The Short Report – Aug. 25, 2021: $100M to study safer railways, planning Canada’s first Mental Health Innovation Incubator, SSHRC Anti-Black Racism committee, and more…

Debbie Lawes
August 25, 2021


More than 200 Canadian tech and business executives are asking more of their peers to sign an open letter calling on federal political leaders to outline how Canada can achieve “prosperous, secure, equitable and sustainable” growth in a post-pandemic economy. Released Aug. 24, the letter stresses the need for Canada to adopt Canadian-made technologies, and invest in market-proven, export-oriented companies. “The message that CEOs are sending to all political parties is this: We need to be planning Canada’s future, and it needs to be a plan for clean economic growth, driven by Canadian-owned ideas,” Council of Canadian Innovators executive director Benjamin Bergen said in an op-ed accompanying the letter.


Transport Canada is getting a $100-million budget boost to improve the safety and security of the country’s 41,711 km rail transportation system. Dispersed over five years, the new money will fund a wide range of activities, including evaluating new technologies for rail inspection and safety oversight, and research to better understand and respond to the impacts of climate change and severe weather on railway infrastructure. - GOC

The BC government has announced matching funding for 34 post-secondary research projects supported in the recent Canada Foundation for Innovation competition. The BC Knowledge Development Fund is investing nearly $25 million dispersed between five institutions: Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver campus, UBC Okanagan campus and the University of Victoria. - BC government

The federal government has announced the first winners from its first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. The Black Business Association of BC will receive more than $2.7 million from program’s National Ecosystem Fund to deliver a portfolio of services, including programs for start-up, scale-up, market expansion and youth businesses. The association will also use the funding to expand its online learning platform, create an incubator program, and open a physical business centre. - GOC


Western University will receive $2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and $1.3 million from Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization to better understand how to safely store nuclear fuel waste. Led by chemistry professor and corrosion researcher Dr. Jamie Noël, the research includes collaborations with nuclear waste management organizations in Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and Canada. - Western

France's biopharma company Sartorius Stedim Biotech is partnering with researchers at McMaster University to improve the manufacturing processes of antibody and virus-based treatments for diseases such as COVID-19, cancers, and genetic disorders. The goal is to perfect an effective and more affordable process for the purification of therapeutic viruses, which will help to make treatments more widely available globally. - CISION

Hydro-Québec and its innovation arm InnovHQ have launched a pilot project with Autobus Groupe Séguin, Laval QC, to support the electrification of school buses. The project includes implementing 12 charging stations with a total power of 260 kW to support the use of 10 initial electric school buses for back to school this September. Several Québec-based suppliers will participate in the project, including Lion Électrique, Malco Électrique and AddÉnergie. - Hydro-Québec

A business case is being developed to secure federal funding to create Canada’s first-ever Mental Health Innovation Incubator. The initiative is being led by Ontario Shores Centre for Health Sciences, which received funding from the Region of Durham, in partnership with all eight area municipalities. This “living lab” would connect clinical experts with private sector entrepreneurs to co-design, co-develop and scientifically evaluate new technologies in a clinical setting. – Durham Region


Researchers at McMaster University have found that a common and inexpensive antidepressant can be effective at treating COVID-19. Led by Dr. Ed Mills in collaboration with researchers from CardResearch Cardiologia Assistencial e de Pesquisa LTDA in Brazil, the study reported that using Fluvoxamine can prevent COVID-19 from becoming a life-threatening illness, and cut hospital admissions by 30% for patients with the illness. The study, which is pending peer review, is part of the Canadian-led TOGETHER Trial. - McMaster

Cultural considerations are key to fighting future pandemics. That’s the finding from a study led by researchers at Simon Fraser University, Eastern Michigan University and Florida Atlantic University who analyzed COVID-19 case data from 107 nations. The research found that countries which place more cultural value on the collective society, over the individual, with citizens more willing to take government direction, had less COVID-19 case growth. - News-Medical.Net


The Stem Cell Network has launched a new multimillion-dollar national competition to support translational, regenerative medicine research. The seven funding programs focus on career development, innovation, clinical translation, policy and societal impact, commercialization and transformative technology development. The competition opens Sept. 1, 2021. – Stem Cell Network

Applicants have until Sept. 26, 2021 to apply for funding for the On-Farm Climate Action Fund, a new program managed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The $200-million Agricultural Climate Solutions program will provide direct support to farmers to adopt beneficial management practices that store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible applicants must be potential delivery partners, such as producer groups and associations, commodity organizations, Indigenous groups or NGOs. - GOC

The second phase of Ontario’s Agri-tech Innovation Program is open to applications until Sept. 27, 2021. The Innovator Stream of the $22-million program targets agri-food innovations, including pilot projects in robotics and artificial intelligence. Projects will require collaboration between at least two agri-food businesses, organizations and agri-food technology providers or developers. – Government of Ontario

Innovation Calgary, in partnership with the University of Calgary’s VP Research Office, is accepting applications for its new Evolve to Innovation (e2i) translational research program. The eight-month experiential innovation curriculum, which includes mentorships, workshops and a $10,000 cash allowance, is available to postdoctoral scholars and research associates from all faculties. Applications are open until Sept. 29, 2021. - UCalgary


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has updated its list of members to the new Advisory Committee to Address Anti-Black Racism which is advising the VP research on ways to dismantle barriers faced by Black scholars in accessing SSHRC research and research training programs. Meetings will be co-chaired by Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, assistant professor, Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University and Karine Coen-Sanchez, doctoral candidate, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa. The other members are: Adeniyi P. Asiyanbi, assistant professor, Human Geography, University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan Campus; Michael F. Charles, assistant VP and university advisor, Department of Equity and Inclusive Communities, Carleton University; Denise Ferreira da Silva, director, The Social Justice Institute, and Senior Faculty Fellow, St John’s College, UBC; Mamoudou Gazibo, professor, Department of Political Science, Université de Montréal; Sulaimon Giwa, assistant professor, Police Studies, School of Social Work and Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and endowed chair in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, St. Thomas University; Barbara-Ann Hamilton-Hinch, associate professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies, School of Health and Human Performance, and assistant vice-provost, Equity and Inclusion, Dalhousie University; Rhonda McEwen, Canada Research Chair in Tactile Interfaces, Communication and Cognition, University of Toronto Mississauga; Barbara McNeil, associate professor, Language and Literacy, Faculty of Education, University of Regina; and Félix Zogning Nguimeya, associate professor, Department of Accounting Sciences, Université du Québec en Outaouais. - SSHRC

University of Toronto infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman has resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. In an Aug. 20 letter to the table’s co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Fisman said he is “increasingly uncomfortable with the degree to which political considerations appear to be driving outputs from the table”, alleging the group has delayed publication of its pandemic projects for this fall due to political interference. – CBC

The Canadian Food Innovation Network has announced its new leadership team. Joseph Lake becomes CEO, after having worked in senior positions in R&D and global innovation strategy at McCain Foods since 2009. Dana McCauley takes over as Chief Experience Officer. She was most recently director of New Venture Creation at the University of Guelph.

​The Vector Institute has named Canada CIFAR AI Chair Graham Taylor as interim research director. He takes over from Richard Zemel who is on leave. Taylor is professor of engineering at the University of Guelph. – Vector Institute

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer has appointed Dr. Craig Earle as its new CEO, effective November 2021. Earl is a practicing oncologist, scientist, cancer researcher and academic who has served for the past four years as VP of the Partnership’s Cancer Control Division. The group is responsible for implementing the new Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. - Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Dr. Gillian Mulvale began her new position this summer as associate dean, Graduate Studies and Research, at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business. Mulvale, an associate professor of health policy and management at DeGroote, conducts research on issues in mental health policy and service delivery that emphasizes person-centred care. - McMaster

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