The Short Report - Dec. 8, 2021: Ontario launches flagship EV program, Alberta boosts vaccine development capacity, applied research on the rise, and more

Cindy Graham
December 8, 2021


The Government of Alberta is contributing more than $55 million to the University of Alberta to fund research on preventing and treating COVID-19, including $15 million for vaccine projects and $10 million for studies on antiviral drugs. The province has also committed to funding up to 10 percent of the cost of three other proposals, contingent on the companies receiving financial support from the federal government or private funding. This would include $15.5 million to Entos Pharmaceuticals to establish a commercial manufacturing facility in Edmonton; $5.6 million to Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation to build a research, commercialization and manufacturing hub to ensure supply of medicines, and $5 million to Northern RNA (Calgary) to build an RNA ecosystem in Alberta. – Government of Alberta University of Alberta

Merck Canada is partnering with medical device maker Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture molnupiravir, an experimental oral antiviral drug for COVID-19 that would be distributed in Canada, the United Kingdom and other markets (pending approval). Merck is developing the antiviral in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics (Miami) for manufacturing at Thermo Fisher's Whitby, Ontario plant. – Merck

A University of British Columbia -Vancouver Coastal Health study that is part of a multi-year, international clinical trial and led by regenerative medicine company ViaCyte (San Diego) has shown that a stem cell-based treatment delivered through an implantable device can produce insulin in the human body. The research was supported by funding from the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Stem Cell Network, JDRF Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, ViaCyte Inc. and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. UBC

With the recent reconvening of Parliament, the Health Charities Coalition of Canada has sent a list of healthcare priorities to MPs that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to treatment, investing in research, and implementing a Canada Disability Benefit are some of the areas it is advocating for as health charities experience a significant drop in donations. – HCCC


The Government of Ontario has launched its flagship initiative to drive innovation and investment in the electric, connected and autonomous vehicle sector with a more than $56-million investment in the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN).  The program is being delivered in partnership with the Ontario Centre for Innovation and will act as a hub for coordinating activities and resources related to EV and CAV research and commercialization across Ontario. – Government of Ontario

The University of Calgary has received more than $22 million from the Government of Alberta to support 11 research projects in a range of engineering, health and science fields, including infectious diseases and quantum computing. The funding comes via the Research Capacity Program, which supports institutions and researchers in acquiring small equipment and large research infrastructure. – UCalgary

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the arms-length, federal foundation that funds new clean technology companies, has announced support for a number of projects. These include:

$4.1 million to Oakville-based Polar Sapphire to produce high-purity alumina, which is used in next-generation solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

$3.8 million to Kelowna-based Red Leaf Pulp to improve its process for converting agricultural residues to pulp that can be used in recyclable consumer products.

$3.7 million for Timmins-based Mikro-Tek, the second investment from SDTC and part of a collaboration to commercialize its forest management technology designed to increase carbon sequestration in newly planted reforestation seedlings.

$3.5 million to Montreal-based Polystyvert, the second SDTC investment in Polystyvert, to advance its polystyrene recycling technology.

$3.4 million to Ottawa-based SmartCone Technologies to develop technology promoting active transit options such as biking and walking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

$3.2 million to Montréal-based One Silicon Chip Photonics (OSCP), the second SDTC investment in OSCP, to develop lighter, lower-cost inertial navigation sensors for the next generation of autonomous vehicles and drones.

$2.8 million for Victoria-based Open Ocean Robotics (OOR), the second SDTC investment in OOR to advance its solar-powered, uncrewed surface vehicle (USV), which is used for gathering ocean data and protecting the marine environment.

$1.2 million for Toronto-based Validere Technologies to commercialize its artificial intelligence (AI) technology that reduces overall emissions in the oil and gas industry through supply chain efficiencies.

$900,000 for Sherbrooke-based BioAlert Solutions Canada, which will be used to continuously monitor for Legionella contamination in industrial and commercial water environments.

RELATED: Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s head Leah Lawrence on the explosion in clean tech investment

The Government of Ontario is investing nearly $3 million to improve fish health and habitat and restore historically degraded areas of the Great Lakes as part of the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health signed in the spring. – Government of Ontario

The Government of Canada is calling for expressions of interest under the Energy Innovation Program to support low-carbon fuels research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects in hard-to-abate sectors including iron and steel, chemicals and fertilizers, smelting and refining, and cement. The call is open until Feb. 2, 2022. GoC


General Fusion (Burnaby) has closed an oversubscribed USD $130 million Series E funding round led by Temasek (Singapore), which will expand its portfolio of investors and provide the prelude to a large financing round for 2022 as it moves closer to commercializing its magnetized target fusion (MTF) technology. – General Fusion

RELATED: B.C.-based company to build nuclear fusion test plant in England

Artificial intelligence (AI) training data firm Sama (San Francisco) will increase the size of its Montreal R&D team from 45 employees to 300 by 2023 to support its platform development goals thanks to $87 million in new Series B funding led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and other Canadian investors. – Betakit

Lucent BioSciences (Vancouver) closed more than $4 million in investments from Emmertech, Amathaon, SVG Ventures, WUTIF Capital, Vantec/eFund and Vancouver-based angel investors to accelerate development of their sustainable fertilizers and seed treatments that improve soil health. – Lucent


Carleton University and aerospace company CAE have established a three-year research partnership that will see Carleton researchers and students collaborating with CAE researchers and engineers to develop applications related to a variety of science and engineering fields, including health care technology, green technology, advanced learning management solutions, immersive environments, cybersecurity, modeling and simulation, and computational intelligence technologies for training and operations in the aerospace and healthcare sectors. – Carleton U

Colleges and Institutes Canada's (CICan’s) 2019-2020 fiscal survey shows applied research has seen 19 percent growth over the two years between its last two surveys and now comprises a $354-million ecosystem. Other CICan survey highlights: Colleges and institutes led over 6,400 applied research projects in 2019-2020 in all key sectors of the economy (an increase of 7 percent over two years); there were 8,000 total research partnerships (up 8 percent over two years, and 67 percent of which were with SMEs), and the number of students contributing to projects rose up to 45 percent over two years. – CICan


Jill Earthy is the first chief executive officer of InBC Investment Corporation (InBC), a new Crown corporation responsible for a $500-million strategic investment fund to help diversify British Columbia's economy. Earthy assumes the role in mid-December. She is currently the chief executive officer of WeBC (formerly Women’s Enterprise Centre) and former Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr. She also serves on the boards of Sustainable Development Technology Canada and The Forum (formerly the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs). – InBC

Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA) researchers Glen Berseth (Université de Montréal); Cheng-Zhi Anna Huang (Google); Foutse Khomh (Polytechnique Montréal); Bang Liu (Université de Montréal) and Dhanya Sridhar (Université de Montréal) have been named Canada CIFAR AI chairs and will receive long-term funding to support their research and help them train the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) leaders. Mila is one of three national AI Institutes established through the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy in 2017. – CIFR

Simon Trevarthen has been appointed chief innovation and open assets officer of Fanshawe College, effective January 3, 2022. Trevarthen was the director of the Business Innovation Office at the Ontario Ministry of Health and a senior manager at Knowledge Economy, Bearing Point (KPMG). He was the founder of Elevate Your Greatness (Toronto), a strategic planning, facilitation, and leadership development consulting firm that supports public sector strategy execution, service transformation and innovation. – Fanshawe College

Patricia Stirbys is the new director of Indigenous relations at Canadian Nuclear Labs (CNL), a role in which she will oversee CNL’s efforts to grow its relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Stirbys is a citizen of Cowessess First Nation and worked as an independent consultant and contractor leading Indigenous consultation and engagement activities for clients in the mining, renewable energy and engineering and construction sectors. – CNL


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