The Short Report - October 18, 2023
October 18, 2023
The Government of Canada invested up to $25 million in five venture capital fund managers as part of Ottawa’s renewed Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI), managed by the Business Development Bank of Canda. The five VC funds managers will each receive a portion of the funding to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women and members of Indigenous, Black and 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
The five VC funds managers are:
- BKR Capital (Toronto)
- District Ventures Capital (Calgary)
- Ripple Ventures (Toronto)
- Sandpiper Ventures (Halifax)
- The51 (Calgary)
This is the first of two investments for the inclusive growth stream of the VCCI announced in Budget 2021. A second call for expressions of interest for another round of investments of $25 million is ongoing and will close on November 22, 2023. Govt. of Canada
The Government of Canada contributed $23 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, to a $61-million project by Toronto-based biopharmaceutical company Edesa Biotech Inc. The company develops innovative therapies for inflammatory and immune-related diseases. Edesa’s monoclonal antibody therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening form of respiratory failure and leading cause of death in COVID 19 patients, is entering Phase 3 clinical trials, the large-scale testing required before a drug is approved. The funding supports the acceleration of Edesa’s Phase 3 clinical study. Edesa also secured a revolving line of credit agreement for up to $10 million with Dr. Par Nijhawan, the company’s CEO and founder. Govt. of Canada
The Governments of Canada and Ontario together invested up to $16.5 million, through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to support agri-food research and innovation projects that will help Ontario develop new technologies, practices and solutions for the agri-food sector. The Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative will provide a multi-year suite of funding opportunities to support research and innovation activities that advance the sector. These funding streams include applied research, pilot and demonstration, knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) and commercialization of products, including a new Grow Ontario Accelerator Hub. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will deliver the applied research, pilot and demonstration and KTT funding streams. Bioenterprise Corporation will deliver the commercialization stream. The first application intakes – for three of the streams opens on November 2, 2023. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Government of Quebec pledged $22.25 million to support Cycle Momentum, an accelerator for climate tech startups, in a five-year partnership aimed at scaling new ventures and launching the Origo program. This funding will enable the continuation of five acceleration programs per year, benefiting a total of 125 companies. Of this amount, $12.25 million is designated for the Origo program, which aims to address funding challenges for startups at the pre-seed and seed stages and will provide investments in the form of equity or quasi-equity. Cycle Momentum will invest $150,000 in funding in approximately 10 companies annually, with potential follow-on investments, to foster green technology innovation and attract startups to Quebec. Cycle Momentum.
The Government of Canada highlighted a $9.8-million partnership with the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) to support Canada's horticulture sector. This investment is part of the AgriScience Program – Clusters Component, aimed at advancing research that promotes environmental sustainability, resilience and access to high-quality products. The research will focus on areas like disease management, climate resilience and greener pesticides and energy, primarily targeting apples, berries, field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables and potatoes. The ultimate goal is to reduce reliance on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, advance innovative technologies and develop disease control methods. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Government of Canada contributed nearly $2 million to Charlottetown Metal Products (CMP), a subsidiary in Prince Edward Island of Food Process Solutions in Richmond, B.C., to help create its new innovation center and reach new markets and support growth in the food processing industry. The Government of Prince Edward Island provided $150,000 through Innovation PEI. The investment will help CMP establish its innovation centre for developing and testing of energy efficient-hygienic food processing equipment. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
The Government of Canada invested nearly $1.6 million for Sheridan College in Ontario to strengthen programming at Sheridan EDGE, a social venture accelerator that supports entrepreneurs from across the region. EDGE is a collaborative space where entrepreneurs can get mentorship, networking, skills development and access to financing. The funding will help EDGE accelerate the growth of entrepreneurs that are focused on creating solutions for social, cultural and environmental issues. It will also support entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. FedDev Ontario
TECH NEWS, RESEARCH & COLLABORATIONS
OpSens Inc., a Quebec City-based medical device company that makes fibre optic sensors for minimally invasive surgery on the heart and blood vessels, has agreed to be acquired by Haemonetics Corporation, a global healthcare company based in Boston. The deal values OpSens at about $345 million, with Haemonetics paying a 50-per cent-premium on the closing price of OpSens’s shares as of October 6. Shareholders and a Quebec judge have to sign off on the acquisition before it can close, which Haemonetics’s said it expects by January 2024. OpenSens
Umicore Rechargeable Battery Materials Canada Inc. invested $2.1 billion to build a new manufacturing plant in Loyalist Township, Ontario, with the potential to reach a total cost of $2.76 billion. This facility, which the company says is the first of its kind in North America, will produce critical cathode active materials and precursor cathode active materials for electric vehicle batteries. The project's first stage will create more than 600 direct jobs and 700 co-op positions. The investment aims to support the production of battery materials for 800,000 EVs annually, utilizing Canadian critical minerals like nickel, lithium and cobalt. The Canadian and Ontario governments are supporting the project with investments of up to $551.3 million and $424.6 million, respectively. The facility will operate with near carbon neutrality, utilizing clean energy resources. Govt. of Canada.
Vital Metals, headquartered in Australia, is shutting down a rare earth metals processing plant in Saskatoon was once touted as Canada’s flagship facility in the emerging sector. Vital Metals owns Cheetah Resources, which owns the Nechalacho mine project, about 100 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife. The project is one of the first rare earth metal mines in Canada. Following a strategic review, Vital Metals announced it would be placing a separate subsidiary that owns the processing plant into bankruptcy and liquidating its assets. Earlier this year, Vital Metals said the price for the plant jumped from $20 million to $60 million. The company said the closure of the plant does not affect operations at the Nechalacho site and that the company is now focused on developing its Tardiff deposit at the site. Vital said it also ended its agreement with REEtec, a Norwegian company meant to purchase Nechalacho product. CBC
See also: Canada's first rare earths projects underway in push to build new industry
Raring to go: a foundry for the future
Swiss-based H55, which provides electric propulsion and battery management systems, started construction on its Quebec facility, with a planned investment of about $100 million over the next five years. The new facility will include manufacturing, product development, research and development and customer integration support, with initial battery pack production scheduled to start in 2024. H55 has formed a wholly owned Canadian subsidiary, H55 Inc., located at Saint-Hubert Airport in the greater Montreal area. H55 Canada will work in close collaboration with existing customers, including Pratt & Whitney Canada, CAE, and Harbour Air, for product development, customization, and customer support. Canada Economic Development provided $10 million through the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative. H55
See also: Vancouver airline plans to be the world's first commercial electric plane operator
Calgary-based E3 Lithium said testing at its lithium extraction pilot plant – Alberta’s first such facility – showed positive results as the company moves toward commercializing its lithium resource. The company’s “Direct Lithium Extraction” process isolates lithium from brine solution without the need for traditional evaporation methods. E3 Lithium aims to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium products for electric vehicles and other applications. Preliminary analysis of the tests, according to the company, show:
- Initial lithium recovery: higher than 94 per cent
- Purity of concentrate: higher than 80 per cent
- Average lithium grade in concentrate: 916.6 milligrams per litre
The results were obtained under several operating conditions, said the company, which has now begun an extended operating period for the pilot plant. Over the several months, E3 will test its lithium extraction process and determine whether it can extract lithium from oil, depleted oil and gas reservoirs at a commercially viable rate. The company hopes to start producing lithium by the end of 2026. E3 Lithium
The U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities is calling on the federal government to invest $200 million annually to support research in sensitive areas. U15 also wants the Liberal government to implement its election platform commitment of $75 million in private sector partnerships, including those involving support by the Canada Innovation Corporation, which has yet to be operational. In a pre-Budget 2024 submission, U15 also recommends increasing the funding for graduate scholarships and doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships by 50 per cent and doubling of the number of graduate scholarships, subsequently indexed to inflation. Another recommendation is for Ottawa to increase the base budgets of the tri-agency granting councils (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research), as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation, by at least 10 per cent annually for five years. U15 is calling on the government to expand the Canada First Research Excellence Fund to enhance the development of hubs of excellence in emerging fields. In addition, the group recommends creating 750 new Canada Research Chair positions for early and mid-career researchers (Tier II), with five years of research operating support and funds for research infrastructure. U15 Canada
Preliminary findings from NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, which collected a sample from the asteroid Bennu and returned it to Earth, has shown evidence of high-carbon content and water in the asteroid sample. The initial assessment suggests the asteroid contains carbon compounds essential for life. While more work is needed to understand the nature of the carbon compounds, this discovery offers insights into the origins of life on Earth and the formation of our solar system. Scientists will continue to study the sample for decades to come, NASA said. NASA.
The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) is administering the $160-million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund in Canada, aimed at promoting decarbonization and reducing air pollution while supporting Black-owned businesses. Under the Macro Loan Program, eligible Black-owned businesses can access up to $250,000 for capital investments, including clean transportation vehicles and recharging equipment. Working capital and short-term receivable financing loans are also available. The program is a cross-sectoral initiative in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and financial institutions. The initiative aims to address the disparities in financing and offers opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to contribute to Canada's decarbonization goals. FACE
The University of Ottawa and IBM teamed up to launch the uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range, located in the university’s Cyber Hub. The facility will allow users to experience a range of fully immersive cyberattack and cyber threat simulations using the most sophisticated technology and software, replicating real-life cyber event scenarios . Participants will learn how to plan for, respond to, manage, contain and remediate a cyber incident, and to anticipate and defend against current and future threats. In addition to the sensory-immersive and interactive training, the Cyber Range will also enable ground-breaking cybersecurity and cyber safety research across multiple disciplines. uOttawa
The University of Calgary officially opened its Cyber Assessment, Training and Experimentation Centre (CATE). Designed for a combination of commercial and academic training and research use, CATE features a scalable cyber range – the only one of its kind in Alberta – that can simulate digital environments, systems, threats, and defences. Led and managed by industry experts, it is a critical institution for cyber safety and research, uCalgary said. CATE is funded in part through Raytheon, ENFOCOM, Alberta Innovates, and Prairies Economic Development Canada. UCalgary also announced a new partnership with the quantum computing company Xanadu. Xanadu will provide educational materials and support for the university’s Professional Master of Quantum Computing program, which begins in January 2024. UCalgary (CATE), (Xanadu partnership)
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and Rogers Communications Inc. partnered to provide two fully operational 5G-enabled testing grounds for innovators. The first of the two networks is NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre, which provides a space for industry partners to develop and test 5G technologies before bringing them to the market. The second is a portable 5G testing environment. Both test environments allow for testing and validating of different industrial applications and can help enable everything from advanced manufacturing and autonomous vehicles to remote surgeries and fully immersive augmented and virtual reality for the gaming and digital media industries. The networks installation is supported by a combined $3.8 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Prairies Economic Development Canada and the government of Alberta. NAIT
CIFAR and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) signed a 4 ½-year partnership agreement to strengthen cross-border collaboration in science, technology and innovation. The partnership aims to promote the integration of leading Swiss researchers into CIFAR’s programs, and enable cross-border collaboration in novel research fields, with strategic initiatives co-developed by CIFAR and SNSF. As part of the agreement, SNSF will contribute $6 million to CIFAR over the partnership timeframe. In a separate announcement, CIFAR and The British Academy launched a new collaboration, “New Frontiers in Technology,” that will run for five years from 2023 and support two CIFAR research programs. The British Academy will provide £1 million (about Cdn$1.7 million) in funding to advance work in the two programs, which seek to explore new technologies and systems that show promise for society, while examining their potential implications. CIFAR (SNSF partnership), CIFAR (collaboration with British Academy).
The Canadian Alliance for Net-Zero Agri-food (CANZA) was recently launched by seven founding members to address the challenge of feeding a growing population while reducing emissions, enhancing sustainability and creating economic opportunities in Canada. Supported by the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph and delivered by the Natural Step and the Smart Prosperity Institute, the inaugural partners include RBC Royal Bank, Loblaw Companies Limited, Maple Leaf, Nutrien, BCG Centre for Canada's Future, and McCain Foods. CANZA is committed to developing innovative technologies, advocating for policy measures and establishing a circular, net-zero value chain to eliminate 150 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from Canada's agri-food sector by 2050. The initial initiatives include expanding a national biodigester network and coordinating investments to promote net-zero solutions for farmers. CANZA.
Canada’s Ocean Supercluster announced a joint call for with Innovate UK under the new Canada-UK: Collaborative Ocean Solutions Program. The two innovation organizations are looking for private sector research and development partnerships on clean energy, aquaculture, seaweed cultivation, carbon capture and storage, robotics and drones, and sensors and data. In total, the Atlantic Canada-based innovation cluster and Innovate U.K. plan to spend about Cdn$6.8 million, with the program being open to startups from both countries. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster
VC & PRIVATE INVESTMENT
Northleaf Capital Partners, a Toronto-based market investment firm, announced it agreed to acquire a controlling stake for $200 million in Los Angeles-headquartered EVPassport Inc., an electric vehicle charging platform focused on deploying EV chargers across North America. Since EVPassport’s inception in 2020, the company has scaled its network to 35 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. EVPassport said it has deployed thousands of chargers, primarily focusing on the multi-family, hospitality and retail sectors, while delivering a 99.97 per cent uptime. Northleaf Capital
Saskatoon-based Vendasta Technologies, which sells business-to-business software, raised $20 million – led by Foundry – and converted a $52.5 million debenture to equity. This financing provides the company with funding for future acquisitions to accelerate growth, Vendasta said. The company offers a platform for channel partners to market, sell, bill, fulfill and deliver digital solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. In the past two years, Vendasta has acquired four companies. Vendasta Technologies
Kitchener-Waterloo-based healthtech startup FluidAI Medical, whose technology uses artificial intelligence in postoperative patient monitoring, raised $15 million in Series A funding. The round was led by SOSV and Graphene Ventures with participation from Boutique Venture Partners, Threshold Impact, Cur8 Capital, Leva Capital, Kyto Technology & Life Science Inc., Juno Pharmaceuticals, as well as several angel investors, funds and government funding organizations. FluidAI (then called NERv) was co-founded in 2014 by CEO Youssef Helwa and COO Amr Abdelgawad, two University of Waterloo engineering graduates. FluidAI
Haila Technologies, a Montreal-based fabless semiconductor and software company developing chips used in connecting the wireless communications of IoT devices, raised $14 million from Japanese manufacturer Murata Electronics, as well as the entire group of existing investors including Stanford University, Mika, Ecofuel Fund, Chrysalix, and TandemLaunch. The new funding will help drive R&D development, allow the team to grow, and be used to bring HaiLa’s ultra low-power system-on-chip (SoC) solutions to market, Haila Technologies
Calgary fintech startup Fillip closed a $5-million seed funding round in the first deal led by Janet Bannister’s new $34-million fund, Staircase Ventures. Founded in 2018 by former Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies’ site lead Alice Reimer, Fillip calls itself the first digital payment platform built for business fleets. Fillip was named one of 10 homegrown Calgary startups to watch in 2023 after winning the top prize of $250K at the inaugural Calgary Fintech Awards in 2022. Bannister will serve as an advisor and member of Fillip’s board of directors. Calgary.tech
Quickly, a Calgary-based early payment platform provider for SMEs, raised $10 million in debt and equity for its seed financing. The round was led by Thin Air Labs, with participation from Plug and Play, ATB Financial, and other new and existing investors. Quickly enables organizations to integrate an early payment program into their supply chain, granting vendors access to early payments while they participate in cost-saving discounts. The new funding will support the company’s recruiting efforts, U.S. expansion and other growth plans. Venture Capital Journal
Toronto-based software startup Ten Key Labs announced $10.5 million in seed funding and launched a new equity management platform called Mantle. Through Mantle, Ten Key Labs aims to help startup founders simplify and automate capitalization table management, equity issuing, fundraising options, planning, forecasting, and signing and data rooms for documents. Ten Key’s financing comes from a group that includes Eniac, Craft Ventures, Vaynerfund, Sierra Ventures, and Leaders Fund. Betakit
REPORTS & POLICY
Tech workers in the U.S. were paid 46 per cent more – equivalent to almost $40,000 more –than tech workers in Canada, according to a study by the Dais think tank at Toronto Metropolitan University. The pay gap is significant, even once purchasing power is taken into account. Tech workers in Canada were paid similarly regardless of whether or not they were in a tech hub (such as Toronto or Kitchener-Waterloo), while tech workers in U.S. hubs received a notable pay premium. Non-wage compensation (such as equity value from stock compensation) for tech work in Canada, while hard to measure, was in some cases valued as half that in the U.S. Ten per cent of the tech pay gap can be explained by a much higher share of part-time, part-year work in Canada, said the study’s authors. Canada faces “fierce competition” in attracting and retaining talent from U.S.-based companies, who can afford to out-bid Canadian companies in compensation offers, they noted. They recommended Canada develop growth-oriented policies that, coupled with strong labour protections, allow tech companies to grow and expand their ability to offer competitive pay. Canada also should continue tackling pay inequity across different groups, they said. the Dais
More corporate board directors say they’re prepared to oversee disclosure of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) actions, but only half the directors see a link between ESG and the company’s strategy and overall success, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Directors who said their board is prepared to oversee mandatory ESG disclosures increased to 51 per cent, compared with 25 per cent in 2022. However, only 54 per cent board directors said ESG issues are linked to the company’s strategy and success, down from 64 per cent in 2021. At the same time, some stakeholders (state governments, investors and activists) have pushed back on the perceived ESG “agenda,” PwC noted. The survey polled 619 directors across the U.S., 73 per cent of whom worked for companies with revenues over US$1 billion. PwC
Alberta’s competitive advantage in a decarbonizing world is threatened by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, with the province lagging the U.S. on incentives for low-carbon investment, according to a report by Clean Prosperity and the Transition Accelerator. However, the authors said new policy tools can help Alberta close the “bankable gap” – the difference between investment incentives such as tax credits and production tax credits – in the U.S. and Alberta. They recommended strengthening Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system, using financial instruments called carbon contracts for difference, which ensure the future value of carbon credits. The TIER system helps industrial facilities find innovative ways to reduce emissions and invest in clean technologies. The authors also recommended Alberta develop a comprehensive low-carbon industrial strategy, and that 100 per cent of present and future TIER revenues be applied to support decarbonization. “There is an urgent need for Alberta to develop new policy tools to help scale new technologies and become a low-carbon investment destination of choice,” the authors said. However, Alberta can’t reasonably compete with the U.S. for investments in “green” hydrogen production (made by electrolyzing water), so the province should focus on “blue” hydrogen (produced from natural gas), they said. They also pointed out that small modular nuclear reactors face long construction times, unique financing requirements, and high regulatory hurdles in Alberta. Transition Accelerator
Atlantic Canada has the potential to harness its offshore wind resources to become a global leader in renewable energy, generating more electricity than the region consumes annually, according to a report by the Public Policy Forum. The study identifies the shallow waters off Nova Scotia's Sable Island as a prime location for offshore wind development and suggests that the Sable Island Bank alone could accommodate at least 1,000 offshore turbines. The report emphasizes the need for a government-backed, guaranteed-fixed price for energy generated over several years to offset the costs of offshore wind projects. However, the report also highlights the challenge of finding a market for the surplus energy generated by the offshore wind projects, particularly since there is a lack of demand for it in Atlantic Canada. Public Policy Forum
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund has enabled completion of 1,447 projects that avoided 2.87 million tonnes of GHG emissions since 2000, and contributed $1.2 billion to Canada’s GDP, the FCM said its annual report on the fund. Some of the fund’s key initiatives include: Community Efficiency Financing; Low Carbon Cities Canada; Community Buildings Retrofit; Partners for Climate Protection; Municipal Net-Zero Action Research Partnership; and the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative. In November 2022, the federal government invested $530 million in the FCM’s Green Municipal Fund through the Climate Adaptation Action Plan, to support, accelerate and scale-up community-based climate adaptation initiatives. FCM
The Government of Canada launched a consultation to gather Canadians’ thoughts on generative artificial intelligence tools and the implications for copyright holders to give consent and receive credit and compensation for the use of their works. The questions to be studied over the course of this consultation, which are outlined in the consultation paper, include:
- the use of copyright-protected works in the training of AI systems
- authorship and ownership rights related to AI-generated content
- liability, especially when AI-generated content could infringe existing copyright-protected works.
Canadians have until December 4, 2023, to submit feedback online. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Canadian Heritage also will hold a series of roundtables with a variety of stakeholders, including those involved in the creative industries and AI development. The comments collected will contribute to copyright policy development. ISED
THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities
Lisa Lambert was appointed the first-ever CEO of Quantum Industry Canada (QIC) a non-profit consortium committed to advancing Canada’s quantum sector. In March, the federal government invested $1.4 million in QIC as part of Ottawa’s $360-million National Quantum Strategy, aimed at supporting the growth of Canada’s quantum science and technology ecosystem. Launched in October 2020 by a consortium of Canadian quantum tech companies, QIC now has a membership of more than 40 commercial-ready quantum technology and related companies. Canada’s quantum industry is estimated to be a $139-billion industry and account for 209,200 jobs by 2045, according to a study commissioned by the National Research Council of Canada. QIC
Carole Jabet, scientific director at the Fonds de Recherche du Québec en Santé, and Steven Klein, chief business officer at Epitopea, were appointed to the board of directors at CQDM, a not-for-profit biopharmaceutical consortium in Quebec. Daria Riabinina, director of collaborative research at the Quebec government’s Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy was appointed to CQDM’s board of directors as an observer. The additions to the board will bring a depth of experience and a wealth of knowledge to the life sciences sector, helping to consolidate and facilitate biopharmaceutical innovation in Quebec and Canada, CQDM said. CQDM
Eric Cerit was promoted to executive vice-president, industry and government relations and membership development at Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP). His responsibilities will include developing FHCP’s new three-year strategic plan. Michi Furya Chang was promoted to executive vice-president, public policy, regulatory affairs and head of divisional strategy. In her new role, Chang will assume strategic and operational oversight of FHCP’s Plant Based Foods of Canada division, while looking to future opportunities to promote regulatory modernization to enable growth and innovation within the industry. Food in Canada
Chris Baker, the new executive director of the Saskatchewan Seed Growers’ Association, comes from a research background with a vision for a high-tech future in farming, including using technology to improve the genome of crop plants. Baker worked for 12 years on livestock vaccine research, including more than decade at Genome Prairie where for five years he was chief scientific officer. He spent another four years as the research and business director for the Global Institute for Food Security. Seed World Canada
Alan Tannenbaum was promoted to the head of the Bank of Montreal’s capital markets division after 13 years at the bank, replacing retiring CEO Dan Barclay. Tannenbaum, who has 25 years of experience on Wall Street, joined BMO in 2010 and has held multiple leadership roles, most recently leading global investment and corporate banking, where he worked with corporate, government and financial sponsor clients worldwide. Before then, he headed the global corporate finance solutions group, where he was responsible for capital raising activities. BMO
Peter Moreland-Giraldeau was appointed by the federal government to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) for a five-year term. Moreland-Giraldeau is a lawyer with a Master of Laws: Common Law from the University of British Columbia. In his current work for the Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation, he provides legal advice to the Commission’s general counsel, commissioners and executive. The PMPRB is an independent quasi-judicial body responsible for protecting the interests of Canadian consumers by ensuring the prices of patented medicines sold in Canada are not excessive. Health Canada
Fasken, a Toronto-based law firm, opened its first corporate office on First Nations land, in the “Taza” professional and retail district on Tsuut’ina lands, adjacent to Calgary’s southwest boundary. The Taza, spanning 1,200 acres, is planned to be the largest First Nation development project in North America that connects tenants, customers, and visitors to the Tsuut’ina Nation. Fasken said its new office, located 20 minutes from downtown Calgary, is intended as a platform to establishing new connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. Fasken
CIFAR released its Impact Report 2022/2023 highlighting its programs and achievements in 20 countries, including Canada. CIFAR’s “global communities” now encompass 439 researchers, 223 fellows, 64 advisors, 37 CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars, 121 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs, and 166 institutions. Ninety-three major awards and honours were received by fellows, advisors, CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars and Canada CIFAR AI Chairs. CIFAR
Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit that advocates for evidence-based policymaking in government, is launching its new bilingual Essential Guide to Science Advocacy on October 23. The guide is a collaborative project initiated by Nova Scotia Senator Stanley Kutcher and Rémi Quirion, chief scientist of Québec, and developed by Evidence for Democracy with support from the Fonds de recherche du Québec. The launch event will include a panel of experts discussing “What does science advocacy look like today, in a world of echo chambers, misinformation and hyper-polarization? The panelists are Quirion, Kutcher and Dr. Allison Sekuler, PhD, a neuroscientist who holds faculty positions at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Evidence for Democracy
The University of Calgary has transformed its 60-year-old Department of Geoscience into the Department of Earth, Energy, and Environment – the first of its kind in Canada to bring an integrated, transdisciplinary focus cutting across Earth, energy and environment. The new department’s broader focus will enable it to tackle important challenges such as mitigating climate and natural hazards, and securing access to sustainable energy, food, and water resources. The Department of Earth, Energy, and Environment will add new courses and degree programs focused on energy and environmental science alongside updated curricula for earth sciences. The new Energy Science undergraduate program is expected to launch in 2024 and will train scientists on traditional and emerging forms of energy as well as its storage, transmission, and policy implications. UCalgary
An international team of interdisciplinary researchers, including at the University of Waterloo, has developed an innovative method for improved 3D modeling of complex cancers. By combining advanced bioprinting techniques with synthetic structures and microfluidic chips, the team aims to provide a more accurate understanding of heterogeneous tumors, consisting of various types of cancer cells often distributed unpredictably. This approach addresses the limitations of traditional 2D models used by biologists for decades, offering a 3D model that not only replicates tumor complexity but also simulates the surrounding environment. The researchers created polymer microfluidic chips that mimic fluid flow around tumors, grew different types of cancer cells in customized “bioink,” and used an extrusion bioprinter to build a 3D model. The innovation has the potential to advance cancer research, especially in understanding and treating complex cancers like breast cancer, and could lead to more effective and less invasive treatment options. University of Waterloo
Dalhousie University’s Persuasive Computing Lab has developed Recilify, a digital app that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer personalized, evidence-based mental health support based on journal entries and contextual data provided by users. The free app can determine a user’s emotional state and which interventions will improve their mood and resilience so they can better cope or adapt. Recilify aims to provide personalized assistance to users, complementing healthcare services, and maintaining user privacy. Currently in beta testing, the app addresses the growing need for accessible mental health support services. Dalhousie University
BC Tech announced nine companies as winners of the 30th annual Technology Impact Awards and inducted eight leaders into the Innovators Hall of Fame at the awards show. The Company of the Year winners, with the category won, are:
- Blanka (Startup), which allows anyone to launch a new beauty brand in under an hour, for less than $200.
- Fatigue Science (Growth), which provides predictive human performance data around sleep. Its Readi platform is used to protect workers and improve productivity across elite sports, military and heavy industry.
- Aspect Biosystems (two awards: Scale, and Gamechanger - Ambition). The UBC spinout is collaborating with Novo Nordisk to develop bio-printed tissue therapeutics designed to replace, repair or supplement biological functions, with the aim of delivering a new class of treatments for diabetes and obesity.
- STEMCELL Technologies (Anchor), Canada’s largest biotechnology company, celebrated its 30th year of accelerating research into cancer and other diseases this year.
- Svante (Climate Leadership), which has made sizeable advancements in the global carbon capture, utilization, and storage space.
- AbCellera (Excellence in Industry Innovation), a biotech anchor which is building a state-of-the-art biotechnology campus that will include a new preclinical development facility, creating more than 400 highly skilled jobs, as well as new training opportunities in life sciences and biomanufacturing.
- CheckingIn (Gamechanger – Diversity & Inclusion), a mental health and well-being platform that empowers teams with a simple, fast, and approachable tool to assess and respond productively to their feelings.
- Trulioo (Excellence in Company Culture), a global identity verification firm, recognized for its work on employee retention and engagement, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and professional development. BC Tech
The 6th annual Start Alberta Tech Awards recognized 12 individuals and organizations for their success and contributions to Alberta’s innovation ecosystem, and for making a significant impact in the province’s tech sector. Award winners were:
- A100 One to Watch presented by A100: WaitWell
- Most Significant Transaction: CoolIT Systems
- Scaleup of the Year presented by Osler: Neo Financial
- Most Promising Founder presented by Platform Calgary: Chloe Smith of Mercator AI
- Impact Award: PainWorth
- Digital Talent Champion presented by Profound Talent: Tacit Edge
- Venture Capital Association of Alberta (VCAA) Rod Charko Service Award presented by the VCAA: Kylie Woods of Chic Geek
- Ecosystem Supporter of the Year: Platform Calgary
- Woman in Tech presented by Innovate Calgary: Shannon Vander Meulen of WaitWell
- Investor of the Year presented by AEC: Mark Blackwell of Builders VC
- Deal of the Year presented by AEC: Jobber
- Leader of the Year presented by Edmonton Unlimited: Dr. Kristina Rinker of Syantra Start Alberta
Officials with the Prairies-based Protein Industries Canada global innovation cluster visited the U.K., in partnership with Innovate UK and the National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program, with cluster member companies Wamame Foods, CrushDynamics, Griffith Foods and Enhanced Medical Nutrition. The delegation toured the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich and the University of Lincoln, hosted a panel session at Future Food-Tech London, and held a matchmaking event at Canada House. To continue advancing plant-based food and ingredient innovation, Protein Industries Canada and Innovate UK announced a joint call for collaborative R&D projects from Canadian and UK consortia. Protein Industries Canada