The Short Report - February 15, 2023: Renewed funding for the Global Innovation Clusters; a successful funding round for Scale AI, boosting Canada's biomanufacturing capacity in PEI, and more.
February 15, 2023
The Government of Canada has renewed funding for the Global Innovation Clusters program (formerly the Innovation Superclusters Initiative). The program will receive new funding of more than $700-million following an assessment of financial track records and program metrics to be allocated in the following amounts:
- Advanced Manufacturing Cluster will receive up to $177 million to support commercialization of projects that develop, scaleup and apply advanced technology solutions in manufacturing, and attract talent and investments from within Canada and around the world;
- Protein Industries Cluster will receive up to $150 million to facilitate investment in Canada’s plant-based food and feed ecosystem, and in the creation of new products and services, while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production and food processing;
- Digital Technology Cluster receives up to $125 million to mobilize Canadian industry to build digital technologies to make Canada a global leader in clean, healthy economic growth and see Canadian companies become digital anchor enterprises;
- Scale AI Cluster receives renewed funding of up to $125 million, to establish Canada as a global hub for artificial intelligence dedicated to business productivity and intelligent supply chains, with Canadian technology setting the world standard and providing a competitive advantage for Canadian businesses;
- Ocean Cluster receives up to $125 million, to accelerate solutions to address global ocean opportunities, building a stronger Canadian economy and a healthier planet.
ISED | Backgrounder
In the meantime, the federal and Quebec government-funded Scale AI cluster has received $117 million in investments in its latest funding round. The funding will support collaborations between postsecondary institutions (including Concordia University, Dalhousie University, Université Laval, and York University) and industry on 15 artificial intelligence projects, including the McCain Foods Driving Impact project, which will leverage AI to address pain points plaguing the potato processing supply chain, and the Guay-led optimization of crane allocation project. Scale AI
The Government of Alberta is committing $58 million through Emissions Reduction Alberta to projects that will advance the circular economy and have a total value of $528 million in public and private investment. All funding is sourced from the province’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. Producing high-quality farming fertilizer, recycling asphalt from roof shingles, and sequestering carbon in concrete are examples of the technology solutions receiving funding through ERA’s Circular Economy Challenge. ERA
The Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island are investing $25 million each to support construction of the new 75,000 square foot biomanufacturing centre to be located in the BioCommons Research Park in Charlottetown and spearheaded by the PEI BioAlliance. As the largest single investment in economic development infrastructure in PEI history, the accelerator will provide capacity in bioprocessing in biologics, probiotics, natural product chemistry-derived products, and animal and fish health products; it will also enable Canadian bioscience companies to carry out research and new product development, process development, manufacturing scale up, and provide access to biopharmaceutical manufacturing skills and training. PEI BioAlliance | ACOA
Transport Canada is committing up to $50 million to support eligible projects under the National Trade Corridors Fund. Projects funded would develop digital solutions to optimize Canada’s supply chains by increasing the efficiency and reliability of transportation supply chains, relieve bottlenecks, and support access to products and goods. The deadline for project proposals is April 11, 2023. Transport Canada
Toronto-based energy storage solution provider NRStor and Six Nations of the Grand River Development are advancing on the construction of the Oneida Energy Storage Project, following a battery supply agreement with Tesla and the addition of Northland Power (Toronto) as a partner. The project, which will provide capacity to the Ontario grid and be the largest energy storage project of its kind in Canada, was funded by the Canadian Investment Bank (up to $170 million) while Natural Resources Canada has provided $50 million in funding from the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways program. NRStor
Natural Resources Canada is contributing $10 million to Kruger Packaging to support machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies that will transform Montreal's Kruger Place Turcot Mill into North America’s first mill to produce 100-percent recycled saturating kraft. The contribution is made through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program. Natural Resources Canada
The Government of Ontario is establishing a Hydrogen Innovation Fund as part of its Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy to position Ontario as a clean manufacturing hub. The fund will invest $15 million over the next three years in projects supporting electricity supply, capacity, and storage and demand management across three streams.
- Existing facilities already built or operational and ready to evaluate how hydrogen can support Ontario’s clean grid;
- New hydrogen facilities not yet constructed but could be in-service by a specified date to demonstrate how hydrogen can support Ontario’s clean grid;
- Research studies investigating the feasibility of novel applications of hydrogen or support future hydrogen project decision-making.
The fund will be administered by the Independent Electricity System Operator, which is opening applications in April 2023. Government of Ontario
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, at the University of Saskatchewan, is leading projects to develop tools tracking wildlife health and the risks of emerging infectious diseases. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault announced funding of more than $2 million over three years, to support the projects, which will include education and outreach to encourage Canadians to participate in wildlife health surveillance. ECCC
Laval-based Biodextris is developing a vaccine and biologics contract development manufacturing centre to help companies making next-generation biological products bridge the gap between research projects and large-scale commercial production. The project amounts to a $25-million investment in indoor materials and equipment and has received a $4-million loan under the ESSOR program managed by Investissement Québec, as well as a repayable contribution of $1 million through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. Biodextris
COLLABORATION & INNOVATION
Saskatoon-based DEEP Earth Energy Production (DEEP) is ready to begin construction of a 25 megawatt geothermal power facility in southeast Saskatchewan and plans to increase the project to approximately 200 megawatts of renewable power generation after its first facility is fully commissioned. The project has support from Natural Resources Canada ($26.5 million committed in 2019), Sask Power and private partners. DEEP
The Canadian Research Knowledge Network and Canadian Science Publishing have signed off on a three-year agreement that will serve as a first step to a “made in Canada” approach to publishing open access research and will enable Canadian authors to publish with a Canadian not-for-profit publisher with fewer barriers. The agreement offers unlimited open access publishing in five CSP journals, including Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Canadian Journal of Physics, Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Genome, and Transactions of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, as well as a 25 percent discount on article processing charges in 14 additional CSP journals, for corresponding authors from participating CRKN member institutions. CRKN
The GSK Chair in Virology at the University of Alberta's Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology (LKSIoV), held by Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, is the recipient of a $1.5-million boost from biopharmaceutical company GSK, bringing the value of the endowment to almost $6 million. The endowment will ensure the recruitment of high-quality scientists to future leadership roles within the LKSIoV. U of A
The Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network (PCSFN), led by the Olds College of Agriculture & Technology in Olds, Alberta is welcoming the Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives as a new member. PCSFN's goal is to accelerate the development and adoption of agriculture technologies across Canada. The network also includes Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm (Langham, Sask.), Lakeland College (Vermilion, Alta.), and University of Saskatchewan's Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (Saskatoon) as members. Olds College
The City of Guelph and Toronto-based Esri Canada have been selected to research, develop and build a modern, innovative geodatabase based on new geographic information system data models adapted for Canada’s next generation of 9-1-1 technology. The partnership was awarded more than $1 million in federal grant funding and is supported by the Canadian Safety and Security Program; a federal program led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, in partnership with Public Safety Canada. Esri
Vancouver-based NEO Battery Materials has signed a collaboration agreement with Waterloo-based NanoRial Technologies to develop materials to boost electric vehicle battery performance. NEO says it plans to relocate in Ontario, and jointly apply to governmental funding programs, to increase business presence and exposure in the Canadian battery supply chain, including securing direct funding from the Ontario provincial government, supercluster projects from NGen Manufacturing Canada, and federal programs through the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Neo
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak created a dedicated department for science, innovation and technology in a mini-reshuffle of the UK cabinet last week. The new department, Sunak said, "would be focused on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world.” It will be headed by Michelle Donlan. Sunak also created the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department for Business and Trade, all of which were split from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. UK Gov | Nature
Dr. Jackie Goordial and Dr. Derek O'Flaherty, both of the University of Guelph, will lead international research teams exploring fundamental life science, with funding from the international Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). Goordial, an environmental microbiologist, will lead a team receiving $1.72 million over three years to investigate the atmosphere as a living ecosystem with colleagues from Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. while O’Flaherty, a nucleic acid chemist, will lead a team exploring the origin of life on Earth with colleagues from the Netherlands and France supported by funding of $1.6 million over three years. Canada has committed nearly $9 million to HFSP over four years through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. HFSP Awardees | UGuelph
Angler Solutions (St. John's), Marine Thinking (Halifax) and MetOcean Telematics (Dartmouth) are among 15 ocean tech sector companies representing Atlantic Canada at the 2023 Oceanology International Americas Conference (OiA23) in San Diego this week. Led by Invest Nova Scotia, the delegation will pursue market prospects and discuss trends in the blue economy. The trade mission supports the Trade and Investment pillar of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. ACOA