The Short Report – Dec. 2, 2020: New investment will speed stem-cell research for Type 1 diabetes, Element AI approves American acquisition, and more

Cindy Graham
December 2, 2020


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes and JDRF Canada will invest $3 million each over five years for research teams to accelerate stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes. The investment is part of 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes, funded by CIHR and partners, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. – GoC

A consortium led by Toronto's DNAstack has received $5.1 million to increase capacity to use genomics and biomedical data to better understand, predict, and treat COVID-19 on a molecular level. The project is funded in part by Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster. - DNAstack

The Montreal Heart Institute has decided that the ColCorona clinical trial, run out of Canada, the US, Europe, South America, and South Africa and coordinated by the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center, will continue to recruit non-hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 until the end of 2020. The study is funded by the Government of Quebec, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the United States National Institutes of Health. CGI, Dacima and Pharmascience are also collaborators. – Montreal Heart Institute

The Canadian and Yukon governments launched a research program to understand the impacts of COVID-19 in the Yukon and how best to respond. The program has made $1 million available for funding and is seeking expressions of interest for projects. – GoC


Montreal-based artificial intelligence company Element AI has agreed to be acquired by Santa Clara, CA cloud-computing platform ServiceNow. Approvals for the deal are expected in early 2021. The federal government cancelled a June 10 agreement of a conditionally repayable contribution of $20 million to Element AI that was to be made over five years through the Strategic Innovation Fund. – ServiceNow

The Canadian and Quebec governments are investing over $16.5 million in optical fibre technology to provide high-speed broadband and last-mile connectivity to reach underserved households in communities in the Nord-du-Québec and Mauricie regions. – GoC


University of Toronto's Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society and Austin, TX-based non-profit AI Global are working together to create a globally recognized certification mark for the responsible and trusted development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The partnership will function as a collaboration with the World Economic Forum's Artificial Intelligence and Learning platform to build a universally recognized validation framework for AI tools and technologies.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is joining the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (NGEN) to collaborate on machine learning, cybersecurity and manufacturing projects, and the Internet of Things. The partnership will allow workers to take advantage of NGen's Accelerating Manufacturing Performance Upskilling Program, which will cover 50 percent of the cost of related training. - Sask Polytech

CANARIE (Ottawa) has launched a Cybersecurity Initiatives Program to coordinate and align research and education initiatives across the country. Programs will be delivered through provincial and territorial partners in the National Research and Education Network, in which CANARIE is the federal partner. – CANARIE

CANARIE is also awarding $3.6 million to six institutions to advance research projects and productivity through local research software support. – CANARIE

The Canadian Space Agency has awarded six contracts valued at $2.9 million for the development of potential Canadian lunar science instruments through the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. The program was created to provide opportunities for Canadian science and technology to play a role in long-term Moon exploration. – CSA

Platform Calgary, Bioenterprise (Guelph) and TEC Edmonton are collaborating on a new program to launch Alberta-based agricultural startups. The program starts in late 2020 with funding support from Western Economic Diversification Canada. – Platform Calgary

The Government of Newfoundland will provide more than $1.6 million for eight projects at the Memorial University of Newfoundland to celebrate Research Week, November 23-27. – Government of Newfoundland

The Centre for Regulatory Innovation is now fully operational. Part of the Treasury Board of Canada, the centre promotes a whole-of-government approach to regulatory experimentation to support innovation and competitiveness, and to help regulators and the regulatory system keep pace with technological advances. – GoC

As the movement to divest from fossil fuels accelerates among Canadian universities, Lakehead University announced its intention to divest from fossil fuel holdings by the end of its strategic plan in 2023. - CBC


Colleges and Institutes Canada has released a white paper outlining how colleges, institutes, polytechnics and CEGEPS can support Canada’s economic recovery during the pandemic. – CICan

San-Francisco-based Startup Genome has released The Global Fintech Ecosystem Report 2020, which ranks the global top 20 and runner-up fintech startup ecosystems on five success factors including performance, talent, funding, focus and legacy. Toronto-Waterloo placed 12th in the rankings. – Startup Genome


Paul Rochon, the Department of Finance's highest-ranking bureaucrat, announced internally that he will be resigning on December 14. Rochon held the position of deputy minister for six and a half years. His replacement is yet to be announced. – National Post

University of Manitoba's Meghan Azad, Sara Israels and Soheila Karimi have been named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020 by Women’s Executive Network. Azad (breastfeeding and maternal child health) receives the honour for Emerging Leaders; Israels (pediatrics and child health, cell biology, Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology) receives the Professionals award, and Karimi (neural regeneration and stem cell research) will receive the Science and Technology award. – UManitoba

Steven Cooke, Lenore Fahrig and Richard Yu were included in Clarivate Analytics’ annual Highly Cited Researchers List. All are Carleton University faculty, and are among more than 6,000 researchers from some 60 countries who demonstrated significant influence in their fields through the publication of multiple, highly-cited papers in the last decade. – CarletonU

Jim Luong has been named to the Analytical Scientist’s Power List for the second consecutive year. Luong works at Dow Canada’s Fort Saskatchewan ethylene facility site and is the co-leader of the Dow’s Gas Chromatography Centre of Expertise. – Analytical Scientist

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