In the next decade, Canada will be tested on its ability to meet the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Some experts argue that meeting those goals will require reimagining Canada’s agricultural infrastructure.
The Canada Research Chairs Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with $195 million to support 259 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 47 institutions across Canada.
A “real-world,” publicly accessible 5G testbed is needed to support SMEs in growing Canada’s 5G system, Gordon Harling and Michael Turner write in an op-ed. The Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks in Kanata (in West Ottawa) is well placed to fill this gap, they say.
To increase Canada’s productive capacity, we need to leverage the country’s human, physical and intellectual capital, says Robert Asselin, senior vice president of policy at the Business Council of Canada, in an open letter to the incoming federal Minister of Innovation.
Joanne Weber has been named the first Canada Research Chair in Deaf Education, François-Philippe Champagne replaces Navdeep Bains as Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Canadian Space Agency opens a competition to foster innovative food technology production, and Vancouver is the latest city to benefit from the federal government’s LC3 initiative.
Canadian scientists are no longer able to do cutting-edge deep-sea research off Canada’s coasts because of outdated and unreliable research vessels, say co-chairs of the National Research Vessel Task Team. As a stop-gap measure, the group is proposing the development of modular ocean research infrastructure (MORI) that could be deployed on industry ships and other non-specialized vessels.
A new marine acoustic research station near Rimouski, Quebec—a first of its kind in Eastern Canada—has been funded by Transport Canada to address a major threat to St. Lawrence Estuary’s marine mammals: underwater vessel noise. It is the latest in a string of investments through the Quiet Vessel Initiative, a 5-year, $26-million national program to advance research and development and deployment of quiet vessel solutions.
Canada needs to be prepared for the “tectonic shift” of intangibles powering new ways of delivering services that contribute more than three-quarters of Canada’s GDP, Bert van den Berg writes in an op-ed.
NAIT researchers are collecting and analyzing microplastics in a first-of-its-kind study, Tim Hockey has been recruited to lead digital transformation in Ontario for the next three years, Dr. Ted Hewitt is reappointed president of SSHRC, and the IRPP calls for a roadmap to link training opportunities to skills and jobs.
Nation-wide, standardized approach needed to manage Canadian universities’ IP
Canadian universities’ approach to intellectual property should be standardized to benefit both researchers and industry. Canada’s chief scientist and the research granting councils could take the lead in this initiative.
Canada has launched its first patent collective to help data-driven clean tech companies understand, generate and strategically use intellectual property in scaling up. The Innovation Asset Collective, backed by $30 million in federal funding, includes a defensive “war chest” to help Canadian SMEs defend their patents in an often predatory global IP marketplace.
A new Health and Technology District in Saint John follows a model for collaborative development and signals the continued growth of Atlantic Canada’s innovation ecosystem.
Quebec’s Minister of the Economy and Innovation announced the creation of a new provincial Innovation Council and named Luc Sirois as Chief Innovator, as the province prepares a new innovation strategy and continues to unfold significant changes to the way it supports public research development.
Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, in a detailed response to growing criticisms, defends the federal government’s innovation performance, policies and programs.
For stakeholders and experts, the sale of Element AI underscores critical problems in Canadian innovation
For close observers, the sale of Element AI to California-based ServiceNow was a disappointment but not a surprise.
Integrating artificial intelligence into research and government is necessary, but requires more attention to ethical, security and data literacy issues, experts told the Canadian Science Policy Centre’s annual conference.
Research software is an increasingly critical part of the discovery process in science today. A new national program from CANARIE is funding the creation of six local teams across the country—from Simon Fraser University to Université Laval—exclusively focused on research software development.
A new report by the Industry Strategy Council to assess the impact of COVID-19 on industry provides a pathway to restart, recover and reimagine Canada’s economy.
Federal government must improve “catastrophic” innovation performance, say innovation experts and business groups
Innovation experts and business groups are stepping up calls for the federal government to fix a “weak and out of balance” innovation ecosystem. Canada continues to lag other countries in innovation performance and productivity, according to international indexes.
Emerging changes in the supply and demand for Canadian R&D as a result of COVID-19.
Toronto-based digital accelerator Bay Street Diary and India Network have teamed up to establish a US$100-million venture capital fund for entrepreneurs and startups in Canada and India.
While COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of Canada’s agriculture sector, there are several challenges to address if it hopes to be a leader in agricultural technology innovation.
The Short Report – Dec. 2, 2020: New investment will speed stem-cell research for Type 1 diabetes, Element AI approves American acquisition, and more
HEALTH NEWS & COVID-19
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes and JDRF Canada will invest $3 million each over five years for research teams to accelerate stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes. The investment is part of 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes, funded by CIHR and partners, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. – GoC
A consortium led by Toronto’s DNAstack has received $5.1 million to increase capacity to use genomics and biomedical data to better understand, predict, and treat COVID-19 on a molecular level. The project is funded in part by Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster. – DNAstack
The Montreal Heart Institute has decided that the ColCorona clinical trial, run out of Canada, the US, Europe, South America, and South Africa and coordinated by the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center, will continue to recruit non-hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 until the end of 2020. The study is funded by the Government of Quebec, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the United States National Institutes of Health. CGI, Dacima and Pharmascience are also collaborators. – Montreal Heart Institute
The Canadian and Yukon governments launched a research program to understand the impacts of COVID-19 in the Yukon and how best to respond. The program has made $1 million available for funding and is seeking expressions of interest for projects. – GoC
Montreal-based artificial intelligence company Element AI has agreed to be acquired by Santa Clara, CA cloud-computing platform ServiceNow. Approvals for the deal are expected in early 2021. The federal government cancelled a June 10 agreement of a conditionally repayable contribution of $20 million to Element AI that was to be made over five years through the Strategic Innovation Fund. – ServiceNow
The Canadian and Quebec governments are investing over $16.5 million in optical fibre technology to provide high-speed broadband and last-mile connectivity to reach underserved households in communities in the Nord-du-Québec and Mauricie regions. – GoC
University of Toronto’s Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society and Austin, TX-based non-profit AI Global are working together to create a globally recognized certification mark for the responsible and trusted development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The partnership will function as a collaboration with the World Economic Forum‘s Artificial Intelligence and Learning platform to build a universally recognized validation framework for AI tools and technologies.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic is joining the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (NGEN) to collaborate on machine learning, cybersecurity and manufacturing projects, and the Internet of Things. The partnership will allow workers to take advantage of NGen’s Accelerating Manufacturing Performance Upskilling Program, which will cover 50 percent of the cost of related training. – Sask Polytech
CANARIE (Ottawa) has launched a Cybersecurity Initiatives Program to coordinate and align research and education initiatives across the country. Programs will be delivered through provincial and territorial partners in the National Research and Education Network, in which CANARIE is the federal partner. – CANARIE
CANARIE is also awarding $3.6 million to six institutions to advance research projects and productivity through local research software support. – CANARIE
The Canadian Space Agency has awarded six contracts valued at $2.9 million for the development of potential Canadian lunar science instruments through the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. The program was created to provide opportunities for Canadian science and technology to play a role in long-term Moon exploration. – CSA
Platform Calgary, Bioenterprise (Guelph) and TEC Edmonton are collaborating on a new program to launch Alberta-based agricultural startups. The program starts in late 2020 with funding support from Western Economic Diversification Canada. – Platform Calgary
The Government of Newfoundland will provide more than $1.6 million for eight projects at the Memorial University of Newfoundland to celebrate Research Week, November 23-27. – Government of Newfoundland
The Centre for Regulatory Innovation is now fully operational. Part of the Treasury Board of Canada, the centre promotes a whole-of-government approach to regulatory experimentation to support innovation and competitiveness, and to help regulators and the regulatory system keep pace with technological advances. – GoC
As the movement to divest from fossil fuels accelerates among Canadian universities, Lakehead University announced its intention to divest from fossil fuel holdings by the end of its strategic plan in 2023. – CBC
Colleges and Institutes Canada has released a white paper outlining how colleges, institutes, polytechnics and CEGEPS can support Canada’s economic recovery during the pandemic. – CICan
San-Francisco-based Startup Genome has released The Global Fintech Ecosystem Report 2020, which ranks the global top 20 and runner-up fintech startup ecosystems on five success factors including performance, talent, funding, focus and legacy. Toronto-Waterloo placed 12th in the rankings. – Startup Genome
Paul Rochon, the Department of Finance’s highest-ranking bureaucrat, announced internally that he will be resigning on December 14. Rochon held the position of deputy minister for six and a half years. His replacement is yet to be announced. – National Post
University of Manitoba’s Meghan Azad, Sara Israels and Soheila Karimi have been named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020 by Women’s Executive Network. Azad (breastfeeding and maternal child health) receives the honour for Emerging Leaders; Israels (pediatrics and child health, cell biology, Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology) receives the Professionals award, and Karimi (neural regeneration and stem cell research) will receive the Science and Technology award. – UManitoba
Steven Cooke, Lenore Fahrig and Richard Yu were included in Clarivate Analytics’ annual Highly Cited Researchers List. All are Carleton University faculty, and are among more than 6,000 researchers from some 60 countries who demonstrated significant influence in their fields through the publication of multiple, highly-cited papers in the last decade. – CarletonU
Jim Luong has been named to the Analytical Scientist’s Power List for the second consecutive year. Luong works at Dow Canada’s Fort Saskatchewan ethylene facility site and is the co-leader of the Dow’s Gas Chromatography Centre of Expertise. – Analytical Scientist
The Short Report – Dec. 9, 2020: New funding for pandemic preparedness in LTC homes; a first-of-its-kind biofuel plant for Quebec, and more
The Governments of Canada and Quebec are investing more than $230 million in the design and construction of a cellulosic biofuel plant as part of the Varennes Carbon Recycling project. Quebec will invest more than $160 million while Ottawa will add $70 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Canada Economic Development is granting $4 million. The project will also see investments of more than $379 million from Varennes Cellulosic Ethanol, which is supported by Shell Canada, Suncor Energy, Proman and Enerkem. – GoC
The federal government is spending more than $1.8 million to strengthen pandemic preparedness in long-term care and retirement homes. Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute will lead 14 implementation science teams across Canada who will study how to keep staff, residents, families and caregivers safe during pandemics. Funding support comes from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. – GoC
The Canadian Government has awarded $23.2 million to Colleges and Institutes Canada to train 4,000 new personal support worker interns. The program is free for trainees and includes six weeks of online training followed by a four-month paid work-integrated learning placement with an employer in long-term care or home care. – CICan
Montreal’s Aifred Health raised $4 million in seed funding to test new artificial intelligence technology in the treatment of clinical depression. The raise was co-led by MEDTEQ+ and BDC Capital, with additional support from Desjardins Group, Highline Beta and other private and institutional investors. – Cision
COLLABORATION & INNOVATION
The Canadian Space Agency awarded a $22.8-million contract to Brampton-based MDA for the Phase A contract of the Canadarm3 program, the third generation Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based robotic system being developed for the lunar-orbiting international space station “Gateway.” with options for the follow-on phases. – MDA
The Governments of Canada and France launched the inaugural meeting of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), part of the GPAI – Montréal Summit 2020 organized by the International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (ICEMAI). AI experts and ministerial representatives from nine countries discussed how to achieve responsible AI innovation and growth in the context of human rights, inclusion and diversity. – GoC
British-based Hg Capital will assume majority control of Calgary-based corporate responsibility software company Benevity, following a $1.1-billion deal that will close in January. – Calgary Herald
Avena Foods (Regina), Big Mountain Foods and Daiya Foods (Vancouver), Bakenology (Northampton, UK) and The Village Bakery (North Wales) are partnering as part of an initiative to test and develop new applications for pulse flours, after receiving $6.3 million from Protein Industries Canada. – Protein Industries Canada
The Innovation Asset Collective, a non-profit that will help small and medium-sized clean tech businesses generate patents and protect themselves from intellectual property litigation, began operations this week after it was selected as part of Ottawa’s $30-million, four-year pilot Intellectual Property Strategy program. – IAC
Canada’s top 50 research universities posted a combined research income of $8 billion in fiscal 2019, a gain of 5.7% over fiscal 2018, according to Research Infosource. University of Toronto ($1.1 billion, down 2.2%) is the medical university leader; University of Waterloo ($240.7 million, up 13.2%) was the comprehensive university leader, and Laurentian University ($39.4 million, down 10.5%) retained first place among its undergraduate university peers. – Research Infosource
A newly released Statistics Canada analysis finds that over four-fifths of businesses that received support from Ottawa’s Business Innovation and Growth Support stream in 2018 were small enterprises, while over two-fifths of support went to large companies. Manufacturing received the largest share (29%) of the total value of support in 2018, while professional, scientific and technical services accounted for the largest share of businesses (28%) that received support. – StatsCan
A report on business trends from Statistics Canada finds that R&D is continuing its shift from manufacturing to service industries, with the greatest expenditures in information and cultural industries and computer systems design and related services. – StatsCan
Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program winners have been announced, with Waterloo’s Intellijoint Surgical taking top spot as Canada’s fastest-growing tech company. Meanwhile, Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis’ Scoring Canadian Tech Talent report shows Waterloo is the fastest-growing major technology market in Canada. The top five tech markets overall are Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Waterloo Region and Montreal. – Deloitte and CBRE
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) announced its Impact Award winners for 2020. Francine Saillant took the Gold Medal, SSHRC’s highest research award, for work in medical anthropology, human rights and social justice. Robyn Maynard won the Talent Award for research on marginalization faced by Black migrants. Myriam Denov received the Insight Award for research on families and children affected by war. Jackie Dawson won the Connection Award for contributions in exploring the human dimensions on environmental change, and John Loxley received the Partnership Award posthumously for his collaborative work advancing community-based solutions to poverty in Indigenous and inner-city communities. – GoC
Michael Sabia, director of Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and board chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will become federal deputy minister of Finance on December 14. Paul Rochon, the current DM of Finance, moves to the Privy Council Office as senior official, effective December 14, 2020. – GoC
The Short Report – Dec 16, 2020: Canada signs historic space treaty, robotic warehouse tech gets a boost, and more
After pricing at US$20 a share, Vancouver-based antibody developer AbCellera Biologics opened at US$61 and closed at US$58.90 on the NASDAQ last week, giving it a market capitalization of US$15.7 billion on its first day of trading. – AbCellera, Globe and Mail
Arch Biopartners (Toronto) will receive up to $6.7 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to advance a drug candidate that is designed to block inflammation in the lungs, liver and kidneys in severe COVID-19 cases through Phase II clinical trials. – GoC
Toronto-based oncology commercialization investment firm Facit selected new recipients of Ontario First seed capital from its Prospects Oncology Fund. Dr. Rebecca Laposa (University of Toronto; novel small-molecule inhibitors for treatment of breast cancer) and London-based startup Multi-Magnetics (photoacoustic imaging for detection of tumours during lumpectomies, led by Jeffrey Carson) are the latest entrepreneurs selected for the fund. – Facit
RRP Canada, with support from Next Generation Manufacturing, has upgraded its platform to feature products made in Canada and help businesses find quality-certified protective personal equipment and other medical products to defend against COVID-19. Platform upgrades include product manufacturing origins, enhanced quality control, and new accessibility features in both official languages. – NGEN
Research Nova Scotia will distribute over $2 million from its New Health Investigator Grant to Nova Scotia universities, providing up to $100,000 over two years to researchers who are within the first five years of their academic appointment in the province, or who are new to the field of health research. Research topics include diabetes, cancer and dementia care, preterm infant gut health, and food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2020-21 academic year, funding will be provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. – Research Nova Scotia
University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute has received $20 million from the Government of Alberta to accelerate research and commercialization of antiviral drugs and vaccines. – Government of Alberta
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has approved Facedrive’s (Scarborough, ON) contact-tracing platform TraceSCAN, a wearable technology developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Waterloo. – Facedrive
INVESTMENTS, COLLABORATION & INNOVATION
The Canadian Space Agency and NASA have signed the Gateway Treaty, confirming Canada’s participation in the US-led international collaboration that will see a Canadian be part of the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972. – CSA
Particle accelerator centre TRIUMF (Vancouver) and biopharmaceutical company Fusion (Hamilton) have entered a collaborative agreement that will make it possible to increase production and delivery of a rare medical isotope that shows promise in new, cutting-edge cancer therapies.–TRIUMF
International pharmaceutical company Servier Group is partnering with Montreal’s high-tech incubator Centech to open an international artificial intelligence (AI) hub that specializes in pharmaceutical R&D. It will be Servier’s first international AI unit, and will use Centech’s Collision Lab to accelerate the discovery, development, and deployment of new therapeutic solutions for patients. – Centech
Western Economic Diversification Canada is investing more than $2 million in Saskatoon’s tech incubator Co.Labs to expand capacity of its digital technology accelerator and incubator programming. – GoC
Through its Strategic Innovation Fund, the federal government is investing $34 million in Calgary-based robotics supply company Attabotics. The funds will advance Attabotics’ 3D robotics warehouse technologies and its supply chain system for modern commerce.– GoC
The Future Skills Centre (Toronto) and the Labour Market Information Council (Ottawa) are contributing $3 million over the next two years to pilot an open cloud-based data repository to streamline access to Canada’s skills and labour market information. – FSC
Researchers at Simon Fraser University are partnering with colleagues from Dalhousie and Carleton universities to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to classify whale calls, with the goal of creating a warning system to protect endangered orcas from potentially fatal ship strikes. Citizen scientists and the Orcasound project are also contributing research. The project has received $568,000 in funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. – SFU
Development capital fund Fonds de solidarité (FTQ – Montreal) is renewing its partnership with life sciences venture capital firm Forbion with a $23-million investment in Forbion Capital Fund V. The FTQ has invested $1.6 billion since 1989 to support Quebec’s life sciences sector. – FTQ
Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges are reporting a total of $227.6 million of sponsored research income in the form of research grants, contracts and contributions in fiscal 2019, according to a report from Research Infosource. Cégep de Trois Rivières topped the list with $15.8 million of research income (up 50.5%), followed by Lambton College ($12.4 million; up 21%) and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology ($11.8 million; up 112%). Mohawk College and Red River College rounded out the top 5 five. Overall, research income increased at 40 colleges and declined at only 10 others, pushing the sponsored research income growth in fiscal 2019 to 28.9%. – Research Infosource
The federal government’s Industry Strategy Council, formed last May to advise government on COVID-19’s impact on industries, has issued a report summarizing and concluding its work as well as making recommendations to support the recovery and growth of key sectors. – GoC
Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute has released Labour Demand Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a first in a series of reports focused on the labour market during the pandemic. Using data from the Vicinity Jobs Hiring Demand Analytics Suite, the report analyzes online job postings in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods and discusses changes in both total job postings and changes in job postings across geography, occupations, skills, and sectors. – The Diversity Institute
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Cereals Canada have released updated wheat research priorities through to 2022. Priorities were refined through a national collaboration of farmers, federal and provincial governments, public research institutions, exporters and processors led by Cereals Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. – Cereals Canada
Ingrid Waldron and HealthCareCAN have won Research Canada Leadership in Advocacy Awards for their work in health research and innovation. Waldron received the 2020 Individual Leadership in Advocacy Award for her work examining and addressing the health and mental health impacts of structural inequalities within health and mental health care, child welfare, and the environment in Indigenous, Black, immigrant, and refugee communities in Nova Scotia. HealthCareCAN received the organizational award for advocating for federal support for the healthcare community and increasing the eligibility period for the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) wage subsidy. – Research Canada
Digvir Jayas, VP Research and International, University of Manitoba and chair of particle accelerator centre TRIUMF (Vancouver) will serve as TRIUMF’s interim director until early 2021, until a new director is appointed. – TRIUMF