The Short Report - February 8, 2023: CIHR research grants, investing in deep-sea research, boosting AI capacity for Amii & U of A, and more.

Cindy Graham
February 8, 2023


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fall 2022 project grant competition has approved 382 research grants and 93 bridge grants, for a total investment of approximately $325 million. In addition, 190 priority announcement grants were funded for a total amount of $22 million, with 12 supplemental prizes awarded a total of $375,000. The 382 grants approved were awarded to 373 individual nominated principal investigators (9 NPIs were awarded two grants). Of the 382 grants, 103 were awarded to early career researchers and 4 were awarded for Indigenous health research projects. Early career researchers made up 27 percent of the total applications funded, historically a 2.6 percentage point increase, while mid-career researcher applications made up 31.2 percent of the applications funded, an 8.4 percentage point decrease.  Grant Breakdowns

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray has announced $46.5 million in funding over five years to Ocean Networks Canada through Canada’s $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan. The investment will provide real-time, open data to monitor ocean changes, including climate impacts and underwater noise on Canada's three coasts. It will also support radar and ocean buoy monitoring to prepare for extreme events. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Foresight Canada, with $2.3 million in support from the Government of British Columbia, and $5.2 million from Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan), is creating the BC Net Zero Innovation Network (BCNZIN), to support clean-technology innovators and adopters to compete, attract investment and talent, and help them grow. The project builds on a 2019 project, for which Foresight received $66, 250 from the provincial and federal governments, to create a six-month Cleantech Cluster Initiative. PacifiCan

 FedDev Ontario is contributing nearly $5.4 million through the Jobs and Growth Fund to expand the capabilities of Invest Ottawa’s high-tech accelerator, Area X.O. The funding will enable entrepreneurs to conduct tests and demonstrations remotely; boost the growth of defence, emergency management, public safety, security, and disaster preparedness companies; test and validate solutions to bring products and services to market; enable the creation of the first advanced robotic and unmanned aerial systems testbed of its kind in Canada; and support access to foreign direct investment and global smart mobility, autonomy, and connectivity market access for client and partner organizations across Ontario and internationally.  FedDev Ontario

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) is investing more than $3 million in projects led by Innovation Initiatives Ontario North (IION) and Canadore College in North Bay.  Of the total, IION will receive close to $2.5 million to implement: 

·       $1.1 million under the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) to help small and medium enterprises increase commercialization and productivity through the Step Forward Entrepreneurs Program (SFEP), which provides up to $10,000 in non-repayable funding to qualifying businesses for sales and marketing, product development, or business enhancement initiatives. 

·       $925,000 in JGF funding to build on its IION-Research and Prototyping in Development (iRAPID) initiative, helping up to 75 businesses accelerate commercialization activities, for companies that require assistance for a specific research and development project, including assisting companies to develop locally-made products, processes or services, and encourage "Made in Canada" solutions.

·       $473,500 in JGF funding to help businesses increase productivity and competitiveness while accelerating commercialization by implementing phase three of the Skills Development Placement Program (SDPP). SDPP provides workers with a 16-week work placement, matching them with companies to gain hands-on experiences and developing transferable skills in a risk-free environment. 

Meanwhile, Canadore College will receive FedNor funding of $750,000, through the Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation Fund, to implement the Responsive Innovation 4.0 (RI 4.0) initiative, which will increase its capacity for scale-up and product development for Northern Ontario businesses. Canadore's Innovation Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping is undertaking up to 30 individual research projects, to develop and commercialize new or modified products, processes, services, or technologies, and bring these new products to market. FedNor 

Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal has announced that more than $2.6 million is available for projects related to the Northern Contaminants Program, which focuses on human health, environmental and community-based monitoring and research, and public outreach initiatives to address northern contaminants and plastic pollution in northern and Arctic communities. More than $850,000 of the total funding has been identified for activities contributing to Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda. Applicants have until March 8 to submit proposals. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada


The University of Alberta and  the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) are planning to recruit 20 new faculty members over the next five years, thanks to a $30-million research investment by the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). The investment will focus on next-generation science in health, energy, and Indigenous initiatives, in health and humanities. U of A

The federal government is extending the deadline to submit comments on the Competition Act review, launched last November, to March 31st, and will maintain the act’s merger notification threshold for 2023 at $93 million. This is the second year in a row that Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne has maintained the threshold. ISED

The Association of University Technology Manager’s (AUTM) 2021 Canadian Licensing Activity Survey has ranked the University of Calgary as the top startup creator out of 32 Canadian academic and non-profit research institutions. More Canadian institutions completed 2021's survey (37), than in any year since 2014. Among other key highlights from the 2021 survey:

  • Total research expenditures topped $7.4 billion, with federal sources accounting for the largest share of funding at 45.2%.
  • Overall, the total licenses reported in the survey rose to 728, with the number of executed options increasing 44.7% over the prior year.
  • A record number of startups (125) were formed, with more than 91 percent of the new businesses headquartered in their institution’s home province.

AUTM| UCalgary

Statistics Canada has released information about the impact of innovation and growth support programs on recipients for the year 2020, based on data compiled through a joint initiative with the Treasury Board Secretariat.  A total of 123 federal programs related to business innovation and growth were included in The Business Innovation and Growth Support initiative (BIGS)  database, with findings showing that more than two-thirds (69.5 percent) of BIGS recipients were in the services sector and more than one-quarter (27.4 percent) were in the professional, scientific, and technical services. Enterprises in goods-producing industries accounted for 30.5 percent of all BIGS recipients, and the sectors with the largest number of recipients included manufacturing (19.1 percent) and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (7.0 percent). Among other highlights: small businesses were particularly more likely to receive federal innovation and growth support in 2020, as they accounted for 87.9 percent of the enterprises receiving support and for 61.4 percent of the total amount given to businesses that year. In 2020, small businesses — defined as those with fewer than 100 employees — benefitted from increased government assistance to help with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, larger enterprises with 500 or more employees accounted for 4.2 percent of the BIGS 2020 support recipients. Nevertheless, large enterprises received 26.0 percent of the total amount given via these programs of support. Stats Can

The University of Calgary has launched the Social Innovation Hub (SIH) to provide support to innovators and startups focused on solutions to social problems as they launch and scale. The hub will provide members with mentorship, networks, funding, space, a makerspace, and more. The hub was launched following Prairies Economic Development Canada’s $2.65-million commitment last year to developing viable social enterprises and building a more inclusive innovation ecosystem. UCalgary

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and natural resources development company Teck Resources (Vancouver) have launched the new Teck Copper Innovation Hub, made possible by a $1.75-million donation from Teck. The hub will advance research projects and explore ways that copper can be used to enhance health and safety in real-life applications, as well as help BCIT researchers explore the use of copper in a variety of healthcare devices, including prosthetics and orthotics using 3D printing. BCIT

Fanshawe College (London, ON) has received a $2-million donation, the largest individual donation in Fanshawe's history, from the Crich family, which will be used to create the Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator, to provide people entering the trades with a single point of contact to find the resources they need.  Fanshawe

The CQDM research consortium and Quebec-based biotechnology company Defence Therapeutics are funding the development of a new cancer vaccine platform that could be applied to a broad range of cancers. Funding for the study, totalling $1,359,851, was made possible through a $601,938 grant from the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie (MEIE) and a financial contribution of $757,913 from Defence Therapeutics. The project is being led by by l'Université de Montréal professor Moutih Rafei, in collaboration with Dr. Nicoletta Eliopoulos and Dr. Philippe Lefrançois of the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. CQDM| Defence Therapeutics

Montreal-based GHGSat is planning to launch the world’s first commercial satellite focused on monitoring sources of carbon dioxide later this year. The satellite is under construction and will be able to measure emissions from individual industrial facilities  such as power stations and cement plants  on a routine and repeated basis. GHGSat


Waterloo-based digital evidence provider Magnet Forensics has agreed to be acquired by  U.S. software investment firm Thoma Bravo for $1.8 billion. Thoma Bravo plans to combine Magnet Forensics with Atlanta-based Grayshift LLC, which Thoma Bravo acquired control of in July 2022. Business Wire

Meanwhile, Waterloo-based information management solutions provider Open Text has completed its acquisition of British software technology and services company Micro Focus for $7.8 billion. Open Text


Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng will lead her first Women’s Trade Mission to the United Kingdom from March 13 to 16, 2023. The mission will focus on expanding trade between businesses owned and led by women in technology-based sectors such as clean technologies, information and communications technologies, and life sciences. Global Affairs Canada

Bill Matiko, the former chief financial officer and chief operating officer of the Canadian Light Source research centre at the University of Saskatchewan, is its new executive director, effective February 3, for a period of five years. Matiko has effectively led the CLS since September 2021, with full operational oversight and authority as COO. He joined CLS as the chief financial officer in 2019. USask.



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