The Short Report - June 14, 2023: Healthy aging research projects, advancing the Canada/UK biomanufacturing & quantum science partnership, Space Canada's new policy position paper, and more.

Cindy Graham
June 14, 2023


Université de Montréal will receive more than $124 million through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) as part of a larger $1.4 billion investment announced in May supporting large-scale research initiatives. The U de M funding will support its R3AI initiative, which focuses on implementing responsible AI design and adoption strategies in areas such as molecule discovery, health systems improvements, and climate change mitigation, while positioning Canada as a global leader in AI research and innovation. ISED

The Government of Canada and the Government of the United Kingdom have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to advance biomanufacturing and quantum science in an agreement that will "strengthen domestic innovation and industrial capabilities to better prepare for and respond to health emergencies." The agreement is backed by a $32-million jointly administered fund that will advance, among other things, collaborative science, R&D, industrial development, and will be jointly administered by the National Research Council in Canada and Innovate UK in the United Kingdom. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne and the United Kingdom’s Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) George Freeman also committed to the following actions in the MOC:

  • increasing collaboration in quantum science and technology,
  • prioritizing the promotion of  transparent and rigorous research and safe and inclusive research environments;
  • supporting research security; and
  • promoting the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in quantum science and technology.


Read more: Canada joining innovation "Commonweath"

The Government of British Columbia is providing $20 million over two years to the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) to enhance genetic research, including cancer and medical research, and improve healthcare outcomes for people in B.C. The GSC will also play a role in understanding areas such as forestry, marine science, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change. The investment is part of the B.C. Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy, which aims to position the province as a global hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing. GOV BC

Space Canada, the national space industry association headed by former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant, has released a policy position paper focused on Canada’s role in space defence. The paper recommends that Canada accelerate the delivery of identified space defence programs; engage directly with Canada's space innovators; expand R&D programs; and establish a national space council to coordinate space priorities across the Government of Canada. Space Canada

Health Canada is contributing $1.8 million in funding over three years to the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) hosted by the University of Alberta to identify best practices for transplant patients who have been severely affected by COVID-19. Project activities will include assessing the safety and effectiveness of early therapies in transplant patients; investigating the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on patients and their families; and evaluating the economic impact and value of emerging and existing therapy options for COVID-19 in transplant patients. Health Canada

The Government of Canada will participate as a third party in dispute settlement consultations between the Government of the United States and the Government of Mexico regarding Mexico's decision to ban the use of biotechnology corn in tortillas and dough, the intention to gradually substitute the use of biotechnology corn in all products for human consumption and animal feed, and the rejection of applications for authorizations covering the importation and sale of certain biotechnology products. The dispute settlement consultations are part of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada is providing additional funding of up to $500,000 to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care to help expedite the update of its breast cancer screening guidelines. The Task Force, composed of primary care and prevention experts, is working on updating their 2018 guideline by examining evidence and engaging in a knowledge exchange event. The goal is to release the draft guideline in the fall and ensure that breast cancer screening guidelines are based on the latest scientific evidence to support informed decision-making for women in Canada. PHAC | Task Force on Preventative Health Care

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, in partnership with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, has released the State of Canada’s Aerospace Industry Report, based on 2022 year-end data. The report confirms that Canada’s aerospace industry has officially started its pandemic recovery, seeing an increase in revenues, jobs, and GDP for the first time since 2019, before the sector was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also found that the aerospace industry continues to rank first in R&D investments in Canada, with an R&D intensity 2.3 times higher than the manufacturing average. AIAC

AGE-WELL, in collaboration with the Canadian Frailty Network, is funding 17 one-year research projects through the inaugural Catalyst Funding Program in Healthy Aging program launched last December. The projects will advance the new Healthy Aging Canada collaborative, which will provide technology-enabled solutions to improve the lives of older Canadians from diverse populations. In total, the projects will involve 30 project leads and 28 trainees from 18 Canadian universities and research centres across seven provinces, with total funding of over $800,000. Cision | List of projects


Atomic Energy of Canada and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of New Brunswick (UNB) to collaborate on research in areas such as cyber security, medical isotopes, and clean energy. The partnership builds on the existing relationship between AECL, CNL, and UNB, particularly through UNB's Centre for Nuclear Energy Research. The agreement also aligns with CNL's Vision 2030 strategy, which focuses on advancing Canadian nuclear science and technology. CNL

Pembroke, Ontario-based Thoth Technology and Brampton-based MDA are working together to advance deep space radar surveillance and space domain awareness with the establishment of Canada's first ground-based radar system capable of monitoring resident space objects (RSOs). Thoth has developed a radar system called Earthfence, which can detect and characterize objects in geosynchronous orbit located 36,000 kilometers away from Earth. MDA will be integrating their commercial data services with Thoth’s ground-based radar technology to provide sovereign monitoring in deep space over Canada. MDA

Lethbridge College has joined the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network. The network, which is a $2.9-million initiative started in 2021 by the Olds College of Agriculture and Technology, will now have seven members across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba working together to enhance efficiency, farm sustainability, and resilience in response to emerging opportunities and challenges. Lethbridge College's Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) expands the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network into southern Alberta and supports on-farm activities with a 385-acre irrigated research farm located just east of Lethbridge, numerous irrigation systems and technology, field-scale plots, crop production and a state-of-the-art grain drying facility. CARIE also has more than 7,000 sq-ft of laboratory space, and more than 20,000 sq-ft of controlled-environment agriculture facilities, including the  Aquaculture Centre of Excellence and Centre for Sustainable Food Production. Lethbridge College

The C3i Center, a Montreal-based Center of Excellence in Research and Commercialization focused on accelerating the commercialization of cell therapies and cancer immunotherapies, and Paladin Labs (Montreal) are launching a complimentary clinical testing program for the diagnosis of the T315I mutation in Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients in Canada. The program will provide physicians and patients with additional information to guide treatment decisions, thanks to technology that can identify the T315I mutation with a sensitivity that is approximately 100 times greater than current sequencing. Cision


Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform company Cohere has announced the successful completion of a $360- million Series C financing round. Inovia Capital led the funding round, with participation from global institutional and strategic investors such as NVIDIA, Oracle, Salesforce Ventures, and DTCP. The investment will  enable enterprises to leverage the power of AI on their preferred cloud platform while ensuring data privacy and security. Globe Newswire

Mississauga-based crop protection solutions business Vive Crop Protection has raised more than $11 million in an extension to its Series C financing round. The agtech startup secured nearly $34 million in the first close of its Series C funding round last August. This extension brings the round’s total to $45.9 million. Current investors who contributed to the extension include the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, Urbana Corporation, Co-operators, Emmertech, Lex Capital, and iSelect. Vive did not disclose who led the round or when it closed. Vive Crop Protection

Israeli startup ecosystem map and research centre StartupBlink's Global Startup Ecosystem Index for 2023 reveals significant changes in Canada's startup landscape. Canada maintained its fourth-place ranking among 100 countries with several cities experiencing notable shifts. Ottawa made the biggest leap, climbing 21 spots to reach 68th place globally, followed by Kitchener (up 15 spots) and Québec City (up 13 spots). Despite minor drops, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton remained within the top 100 global rankings. BetaKit


Dalhousie University professor Dr. Jeffrey Dahn will join Halifax-based Meta Materials' scientific advisory board on June 15. Dahn held the NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair from 2016 to 2021 and is the current principal investigator of the NSERC/Dalhousie/Tesla Canada Alliance Grant, which will run until at least 2026. His expertise will support Meta's efforts in driving innovation of battery materials, which Dahn says could have a positive impact in the fields of grid storage, electric transportation, and resource management for the energy transition. Stockhouse

Jeremy Wilmot will take over as president and CEO of Interac effective August 1. Wilmot will be taking the helm from Mark O'Connell, who has led the company since 2006 and will retire at the end of October. Until then, O'Connell will assist in the transition in an advisory role. Wilmot joins Interac from ACI Worldwide, a real-time payments processing software solutions company. Interac is set to serve as the exchange solution provider for Canada’s upcoming Real-Time Rail (RTR) payments system, which is meant to modernize Canada’s core payments infrastructure by enabling payments to be sent and received within seconds. Interac

Toronto-based mineral development company Avalon Advanced Materials is overhauling its leadership team as part of a strategy to become a leading North American vertically integrated lithium producer. Scott Monteith is the interim Chief Executive Officer; Jim Jaques will serve as the company’s inaugural Chief Administrative Officer, and Jan Holland will join the board of directors. The appointments are effective immediately and says new developments will be announced in coming weeks. Avalon also announced that former president and CEO Donald Bubar has stepped down from the board of directors after many years of service. Avalon


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