The Short Report – Dec 16, 2020: Canada signs historic space treaty, robotic warehouse tech gets a boost, and more

Cindy Graham
December 16, 2020


After pricing at US$20 a share, Vancouver-based antibody developer AbCellera Biologics opened at US$61 and closed at US$58.90 on the NASDAQ last week, giving it a market capitalization of US$15.7 billion on its first day of trading. – AbCellera, Globe and Mail

Arch Biopartners (Toronto) will receive up to $6.7 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to advance a drug candidate that is designed to block inflammation in the lungs, liver and kidneys in severe COVID-19 cases through Phase II clinical trials. – GoC

Toronto-based oncology commercialization investment firm Facit selected new recipients of Ontario First seed capital from its Prospects Oncology Fund. Dr. Rebecca Laposa (University of Toronto; novel small-molecule inhibitors for treatment of breast cancer) and London-based startup Multi-Magnetics (photoacoustic imaging for detection of tumours during lumpectomies, led by Jeffrey Carson) are the latest entrepreneurs selected for the fund. – Facit

RRP Canada, with support from Next Generation Manufacturing, has upgraded its platform to feature products made in Canada and help businesses find quality-certified protective personal equipment and other medical products to defend against COVID-19. Platform upgrades include product manufacturing origins, enhanced quality control, and new accessibility features in both official languages. – NGEN

Research Nova Scotia will distribute over $2 million from its New Health Investigator Grant to Nova Scotia universities, providing up to $100,000 over two years to researchers who are within the first five years of their academic appointment in the province, or who are new to the field of health research. Research topics include diabetes, cancer and dementia care, preterm infant gut health, and food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2020-21 academic year, funding will be provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. – Research Nova Scotia

University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute has received $20 million from the Government of Alberta to accelerate research and commercialization of antiviral drugs and vaccines. – Government of Alberta

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has approved Facedrive’s (Scarborough, ON) contact-tracing platform TraceSCAN, a wearable technology developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Waterloo. – Facedrive


The Canadian Space Agency and NASA have signed the Gateway Treaty, confirming Canada's participation in the US-led international collaboration that will see a Canadian be part of the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972. – CSA

Particle accelerator centre TRIUMF (Vancouver) and biopharmaceutical company Fusion (Hamilton) have entered a collaborative agreement that will make it possible to increase production and delivery of a rare medical isotope that shows promise in new, cutting-edge cancer therapies.–TRIUMF 

International pharmaceutical company Servier Group is partnering with Montreal’s high-tech incubator Centech to open an international artificial intelligence (AI) hub that specializes in pharmaceutical R&D. It will be Servier’s first international AI unit, and will use Centech’s Collision Lab to accelerate the discovery, development, and deployment of new therapeutic solutions for patients. – Centech

Western Economic Diversification Canada is investing more than $2 million in Saskatoon's tech incubator Co.Labs to expand capacity of its digital technology accelerator and incubator programming. – GoC

Through its Strategic Innovation Fund, the federal government is investing $34 million in Calgary-based robotics supply company Attabotics. The funds will advance Attabotics' 3D robotics warehouse technologies and its supply chain system for modern commerce.– GoC

The Future Skills Centre (Toronto) and the Labour Market Information Council (Ottawa) are contributing $3 million over the next two years to pilot an open cloud-based data repository to streamline access to Canada's skills and labour market information. – FSC

Researchers at Simon Fraser University are partnering with colleagues from Dalhousie and Carleton universities to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to classify whale calls, with the goal of creating a warning system to protect endangered orcas from potentially fatal ship strikes. Citizen scientists and the Orcasound project are also contributing research. The project has received $568,000 in funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. – SFU

Development capital fund Fonds de solidarité (FTQ – Montreal) is renewing its partnership with life sciences venture capital firm Forbion with a $23-million investment in Forbion Capital Fund V. The FTQ has invested $1.6 billion since 1989 to support Quebec’s life sciences sector. - FTQ


Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges are reporting a total of $227.6 million of sponsored research income in the form of research grants, contracts and contributions in fiscal 2019, according to a report from Research InfosourceCégep de Trois Rivières topped the list with $15.8 million of research income (up 50.5%), followed by Lambton College ($12.4 million; up 21%) and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology ($11.8 million; up 112%). Mohawk College and Red River College rounded out the top 5 five. Overall, research income increased at 40 colleges and declined at only 10 others, pushing the sponsored research income growth in fiscal 2019 to 28.9%. – Research Infosource

The federal government’s Industry Strategy Council, formed last May to advise government on COVID-19’s impact on industries, has issued a report summarizing and concluding its work as well as making recommendations to support the recovery and growth of key sectors. – GoC

Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute has released Labour Demand Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a first in a series of reports focused on the labour market during the pandemic. Using data from the Vicinity Jobs Hiring Demand Analytics Suite, the report analyzes online job postings in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods and discusses changes in both total job postings and changes in job postings across geography, occupations, skills, and sectors. – The Diversity Institute

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Cereals Canada have released updated wheat research priorities through to 2022. Priorities were refined through a national collaboration of farmers, federal and provincial governments, public research institutions, exporters and processors led by Cereals Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. – Cereals Canada


Ingrid Waldron and HealthCareCAN have won Research Canada Leadership in Advocacy Awards for their work in health research and innovation. Waldron received the 2020 Individual Leadership in Advocacy Award for her work examining and addressing the health and mental health impacts of structural inequalities within health and mental health care, child welfare, and the environment in Indigenous, Black, immigrant, and refugee communities in Nova Scotia. HealthCareCAN received the organizational award for advocating for federal support for the healthcare community and increasing the eligibility period for the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) wage subsidy. – Research Canada

Digvir Jayas, VP Research and International, University of Manitoba and chair of particle accelerator centre TRIUMF (Vancouver) will serve as TRIUMF's interim director until early 2021, until a new director is appointed. – TRIUMF

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