Number 3 / Volume 33 / March 20, 2019

Opinion Leader:
Joe Irvine

University technology transfer has evolved, but more industry engagement will create better opportunities for commercialization

The most important change to the field of technology transfer has been the adoption of a strategic institutional approach at post-secondary institutions to external relations and economic development.

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Innovation Conversations: Q&A with Minister Mary Ng

Small Business and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng has announced the successful recipients of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, a novel investment stream that provides $20 million directly to women whose businesses show strong potential to grow.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Creative Destruction Lab adds new location at University of Oxford

Alberta invests $100M in innovative clean tech projects

Ottawa invests $100M in steel and aluminum SMEs across the country

$49M SIF investment aids construction of $3.5B plastics facility in Alberta

Cisco invests $15M to expand operations in Western Canada

American steel company EVRAZ North America receives $40-million SIF investment

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster launches first cohort of industry-led projects

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster announced its first cohort of industry-led projects, with $40 million of co-investment over three years: $15 million from the Vancouver-based supercluster and more than $25 million from industry, research and academic partners. The seven projects will develop and apply digital technologies such as quantum computing and data analytics in the natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors. Applications include strengthening the early detection and treatment of skin cancers, improving the prediction of manufacturing failures and analyzing the economic and environmental impacts of resource projects. Each project team brings together a consortium of partners that includes industry adopters, technology leaders, startups, SMEs, digital innovators and research organizations. Companies involved include TELUS Health, LlamaZOO Interactive, D-Wave and Microsoft. Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, says the projects will propel Canada forward as a digital innovation leader, drive increased economic growth and create jobs.

$37.5M SIF investment brings BioVectra expansion project to $144.6M

Saskatchewan confronts talent shortage as tech sector sees 100% growth

Canada launches $2B, 24-year space strategy with new Canadarm for NASA-led moon base project

FedDev Ontario receives $1B from ISED to fuel economic growth

Export Development Canada commits $32M in financing to cleantech firm Ecolomondo

Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu announces $3.14M to support women in trade apprenticeships

Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu has announced $3.14 million from Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) for a new apprenticeship project called An Innovative Model to Enhance Entry, Advancement, and Employment Outcomes of Women Apprentices. Supporting CBTU’s Women in Trades Program, the 42-month project offers career services, employment assistance and networking opportunities for up to 750 women apprentices, including approximately 100 Indigenous women. The program aims to help each participant complete their training and obtain Red Seal certification, which allows them to work anywhere in Canada. The project is funded under the Innovation in Apprenticeship Training stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program, which receives $25 million annually from the federal government to support union‑based apprenticeship training, innovation and partnerships.

$1.2M investment supports biomass research at Saint Mary’s University


Canada Mining Innovation Council announces new chair of its board of directors

Number 2 / Volume 33 / February 20, 2019

Mark Mann

To thrive, Canada’s many tech-cluster and supercluster initiatives need to focus on liveability and other social issues in the areas where they operate.

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Opinion Leader:
J. Adam Holbrook and Carol Muñoz Nieves

Vancouver’s digital supercluster needs policies that protect its human capital

Digital industries in Canada operate in ways that are often at odds with other economic activities, owing to a fundamental difference: in the digital sector, the main input is human capital and the main output is intellectual property, whereas for most other Canadian industries the inputs are resources and the outputs are processed raw materials, manufactured goods and conventional services.

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News Bites

News Briefs

New University of Lethbridge hub for innovation and discovery nearly complete

Federal government launches new agency to address digital shifts in job market

The federal government has committed $225 million over four years for a new Future Skills Centre at Ryerson University, plus $75 million annually in subsequent years. The job training agency will be operated by the university alongside the Conference Board of Canada and Blueprint ADE, and will focus on preparing Canadians for changes to the job market as a result of digitization and disruptive technology. The arms-length agency will fund skills-development projects across Canada and partner with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous governments and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. In the same announcement, the government named 15 members of its Future Skills Council, which will advise the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour on national and regional issues related to emerging in-demand skills and workforce trends. The Council will be co-chaired by Valerie Walker, Executive Director of the Business/ Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) and Dr. Thierry Karsenti, Director of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE).

Alberta commits $100M to grow province’s AI sector

ISED launches competition for $30M pilot program to provide IP advice to Canadian SMEs

New biomass research cluster seeks enhance production of clean bioenergy in Canada

New federal program will invest $50M to support competitiveness in Canada’s agricultural sector

Alberta invests $70M in 11 industrial projects to reduce emissions

The Alberta government is investing $70.2 million in 11 private sector industrial projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs. The funding, from the province’s Climate Leadership Plan, is being provided through Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Industrial Efficiency Challenge, an open call last year to large final emitter industrial facilities in multiple sectors: oil and gas, chemicals and fertilizers, cement and concrete, forestry and agriculture, electricity, and manufacturing. Funding will be distributed on a milestone-by-milestone basis, based on progress reports.

The 11 projects — all first-of-kind demonstrations and deployments — are worth a combined value of $267 million. They include using low-carbon fuels to make cement; recovering heat from a refinery to generate electricity; digital optimization in oil sands production; recovering flue gas energy in a kraft pulp mill; and using a natural gas turbine with battery storage. The projects are expected to reduce GHG emissions by more than 5.2 million tonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent) by 2030.

University of Calgary innovation hub receives $8.5M from city’s investment fund

Canadian genomics researchers win $56M in funding from government and businesses

Defence awards contracts worth $46.2M to bolster surveillance in the North

Ottawa invests $6M in Mississauga-based cleantech firm Imtex Membranes

B.C. agriculture projects receive $2.9M from federal-provincial innovation program

Natural Resources Canada announces $4.2 million for renewable energy projects in the North

Quebec AI institute Mila opens giant new facility in Montreal

The Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence (Mila) officially opened its new premises in Montreal, with more than 200 partners and other members of the Quebec artificial intelligence ecosystem in attendance. Mila is tasked with implementing the Quebec government’s Strategy for the Development of Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem. The AI institute will receive $80 million over five years from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, as well as $44 million from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) as one of the three lead partners in the development and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Mila was created as a collaboration between the Université de Montréal and McGill University, with support from HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal. The new 90,000-sq-ft location, situated in Montreal’s Mile-Ex neighbourhood, will house more than 375 Mila members and 125 researchers and experts from partner companies and institutions. The facility also includes corporate labs, start-up spaces, and a technology transfer centre, which will help startups, SMEs and industrial research projects include AI in their innovations. Mila aims to facilitate the conversion of AI research to economic development by concentrating all phases of the innovation process, from student projects through to established companies.

Other important companies in the Montreal AI ecosystem are located in the same building complex, a former textile factory that’s now home to Element AI, Thales, RBC’s Borealis AI, Facebook’s AI lab, and SCALE.AI—the AI supercluster focused on next-gen supply chains—among others.

“Here in Montreal we started research on AI and it has given us a bit of headway, but the rest of the world isn’t waiting. They’re pressing on the gas and investing billions and billions of dollars,” Yoshua Bengio, Mila’s founder and scientific director, told the assembled crowd. “It’s important to think about what we have here and how we build Mila so we can compete in this global environment.”

READ MORE: CIFAR unveils first cohort of AI chairs at Pan-Canadian AI Strategy annual meeting

ISED announces major investments in Siemens and Nokia under the Strategic Innovation Fund

Ottawa invests $15.3M in Alberta advanced solar project


Laurentian University names new president and vice-chancellor

NSERC announces new vice president of research grants and scholarships

SCALE.AI names former Yellow Pages Canada head Julien Billot as CEO

The Montreal-based artificial intelligence supercluster SCALE.AI has appointed Julien Billot as its CEO. Billot has extensive experience conducting digital transformations in the telecommunications and media industries, at Orange and Lagardere Active in France, and at Yellow Pages Group, where he served as Media Group CEO for PagesJaunes (2009-2013) and then president and CEO of Yellow Pages Canada (2014-2017). In June 2018, Billot was named CEO of Montreal’s NextAi incubator and Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) accelerator programs, which are associated with the university business school HEC Montréal. He will retain that position as he enters his new role at SCALE.AI: “We see a real coherence between SCALE, NextAi and CDL,” Billot told RE$EARCH MONEY. The startups from NextAi will share space with SCALE.AI at 6650 St Urbain St. in Montreal, the converted textile factory in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood that also houses the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence (Mila), ElementAI, Thales and other important companies and organizations from the city’s AI ecosystem. Billot graduated from Ecole Polytechnique of Paris and Telecom Paris Tech, and he also holds a post-graduate degree in economics from Paris Dauphine University. SCALE.AI is focused on improving the ability of Canadian businesses to develop, access and adopt AI-powered supply chains. With this appointment, all five superclusters now have a CEO.

READ MOREQuebec AI institute Mila opens giant new facility in Montreal (Jan 28, 2019)

Blackberry names Bryan Palma new president and COO

Number 1 / Volume 33 / January 23, 2019

Mark Mann

In the innovation community, we often talk about how government and industry can better facilitate the commercialization of research, but not every innovation finds its most natural and ideal expression as a product.

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Opinion Leader:
Tim Draimin

Wicked ecological and social challenges force us to rethink innovation policy

Canada should adopt a mission-oriented approach to innovation in order to tackle the major societal challenges.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Twenty-nine Alberta clean tech projects awarded $20.5M

New $1.62M collaboration in Nova Scotia will advance light-manipulation research

Defence finalizes 160 contracts for its Competitive Projects innovation program

Feds, industry invest $67.7M  to support field crop science

Queen's University launches Rose Innovation Hub at newly built Mitchell Hall

The Schulich School of Business opens $50-million research and commercialization facility

The Schulich School of Business at York University opened a new building for interdisciplinary research and commercialization. The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will host four Centres of Excellence in management education: the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business, the Schulich Centre for Global Enterprise, and the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure, as well as the newly created Centre of Excellence in Business Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, which incorporates the Deloitte Cognitive Analytics and Visualization Lab. The $50-million, 67,000-square-foot building received $15 million from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, created in Budget 2016 and offering $2 billion over three years to update and modernize aging post-secondary infrastructure. The McEwen building also employs environmentally responsible designs, including a glass solar chimney that provides passive natural ventilation to the whole building.

Dalhousie University opens new innovation 'sandbox'

New partnership streamlines funding for emission-reducing innovations

Bains and Duncan seek applicants for new science and innovation advisory council

Alberta Innovates invests $2 million to explore non-combustion uses for bitumen

New innovation centre launched in downtown Calgary


OMERS Ventures hires veteran investor Michael Yang to open Silicon Valley office

Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association appoints new CEO