The Short Report, April 15, 2020: Regulators move fast to approve AI-powered x-rays for COVID-19; American lawmakers look askance at Huawei PPE donations; and more

Mark Mann
April 15, 2020

The Fonds de recherche du Québec – santé (FRQS), the Quebec government's health sciences research arm, will provide $2 million to help create the Centre de Recherche en Biologie Structurale (CRBS) at McGill University. The centre aims to advance understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms of disease, which could help address medical challenges like targeting treatments to specific patients, fighting antibiotic resistance and treating neurological conditions linked to aging. CRBS brings together 38 McGill researchers based in nine different departments: biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, anatomy and cell biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, parasitology and biology. - McGill

Regulators have approved the use of AI-powered x-ray software developed by 1QB Information Technologies Inc (1QBit) in Vancouver to identify patients with respiratory complications. The xrAI chest radiology tool received swift approval from Health Canada following expedited clinical trials in Saskatchewan. The software was accelerated because of its applicability in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. - BIV

Canadian and EU officials continued collaboration and mutual assistance to address the consular, public health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. A joint statement by Canada’s Francois-Philippe Champagne and the EU’s Josep Borrell Fontelles promised increased research and innovation funding for vaccines, therapies and diagnostics. Among other things, Ottawa and Brussels will support initiatives on data sharing for all COVID-19-related funded research at the global level. - Radio Canada International

Newsweek reported that donations of PPE and medical equipment by Huawei Technologies Co to Canada is raising concern among U.S. lawmakers. Huawei has reportedly shipped more than a million masks, 50,000 gloves and 30,000 goggles to Canada during the pandemic, and plans to send five million more masks. "This Administration's retreat from multilateralism has been a boon for Chinese soft power," said Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D). - Newsweek

The flexible packaging company ProAmpac signed a five-year alliance with Polytechnique Montréal to fund the university's Sustainable, Safe and Smart Polymer Flexible Packaging program in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The agreement extends their 10-year collaboration and includes a $1-million Alliance Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), in addition to funds from the PRIMA Quebec Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Hub. - Calgary Herald

In a new paper published by the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Ann Fitz-Gerald sets out some potential policy implications of COVID-19 for Canada in five thematic areas: economy, energy and innovation; new ways of working and social change; stability, security and multilateral actors; migration, mobility and food security; and the importance of evidence-based policy. - Balsillie School

Engineering and medical researchers at McMaster University are assisting the auto parts manufacturer Woodbridge Foam Corporation to design, test, and certify a made-in-Canada high-filtration mask to supply health-care workers during the COVID-19 crisis. - McMaster

NSUS Group, the marketing arm of online poker brand GGPoker, has donated $100,000 to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation’s UHN Emergency COVID-19 Fund to facilitate clinical trials and support frontline staff. The donation was raised in partnership with GGPoker players; NSUS matched $50,000 in contributions by online players. - Gaming News Room

After the COVID-19 crisis delayed nearly $200 million in Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits for tech companies, those backlogged funds are now starting to flow. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is reportedly looking to expedite the processing of claims. - BetaKit

Ontario auto parts manufacturer Autoliv retooled its facility in just three days to shift from making airbags for carmakers to producing gowns for front line hospital workers fighting COVID-19, following an urgent request from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. - BNN Bloomberg

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has launched the College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19, to "leverage the expertise and infrastructure in these post-secondary institutions to rapidly mobilize support and expertise related to the COVID-19 outbreak." - NSERC

A collaborative province-wide study between the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and the Government of Alberta will look at the drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as an early intervention for people who test positive for COVID-19. - University of Calgary


Phillip Stephan has been appointed new vice president of business and client development at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario. Stephan previously held management roles at the Saskatchewan Research Council for almost a decade. Vineland is an independent, not-for-profit organization that seeks to enhance Canadian growers’ commercial success through innovation. “One of Vineland’s hallmarks is that we work closely with the industry to develop solutions addressing the sector’s challenges and Phillip will play a key role to help us strengthen and expand our efforts in this area," said Vineland president and CEO Ian Potter in a statement. - Food in Canada

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