The Short Report, December 11, 2019: Wexit spooks Wattpad; Montreal's swelling video-game sector; North promises better next time

Mark Mann
December 11, 2019

The Toronto-based e-publisher Wattpad has chosen to open its second headquarters in Halifax rather than Calgary, due to concerns about Western separatism and the elimination of Alberta tax credits supporting companies in the innovation economy. Five business tax credit programs were cut, including the Investor Tax Credit introduced by the previous NDP government, which provided a 30% tax credit to investors who put money into targeted growth industries such as clean technology and digital animation. - Financial Post

U.S. video-game firm 2K announced it will open a new development studio in Montreal, joining a crowded field in one of the world's largest video game production hubs. “Tons of jobs” will be created says studio head Ken Schachter. The studio will create the next iteration of BioShock, a game that sold more than 34 million units. - Montreal Gazette

Waterloo-based smart glasses maker North — previously Thalmic Labs — will stop making the first generation of its Focals glasses and instead focus on Focals 2.0, a slimmer version of the product set to ship in 2020. The next iteration will be “at a completely different level” and “the most advanced smart glasses ever made,” according to founder Stephen Lake. - TechCrunch

CIFAR announced 34 new Canada CIFAR AI Chairs, bringing the total number of world-class AI researchers recruited and retained through this program to 80. Each of the chairs will receive five years of dedicated funding to support research excellence in machine learning. The program is one of the goals of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, a $125-million investment by the Government of Canada. - CIFAR

Four Québec-based institutions are investing US$29 million in the new US$156.5 million Spring Lane Capital Fund I to support the development of cleantech companies: BDC Capital (US$15 million), Fonds de solidarité FTQ (US$7.5 million), Fondaction (US$3.5 million) and Palomino Capital (US$3 million). The fund will finance the startup and post-startup phases of cleantech companies. - Business Insider

The American news organization ProPublica has launched a "Dollars for Profs" project that examines how "professors’ outside income can influence their research topics and findings, policy views and legislative testimony." The effort includes a search function that allows users to search for conflicts by person, institution or company. Some Canadian individuals and organizations are implicated in the reporting, including the British Columbia Cancer Agency, the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, and the University of Calgary. - ProPublica

The University of Ottawa will open a hub for research in cybersecurity and cyber safety in partnership with IBM Canada, with other industry partners expected to follow. The university will gain two main benefits from the hub, dean of research Guy Levesque said: "One is making sure we’re producing cyber-literate students coming out of engineering, law and management [courses]... The other is helping to bring partners together so we can tackle the daunting challenges around technology issues around cyber [including] security, privacy and ethics." - IT World Canada


Dr. Mona Nemer's network of departmental science advisors is growing. On October 1, Dr. Cara Tannenbaum began her appointment as Departmental Science Advisor (DSA) for Health Canada, where she will provide independent advice to senior management on complex science issues, facilitate more prominent science conversations in the department, and support scientific advisory functions and science communication. Tannenbaum is a professor in the faculties of medicine and pharmacy at the Université de Montréal, where she holds the Michel Saucier Pharmacy Chair, as well as the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute on Gender and Health. In August, Vik Pant was appointed as Chief Science Advisor for NRCan. He was previously the Senior Advisor for Artificial Intelligence (AI) at MaRS Discovery District, and prior to that he was the Global Lead of AI Competitive Intelligence for Oracle.

CMC Microsystems, a Canadian technology organization that provides services for developing micro-nano products to more than 10,000 academic and industry researchers, appointed five new members to its Board of Directors: Dr. Vincent Aimez, Vice President Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer, Université de Sherbrooke; Dr. Alain Chandonnet, President and CEO, INO, the largest centre of expertise in optics and photonics in Canada; Dr. Charles Despins, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Vice-president, Research and Partnerships, École de technologie supérieure, Université de Québec; Ian Roane, experienced electronics industry executive, most recently as President and CEO of Micralyne Inc.; Xerxes Wania, CEO, Wania Startup Advisors; and Simon Wingar, Director Research and Development, National Research Council Canada - Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (NRC-CPFC).

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