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Volume 34 February 19 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee’s new Indigenous research strategy strives to follow a path of respect, representation, and recognition of Indigenous leadership. Industry would be wise to follow.

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Opinion Leader:
Alexandre Navarre

As the landscape of Canadian R&D changes, universities must address new challenges

Currents of change are altering the fabric of Canadian R&D. The time has come for universities to reassess their roles and address new challenges.

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Forest industry emerging as a leader in Canada's innovation economy

Canada’s forest industry is tapping innovation with the aim of growing the nation’s GDP while slashing carbon emissions. Federal government funding and policy support for the innovation drive has been strong, say industry executives and innovation leaders. But more effort is needed to improve procurement programs and regulations, especially for biochemicals and biomaterials.

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New federal strategy aims to ensure Indigenous governance of research

Canada’s Tri-Council of major government funding agencies and Indigenous partners across the country have co-developed a new Indigenous research strategic plan. The plan, which proposes a new interdisciplinary research and research screening model, represents a significant new approach by the federal government and a contribution to reconciliation. With implementation starting this spring, the strategy aims to ensure Indigenous peoples lead and control any research involving them.

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Short Report

The Short Report, January 28, 2020: Late-stage growth investing; AI for the steel supply chain; quantum computing with lasers

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Innovation minister Navdeep Bains and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga announced a joint investment to establish the new global Intelligence and Cyber Centre in Vancouver, B.C. MasterCard is investing $510 million, of which  $420 million is eligible under the Strategic Innovation Fund, while Ottawa is investing $49 million to support the project, which aligns with the Government of Canada’s National Cyber Security Strategy and will create 270 jobs by 2029. Mastercard will qualify for federal and provincial R&D tax credits. The Centre will focus on creating technologies and standards to protect personal and financial information shared over the internet on connected devices and to enable businesses and organizations to better integrate cybersecurity technologies. – Canada.ca, The Globe and Mail

Round13 Capital announced two new funds that will bring the value of capital that the firm manages to over $325 million. The first of these, Round13 Fund II, has so far closed approximately $125 million, and shares the same strategy as Round13’s original Founder’s Fund: to support Canadian tech companies that are ready to scale their sales and marketing activities. The second, called Round13 Growth, is a late-stage growth equity fund that will be led by Sanjiv Samant, technology advisor and financier who’s worked for National Bank, Canaccord, RBC, and CIBC. Round13 Growth has so far closed $100 million. – BetaKit, Yahoo! Finance

American investor and philanthropist George Soros has created a $1-billion global network called the Open Society University Network (OSUN) with the stated aim “to integrate teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide.” The network will consist of “deep, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration,” and sharing a “commitment to advance open society and address fundamental global challenges,” according to Bard College, a primary OSUN partner alongside the Central European University.  – Inside Higher Ed, Bard College

Canadian companies Peer Ledger (Halifax) and Mavennet (Toronto) will receive $150,000 each from Innovative Solutions Canada to develop a proof of concept for a digital tracing system enabled by blockchain and artificial intelligence for the steel supply chain. The funding will support research and development activities to build a prototype specific to the steel supply chain. If selected to continue to the program’s next stage, one of the two companies could receive up to $1 million over two years to refine its prototype. – Canada.ca

Canadian quantum hardware and technology company Xanadu has received $4.4 million from  Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to further develop its photonic quantum computers and make them available over the cloud. Photonic technology, which uses laser light to carry information through optical chips, is inherently more power-efficient than electronics. Xanadu is working to make quantum computers that can perform calculations at room temperature, thereby eliminating the need for power-hungry cooling systems required by most other types of quantum computers. – Newswire

In its Annual Head Office Survey for 2018, Statistics Canada revealed that the number of head offices in Canada increased by 0.3% to 2,737, thanks in part to the cannabis sector, which compensated for closures in other sectors. – StatCan

Innovative Solutions Canada announced five new challenges in two separate announcements: Low-cost sensor system for patient monitoringNanocomposite fabrics production systemAI software for photonics semiconductor fabricationSurveying objects across an air-water interface; and, Secure and confidential rule matching.

THE GRAPEVINE

Seymour Schulich increased his investment in the Schulich Leader Scholarships to $200 million, doubling the number of annual awards from 50 to 100. Offering the largest payout of any undergraduate scholarship program in Canada, half of the awards will go to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in engineering and the other half will go to students pursuing a STEM degree at one of 20 Canadian partner universities. – The Globe and Mail, Newswire

OCAD University named Ana Serrano as its new president and vice-chancellor. Serrano is coming from her post as chief digital officer at the Canadian Film Centre. She founded the CFC Media Lab and launched IDEABOOST, a digital media and entertainment accelerator, along with founding partners Shaw Media, Corus Entertainment and Google. – The Globe and Mail

The Short Report, February 12, 2020: Canada takes a step toward joining Horizon Europe; NSERC funding for basic research takes a dive; Google pursues rapid Canadian expansion

Microsoft is partnering with Invest Ottawa and the Bayview Yards business accelerator to offer technical and business resources to entrepreneurs. Called Microsoft for Startups, the program gives innovative Ottawa companies access to its cloud services, enterprise sales team and partner ecosystem. – Ottawa Matters

Canada Infrastructure Bank CEO Pierre Lavallée signalled the bank is considering an investment in the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project to bring hydroelectricity and broadband internet from Manitoba to Nunavut. The 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line and fibre-optic link would cost an estimated $1.6 billion to construct. The bank has signed an MOU to provide advice to proponents of the project, including the Kivalliq Inuit Association and its business arm, Sakku Investments Corp., as well as Anbaric Development Partners, which includes Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. – The Globe and Mail

The online wholesale marketplace Faire opened its first official headquarters in Canada at a 14,000 square-foot office space in Kitchener, Ontario. 75 employees currently work there, most of them engineers; co-founder and CTO Marcelo Cortes wants to double that number within a year. The Faire platform allows independent retailers to find new products from niche creators, enabling more than 70,000 retailers in the US and Canada to buy products from 9,000 makers in over 60 countries. – BetaKit

Quebec City-based pipeline testing firm Eddyfi Technologies has raised over $600 million in order to acquire the Irish company NDT Global, which provides ultrasonic pipeline inline inspection (ILI) and data analysis. Together, they form a test & measurement (T&M) technology group focused on non-destructive testing (NDT), called Eddyfi/NDT. Eddyfi will now have more than 1,000 employees working in 20 global offices and serving customers in 110 countries. The acquisition was supported through a strategic partnership with the private equity firm Novacap and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), who invested $163 million and  $107 million respectively. The new equity investment is combined with new debt financing provided by a banking syndicate led by National Bank of Canada and additional debt from Investissement Quebec. – Canadian Manufacturing

McMaster University has become a founding member of the Digital Credentials Consortium, a 12-member group of international universities — led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — working to design an infrastructure to distribute, issue, store, display and verify academic credentials digitally. – McMaster

Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins made a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in which she argued that, given that low interest rates leave little room for central banks to stimulate the economy through cuts, boosting Canada’s competitiveness and productivity will require investing in digital infrastructure, improving the tax and regulatory environment, and getting government and business to cooperate on education spending. – CTV News, Bank of Canada

Saugeen Ojibway Nation in Ontario are partnering with the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) to develop new isotope infrastructure on their territory. The agreement will leverage a project to produce Lutetium-177 for treating prostate cancer. Production will start in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals. – NetNewsLedger

The Government of Canada has made $50 million available to researchers who want to work with the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, as part of the international stream of the New Frontiers in Research Fund that was launched in 2018. This round of funding is part of an exploratory process that could lead to Canada formally joining the EU’s proposed €94.1 billion research project Horizon Europe. – Science Business

The Ontario Research Fund announced a total of $37.4 million in investments in 183 research projects at 23 institutions. Most of the funding is being spent through the fund’s Small Infrastructure program, which is supporting 176 projects with an investment of $31,336,101. Other programs are College-Industry Innovation ($1 million), Genomic Applications Partnership Program ($1,014,058), and Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition ($4,036,205). – Ontario News 

The Groupe de recherche en environnement et biotechnologie (GREB) at Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup has received $4.9 million from NSERC and local public and private partners, as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Québec to fund water treatment research. – Cégep RDL

The Government of Canada is looking for a successor to the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), three Earth observation satellites that launched on June 12, 2019. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) posted a request for proposal to industry for further innovation to meet Canada’s increasing needs for Earth observation data. – Canadian Space Agency

NSERC funding for basic research is declining relative to applied research. The authors of a recent investigation found that “before 2007-08, research programs devoted exclusively to basic research made up over half (52 percent) of total annual funding from NSERC. Fast forward to 2015-16 and this tally stood at just 40 percent.” – University Affairs

Google is moving into larger offices in Toronto and Montreal, and doubling the size of their R&D headquarters in Kitchener, as well as setting up a start-up accelerator in the city. The moves are part of a plan for the company to triple its presence in Canada, despite the passing of federal legislation in 2019 that will see higher taxes for foreign companies. Google could also have a hard time with Canada’s new digital charter, which would require the company to be more transparent about how it uses personal data. – The Grit Daily

THE GRAPEVINE

Parimal Nathwani will succeed Dr. Raphael Hofstein as president and CEO of Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (formerly MaRS Innovation). Currently serving as vice president, Nathwani has been with the organization since 2009 and specializes in the life sciences industry. He oversaw the creation and implementation of the LAB150 collaboration with the German contract research organization Evotec SE for drug discovery, and led venture creation and growth activities resulting in multiple TIAP portfolio companies that have raised third-party capital. – TIAP

Dr. Christopher Sands has been appointed the new director of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’s Canada Institute, in Washington, D.C. Sands comes to the Wilson Center from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he led the Center for Canadian Studies. Sands has worked in Washington think tanks since 1993, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a specialist on Canadian affairs, as well as the Smart Border North Congressional Working Group and the Hudson Institute. He is a member of the board of directors for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), serves on the executive committee of the Canada – United States Law Institute (CUSLI), and on the research advisory board for the Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI) in Ottawa.- Wilson Center

Short Report, February 5, 2020: Most Canadian boards still don't include women; merit-based grants offer big economic returns; McMaster researchers establish a new form of computing

A StatCan study of Canadian corporations in 2016/17 found that most of their boards didn’t include women: over 60% had no women members. The number of women on boards is growing, but very slowly, say experts. – BNN Bloomberg

The University of British Columbia became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to join the Center for Open Science’s online platform, Open Science Framework Institutions (OSFI). The research management tool will help UBC researchers better embrace collaboration and mitigate the reproducibility crisis that is plaguing scientific research, according to Mathew Vis-Dunbar, who led the adoption of OSFI. – UBC

Global funding for neglected disease R&D grew for three consecutive years, reaching a record high of more than US$4.05 billion in 2018. Increases from both the public and private sectors drove a 7.9% rise in total global funding compared to the previous year. – Stat News

The Electronic Recycling Association, the Canadian Cloud Council, and Highrise have partnered to create the ERA Digital Foundation, a Calgary-based not-for-profit that seeks to “re-architect the digital economy for the greater good of all of humanity.” – ERA Digital Foundation

Ottawa cleantech company Thermal Energy International has reported a 51 percent increase in year-over-year revenue, achieving a net profit of $385,000 in the three-month period ended Nov. 30, 2019, after a loss of $112,000 in the same quarter last year. The improved performance stems in part from increased demand for its heat recovery products in Europe. – Ottawa Business Journal 

StatCan reported that Canada’s gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD) reached $35.7 billion in 2017, up 2.0% from the previous year, thanks in part to increasing R&D expenditures in higher ed, which advanced 3.8% to $14.3 billion. The business enterprise and higher education sectors accounted for more than 92% of R&D performance that year. Ontario and Quebec accounted for 70.1% of total R&D expenditures based on funding from all sectors. While Ontario saw a decline in R&D expenditures, Quebec saw a 10.3% rise, reaching $9.7 billion in expenditures. – The Daily

A collaboration between researchers from McMaster and Harvard universities has led to the creation of a platform that enables light beams to communicate with one another through solid matter, a discovery that could lead to a new form of computing. – EurekAlert

A new joint study from the University of British Columbia, Queen’s, Princeton and Yale found that merit-based grants are a government’s best bet for providing effective student aid for long-term economic growth. “We found that a $1000 increase in grants per year for every student, which corresponds to roughly a 50 per cent increase on average, would lead to a long-run gain in GDP of close to one per cent,” said study co-author Giovanni Gallipoli, an associate professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. “This is a comparatively large return on investment.” – UBC News

The Ottawa-based tech company Fully Managed has obtained $25 million in new financing to expand its senior care technology into markets in the US over the next two years. The funds come from Dallas-based Comerica and BDC Capital. – Ottawa Business Journal

Report: Since the U.S. struck a partial trade agreement with Japan in October 2019, the trade advantage that Canada gained through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has narrowed. In a new report from the Canada West Foundation, authors Sharon Zhengyang Sun and Carlo Dade identify overlooked opportunities for Canadian exporters in small sectors, where growth can be accelerated. – Canada West Foundation

Toronto-region tech hub ventureLAB announced the first cohort of companies in its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), along with $8 million in resources and mentorship from founding partners like AMD and Synopsys. Announced in June of 2019, HCI is Canada’s first silicon incubator, focused on helping companies in Southern Ontario develop hardware solutions, by giving them access to expensive tools, lab space, investment and industry expertise. – Canadian Manufacturing

This spring, the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is launching a Western Canada Regional Headquarters in Calgary, expanding its investor education programming in Atlantic Canada, and collaborating on new programs with the regional angel groups and innovation hubs in its network. NACO says its activities will unlock $821 million in Alberta and $6.9 billion in angel capital across the country. – Financial Post

THE GRAPEVINE

Charles Émond has been selected by the Quebec government to replace Michael Sabia as president and CEO of Caisse de dépôt et placement. Émond is stepping up from his role as senior vice-president for private investments and strategic planning in Quebec. He previously spent 18 years at Scotiabank. Sabia is transitioning to become head of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. – CBC

Peter Nicholson has joined the new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices as board chair. Climate Choices is an independent national research body that aims to chart transition pathways to a low-carbon economy. Nicholson was the founding president of the Council of Canadian Academies and has served in multiple executive roles in the public and private sector throughout his long and respected career. “Climate change has handed us a problem of immense complexity and scale, and there are no easy fixes…. Making choices that are cost-effective, fair and position Canada to thrive in the future is an incredible challenge, as well as an opportunity,” Nicholson said in a statement. – Climate Choices

Mark Ruddock, CEO of small business lender BFS Capital, joined the Board of Directors for the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA), where he will work on initiatives to benefit consumers and small businesses, including open banking, risk-based pricing and responsible lending. – Financial Post

Veronica Farmer joined the University of Ottawa as Director, Partnerships and Commercialization, to spearhead their uOttawa-Kanata North strategic initiative. Farmer will pursue a three-pronged strategy on behalf of the university to promote access to talent, training and solutions in the Kanata North community. Her company TrueCourse Communications has supported marketing and business development efforts for many companies in Kanata North and Ottawa. – R$

Nicola Urbani has been appointed Director of Innovation Support Services for the Office of the Vice-President Research at the University of Ottawa. A management and investment professional, Urbani was the Director of Investments at CIC Capital Ventures and before that held the position of Vice-President of Commercialization for the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He has also served as a Business Advisor at the National Research Council in the area of medical devices and therapeutics, and as Director of Strategic Projects and Commercialization at Génome Québec. – R$

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The Short Report, February 19, 2020: A new chemistry cluster in Ontario; Boris Johnson's brother joins ApplyBoard; selling our AI lunch

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) received $15 million from FedDev Ontario “to promote new sustainable innovations and bring business support to Eastern Ontario in Canada.” Along with partners the St. Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission and St. Lawrence College, BIC will establish the Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Network (OBIN), a hybrid chemistry cluster in Brockville, Ontario. The network aims to help sustainable chemistry and cleantech companies to improve their ability to commercialize products. 150 businesses and organisations are expected to receive assistance through the project, creating as many as 700 jobs. – Biofuels News

As giant companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Huawei spend tens or hundreds of millions on research hubs in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, observers worry that intellectual property is being swallowed up. IP lawyer Jim Hinton estimates that a majority of Canadian AI patents end up belonging to foreign companies: “We’re selling our lunch. What we need to be doing is getting money out of our ideas ourselves, instead of seeing foreign talent scoop it all up. Otherwise we’ll never have a Canadian champion.” – Science Business

Ontario’s Expert Panel on Intellectual Property has published its report on IP in Ontario’s innovation ecosystem. Created by the provincial government in spring 2019, the Expert Panel was mandated to develop an action plan for the development of a provincial IP framework that would exploit the benefits of Ontario’s investments in R&D and maximize the role of innovation intermediaries. Ontario shares the same challenges as Canada generally, where GDP per capita has fallen by 3% since 2010, even as the US has experienced a 35% increase over the same period. Canada also underperforms in job quality. Meanwhile, the pace of the intangible economy is accelerating. “Successful companies now principally compete on staking positions in value chains of intangibles rather than by only lowering costs in production supply chains,” the authors observe. The panel recommends adopting a “Made-in-Ontario” approach that focuses on “education, IP generation and licensing/transfer, developing receptors for publicly-funded research and addressing regional differences related to language and access to expertise.” – Ontario

Quebec City-based H2O Innovation acquired the U.K. chemical company Genesys for $28 million. Founded in 2000, the publicly-traded company specializes in membrane filtration technology, and saw 13.5% revenue growth over the same period of the previous fiscal year, with revenue of $33.3 million. “H2O is benefiting from sector tailwinds and is well-positioned to take advantage of the increased water infrastructure spending over the coming years,” says Haywood Capital Markets analyst Daniel Rosenberg. – Cantech Letter

The Montreal-based transportation and logistics company TFI International raised US$200 million at its initial public offering of 6,000,000 common shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), at a price of US$33.35 per share. TFI indicated that it expects to use the net proceeds to increase its available credit “for working capital and general corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions.” – Axios Pro Rata, TFI International

Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC)  is creating a research cluster comprised of seven institutes, dedicated to researching “zero emissions buses.” CUTRIC and its members are contributing $4.2 million over three years, along with $551,000 through the Mitacs Accelerate and Elevate programs, to fund CUTRIC’s National Academic Committee on Zero-Emissions Buses (NAC-ZEB). “This research will move Canada closer to achieving the goal of electrifying 5,000 buses across the country, as set by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities,” said Josipa Petrunic, executive director and CEO of CUTRIC, in a press release. – Newswire

Concordia University launched the Centre for Innovation in Construction and Infrastructure Engineering and Management (CICIEM), led by engineering professor Osama Moselhi. “We want to be an agent of change that helps transfer the traditional construction industry into the digital age,” Moselhi said. The centre will research Industry 4.0 strategies like “digital twinning,” IoT, automation and robotics, and virtual and augmented reality to improve building inspection and maintenance. The CICIEM is working with an advisory board comprised of executives from Hydro-Québec, Canam Group, Hatch and SNC-Lavalin. – Concordia

THE GRAPEVINE

Jo Johnson, the younger brother of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joined ApplyBoard as chairman of its advisory board. ApplyBoard is a recruitment platform for international students seeking to study in Canada, primarily, though the company is swiftly adding other countries to its roster. Johnson led the reintroduction of two-year work visas for international students studying in the U.K. The former MP  made headlines in September when he stepped down from parliament and quit his brother’s Cabinet over “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest.” Since then, Johnson has served as non-executive chairman at the online education company Tes Global. – CTV News

Charles Plant has left the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre, where he was a senior fellow since 2013, “in order to follow [his] own advice and become more entrepreneurial.” He will continue to conduct research and provide corporate development for scaling technology companies through the Narwhal Project. Plant was co-founder and CEO of the telecommunications software firm Synamics from 1987 to 2002, after which he taught at the Schulich School of Business and served as Managing Director – CFO at the MaRS Discovery District. – R$

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