online.

Sudbury project gets $1.6M to tackle GHG issue

The Landscape Carbon Accumulation Research (L-CARE) project of Laurentian Univ is receiving a total of $1.6 million to support its research on addressing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Ontario. Of the total funds, 50% or $798,000 is from the TargetGHG program under the Ontario Green Investment Fund announced in Budget 2015. The other half will be provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a TargetGHG partner. L-CARE is a part of the TargetGHG Stream 2 Collaborative R&D Program. This stream supports industry-academic collaborative R&D projects and aims to achieve Ontario’s 2020-2030 targets for GHG emission reduction. Concentrating on the management of brownfield and other industrially-impacted landscapes, the L-CARE project will study the approaches to reclamation management as part of a carbon sequestration strategy. This is in relation to extensive hard-rock mining. The project will examine the treatment and management strategies across mine tailings environments; and the upland, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems. The L-CARE project partners are Laurentian Univ, Vale Canada Limited, Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (Sudbury INO), and the City of Greater Sudbury. Co-investigators and collaborators are McMaster Univ, Trent Univ, Queen’s Univ, Univ de Sherbrooke, and Univ du Québec à Montréal. Other collaborators are Cambridge Univ, Cornell Univ, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Canadian Forest Service. TargetGHG program is administered by Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Biofuel firm gets $12M in new round of investment

Quebec’s agtech firm, Agrisoma Biosciences, Inc., has received $12 million from a new round of investors, including Desjardins Capital, a first-time investor. The company, which produces biojet fuel for the aviation industry, has recently struck deals with some global biofuel players, and the new round of funding will help them deploy their commitments and further expand the commercialization of Carinata seeds in key markets, says Cycle Capital Management, the lead investor. Another key investor in this round of funding is BDC Capital, the first and largest investor in Agrisoma and which considers Agrisoma’s biofuel as financially attractive for farmers engaged in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Another existing investor that participated in this round is Lune Rouge. The Carinata seeds that produce biofuel help in mitigating climate change. Agrisoma says the new funds can also help in expanding the production of the seeds in the United States, South America and Australia. Agrisoma produces the low GHG biofuel from the Carinata mustard oil. Australia’s Qantas Airlines last January flew a Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Australia to the US using biojet fuel. It was the first commercial transpacific flight to use Carinata-based biofuel.

$25M in federal funding available to provinces, territories for clean tech

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recently launched a $25-million, three-year program that aims to fund provinces and territories for clean technology projects that are expected to run from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2021. Under the Agriculture Clean Technology (ACT) Program, the federal government will provide non-repayable contributions for projects that will help the agricultural sector reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the development and adoption of clean tech. The funds are expected to create jobs in clean tech and address Canada’s climate change commitments. Fund recipients are encouraged to work with industry in the areas of precision agriculture and/or bioproducts, or products and agriculture technologies that can help farmers make efficient use of energy while protecting the environment. ACT funding is being made available through the Innovation and Skills Plan. It complements AAFC’s ongoing Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP) that also helps farmers mitigate (GHG) emissions. Aside from supporting provinces, territories and municipal governments, AGGP also supports not-for-profits, academia and aboriginal groups.


People: Jeff Watts and Pierre Roberge

Jeff Watts and Pierre Roberge have been appointed president and chief technology officer, respectively, of Prodigy Ventures Inc., a listed innovation company and named by Deloitte as one of Canada’s fastest growing technology companies. Roberge will also serve as senior VP for solutions and ventures. Tom Beckerman remains as company CEO and director. Watts was executive VP of Prodigy before his new appointment. He has a proven track record of success in scaling technology businesses. He has more than 25 years of global experience in direct sales, channels, marketing, and business and corporate development, having worked with SAP, Xerox, 3Com, and He recently finished an assignment as chief revenue officer for a partner of SAP. He serves on several boards, including Valucap Investments Inc., where he is CEO. Roberge has more than 20 years of experience in digital identity, digital currency, online, mobile and payment marketplaces. He co-founded SecureKey Technologies, Dexit, and Rocket Piggy. Prior to Prodigy, Roberge has engaged clients such as TD Canada Trust, the Royal Canadian Mint, Interac, EnStream, Suretap, Telus and Intel. He is a fintech advisor to the MaRS Innovation Centre. Roberge replaces Hussein Vastani, who left to pursue opportunities in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Number 3 / Volume 32 / March 21, 2018


The winter-spring season in Canada coincides with the fiscal year of some government, both at the federal and provincial levels. Thus, British Columbia’s new government handed down its first full budget last February 20 while Ontario is scheduled to announce its budget on March 28. But none was more anticipated by the R&D and innovation communities than the federal budget, which delivered up to $6.4 billion over five years in commitments for the sector.

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BC Budget 2018 short on science and innovation measures

Tech skills development and a previously announced innovation commissioner were the sole STI highlights of the British Columbia Budget, which was announced February 20 and stands in stark contrast to the research and innovation-heavy federal Budget delivered a week later.

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Ontario creates VC fund initiative for life sciences sector

Ontario has announced a life sciences venture capital initiative to provide provincial firms with much-needed capital to grow their business. The Ontario Capital Growth Corporation (OCGC), the agency managing the province’s VC interests, is seeking fund managers who can leverage the province’s $50-million investment.

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Opinion Leader:
Dr Alex Navarre

Should university mindset about innovation evolve?

Canada’s innovation ranking over the past two decades has not improved, according to the latest OECD data. Let me express alarm in the situation as publicly funded research is an important contributor to innovation.

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Women entrepreneurs not appreciated for their innovation, new study suggests

A new study shows that efforts to innovate by women entrepreneurs are not being recognized because of a dominant focus on technologies. Titled Everywhere, Everyday Innovating – Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation, the report says women in Canada are innovating in all aspects of the business but are hampered by policies and programs that restrict the concept of innovation to technology and goods rather than services.

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Excerpts: Research ecosystem reacts to Budget 2018

The whole ecosystem is patting themselves on the back, confident that their concerted efforts to lobby behind the Naylor report recommendations — foremost of which was an increase in budget – did not fall on deaf ears. RE$EARCH MONEY offers excerpts of what the ecosystem has to say about the federal budget.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Alberta corporation to invest in VC to seed startups

Alberta Enterprise Corporation, the provincial government’s independent fund of funds manager, has invested $5 million in Panache Ventures’ new Canadian seed fund. This investment comes after Panache Ventures recently closed up to $25 million in deals, and the company is keen to support more seed-stage startups across Canada. Panache Ventures is led by former startup operators and angel investors who are well entrenched in the local ecosystem. Managing partner Patrick Lor is based in Calgary while managing partner Mike Cegelski and partner David Dufresne are from Montreal. The firm is looking to invest in companies innovating in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and blockchain, as well as virtual reality, enterprise SaaS (software as a service), and data analytics. Panache Ventures said it is already studying several deals with the hope of developing a large-scale portfolio of seed-stage companies across the country. With a target fund size of $40 million, Panache Ventures plans to invest in about 140 startups over the next four years. For Panache, Calgary is a focal hub for its operations in the west where they see a vibrant and growing technology ecosystem ripe for investment opportunities. Alberta Enterprise Corporation finds Panache’s focus on early-stage funding to be a good fit to the company’s goal of providing access to capital to young companies through fund managers.

Federal gov’t, provinces collaborate to build 5G test bed for SMEs

NCE shortlists 11 for 2018-19 competition

Smart cities accelerator merges with Centech incubator

InnoCité MTL, Montreal’s accelerator for smart cities, has merged with incubator Centech to combine their services and help more startups. The two organizations say the combination will put under one roof the best experts in smart cities development. InnoCité MTL is an initiative of the city of Montreal while Centech is a technology incubator created by École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS), one of Canada’s largest engineering schools. With the merger, InnoCité MTL will be added to Centech’s 10 ÉTS Open Innovation Cells as a smart city innovation cell. These innovation cells, measuring 56 m2 and located in Montreal’s Quartier de l’innovation (QI), allow collaboration among young companies, students, researchers and research chair holders for private-public sector partnerships.

CANARIE holds public consultations on proposed mandate

Tech Mahindra invests $100M for Centre of Excellence in AI, blockchain

India’s Tech Mahindra will invest $100 million over the next five years to create a new Centre of Excellence (COE) in Canada for major emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and Blockchain. The Indian technology powerhouse made the announcement during Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India in February. Tech Mahindra said the COE, to be based in Toronto, will facilitate access to cutting-edge technology for Canadians and Indians. It is also expected to create a pool of niche talent and generate high value-added employment in next-gen technology sectors. These results will be achieved through strong linkages and close cooperation by the envisioned COE with leading academic institutes, innovators and accelerators in the startup ecosystem, like the Vector Institute in Toronto.

Niagara supercomputer available to all Canadian researchers

Quebec projects get federal funding for innovative projects

Five projects in the Quebec City area have received funding to help companies and organizations move forward with their innovative projects. More than $831,000 in federal financial assistance are available through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) with almost $480,000 being repayable. The fund recipients are the Centre en imagerie numérique et médias interactifs (CIMMI), the Corporation Inno-centre du Québec, Industries Chronox, LynX Inspection and Viagénie. These five will be helping other organizations and companies — like startups and small and mid-sized enterprises — with mentoring, consulting services, equipment and systems purchase, technology transfer and prototyping, app development, and other innovative solutions. The government funds are expected to create 11 permanent jobs in the region and generate up to $2.5 million in investments. The projects are also expected to improve business productivity and help communities.

Great-West Life supports startups in academia venture

Insurer Great-West Life Assurance Company is investing $300,000 over three years in Univ of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) – Toronto, a seed-stage program located in the university’s Rotman School of Management. The nine-month program helps technology startups to scale up by providing  entrepreneurs with mentorship, development support and guidance in looking for capital from venture capital firms. There are currently more than 100 companies in CDL-Toronto this year, and they recently had intensive sessions where they met with mentors, investors, corporate sponsors and successful entrepreneurs. Great-West Life’s parent firm, Great-West Lifeco, has interests in a joint venture investment in Portag3 Venture, which supports promising fintech companies in Canada and beyond. CDL-Toronto’s graduating ventures last year raised more than $46 million. Other CDLs are located in British Columbia, Calgary, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and a new one is scheduled to open in New York this year.

Health app developer gets $4M in series A to expand reach

Toronto-based app developer Maple Corporation has received up to $4 million in series-A funding to grow and expand its business. Maple, which gives patients a 24/7 on-demand access to doctors, raised the additional funds with the help of a large private corporation specializing in medical cost containment and operations, and Jeff Fettes, co-founder and CEO of 24-7 Intouch, a contact centre headquartered in Winnipeg, MB. Ontario’s MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, which focuses on fledgling technology firms, joined the investors in raising the oversubscribed fund. Operating for more than a year, the Maple platform covers eight provinces and two territories. The network has accommodated close to 20,000 patients and more than 100 Canadian doctors. The on-demand access to doctors for advice, diagnosis, and prescriptions is accomplished via secure text or video. Maple says the live chat or video is guaranteed only five minutes of wait time, cutting time for physician’s visits and patient’s recovery. Maple says the new funds will be used to serve as many Canadians as possible by building a distribution network of employers, benefit providers and insurers. One of Maple’s partners is Sun Life Financial, which makes virtual healthcare accessible to its clients.


Dr Kevin Smith

Dr Kevin Smith will join the University Health Network (UHN) as president and CEO effective May 22. Known for his contribution to the healthcare systems at the national and provincial level, Smith is currently president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System in Hamilton and CEO of Niagara Health System. Smith is also serving as chair of the board of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, chair of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario, a member of the Premier’s Health Results Table and special advisor to the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist and a special advisor to the minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Previously, he served as chair of the Ontario Hospital Association and of the board of Home Capital. Smith has been a member of the boards of The Change Foundation, the United Way of Burlington and the Association of Canadian Academic Health Organizations. Smith is also a professor in the Department of Medicine, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster Univ and holds a PhD from the Univ of Sussex in England. A lifelong learner, he also took leadership courses at Harvard Univ, Wharton School of Business – CEO Leadership Program, and the Rotman School of Business’ Director’s Education Program.

Dr Charith Adkar

Dr Eric Hoskins

Dr Eric Hoskins, former Ontario minister of health and long-term care and member of provincial parliament for St. Paul’s, Toronto, has been named head of the newly created Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. When the federal budget was released on February 27, Finance minister Bill Morneau announced the creation of the council and the appointment of Hoskins, a day after Hoskins announced his resignation from Queen’s Park. Reporting to the federal minister of health and Morneau, the council has been tasked to study the economic and social impact of domestic and international pharmacare models. Hoskins and his team will work with experts in the field as well holding dialogs with national, provincial, territorial and Indigenous leaders. Hoskins is a medical doctor and member of the Order of Canada. He represented the provincial riding of St. Paul’s from 2009 up to recently and served in the cabinet of premier Dalton McGuinty and his successor, Kathleen Wynne.

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 Frontières, 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.