Government of British Columbia , Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada , The University of British Columbia , Accelerator Centre, Aditxt, Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System, AgentHub, Alberta Energy Regulator, Alberta Municipalities, AMD, Anyon Systems, Appli Therapeutics Inc., ARHT Media Inc. , Astrobotic , AtkinsRéalis, Attunement, Australian Quantum Software Network , Australian Space Agency, Bank of Montreal, Basalt Tech , BBA , BlackBerry Limited, Blacksmith, BNEF, BTQ Technologies Corp. , Business Development Bank of Canada, BYD, Canada Development Investment Corporation, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Research Coordinating Committee, Canada-U.S. Energy Transformation Task Force, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Space Agency, Carleton University, Centre for Canadian Innovation and Competitiveness , Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Christian Medical College, CIFAR, Circleback, Clariti Cloud, CleanBC, Conference Board of Canada, Council of Canadian Academies, Council of Canadian Innovators, CQDM, D-Wave, Datacurve , Define Capital , Department of National Defence, Draftaid, Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc. , Edison Motors, Evident Insights Ltd., EY Canada, Farmers Edge Inc., Finance Canada, Futurpreneur Canada, Gairdner Foundation, Gevo Inc. , GovernGPT, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, Government of Saskatchewan, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hootsuite, Hydro Quebec, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, InfoSec Global , Infrastructure Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Intellectual Property Ontario, JAXA, KODE Labs, l’Université de Montréal, Lab2Market, Laval University, Magna, Maia Farms, Maverix Private Equity, McKinsey & Company, McMaster University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Microsoft Canada, Mission Control, Mitacs, MNP LLP, NASA, Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Numana, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Photonic, Pizza Hut , Privy Council Office, Public Health Agency of Canada, Quantum Algorithms Institute, Quantum Computing Report, Qubic Technologies, Québec Ministry of Education , RC Coffee , RejuvenRx, Research Canada, Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton, Royal Bank of Canada, Sanctuary AI, Saskatchewan Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal , Senso, SmartD Technologies , Sobeys Inc., Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, softwareQ, Space Capital , Standing Committee on Science and Research, Statistics Canada, Stratview Research , Summit Commercial Solutions Inc,, Talkwalker, TESCanada H2 , Tesla, THRiVE Discovery Lab, Toronto-Dominion Bank, UK Space Agency, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Cambridge, University of Manitoba, University of Ottawa, University of Québec at Trois-Rivières , University of Strasbourg , University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Utimaco, Walmart Canada , Wayve, Weizmann Institute of Science, Western University, World Economic Forum, World Energy GH2 Limited Partnership, Xanadu, Y Combinator, and Zero Point Cryogenics


"Bouchard report", 2004 Gairdner Awards, Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program, advanced therapies for infectious diseases, AI Compute Access Fund , AI innovation by Canadian banks, AI-based startups in Y Combinator accelerator, AI-enabled autonomous driving technology, AI-enabled building systems management, AI-enabled social media monitoring, Alberta government's Provincial Priorities Act, 2024 (Bill 18), aligning federal funding with provincial priorities, B.C. invests in new post-secondary student spaces, Canada as a "risk-adverse" innovation culture, Canada's innovation performance, Canada's patent performance, Canada's venture capital investment as a percentage of GDP, Canadian business spending on R&D, Canadian government expenditure on R&D, Canadian pensions investing in Canada, Canadian Sovereign Compute Strategy , Canadian Space Agency international agreements, CANGrow Modular Indoor Food Production System, cellular rejuvenation research, CIFAR's new "refreshed" strategy, Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credit, climate-resilient communities in B.C., Conference Board of Canda's 2024 Innovation Report Card, CSA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, cyber security, digital insurance brokerage, digitalization of agriculture , DND's Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, electric motor control technology, enhancing IP capacity in Ontario's post-secondary sector, entrepreneurism in Canada , federal Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for innovation-enabling assets, federal Budget 2024, federal Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive , federal Electric Vehicle (EV) Supply Chain investment tax credit , federal funding to Alberta universities , federal government use of AI, federal investment in new strategic research infrastructure and federal research support, federal Lab 2 Market applicants, federal procurement targets, federal research support system, federal support for AI sector, federal support for biofuels sector, fintech and quantum technologies, full-sized live holograms for vocational training, global sales of electric vehicles, government response to Standing Committee on Science and Research’s report on graduate scholarship and post-doctoral fellowship programs, government subsidies to EV battery manufacturers , hollow-fibre bioreactors for biomanufacturing, humanoid robots in auto manufacturing, imports of electronic and electrical equipment, improving buildings' energy efficiency, improving robotics-focused hardware , investigation of B.C. clean technology grant program, lack of anchor firms in Canada , McMaster University’s Innovation Matchmaking program , medical reporting , Microwave Quantum Radar project, Ontario Chamber of Commerce AI Hub, Ontario's Grid Innovation Fund, Pan-Canadian AI strategy, Project Nujio’qonik wind power and green hydrogen project, quantifying climate-smart practices, quantum activities and collaboration in Canada , Quantum Careers Initiative , quantum computing software, quantum networking testbeds, robots in Walmart distribution centres, rover demonstration mission on the Moon, Saskatchewan's response to federal oil and gas emissions cap and methane regulations, Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax-credit program, Simpson Centre for the Alberta Digitalization Agriculture Program, software services for governments , software-as-a-service, streamlining federal regulatory process for major projects, supporting early-career researchers, supporting fundamental research, Tri-Agency Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan , UBC's Jacob Biely Research Prize, using DNA nanotechnology to regenerate biologic materials , Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, venture capital funding for space startups, work-integrated learning, and World Quantum Day

The Short Report: April 17, 2024

Research Money
April 17, 2024


Federal Budget 2024 commits $3.5 billion in new strategic research infrastructure and support

Federal Budget 2024, tabled in the House of Commons on April 16 by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland (photo at right), committed $3.5 billion in “new strategic research infrastructure and federal research support,” including investments in modern, high-quality research facilities and infrastructure.

This includes $2.4 billion for core research grants and “to foster homegrown, top-tier research talent by streamlining and enhancing scholarships and fellowships through Canada's research granting councils.”

Several research-support organizations and universities, as well the report by the government's Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System, (the “Bouchard report’), had called for increased funding for graduate scholarships and post-doc fellowships to make them competitive with other countries, as well as increased funding  for the three federal research granting agencies.

The budget provides a substantial funding increase to the Tri-Council agencies that builds up over five years,  said Frédéric Bouchard (photo at left), professor of philosophy and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at  Université de Montréal, who chaired the  Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System.

"This is actually new money for the Tri-council, for programming," he told Research Money. "The biggest gain is with  student scholarships and  fellowships."

"This is good news for research in Canada," Bouchard said. "It doesn't solve all of the issues, but these are genuine, serious investments in science."

Bouchard noted that the budget details reflected many of the recommendations in the Bouchard report, including on governance of the federal research support system and the need for Canada to have a science council.

“Research Canada is pleased to see the Government of Canada investing in the federal granting agencies and renewing its commitment to Canadian research and talent,” said Dr. Tarik Möröy, chair of Research Canada, professor at the Université de Montréal, and director of the Hematopoiesis and Cancer Research Unit at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM).

“Today’s investments in health research and research talent will help bring forth the ground-breaking scientific discoveries that improve Canadians’ health and wellbeing, improve the efficiency of our health care system, and safeguard Canada’s position as an economically competitive country, Möröy said.

Budget 2024 included: 

  • $1.8 billion over five years, starting in 2024-25, with $748.3 million per year ongoing to Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 
  • $825 million over five years, starting in 2024-25, with $199.8 million per year ongoing to raise master’s and doctoral scholarships to $27,000 and $40,000, respectively, and post-doctoral fellowships to $70,000. The allotment will also help approximately 1,720 more graduate students or fellows each year under a new streamlined talent program.
  •  about $600 million for major research and science infrastructure investments.
  • A new capstone research funding organization, under which the granting agencies will continue to support excellence in investigator-led research, to improve coordination across the federal research funding ecosystem.
  • $30 million to support Indigenous researchers and their communities, with $10 million each for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit partners.
  • A new advisory Council on Science and Innovation with leaders from across the academic, industry, and not-for-profit sectors, to help set priorities and increase impacts of these federal investments.

 “While there is still much to be done, and the need to strengthen the inextricable links between health research and innovation and the health care system and outcomes for Canadians remains essential, the investments made today will go a long way to rectifying the dire situation our ecosystem has faced in recent years," said Alison Evans, president and CEO of Research Canada.

Other measures in the budget that Research Canada said are important to the health and wellbeing of Canadians and the ability of Canada to attract and retain the best and brightest included:

  • $10 million for the CIHR to support an endowment to increase prize values awarded by the Gairdner Foundation for excellence in health research.
  • $80 million over coming years for Health Canada to support Brain Canada Foundation in its advancement of brain research.
  • An industry-led pilot to attract, train, and deploy top talent across four key sectors including bio-manufacturing; clean technology; electric vehicle manufacturing; and microelectronics, including semiconductors.
  • Reductions in regulatory burden, red tape and interprovincial trade barriers, and increases in regional economic development, and investments in Canadian start-ups and businesses.
  • $4 million for the Public Health Agency of Canada to continue supporting initiatives through the Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund that aim to increase health equity and address mental health and its determinants for Black Canadians.

The budget also committed an additional $600 million over four years, and $150 million per year ongoing, to the government’s flagship Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax-credit program, “to boost research and innovation.”

Finance Canada is in midst of consultations to  “modernize” the SR&ED program, which is expected to cost Ottawa $3.91 billion this year.

Budget 2024 also affirmed the government’s pre-budget announcement of more than $2.4 billion in funding for artificial intelligence, aimed at supporting AI adoption across the entire economy. The funding includes launching a new AI Compute Access Fund offering subsidies to researchers and companies to pay for cloud compute services, as well as a new Canadian Sovereign Compute Strategy to establish sufficient domestic compute power. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will lead the design of the new programs.

“This will help Canadian researchers, startups, and scale-up businesses access the computational power and the digital tools they need to compete, and help catalyze the development of Canadian-owned and located AI infrastructure,” the government said.

Budget 2024 also introduced an Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for “innovation-enabling and productivity-enhancing assets,” such as computers, computing software and data network infrastructure, as well as the cost of buying patents.

By providing businesses with enhanced write-offs for their investments, they will be able to increase their cashflow, create more jobs, and make their businesses more productive and innovative, the government said.

The Council of Canadian Innovators criticized the budget for proposing to raise taxes on capital gains, which the CCI said risks a flight of highly skilled workers to more competitive jurisdictions.

However, the CCI welcomed several other provisions in the budget, including proposed legislation with procurement targets, steps toward an open banking system,  the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for innovation-enabling and productivity-enhancing assets, and the proposed Council on Science and Innovation.

"The government’s announcement that businesses can immediately write off the full cost of investments in patents, data network infrastructure and other technology is something our members have called for and could act as a transitional measure to incentivize investments in intellectual property until the government’s patent box tax policy is up and running.  Renewing the mandate of the Innovation Asset Collective with new funding is a positive development as well," said Nick Schiavo, CCI's director of federal affairs.

"One measure that we hope to see swift action on is the government’s proposed Council on Science and Innovation. In [the] budget we’re seeing big intentions to modernize federal policy, and potentially embrace smart industrial policy. A council of experts, with leading voices from the private sector CEOs who are leading the charge to make Canada a more innovative place, would meaningfully help ensure success," Schavio said.

Also in the budget was a new Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive to provide a tax break for entrepreneurs, “ensuring they benefit from the fruits of their hard work while facing lower tax burdens.”

The budget renewed support for the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program, and committed up to $5 billion in loan guarantees “to unlock access to capital for Indigenous communities, creating economic opportunities and supporting their economic development priorities.”

Alberta and Ontario already have Indigenous loan guarantee programs, and some energy companies, First Nations and other stakeholders have been calling for a federal Indigenous loan guarantee program to be included in this budget. Natural Resources Canada will oversee the new loan program and the Canada Development Investment Corporation, a Crown corporation under Finance Canada, will administer the lending.

In commitments aimed at supporting young people, the budget is extending increased student grants and interest-free loans, at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion this year.

The budget also proposed $60 million for Futurpreneur Canada, which the government said has already helped over 17,700 young entrepreneurs to launch more than 13,900 businesses across the country. “This renewed investment will enable an estimated 6,250 additional businesses owned by young people.”

Budget 2024 provided $207.6 million for the Student Work Placement Program to create more work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students and help businesses attract and train skilled and trained individuals.

In addition, the budget proposed a further $351.2 million to create 90,000 youth job placements and employment support opportunities through the Canada Summer jobs project and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.

Budget 2024 announced an initiative to encourage Canadian pension funds to invest in Canada, through a working group led by Stephen Poloz, former governor of the Bank of Canada, and supported by Finance Minister Freeland. 

According to the government, the working group – to report by the end of this summer – will focus on growing Canadians’ pensions savings, spurring innovation, and driving economic growth in areas including digital infrastructure and AI, physical infrastructure, building homes on public lands, and removing the 30 per cent rule for domestic investments.

The government also committed to “putting the capital of financial Crown corporations to work more efficiently” and ensuring they better address market gaps by taking on more risk, including additional support for new and high-growth businesses, emerging sectors, and under-financed equity-deserving groups.

For example, the budget added $200 million to the federal Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative which backs VC funds’ assets managers. The budget document also directed the Business Development Bank of Canada to increase financing to high-growth firms, and direct more of its VC dollars to “emerging and higher-risk sectors.

Budget 2024 committed to new “major economic investment tax credits” to attract private investment, create more jobs, and drive Canada's economy towards net-zero by 2050. The budget expanded eligibility for the Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credit, allowing more businesses to benefit.

The budget also created a new Electric Vehicle (EV) Supply Chain investment tax credit of 10 per cent to support Canada’s EV supply chain and “secure the future of Canada’s automotive industry.”

Ottawa’s commitment to a tax credit supporting the EV supply chain comes after criticism that the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments' nearly $44 billion in subsidies to foreign-based firms  to build EV battery manufacturing plants in Canada was neglecting vital upstream and mid-stream components of the EV supply chain. This includes supporting new mines to extract critical minerals and building facilities to process these minerals for use in manufacturing EV battery components, consumer electronics, wind turbines and other value-added end-products.

The budget also committed to a suite of measures to improve the regulatory and permitting process for major projects, focused on clarifying and reducing timelines, working towards “one project one review,” and improving engagement and partnerships, including with Indigenous partners.

The government’s intention to work towards a one project one review approach comes after court decisions – including a non-binding ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada – that found Ottawa had overstepped its jurisdiction with parts of the federal Impact Assessment Act that the courts considered unconstitutional. Alberta and Saskatchewan especially have pushed back against the federal law and what they see as intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.

Budget 2024 also committed to redirecting up to $500 million a year from the government’s Clean Fuel Regulations system toward “growing Canada’s biofuels sector,” to help decarbonize heavy industry and heavy transportation, such as marine, aviation, and rail.

The government is also extending, for an additional year, the Canada-U.S. Energy Transformation Task Force, to continue close collaboration with the country’s largest trading partner, including bolstering critical mineral and nuclear energy supply chain integration.

The budget also promised the federal government will establish targets for procurement to buy more from small firms and startups, after several critics pointed out that Ottawa could be doing much more to support innovative SMEs by purchasing their products. Finance Canada

The Government of British Columbia is investing more than $23 million to add 778 new student spaces for the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) technology-related programs on its campuses. The funding includes a $5.4-million investment in capital funding to equip and renovate labs and classrooms, and a total of $17.7 million in startup and on-going operating funding over the first three years of the planned expansion. The funding will add new student spaces over six years to existing programs in the faculties of applied science, medicine, pharmaceutical sciences, and science on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. The investment will also be used to establish two new programs, a Bachelor of Data Science on the Vancouver campus, and a Master of Science in Biotechnology on the Okanagan campus. UBC Vancouver will see 578 additional spaces added, including 120 spaces in the undergraduate data science program, 160 spaces in the undergraduate microbiology and immunology program, 60 spaces in undergraduate pharmaceutical sciences, 180 spaces in undergraduate chemical, computer and integrated engineering program streams, and 58 spaces in biomedical engineering graduate programs. UBC Okanagan will add 200 additional spaces, including 60 in the undergraduate data science program and 100 in the undergraduate engineering program. The new Master of Biotechnology program will have 40 spaces. UBC

Infrastructure Canada and the Government of British Columbia announced a combined federal-provincial-municipal investment of more than $26 million for five projects to build resilience in communities to better mitigate the impacts of climate-related disasters. The investment includes $10.4 million from the federal government, more than $8.6 million from the province, and a combined $6.9 million from municipal governments. The projects include embankment dam restorations, upgrades to a dike system, restoration of riverbank and riverbed areas, drilling a new water supply well, construction of a new water treatment plant, and replacement of culverts. Infrastructure Canada

The Government of Ontario is investing $9.5 million, through the Grid Innovation Fund, to make the province’s electricity system more efficient. This year’s funding will be focused on transportation, and heating and cooling, two sectors that are driving significant electricity demand increases. Projects will demonstrate how thermal storage and new technologies can help manage demand from heating and cooling on the grid and lower emissions. Applications for funding will open in May. Govt. of Ontario

Infrastructure Canada announced a combined investment by the federal and local governments of nearly $5.2 million to improve energy efficiency and building accessibility for four community facilities on Vancouver Island. The retrofits, which encompass HVAC system upgrades, solar panels, LED lighting, and battery storage systems, are in the District of Saanich, Port Hardy’s Tsulquate Reserve, Lake Cowichan, and the Regional District of Mount Waddington. Infrastructure Canada

Provincial agency Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON) announced it will provide $4.6 million to build and enhance intellectual property (IP) capacity across Ontario’s postsecondary sector. The investment includes $2.9 million allocated to 10 new program recipients and an additional $1.7 million to expand IPON's existing pilot funding program. With this announcement, IPON’s total funding amounts to $6.6 million since April 2023, supporting eight colleges and 12 universities to date. The investment supports the Government of Ontario’s Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework, which aims to help publicly assisted colleges and universities better commercialize ideas and products generated through “Ontario-made” research and innovation. Institutions receiving a portion of the $2.9 million in funding are:

  • Brock University
  • Carleton University
  • George Brown College
  • Georgian College
  • McMaster University
  • Sheridan College
  • Toronto Metropolitan University
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Windsor

Postsecondary institutions in IPON’s pilot funding program are:

  • Collège La Cité
  • Conestoga College
  • Durham College
  • Lambton College
  • Niagara College
  • York University
  • A joint initiative led by Laurentian University with Trent University, Lakehead University and Nipissing University

IPON said it is committed to collaborating with and supporting all publicly funded postsecondary schools in Ontario by acting as a strategic partner on developing IP-related capacity and supporting institutional efforts to better develop, protect and commercialize the knowledge and ideas that are created on campuses across the province. The agency is also leading a joint working group on commercialization metrics and is exploring ways to best support technology transfer and applied research offices to grow the impact of Ontario’s research community. IPON

CQDM announced nearly $3.7 million in funding for a collaborative research project on promoting cellular rejuvenation. The funding includes a grant of nearly $1.5 million from the ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie of the Government of Quebec, awarded by CQDM, and financial support from Quebec company RejuvenRx, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the fond Partenariat de l’Université de Montréal. The project is led by Guy Sauvageau, Anne Marinier – both at Université de Montréal – and RejuvenRx. Sauvageau and Marinier previously discovered and developed a molecule that can be a potential therapy against cellular aging. However, as this is not available for oral intake, the aim of this project is to define and develop derivatives to test their effectiveness in animal models. Since Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases present these cellular aging characteristics, this molecule could become a preventive or restorative therapy for cognitive functions. The research team and the Quebec company RejuvenRx will work together to better understand aged-related diseases and will try to create new therapies that will benefit the Quebec and world population. CQDM

The Government of Alberta is providing a $1.2-million grant over three years to the University of Calgary’s Simpson Centre for the Alberta Digitalization Agriculture Program. The Simpson Centre for Agricultural and Food Innovation and Public Education, at UCalgary’s School of Public Policy, will conduct research to develop a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the digitalization of agriculture as part of the program. The Centre will research and provide recommendations on how Alberta’s producers can use technologies like robotics and data analytics to help Alberta successfully navigate their adoption. Govt. of Alberta

B.C. government orders probe into allegations of conflict of interest by clean technology grant program administrator

The Government of British Columbia is directing the province’s auditor general and its comptroller general to probe allegations of conflict of interest in a provincial clean technology grant program administered by Calgary-headquartered, MNP LLP, a private accounting firm with offices in B.C.

Chace Barber, founder of Merritt, B.C.-based Edison Motors, a company developing electric commercial trucks, says his company was pressured by MNP to sign up for its grant-writing services, only to discover the company was actually administering the grant program.

Barber said his company felt it had no choice but to pay MNP’s “crazy high fees” for grant-writing services, which the company allegedly takes in the form of a 20-per cent “success fee” on successful grant applications.

B.C.’s opposition parties had pressed the government to have the auditor general probe MNP’s administration of CleanBC’s Electric Advanced Research and Commercialization Program and its Go Electric Commercial Vehicle Pilots program, but were voted down in the legislature.

On April 8, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Josie Osborne said the government had received “new information” that prompted it to reverse course.

“In the case of these two grant programs, not only is a company like MNP administering the grant programs on behalf of government not permitted to ask for or request any kind of consulting fee or lobbying fee, but any grant dollars that are awarded are not permitted to be used for any kind of fee like that,” she said.

Osborne could not offer a timeline on how long the probes would take but said MNP had been suspended from administering the two grant programs while the investigation was underway.

MNP said in a statement that allegations that one of its teams in B.C. acted as both administrator and consultant for grants under the CleanBC program were “false and misleading.”

“Many firms provide grant administration and grant-writing services to assist clients. Professional services firms that provide these services, including MNP, have policies and procedures to address potential conflicts of interest,” the company said.

“MNP’s policies and procedures prohibit team members from providing grant-writing services for the programs we administer. Our program administration work on behalf of CleanBC is no different, the company said. Global News


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced that 20 applicants in the federal Lab to Markets grants 2004 competition were selected to advance to the full application stage. They include universities in Ontario, Quebec, B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia, as well as polytechnic institutes and colleges in Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba. Selected applicants also include the existing Lab2Market National Network for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Skills Training of Students, Researchers and Highly Qualified Persons, operated by a consortia of universities and innovation organizations. Federal Budget 2022 allocated $47.8 million over five years and $20.1 million ongoing to launch a new national lab-to-market platform to help graduate students and researchers take their work to market. NSERC

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced Vancouver-based Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc. (Ecoation), in a joint venture with Maia Farms in Vancouver, as the winner of the CSA’s Deep Space Food Challenge. The Canadian grand prize winner will receive $380,000 for its  CANGrow Modular Indoor Food Production System, designed to operate in remote environments like outer space and northern regions on Earth. CANGrow uses an innovative approach to producing a diverse range of fresh foods, including strawberries, cherry tomatoes and mycelial meat substitute. With the potential to generate more than 700 kilograms of nutrient-dense food annually, the system maximizes its produce and high-quality protein sources with minimal resources. The Deep Space Food Challenge, launched in 2021 in collaboration with NASA and Privy Council Office's Impact Canada, aimed to develop innovative ways of producing food for astronauts on space missions to the Moon and Mars. CSA

Ottawa-based Mission Control and Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic are partnering for a joint rover demonstration mission on the Moon. Astrobotic’s CubeRover™ integrated with Mission Control’s Spacefarer™ operations platform will travel to the lunar south pole on Astrobotic’s first upcoming Griffin-1 lander mission. Astrobiotic is scheduled to launch its lunar lander no earlier than the fourth quarter this year. This demonstration mission is being supported by a financial contribution from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) through its Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. Astrobotic’s CubeRover is a scalable rover designed to traverse multiple kilometers across planetary bodies and accommodate a vast variety of payloads. Mission Control’s Spacefarer™ software platform will integrate with the shoebox-sized CubeRover to demonstrate commanding and monitoring of a lunar rover in real time. CubeRover’s development has been backed by $20 million-plus in NASA awards and decades of experience. Mission Control’s Spacefarer™ was developed with the support of the CSA’s Space Technology Development program. Designed to command and control a wide variety of robotics and advanced payloads, Spacefarer™ provides an intuitive and reliable web-based operations platform, user-friendly and flexible interfaces, and robust cloud architecture, to operate robots and payloads anywhere, anytime. Mission Control

The Canadian Space Agency announced at the 39th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs that it signed updated memoranda of understanding with the UK Space Agency and the Australian Space Agency. CSA also said they had engaged in bilateral talks with JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. There are no public details released yet on the updated MOU with the Australian Space Agency. The “enhanced” MOU with the UK Space Agency, which builds on the 2021 MOU, includes collaboration on regulation, facilitating the exchange of ideas and information on areas such as space policy, standards and regulations, “helping to ensure free and fair access to space for all,” according to the UK Space Agency. The agency said the agreement also boosts collaboration in exploration and space science, and aims to support future exploration endeavours including potential lunar habitats. There are significant opportunities for future collaborations through initiatives such as the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund (IBF) and the Science & Exploration Bilateral Programme, the UK Space Agency said. UK Space Agency

Funding for space startups more than doubled in the first quarter as government spending remained robust setting the stage for the space economy to grow stronger, venture capital firm Space Capital said. Geopolitical uncertainties have largely driven the surge in funding, as geospatial data and images collected by satellites are used by government agencies for everything from analyzing weather patterns and agriculture to changes and movements along international borders. Funding for space startups rose to $6.5 billion in the first quarter ended March 31, from $2.9 billion a year earlier, and inflows were up 33 per cent from the fourth quarter, as investment in geospatial intelligence overtook satellite communications for the first time, showing the growing demand for such data. Meanwhile, pricing for satellite capacity has also fallen helping attract companies to use assets in space for commercial purposes. The space economy’s size is set to triple to $1.8 trillion by 2035 and roughly rival the size and reach of the global semiconductor industry, according to a report by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company released this month. Reuters

Walmart Canada plans to deploy robots in its Ontario distribution centres in Mississauga and Cornwall over the next five years. The decision comes after Walmart piloted the use of robots in its Calgary distribution centre, to move products from trailers into the warehouse. The $118-million Calgary distribution centre, created 325 new jobs despite the use of robots. Businesses that are already invested in robotics include grocer Sobeys Inc., which runs a Vaughan, Ont., facility where robots deliver bins of merchandise to workers who scoop out the right number of products. Pizza Hut also has utilized autonomous robots to make Vancouver deliveries, and RC Coffee robots pump out espressos and lattes in under two minutes in Toronto. Stratview Research projects rising adoption will push the value of the global retail robotics market to US$105.95 billion by 2029. CBC News

Vancouver-based Sanctuary AI announced a strategic partnership with Aurora, Ont.-based automaker Magna that includes deploying Sanctuary’s AI-powered humanoid robots in Magna’s manufacturing operations. The partnership includes a multi-disciplinary assessment of improving cost and scalability of robots using Magna’s automotive product portfolio, engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and a strategic equity investment by Magna. The partnership aims to catalyze the scaling of Sanctuary AI’s robots – including its humanoid general purpose robot Phoenix™ with its dexterous human-like hands – while maturing the technology for use in challenging manufacturing environments for Magna and other industrial and automotive customers. The robots will operate in “pilot mode,” meaning humans rigged with wearable controls will move their hands, rather than the robots working fully autonomously. Sanctuary AI

Waterloo-based BlackBerry Limited announced a collaboration with California-based AMD aimed at revolutionizing next-generation robotic systems. Together, the companies said they’ll address the critical need for “hard” real-time capabilities in robotics-focused hardware with an affordable and powerful platform that delivers enhanced performance, reliability and scalability for robotic systems in industry and healthcare. The platform combines BlackBerry software solutions with AMD hardware. This combination enables sensor fusion, high-performance data processing, real-time control, industrial networking, and reduced latency in robotic applications, the companies said. Additionally, customers can benefit from seamless integration and optimization of software and hardware components, resulting in streamlined development processes and accelerated time-to-market for innovative robotic solutions. BlackBerry

London, U.K.-headquartered Wayve, an AI-powered autonomous driving startup which also has an office in California, has expanded to Canada by opening a new office in Vancouver. The vibrant technology scene in Vancouver has fostered a diverse talent pool capable of driving new breakthroughs in AI with global impact, Wayve said. With this new office, the company plans to assemble a dynamic team dedicated to advancing its Embodied AI for self-driving technology. The Vancouver team will focus on scientific discovery, led by AI expert and Wayve chief scientist Dr. Jamie Shotton and Prof. Yasutaka Furukawa, a computer vision and machine learning professor at Simon Fraser University, a world-renowned specialist in computer vision and machine learning who has joined Wayve as a principal scientist, marking the company’s first hire in Vancouver. Wayve

The federal government has used artificial intelligence in more 300 projects and initiatives, 95 per cent of them by federal agencies, according to a database compiled by Joanna Redden, an associate professor at Western University. The government’s uses of AI included helping to predict the outcome of tax cases, sorting temporary visa applications and promoting diversity in hiring. Redden, with some assistance, compiled the database over two years using news reports, documents tabled in Parliament and access-to-information requests. “There needs to be far more public debate about what kinds of systems should be in use, and there needs to be more public information available about how these systems are being used,” Redden told Canadian Press. The database exposes a problem with the Liberal government’s proposed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act, the first federal bill specifically aimed at AI, she said. “That piece of legislation is not going to apply to, for the most part, government uses of AI. So the sheer number of applications that we’ve identified demonstrates what a problem that is.” Bill C-27 would introduce new obligations for “high-impact” systems, such as the use of AI in employment. That’s something the Department of National Defence experimented with when it used AI to reduce bias in hiring decisions, in a program that ended in March 2021. A spokesperson said the department used one platform to shortlist candidates to interview, and another to assess an “individual’s personality, cognitive ability and social acumen” and to match them to profiles. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said two pilot projects from 2018 to help officers triage temporary resident visa applications have become permanent. The department uses AI tools to sort applications and determine positive eligibility. The department also employs AI to review study permit applications by people from other countries, though a spokesperson said it does not use AI for “final decision-making.” The Public Health Agency of Canada said it discontinued a project analyzing publicly available social-media information to look for warning signs of suicide, due to factors including cost and “methodologies.” CTV News

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) launched its new AI Hub, with the University of Waterloo’s WatSPEED professional and executive education unit selected as an anchor partner to help strengthen the province’s role as a leader in AI adoption. The AI Hub is designed to serve as a unique industry-academic partnership aimed at driving AI adoption among Ontario businesses while providing support for evidence-based policy making from the government, according to the OCC. The AI Hub will specifically assist small and medium-sized businesses to adopt AI technology through access to resources and talent, as well as help address ethical and data privacy concerns that could pose barriers to implementing AI across their organization. UWaterloo joins the OCC alongside Microsoft Canada as anchor partners in the new initiative and will provide access to WatSPEED’s AI upskilling programs for Ontario’s businesses. UWaterloo

Canadian banks hold three of the top 10 spots worldwide for artificial-intelligence innovation, according to a report by AI benchmarking platform Evident Insights Ltd. Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and Bank of Montreal ranked third, sixth and ninth in the world, respectively, the report said. The rankings were based on several factors, including the number and quality of AI-related research papers, patent filings and investments into AI-related startups made by 50 of the world’s largest banks from November, 2023, through March, 2024. Where the Canadian banks really punch above their weight is not in the sheer number of AI-related patents they file, but in how much impact their patents are having on the development of AI banking tools worldwide, according to the report. RBC garnered 2.7 times more citations per patent than the index average. RBC’s in-house AI research institute, Borealis AI, has been constantly developing new capabilities for the NOMI platform for customers that it introduced in 2021. BMO had the largest increase in its average AI patent citations of all 50 banks in the index over the past five months, the report said. AI features have been embedded in every line of TD’s business since 2022, with dozens of use cases ranging from predicting when customers might want to buy a home to detecting potential insurance fraud. Where Canadian banks did not score highly was in their investments in AI-related startups. The Globe and Mail

Imports to Canada of electronic and electrical equipment and parts increased 9.7 per cent to a record $7.6 billion in February 2024, according to a report by Statistics Canada. Imports of computers and computer peripherals – up by 41.4 per cent, to $1.62 billion – which had been trending downward since the spring of 2022, were mostly responsible for the growth. The monthly increase in imports was led by imports of high-value data processing units (servers) from the United States. These servers are generally used for the development of complex cloud systems, StatsCan said. That includes development of artificial intelligence-based technologies. Statistics Canada

At least half of the 260 companies in the San Francisco-based Y Combinator (YC) startup accelerator’s Winter 2024 cohort are building their businesses around artificial intelligence in one form or another, according to a blog post on YC’s website. “YC invests in the best founders in the world, and many of today’s best founders are choosing to build in AI,” said the blog by Garry Tan, president and CEO of YC. These founders are constantly discovering new, incredible, practical uses for AI and large language models that solve problems across industries, he wrote. “AI is a catalyst unlike anything we’ve seen in a long, long time; what the Internet did for startups in the 90s, and smartphones did in the 2000s, AI is doing once again.” The 260 companies for YC for W24 were selected from more than 27,000 applications, with an acceptance rate under one per cent, making it one of the most selective cohorts in YC history. The cohort includes Senso (Toronto), Draftaid (Toronto), AgentHub (Vancouver), GovernGPT (Toronto), Datacurve (based in San Francisco, with Canadian co-founders), Clarum (San Francisco, with a founding team of Canadians), Blacksmith (San Francisco, with Canadian co-founders), Basalt Tech (San Francisco, with a Canadian co-founder), Attunement (San Francisco, with a Canadian co-founder), and Circleback (San Francisco, with Canadian co-founders). YC

Montreal-based TESCanada H2 awarded a contract to AtkinsRéalis (previously known as SNC-Lavalin) for front-end engineering and design services for its Projet Mauricie green hydrogen hub in Quebec. Projet Mauricie is a renewable energy initiative that’s expected to be commissioned in 2028, to produce up to 70,000 tonnes per year of green hydrogen to help decarbonize industrial processes and heavy transportation in Quebec. It is one of Canada’s largest clean hydrogen projects – and one of Quebec’s largest decarbonization projects of any kind – announced to date. As part of the project, clean electricity will largely be supplied by new, purpose-built renewable power generation, including wind and solar farms totalling 1,000 megawatts. A multidisciplinary AtkinsRéalis team will collaborate with specialists from consulting engineering firm BBA to develop project plans, an execution schedule, cost estimates and environmental impact assessment and to assist TESCanada with permitting. CleanTech Canada

Toronto-based ARHT Media Inc. announced that it was selected by the University of Québec at Trois-Rivières and the Québec Ministry of Education to provide ARHT’s technology for their research program studying the impact of full-sized live holograms for vocational training. ARHT develops, produces and distributes high-quality, low latency hologram and digital holographic content. The research partners are investing more than $900,000 in the study. The study, which started in March, will utilize ARHT’s suite of technologies at multiple locations throughout Quebec, to experiment with and document new training practices in the province. ARHT

Winnipeg-based digital agriculture company Farmers Edge Inc. and Colorado-based renewable fuels producer Gevo Inc. announced a collaboration as part of as part of Gevo’s Climate-Smart Farm-to-Flight project that utilizes funding from a $30-million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Launched in 2023, Gevo’s project is aimed at tracking and quantifying the carbon-intensity impact of climate-smart practices while creating market incentives for low carbon-intensity (CI) corn to help accelerate production of sustainable aviation fuel and low-CI ethanol. Farmers Edge has already been working with growers in Canada on carbon-intensity programs for the past three years and will bring its experience to the recruitment and education aspects of the project. Collaborating with growers across Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota, Farmers Edge will support in the data capture associated with the qualifying sustainability practices and calculation of field-level CI scores. This data will then be provided to Gevo who will use their Verity Tracking platform to track the CI of the feedstocks from the field through the biofuel production. Farmers Edge

Vancouver-based social media platform provider Hootsuite announced it is acquiring Luxembourg-based Talkwalker, a consumer analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to monitor social media. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Hootsuite said bringing together the two companies' businesses will, for the first time, create a social media performance engine to turn insights into action into impact – all fueled by AI. The two companies partnered in 2015, integrating Talkwalker’s tools into Hootsuite’s platform. Hootsuite

Halifax-based biopharmaceutical company Appli Therapeutics Inc., focused on developing drugs and advanced therapeutics against infectious diseases, is being acquired by Virgina-based life sciences firm Aditxt in a nearly $17-million deal. Under the cash and shares deal, Aditxt’s wholly owned subsidy Adivir Inc. agreed to acquire all issued and outstanding Class A common shares, for approximately US$5.6 cents per share, of common shares of Appli. The deal is conditional upon Aditxt raising at least US$20 million in financing prior to closing of the deal, expected to occur not later than early third quarter this year. Aditxt said the acquisition will enhance its portfolio of subsidiaries and create synergies with its existing programs, particularly precision diagnostics from early detection and prevention to treatment. BusinessWire

News in the quantum world

To help recognize World Quantum Day, which was Sunday, April 14, and to give Research Money readers some idea of the scale and intensity of activity and collaboration in the quantum sector in Canada, here’s a round-up of recent quantum news:

  • The Microwave Quantum Radar project, a collaboration between the University of Waterloo, Edmonton-based Zero Point Cryogenics, Waterloo-based Qubic Technologies, and Carleton University, has been awarded a $3-million contribution through the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. The project is part of a series of research on micro-nets aimed at exploring quantum sensing and sensors, quantum communications, and quantum computing, simulations, and algorithms.
  • The Surrey, B.C.-based Quantum Algorithms Institute teamed up with Dorval, Que.-based Anyon Systems, Burnaby, B.C.-based D-Wave, Vancouver-based Photonic, and Toronto-based Xanadu to launch the Quantum Careers Initiative (QCI) which aims to serve as a comprehensive hub to equip quantum enthusiasts with the skills, tools and knowledge necessary to pursue rewarding careers in the quantum industry.
  • Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre announced a collaboration with Calgary-based EY Canada, a professional services firm, aimed at driving innovation at the intersection of fintech and quantum technologies.
  • Vancouver-based BTQ Technologies Corp. partnered with the Australian Quantum Software Network to develop open-source quantum computing software, including quantum compilers and resource estimators. BTQ also recently joined the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at the University of Waterloo.
  • ​Toronto-based InfoSec Global announced a new strategic partnership with Germany-based Utimaco to facilitate post-quantum cryptography readiness.
  • Waterloo-based softwareQ is collaborating with Cambridge University spin-out Nu Quantum on a project to build the theoretical framework for the first fault-tolerant quantum computer.
  • Quantum Computing Report provided a list of 44 quantum networking testbeds worldwide, including the Kirq testbed managed by Montreal-based Numana in Quebec.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the environmental impact statement for the World Energy GH2 Limited Partnership’s wind power and hydrogen generation project (Project Nujio’qonik) at Port au Port-Stephenville on the west coast of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. This means the project has cleared all environmental hurdles and no further environmental assessment is required. The project is billed as Canada’s first commercial green hydrogen/ammonia producer, created from three-plus gigawatts of renewable electricity through wind power projects. The wind farm will deliver about 250,000 tons per year of hydrogen using 1.5-gigawatt electrolysers which produce hydrogen through electrolysis of water. Govt. of Newfoundland and Labrador

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) reached 20 per cent of global market share in the final quarter of 2023, according to BNEF. China and Europe were way out ahead, but it was a record quarter in other markets, too. Thirty-one companies have now passed the adoption “tipping point” of making up five per cent of overall automotive sales, up from just 19 countries in 2022. Recent quarterly sales dips from industry giants Tesla and BYD might raise eyebrows. However, both Tesla and BYD’s struggles can be partly attributed to the intense competition in the Chinese market, where there are over 129 EV brands. Last year, price competition in China gave both firms a temporary fillip, now showing up as a decline in this year’s sales. The rapid improvement in affordability is evident in the narrowing price gap between EVs and traditional vehicles: just a year ago, the average new EV sold in the US commanded a $10,000 premium over the market average; now, that difference has shrunk to $5,000. The total cost of ownership of EVs is close to competitive with or lower than that of internal combustion engine vehicles. Their lifecycle carbon emissions are lower, too. The rapid freefall of battery pricing is helping to address range anxiety. Xiaomi’s recently unveiled SU7, a $30,000 Porsche clone, has 500 miles (about 800 km) of range, far surpassing the average U.S. buyer’s demand of 300 miles (about 480 km). This year, car makers will offer 30 different models with a range in excess of 300 miles. Source: Exponential View by Azeem Azhar


Detroit-based KODE Labs, a smart building startup, announced it raised US$30 million in a Series B round led by John Ruffalo’s Toronto-based Maverix Private Equity. Other participants in the round were TELUS Ventures and I Squared Capital. KODE’s enterprise platform utilizes machine learning and AI to seamlessly integrate data from a multitude of building management systems, Internet-of-Things devices and operational systems into a unified, cloud-based infrastructure. Commercial landlords use KODE’s platform to manage their buildings’ heating, cooling, ventilation and other systems, to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Buildings account for 39 per cent of global carbon emissions. KODE Labs

Vancouver-based Clariti Cloud, which provides software services to state, provincial and local governments in the U.S. and Canada, secured a $24.6 million investment from Vistara Growth in Vancouver. Vistara is a provider of flexible growth capital to software and technology-enabled services companies. Clariti’s software allows governments to improve productivity and service quality to citizens by streamlining and automating processes. The company’s fully digital end-to-end permitting platform takes an application through to issuance, enforcement and management. The financing will be used to expand Clariti’s go-to-market teams, build on relationships with systems integrators and support an increased number of implementations. Vistara Growth

Toronto-based Define Capital raised $20 million to buy profitable software-as-a-service and business-to-business software firms and grow them over the long term. Launched in early 2023, Define is an open-ended private equity fund with a “multi-decade horizon” and a general partner-limited partner structure. Narbe Alexandrian, founder, CEO and sole employee of Define Capital and an alumnus of OMERS Ventures and RIV Capital, said Define’s limited partners consist of a mix of predominantly local high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and strategic investors with backgrounds in tech, entrepreneurship, and finance. BetaKit

Montreal-based power electronics startup SmartD Technologies secured $14.2 million in a Series A funding round. The round was led by Investissement Québec, with significant participation from Hammond Power Solutions and continued support from existing investors, Boreal Ventures and SE Ventures. SmartD said it will used the funding to focus on development and commercialization of higher-power versions of its Clean Power variable frequency drive technology for electric motor control, to make motors more efficient, reduce wear and tear, and lower their energy consumption. SmartD Technologies

Summit Commercial Solutions Inc., a digital insurance brokerage and risk management firm headquartered in Kelowna, B.C., raised $3.5 million in a seed round of financing. The all-equity round was led by New York-based IA Capital Group with follow-on investment from Calgary-based Harvest Ventures. IA Capital vice president Ravi Shah will join Summit co-founders Josh Pillsbury and Davis Gilbert on the company’s board as a result of the round. Summit said it will use the financing to scale its revenue team and enhance its technology infrastructure internally and for customers. Summit


Federal government acknowledges “critical role” of graduate students and post-docs in Canada's research ecosystem

[Editor's note: See  lead item in today's Short Report on new funding announced yesterday in Budget 2024}.

The Government of Canada says it recognizes the critical role that Canada’s talent – including graduate students and post-doctoral fellows – plays in producing the knowledge, discoveries and innovations that encompass the country’s research enterprise.

“The Government acknowledges that Canada’s researchers are facing financial challenges that can be a barrier to pursuing higher education and that these financial pressures can also impact students’ well-being,” says the response from François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said n a response to the Standing Committee on Science and Research’s report on graduate scholarship and post-doctoral fellowship programs.

“We recognize the importance of maintaining internationally competitive research funding and investment levels, and of ensuring that federal funding approaches are aligned with the needs of the research community including graduate students and post-doctoral fellows,” he wrote.

 Champagne said the government invests about $4 billion annually in the three federal research granting agencies – Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council – along with the Canada Foundation for Innovation, to support research, training, and research infrastructure at Canada’s post-secondary institutions.

[Editor’s note: The Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System – known as the “Bouchard report” – recommended increasing graduate scholarships and post-doc fellowships to internationally competitive levels. The panel also recommended giving each of the Tri-Council granting agencies an immediate 10-per cent annual increase over five years to their total base budgets, which would go to core grant programming. The panel pointed out that NSERC’s budget, for example, is currently about 3.7 per cent lower than it was in 2007 (in 2007 constant dollars). In contrast, over roughly the same period (2007 to 2022), the U.S. National Science Foundation’s budget has grown by 5.2 per cent, and the Australian Research Council’s budget by 1.1 per cent. Many research-focused organizations have called on the federal government to increase funding for graduate scholarships and post-doc fellows and the Tri-council agencies in the April 16 budget].

Champagne in his response pointed out that the government provided, through Budget 2019, $114 million over five years with $26.5 million per year ongoing, to the three granting agencies to create 500 more master’s level scholarship awards annually and 167 more three-year doctoral scholarship awards annually through the Canada Graduate Scholarship program.

“The Government recognizes that despite this investment to increase the number of federal scholarships, many students continue to face financial challenges that can be a barrier to pursuing their degrees,” Champagne said.

To this end, he said, the government announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement it was permanently eliminating interest on all Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans beginning April 1, 2023, supporting more than 1.2 million post-secondary graduates in Canada each year.

In addition, Champagne said, government funding to Mitacs over the last 10 years has supported close to 100,000 work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities, averaging more than 11,000 placements each year in the last five years. Through its various program streams, Mitacs supported a total of 21,431 WIL placements in 2022–2023 with federal funding, hosting 9,800 students in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

Champagne said the government is carefully reviewing the findings and recommendations of the Bouchard report, “and taking them under consideration as it advances its efforts to support the research ecosystem and Canada’s top talent.”

As for the standing committee’s recommendations to ensure equitable access to graduate scholarships and post-doc fellowships for under-represented groups, Champagne said the government, through the work of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC), is developing a Tri-agency Training Strategy.

The Strategy aims to be trainee-centric, evidence-based and transparent, while communicating a shared vision among the Tri-agencies and upholding the principles of equity diversity and inclusion, he said.

Also, under the leadership of the CRCC, the federal granting agencies launched a comprehensive Tri-Agency Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan with measures to increase equitable and inclusive access to granting agency funding.

NSERC, for example, aims for the proportion of short-listed and funded applications from applicants who self-identify as members of under-represented groups to be at least similar to the proportion of applications received from these groups, Champagne said. This rebalancing of proportions is only used for meritorious applications.

In 2021, SSHRC created the Advisory Committee to Address Anti-Black Racism in Research and Research Training to advise the agency on ways to break down barriers, to ensure equitable access for Black scholars, and to amplify their voices and enhance their visibility in SSHRC research and research training programs, Champagne said. Following the committee’s report in February 2023, SSHRC committed to developing an action plan based on the findings and recommendations.

Champagne said CIHR is undertaking additional measures to enhance EDI in its funding system. This includes but is not limited to the launch of an expanded Tri-Agency Self-identification Questionnaire to collect information from applicants and peer review committee members on additional identity dimensions. CIHR also is working with communities and partners to co-develop an anti-racism action plan and an accessibility and systemic ableism action plan to support underrepresented researchers in entering and thriving in the health research ecosystem.

The CRCC and the granting agencies partnered with Indigenous peoples to develop the strategic plan, “Setting New Directions to Support Indigenous Research and Research Training in Canada 2019-2022,” Champagne noted. The plan lays the groundwork to establish a national research program in partnership with Indigenous peoples to advance reconciliation, in response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 65.

Further, he said, in 2022, the granting agencies established an Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research to advise them on the implementation of the strategic plan and provide guidance on how to enhance support for Indigenous research and training.

CIHR also expanded its funding eligibility criteria to include Indigenous non-governmental organizations with a research or knowledge translation mandate, Champagne said. Through the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research initiative, which represents an investment of more than $100 million over 16 years, CIHR has funded the establishment of a network of centres across Canada focused on capacity development, research and knowledge mobilization driven by, and grounded in, Indigenous communities.

Champagne noted that the federal government has also committed to providing targeted scholarship opportunities to support underrepresented groups.

Since 2019-2020, Indspire has received $70.1 million through the Supports for Student Learning Program to deliver scholarships, bursaries and other supports that help First Nations, Inuit and Métis students access and succeed in post-secondary education. This funding has enabled Indspire to support several thousand students each year, including more than 7,500 students in 2022–2023.

In addition, in September 2022, SSHRC and NSERC launched the Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative to provide financial support to Indigenous master’s students in social science, humanities, natural science, and engineering programs.

To help increase opportunities for Black student researchers in Canada, the government  through Budget 2022 provided $40.9 million over five years and $9.7 million ongoing to the granting agencies to support targeted scholarships and fellowships.

In terms of supporting fair regional distribution of graduate scholarships and post-doc fellowships, Champagne said the granting agencies’ quota system is designed to ensure that promising talent from small institutions is not disadvantaged. The granting agencies also provide support to strengthen the research capacity of small and medium-scale institutions to conduct high-quality research and training, while the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund ensures that small institutions in Canada have a fair and equitable chance at receiving support for research infrastructure.

As for the standing committee’s recommendation to ensure student representation in developing research programs and policies, Champagne said the government agrees that engagement with graduate students and post-doctoral fellows “is critical to understanding their perspectives and improving the research enterprise.”

The enabling legislation for the three federal granting agencies do not prevent the agencies’ governing bodies, a Governor in Council, from appointing graduate students or post-doctoral fellows to the Councils, he said. For instance, in 2019, a post-doctoral fellow was appointed to CIHR’s Governing Council.

NSERC has long had students and fellows on its Standing Committee on Discovery Research, while CIHR has had students appointed to the Institute Advisory Boards that advise each of its 13 virtual Institutes on Institute-specific issues and initiatives, Champagne noted.

CIHR’s Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health has launched a youth advisory council to bring a youth voice directly into conversations about priority development, policies and issues that impact Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast. SSHRC and NSERC also maintain regular dialogue with the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies and the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars.

In conclusion, Champagne said, the government “remains committed to supporting a strong federal research system that nurtures our top talent and fosters new ideas, breakthroughs, and advancements.” Govt. of Canada


Canada has “lost its way” on innovation, says Conference Board of Canada report

Canada has lost its way on innovation and the country’s “innovation paradox” is greater than ever, according to a Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) report card on Canada’s innovation performance.

 Canada scores an overall C on the CBoC’s 2024 Innovation Report Card, ranking 15th among 20 countries. Of the 21 innovation indicators, Canada scores below average on 14 of the indicators.

In what’s known as Canada’s innovation paradox, the country does well at building its innovation capacity, but fails to keep up with its peers in innovation activity or see innovation-based economic results, the report says.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts Canada will be the worst performing advanced-economy member country over the next four decades as measured by real GDP per capita.

The report card gives Canada a “D” grade for government expenditure on R&D, which has been declining for decades. “Canada heavily underperforms in technology adoption that includes robotic deployment, high-tech exports, and mobile app development.”

Canada is third-last among global corporate R&D investors. Canadian business R&D hs been declining for nearly 20 years, falling by one-third over this period.

This is likely due to multiple, interdependent factors such as lack of competition, industry composition, lack of investment capital, current mix of government programs, complacency, and risk aversion, the report says.

While Canada’s largest companies’ R&D spending has stagnated for the last decade, average spending for companies in peer nations is rising. Large corporate R&D centres could develop global technologies and Canadian intellectual property, create domestic supply chains, and attract skilled professionals, researchers and innovators, the report notes.

But it says that the lack of large Canadian anchor firms that rank in the top 2,500 global companies hurts our innovation ecosystem.

Canadian manufacturing companies are not adopting automation and advanced technologies at the same degree as their counterparts in peer nations. Even though Canada is a leader in AI research and training, for example, the country is at the bottom among peer countries on AI/ML (machine learning) adoption rates by companies.

Canada’s Competitive Industrial Performance (CIP) ranked above average in the 1990s and the 2000s, but the country’s position has worsened for over 20 years in a row, the CBoC report says. CIP is an index of the ability to produce and export manufactured goods competitively.

Historically, Canada is below average on exporting domestically manufactured high-tech goods. Also, while the average of its peers has risen over time, Canada has largely stagnated. “A stagnation of high-tech exports, relative to the size of Canada’s manufactured exports, implies we are unable to produce or innovate in emerging technology domains as much as our peers.”

Canada’s patent performance ranks near the very bottom, just above Italy,  according to the report. While the average patent performance of peer nations continuously increases, Canada’s is worsening.

Canada performs better on venture capital investment as a percentage of GDP – receiving a “C” grade in the report card. Accounting for the size of economies, Canada ranks third behind Israel and the United States which have 3.6 and 2.3 times more financing.

Although VC levels are healthier in Canada than in Europe, Canadian firms face a relative disadvantage. This is due to their close proximity to competitors and greater access to capital in the U.S. which can compel Canadian firms to move south of the border, the report says.

Also on the positive side, Canada’ s higher education R&D is at a stable, above average level compared with peers. But low business receptor capacity for higher education research means that Canadian ideas and talent will often go outside of Canada.

Canada ranks highly in educating its population, receiving a “B” grade in producing highly qualified personnel. However, a concern is that these graduates do not remain in Canada, drawn by higher wages or greater opportunities outside the country, according to the report.

“Creating a thriving innovation ecosystem of companies for STEM graduates to stay in Canada, and attracting highly qualified personal from abroad, should be a priority to ensure this ranking translates into domestic innovation-based economic growth.”

Entrepreneurialism is where Canada ranks strongest compared with its peers, receiving an “A” grade. Canada has more individuals than any other peer nation who are either emerging entrepreneurs or owner-managers of new businesses.

Given Canada’s overall poor grades, the country has a dire need for change across multiple facets of the economy – cultural, governmental, industrial and technological – to reverse its lagging performance, according to the report.

It notes that Canada is a “risk-adverse innovation culture.” Overcoming the country’s pervasive fear of failure and low levels of business R&D will allow Canada to tap into the nation’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit, the report adds.

A high proportion of adults believe there are startup opportunities, and they have necessary entrepreneurial skills, but nearly half of these individuals are deterred from taking action by a fear of failure. “Canadians are afraid to fail, therefore they don’t act on their bold ideas.”

Canada’s inability to speed up innovation-based economic growth isn’t just a business risk, the report says. It is also a prelude to reduced international leadership potential, less availability of quality jobs, and a subsequent decline in citizens’ living standards. “Failing to reverse this trend will put what we hold dear as Canadians at risk.”

Canada’s healthcare system, infrastructure, competitiveness, education, and position in the world all hinge on taking action – “in some cases drastic action” – to reverse the country’s slide to the bottom, the report says.

The report makes several recommendations to improve Canada’s innovation performance:

  1. Improve productivity by adopting new technologies to enhance innovation-driven growth.
  2. Make intellectual property and research and development the key drivers of commercial success by improving funding and programs.
  3. Expand the venture capital landscape to provide the financial backbone for startups and innovative projects.
  4. Support advanced manufacturing in Canada to rejuvenate our manufacturing sector.
  5. Inject a competitive spirit within the business ecosystem by adopting new competition legislation.
  6. Encourage new businesses by lowering risk and providing deep support for innovators.
  7. Reinforce our strengths in higher education and research by fostering entrepreneurial opportunities. CBoC


CIFAR’s “refreshed” strategy deepens commitment to fundamental research and early-career researchers

CIFAR has released a “refreshed” strategy that commits the organization to deepen its commitment to fundamental research and provide more and richer opportunities to early-career researchers.

The world is a very different place now than when CIFAR launched its last strategy in 2017, and the pace of change is only accelerating, CIFAR president and CEO Stephen Toope said. “Geopolitics is unstable, science is under threat, and trust in expertise and institutions is dwindling.”

The research enterprise as a whole continues a long-term trend of producing ever-more publications, but these are increasingly less disruptive and largely associated with reliance on narrow bodies of previous research, he said. “The enthusiasm for uncertain but potentially transformational research is atrophying rapidly.”

Toope said the refreshed strategy, designed to position CIFAR for its next few years of work, will “double down on our pinnacle aspiration," which is “to convene and mobilize bold, forward-looking researchers who work across geographic and disciplinary borders on some of the toughest issues facing science and humanity.”

CIFAR, across its 15 research programs and the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, convenes close to 400 of the world’s top researchers from 141 institutions in 20 countries. Toope says the CIFAR community of fellows, chairs, scholars and advisors is among the most influential in the world, and has included 20 Nobel Prize laureates and three Turing Award winners.

Unlike traditional research agencies that fund research projects and labs, he said, CIFAR builds and continuously challenges global networks of researchers who want to push boundaries and take risks.

Research Money asked Toope several questions about the refreshed strategy, which he answered via email:

R$: Why is important to focus on supporting fundamental research, given that so much research today (certainly with R&D) is applied research aimed at producing specific innovations/products or outcomes that benefit society?

Stephen Toope (ST): Fundamental research is critical because it is often the foundation upon which innovations that benefit society are built. For example, without undertaking fundamental research into neural networks and brain function, we would not have the AI innovations that provide social and economic benefits to Canada today. Were it not for fundamental research into population health, we would not have the understanding of the social determinants of health that is now foundational to health policy. These are just two of CIFAR’s many success stories that came from our commitment to fundamental research.

CIFAR targets fundamental, high-risk/high-reward research that may take time to reveal its full potential. Critically, programs are not tasked with solving specific predetermined problems. The work is highly exploratory and focused on developing transformative knowledge. In many cases, however, that new knowledge will be actively diffused during the life of a research program to give the world new ways to shape the future towards one we desire. In other cases, the impact of new ideas, insights and knowledge will take longer to unfold. 

R$: The strategy says one of the new directions is to “Extend more and richer opportunities to early-career researchers from around the globe.” Why is supporting early-career researchers a focus, as opposed to supporting mid-career or late-career researchers?

ST: The strategy does emphasize supporting early-career researchers and “next-generation research leaders.” However, the strategy also says CIFAR will make progress on difficult questions by thoughtfully constructing diverse and extraordinarily talented research groups – “with established leaders.”

R$: Many early-career researchers aren’t yet established leaders with diverse and extraordinarily talented research groups. Is this a contradiction in the strategy’s aims, or is it possible to find a balance between supporting early-career researchers as well as established leaders with extraordinarily talented research groups?

ST: Building research networks across disciplines, borders and career stages has been instrumental in CIFAR’s successes to date. These networks have included established research leaders in mid- and late-career and rising next-generation scholars, and our new strategy reinforces our commitment to this model. 

At the same time, we’re planning to provide even more opportunities for early-career researchers to lead collaborations with scholars across career stages, giving them the freedom to follow their instincts and highlight the potential of their work. With our long-term focus, it just makes sense to draw on their ideas, passion and forward-looking orientation. We will also involve our early career researchers in discovery/foresight work as CIFAR becomes more methodical in looking on the horizon to the issues that will shape our future.

R$: The strategy says CIFAR will target areas that are likely to be at the forefront of attention in 10, 20 or more years as serious threats to, or opportunities for, the health and prosperity of people around the world. Can you point to a couple of examples of these target areas/problems that CIFAR aims to support?

ST: CIFAR will use discovery/foresight methodologies to identify challenges on the horizon; those that will dramatically increase in importance over time, are unlikely to be resolved through incremental improvements or purely technological progress, have significant implications for humanity’s collective well-being and are not the target of major investment by others.

We have done this successfully in the past. For example, CIFAR’s first research program over 40 years ago was Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Society, well before most others were thinking about AI.

As part of our new Strategy, CIFAR has organized its programs into five distinct Impact Clusters, under which new challenges may be categorized. These include fundamental research into: Building Thriving Societies, Decoding Complex Brains & Data, Exploring Emerging Technologies, Nurturing a Resilient Earth, and Shaping the Future of Human Health.

One exciting project we are launching now is an exploration group on the Future of Food, a deeply interdisciplinary and potentially high-impact set of topics. We are convening a diverse group of global experts across the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to identify the most promising focus areas for research. This is one of the first initiatives in our new discovery/foresight work, and we will use it as a test case for a variety of methodologies that will also engage other parts of the CIFAR community and partners globally.

Toope noted that other components of CIFAR’s refreshed strategy include:

  • Reinforce our capability to identify talent wherever it is found, widening the geographic scope of our research community, with particular effort to engage more talent from the Global South and from communities that face barriers to accessing top-flight research teams. We will set clear geographic priorities as we implement this Strategy.
  • Focus our work where there is potential for greatest impact, enabling our programs to identify their own impact agendas (in both knowledge creation and sharing), and then facilitating their efforts.
  • Develop more robust strategic partnerships with other research organizations, foundations, corporations, media, philanthropists and governments that share complementary ambitions to help deepen and scale our work.
  • We will expect and enable boldness. As an independent not-for-profit with diverse funders and a relatively low-cost model, we have the opportunity to embrace a higher risk threshold than most other organizations. We take advantage of this unique positioning by expecting bold new ideas that can make the world take notice.
  • We will rally funders to advance shared ambitions. CIFAR’s funders include individuals, foundations, corporations, governments and research partners. Critically, funders are not simply sources of financial support. They provide advice, extend our networks, help identify talent, and participate in the diffusion of new ideas, insights and knowledge. CIFAR will focus on leveraging the expertise and networks of existing supporters, while also engaging new allies that can drive impact through financial, intellectual and strategic contributions.

CIFAR will assess its progress each year, and in three years undertake a more thorough strategy review and consider what course corrections may be required.

“CIFAR and the world face profound challenges as well as significant opportunities – and that is why CIFAR must evolve,” Toope said. CIFAR


Alberta government introduces legislation to align federal funding with province’s priorities

The Government of Alberta introduced the Provincial Priorities Act, 2024 (Bill 18), aimed at “pushing back against the federal government’s ongoing overreach into areas of provincial jurisdiction,” according to the United Conservative Party government.

The UCP government said the legislation will ensure federal funding is aligned with provincial priorities, rather than with priorities contrary to the province’s interests. Under the legislation, agreements between the federal government and provincial entities, including municipalities, that have not received provincial approval would be invalid.

As an example, the Alberta government said, the federal government’s “unrelenting and ideological” push toward electric buses in Canadian cities including Calgary does not acknowledge mounting evidence of significant problems with their effectiveness during harsh Alberta winters.

“Alberta’s government believes the funds that Ottawa allocated for unreliable and impractical electric buses would have been better spent on Alberta priorities including strengthening the province’s economic corridors with improved roads and commuter rail, or advancing the province’s hydrogen strategy as an alternate clean-energy source for transportation.”

According to the UCP government, if passed, the legislation would also support Alberta’s government in getting its fair share of funding when it comes to roads, infrastructure, housing and other priorities. In summer 2023, the government said, Alberta received only 2.5 per cent of the total $1.5 billion in federal housing funds, despite having 12 per cent of the country’s population and, by far, the fastest population growth.

Under the proposed legislation, provincial entities include Alberta public agencies and Crown-controlled organizations, as well as public post-secondary institutions, school boards, regional health authorities, Covenant Health, municipal authorities and housing management bodies.

Alberta universities and some municipalities expressed concern about the proposed legislation. Much of the universities’ research funding comes from the three federal granting agencies: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

During a press conference ahead of tabling Bill 16, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith took aim at the SSHRC funding, and claimed the federal government is using ideology to dictate funding.

“How are they politically interfering by using their federal spending power to fund certain research projects? That’s what we’re worried about . . . That they fund in a certain way based on a certain ideology,” Smith told reporters.

Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney told reporters the new bill won’t impact academic freedom in the province, and said he can’t think of “a single grant stream that’s going to the post-secondaries that would problematic.”

According to the University of Calgary, the federal government provided $190 million in research funding last year, which is 35 per cent of the total research revenue at the university.

At the University of Alberta in Edmonton, more than one-third of its research funding last year – over $223 million – came from federal agencies to the tune of more than $223 million.

Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek said the proposed legislation if passed would cause delays in funding and increase costs and uncertainty for municipalities across the province. Speaking at a news conference, Gondek said the legislation is “intended to stifle Calgarians' ability to have their hard-earned tax dollars flow back into their communities.”

Tyler Gandam, president of Alberta Municipalities, said in a statement that the organization is surprised and disappointed to see the legislation. The provincial government didn’t consult or communicate with the association representing 265 municipalities across Alberta on Bill 18, he said.

“Albertans are tired and frustrated with all the inter-jurisdictional squabbling between the provincial and federal governments at a time when communities are facing numerous serious issues – things like inadequate local infrastructure funding, a shortage of affordable housing, sharp increases to cost of living, and a health-care crisis,” Gandam said. Govt. of Alberta, Global News


Saskatchewan government refers federal oil and gas emissions cap and methane regulations to economic impact assessment tribunal

The Government of Saskatchewan has referred the proposed federal cap on oil and gas industry emissions and Ottawa’s methane regulations  to the Saskatchewan Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal to analyze their impacts on Saskatchewan’s economy.

“These measures, which constitute a production cap by default, are duplicative and inefficient,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. The measures ignore local realities and diversity of oil and gas production methods across the country, she said.

“Their imposition, with no consultation, is another example of gross federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction and flies in the face of growing momentum against federal regulation of specific provincial industries by the courts,” Eyre said. “It is also our position that a cap-and-trade system does not fit under the federal criminal law power.”

Under the Saskatchewan First Act, findings by the independent Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal can be used as evidence in court. Panel members will review the economic impact of implementing the regulations, including the anticipated impact on investment, production, and royalty tax revenues, costs required to comply with the new federal regulations, and overall economic impact, the provincial government said.

Emissions from Saskatchewan’s upstream oil and gas sector are already fully provincially regulated, according to the province. Since 2019, the provincial energy sector has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from reported venting and flaring at oil facilities by 64 per cent below 2015 levels, the government said. This includes an overall 70-per-cent reduction in methane emissions.

The provincial government said preliminary estimates from the Ministry of Energy and Resources suggest that compliance for the oil and gas cap and the federal “Methane 75” regulation will cost Saskatchewan’s energy sector between $7 billion to $9 billion by 2030, which does not take into account the broader economic impact on jobs, investment and GDP. Govt. of Saskatchewan

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

The Gairdner Foundation announced the winners of the prestigious 2024 Gairdner Awards. Five Canada Gairdner International Awards are awarded annually to outstanding biomedical scientists who have made original contributions resulting in an increased understanding of human biology and disease. One John Dirks Canada Gairdner Award is awarded annually for scientifically based research that has improved the health and well-being of those facing health inequities worldwide. Two Canada Gairdner Momentum Awards are awarded annually to mid-career researchers working in Canada who in their last six active years have produced exceptional scientific research contributions with continued potential for impact on human health. This year's winners are:

  • Shankar Balasubramanian, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge – Canada Gairdner International Award
  • Zelig Eshhar, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel – Canada Gairdner International Award
  • David Klenerman, Professor of Biophysical Chemistry, Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge – Canada Gairdner International Award
  • Pascal Mayer, CEO and co-founder, Alphanosos, Honorary Chair at the Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Strasbourg – Canada Gairdner International Award
  • Michel Sadelain, Director, Center for Cell Engineering, Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair, Sloan Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York – Canada Gairdner International Award
  • Gagandeep Kang, Adjunct Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India; Director, Enteric, Diagnostics, Genomics and Epidemiology, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award
  • Megan Azad, Professor, Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba; research scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; Director of Science & Knowledge Mobilization, Thrive Discovery Lab – Canada Gairdner Momentum Award
  • Christian Landry, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry, Laval University; Canada Research Chair in Cellular Systems and Synthetic Biology – Canada Gairdner Momentum Award  Gairdner Foundation

Andrea Damascelli, scientific director of Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) and professor in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Department of Physics & Astronomy, was awarded UBC’s premier award for research, the Jacob Biely Research Prize. Damascelli also serves as a Tier I Canada Research Chair in the Electronic Structure of Quantum Materials and co-director of the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials. An experimental physicist, Damascelli is a leading scientist in the field of quantum materials, which are systems positioned to drive the next transformative technological revolution across diverse areas from health to clean energy and quantum information. As Blusson QMI’s Scientific Director, he led UBC’s effort, which resulted in the $66.5-million award from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund for Quantum Materials and Future Technologies in 2015. Under his leadership, Blusson QMI became UBC’s first Global Research Excellence Institute in 2016. Blusson QMI

Karen Bertrand was appointed Western University’s new vice-president (university advancement), effective August 1, 2024. Reporting to the president and vice-chancellor, Bertrand will oversee the portfolio dedicated to engaging and building long-term relationships with alumni and donors and raising funds to support students and priority areas of excellence. She is currently vice-principal (advancement) at Queen’s University, where she leads a team of 145 staff members, overseeing fundraising, alumni and donor engagement and advancement operations. Western

Jeffrey Kadanoff was appointed chief financial officer at Montreal-based GHGSat Inc., which uses satellites to provide high-resolution remote sensing of greenhouse gases from space. Prior to joining GHGSat, Kadanoff served as managing  director at Esplanade Ventures, was CFO  at  Knight Therapeutics Inc., and spent 14 years as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company. Kadanoff's appointment comes as  François Rodrigue, co-founder and CFO of GHGSat, is retiring from his leadership role after 12 years. Rodrigue will continue to serve as a member of GHGSat’s board of directors. GHGSat

Pioneering medical journalist Joan Hollobon died in Toronto at age 104. Hollobon’s career as The Globe and Mail’s medical reporter spanned from 1959 to 1985, and she covered everything from the birth of medicare through to the first heart transplant, deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients, eradication of smallpox, the advent of the deadly HIV-AIDS pandemic and much more. The long-time reporter also helped usher in an era when medical stories became a mainstay of daily journalism, driven by an explosion of scientific advances and burgeoning public interest. Hollobon was one of the founders of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association (now the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada).  She was awarded the Sandford Fleming Medal for excellence in science communication by the Royal Canadian Institute for Science. Despite having only a high-school education, she was awarded the Sloan-Rockefeller Fellowship in Advanced Science Writing to study at Columbia University in New York. Her application included a glowing letter of recommendation from Dr. Charles Best, the co-discoverer of insulin. When Hollobon retired at age 65 the Canadian Medical Association awarded her its Medal of Honour. She was made an officer of the Order of Canada at age 99. The National Newspaper Awards, Canada’s top journalism awards competition for newspapers and digital publications, named one of its prizes,  Joan Hollobon Prize for Beat Reporting, in her honour. The Globe and Mail

Gerri Sinclair has stepped down as British Columbia’s innovation commissioner to take the position of interim vice-president of innovation and chief information officer at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Sinclair’s departure as innovation commissioner, a position she held since July 2020, was effective April 1. Brenda Bailey, B.C.’s minister of jobs, economic development and innovation, thanked Sinclair for her years of service, noting she is “delighted” to learn Sinclair will support YVR’s work to become the first net-zero airport. Prior to her term as innovation commissioner, Sinclair served as managing director in Vancouver of Kensington Capital Partners, where she led the $100-million BC Technology Fund. BetaKit

David Goldie, board chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) announced that he will resign as chair and board member effective September 1, 2024, “to move on to some new challenges.” Goldie joined the interim AER board in September 2019, when the board was given the mandate to reform the AER’s governance, streamline its operation and make it more efficient. The AER said the recruitment of Goldie’s successor will be forthcoming. In recent years, the AER has been criticized for how it informed the public and local First Nations about the release of millions of litres of wastewater from Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands mine in northern Alberta in 2022. AER

Former Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineer Wanping Zheng, 63, was acquitted on a breach of trust charge over his dealings with a Chinese aerospace company while in the CSA’s employ. Zheng, a resident of Brossard, expressed relief after the ruling by Quebec court Judge Marc-Antoine Carette in Longueuil, Que. Zheng was accused of using his position to act on behalf of Chinese aerospace company Spacety. Judge Carette read his ruling aloud in court, saying that while Zheng’s actions certainly warranted disciplinary measures, the Crown failed to prove his behaviour constituted criminal negligence. The Crown alleged that Zheng had acted as a middle man for the Chinese firm by contacting two Canadian space companies to do business with it. The alleged infractions took place between July 2018 and May 2019. Zheng did not disclose his actions to the space agency, where he was employed for 25 years. The court heard that the federal agency required Zheng to disclose and document all his contacts. Zheng took a leave of absence in December 2018 after the CSA opened an internal probe into his behaviour. He left the CSA altogether in September 2019. One month after he left the CSA, he sought out employment and was hired by Spacety to set up operations in Luxembourg. The Gazette

Yuesheng Wang, a former employee of Hydro Quebec who is accused of spying on behalf of China, has pleaded not guilty to additional charges. Wang was arraigned April 5 on charges of committing preparatory acts on behalf of a foreign entity and informing China of his intentions. In November 2022, Wang became the first person accused of economic espionage under Canada’s Security of Information Act when he was charged with four counts including fraudulently using a computer, fraudulently obtaining a trade secret and breach of trust. Federal prosecutor Marc Cigana says the new charges were added after a review of evidence and facts already gathered in the case. Wang, who is out on bail, entered the not guilty pleas at the courthouse in Longueuil, Que. He has said he intends to fight to clear his name. The Canadian Press

The Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology & Innovation Foundation is launching a Canadian affiliate, the Centre for Canadian Innovation and Competitiveness, in Ottawa. The mission of the new Centre, a separately incorporated and registered charity, is to help policymakers and the public better understand the nature of the innovation economy and the types of public policies necessary to drive Canadian innovation, productivity, and global competitiveness. The launch, scheduled for April 30 at the Rideau Club, will feature an expert panel discussion on a new report from the Centre examining the how and why of Canada’s  performance on key measures of productivity, innovation and competitiveness. Register here.

The Council of Canadian Academies (CAA) is seeking applications from diverse and talented people from across Canada interested in serving as a CCA corporate director. The CCA is a not-for-profit organization that undertakes independent, evidence-based, and multidisciplinary expert panel assessments to inform public policy development in Canada. The CCA is looking for several corporate directors with expertise in areas such as financial management, research ecosystem networking, fundraising and development, and governance leadership. No remuneration is provided; however, the CCA will reimburse each director for reasonable travel expenses incurred while performing board duties. The approximate expected annual time commitment is up to 10 days. Candidates should provide a copy of their CV and a cover letter of no more than three pages, briefly outlining how they meet skills or competencies that align with CCA’s needs and goals to by May 12, 2024. CCA

McMaster University’s Innovation Matchmaking program is connecting research teams from across campus and affiliated hospitals and providing them with an equivalent of $75,000 in funding that can be used to build investable ventures. The program is hosted in partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton, and with funding support from McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering. The program is designed to advance multi-disciplinary innovation, help McMaster researchers generate valuable intellectual property, and support the creation of investable startup companies, said Leyla Soleymani, McMaster’s associate vice-president, research (commercialization & entrepreneurship). The Innovation Matchmaking program plans to launch calls in Strategic Focus Areas. The first round of the program, which launched this spring, calls on faculty to propose a project with commercialization potential that tackles a health challenge using a tech solution, including but not limited to, health and AI, digital health, health and materials and medical devices. McMaster University

A team of University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine researchers has developed a path to a biomanufacturing process that it says could potentially transform how Canada generates  immunotherapeutic materials – specifically natural killer cells and extracellular vesicles (EVs) – to fuel novel cancer treatments. Their proof-of-concept study focuses on using a hollow-fibre bioreactor, a type of high-density cell culture system bundled in a small cartridge containing thousands of semi-permeable fibers. The team’s method, detailed in an article in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, would allow scientists to generate a continuous flow of cell-derived immunotherapeutics without compromising the materials’ quality and anti-cancer characteristics. This could significantly boost the feasibility of setting up cost-effective biomanufacturing production systems here in Canada, said Dr. Jessie Lavoie, one of the study’s senior authors, an adjunct professor at uOttawa’s Faculty of Medicine, and a research scientist at Health Canada. Lavoie said cell and EV therapies require large amounts of high-quality materials for pre-clinical and clinical investigation, and access to low-cost and continuous closed systems is crucial for meeting these requirements. Lavoie and Dr. Lisheng Wang, a professor in the Faculty’sDepartment of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology and the study’s other senior author, said employing hollow-fibre bioreactors are promising for biomanufacturing EVs at scale, yielding far more material than conventional flask-based methods. The work was led by Frederic St-Denis Bissonnette, a PhD candidate at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine who is co-supervised by Lavoie and Wang. The study was financially supported by Canada’s Genomics Research and Development Initiative, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. uOttawa

Researchers in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry are exploring the use of DNA nanotechnology to regenerate biologic materials – including teeth. Mercedes Ing, who is currently in her first year of the faculty’s pediatric graduate dentistry program, is taking research related to bone regeneration that’s being conducted by a PhD student in the faculty and applying it in a way that could one day reduce the need for cavity fillings. Ing said the bone regeneration research has already shown promise in pre-clinical studies. “Two different solutions of DNA are mixed together to make a gel where the DNA forms a structure that acts like scaffolding, attracting minerals to help regenerate the bone,” said Ing, who is working in the lab of assistant professor Karina Carneiro. Ing said injecting DNA gel has aided with bone healing and that by applying the bone results to teeth, “we want to see how the gel performs in the environment of human saliva and human cells, and how it can help re-mineralize dentin in teeth.” University of Toronto



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