Government of British Columbia , Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada , Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada , Advanced Biofuels Canada , Alberta Innovates, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries, AltaGreen, Aplantex Bio, Assembly of First Nations , Ayrton Energy Inc. , BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), BioDiffusion Technologies, Blackberry, Bobaek America Inc., Brookings Institution, Canada Innovation Corporation, Canadensys, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Space Mining Corporation, Carbon Upcycling, Carleton University, Catalyst Commons, City of Montreal, Climate Engagement Canada, Climicals, Council of Canadian Innovators, Council of Canadian Innovators, Department of Finance Canada, Durable, École de technologie supérieure, Emissions Reduction Alberta, Enhanced Medical Nutrition, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Federal Court of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology , Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Government of Ontario, Government of Prince Edward Island, Government of Quebec, Growcer, Holland College, Honeywell, House of Commons, HSBC, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Infusd Nutrition, International Astronomy Union , IVADO, Lakeland College, LG Energy Solution, Lite-1, Loyalist College, MaRS Discovery District, McGill University, MDA, Medical Innovation Xchange, Métis Nation of Alberta , NASA, National Research Council, Natural Products Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Naturfect, New Protein International, Opalia, Pinaymootang First Nation, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Red River College Polytechnic, Ross Video, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Stellantis, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure , United Nations, United Nations University, Université de Montréal, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Oxford, University of Prince Edward Island, UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and Vistara Growth


Research and Knowledge Initiative, 2022–2027 Québec strategy to support research and investment in innovation , agreement at UN's COP28 climate conference, Alberta Innovates' Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge, allegations of conflict of interest and financial mismanagement at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, B.C. to require low-carbon jet fuel, British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, Canada in a Changing Climate: Synthesis Report, Canada’s Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative , Canadian projects for lunar exploration and infrastructure, CEC Net Zero Benchmark, Centre for Wildfire Coexistence, cost-of-living financial requirements for international students, costs of climate change impacts in Canada, Espace Ax-C innovation space in Montreal, Federal Court's decision on listing of plastic manfactured items as toxic, federal review of SR&ED program, full implementation of Canada Innovation Corporation delayed, improvements to funding delivered by BDC, Industrial Research Assistance Program, innovation and talent development in robotics, AI, digital systems and hardware design, Innovator Network of Canada collaborative platform, large private companies dominate AI research, MaRS Climate Impact awards, Métis Nation of Alberta solar energy project, NASA International Space Apps Challenge , natural product innovations, net-zero targets set by Canada's largest corporate emitters, new asteroids named for Canadians, new battery components manufacturing facility in Windsor, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program , Ontario's Forest Biomass Program, regulating offshore wind energy projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, research to address housing and infrastructure needs, restoring salmon habitat in B.C., SMEs reducing their carbon footprint, society coexisting with wildfire, supporting skilled trades training in Ontario, Tri-agency funding for applied research projects at colleges, United Nations University hub focused on water, university divestment of holdings in fossil fuel companies, University of Oxford's Global Health initiative , using forest biomass to produce value-added products, using oil sands bitumen to produce carbon fibre, and using pulp mill waste to reduce impact of conventional fertilizers

The Short Report: December 20, 2023

Research Money
December 20, 2023


BREAKING NEWS– Full implementation of Canada Innovation Corporation delayed

The Department of Finance Canada, in a statement released late in the day Tuesday, December 19, said the new Canada Innovation Corporation (CIC) now will be fully implemented “no later than 2026-2027” – up to four years after it was first introduced, and potentially until after the next federal election. The government announced the CIC on February 16, 2022, releasing a blueprint for the new agency and committing an initial budget of $2.6 billion over four years. At that time, government officials said the search for CIC’s CEO and chair of the board had already begun, with both positions expected to be filled by spring of last year.  Parliament has passed enabling legislation to establish the CIC. The blueprint for the CIC provided 24 months – to February 2025 – to transition the National Research Council’s Industrial Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to the CIC.

But in its statement Tuesday, Finance Canada said sufficient time is needed for the transition of NRC IRAP to the CIC, to ensure IRAP can “seamlessly provide its essential support to the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises it works with each year.” When the CIC was announced last year, government officials said the new agency would be made operational as quickly as possible, using the “strong foundation” of IRAP. Officials said then that in order to prepare for the CIC’s launch by recruiting senior management and planning programs and services, the new agency had already been set up temporarily as a subsidiary of the Canada Investment Corporation. The aim, officials said, was to make the CIC fully operational as its own corporation by the end of 2022. Iain Stewart, who’s retiring at the end of this year as NRC’s president, told Research Money in an interview this October that a core team at CIC was beginning to prepare the agency for core management business process such as payroll and financial systems. The core team was making “good progress” on getting CIC’s chair, board, CEO and management team in place, Stewart said.

"Canada cannot wait. The world is not waiting for Canada. We need to act more and talk less," Dan Brenitz, co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk  School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, told Research Money. A strong proponent of the CIC, Breznitz joined Finance Canada as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist to provide advice -- including about the CIC -- prior to the last budget (his appointment has since ended).  Canada needs the CIC now more than ever, Breznitz said. Despite a plethora of federal innovation policies and programs during the last four years, he said, "The [economic] decline has not stopped. The median wages have only been more stagnant. Productivity figures are worse than anything we've ever had. And the politics are no longer in Canada's favour." Breznitz said a core team for CIC had been working for 18 months to get the agency ready for launch. "Everything was ready for a chairperson from the private sector to step in.  And [for taking] some brave actions, because that's what you do when you're a leader." "If we are seriously thinking that we are a G7 country, we need to start acting like a G7 country," he added. Breznitz said he doesn't know  what led to the delay in launching CIC. He pointed out that the funding commitment to CIC was in the April 2022 federal budget "I'm disappointed that we have not acted 18 months ago," he said. "I will judge everything from now on by actions, not talk."

On Tuesday, Finance Canada said the government will now be seeking advice from leading Canadian investors, including pension funds, "about the launch of the CIC." In the interim, NRC IRAP will continue to be delivered by the NRC and will support a select number of larger-scale R&D projects. The government's announcement "is, frankly, disappointing news for the leaders of Canada's innovation economy," said Benjamin Bergen, president of the Council of Canadian Innovators. "More than anything else, Canada needs productivity growth to drive higher wages and broad-based prosperity. It's hard to see how [Tuesday's] announcement achieves that goal," he said in a statement. The Council of Canadian Innovators applauded the government two years ago when it announced the CIC, "and we were excited for the refreshing approach to innovation policy it represented," Bergen said. "Nearly two years later we now hear that it [the CIC} will be delayed by a further two years, and in reality is unlikely to ever be fully established in the way we had hoped."

Finance Canada also said the government will launch consultations in January on a "cost-neutral modernization" of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program, which provides about $3 billion a year in tax credits to companies to support their R&D. Bergen said the Council of Canadian Innovators, which has long called for reforms to the SR&ED program, hopes the review "will bring real transparency to the recipients of this $3-billion tax incentive, and put Canadian-headquartered innovators front-and-centre." Finance Canada also said the government would implement recommended improvements to the Business Development Bank of Canada, after a recent legislative review of the small business-financing Crown corporation. The review recommended that the BDC should review its appetite for risk, particularly for equity-deserving groups, Indigenous entrepreneurs, newcomers, and underserved regions and rural areas. Several stakeholders complained that BDC was too risk-adverse in providing funding to SMEs. Govt. of Canada, R$

See also: New innovation agency’s success hinges on its private sector leadership, experts say

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council are investing $65.2 million to support 59 applied research projects led by Canadian colleges. The funding is provided through the Tri-agency College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, one of the largest vehicles for funding applied research at colleges, including polytechnics and CEGEPs. The recipients are receiving funding through two CCI grant types:

  • $56.5 million over five years for 34 recipients through the Mobilize grants, providing flexible, long-term funding for college applied research programs to maximize student training and community innovation impacts.
  • $8.7 million over three years for 25 projects through the College and Community Social Innovation Fund, fostering community innovation by connecting the talent, facilities and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics with the research needs of community organizations.

The recipients include: George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto (photo at top), which received $3.25 million to enable industry and community innovation; Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg (photo at left), $3.25 million for a digital technology transformation initiative; Holland College (Charlottetown), $2.25 million to support bioscience, data analytics and environmental management research; Lakeland College (Vermilion, Alberta), $2.25 million to enhance crop and livestock production efficiency, productivity and sustainability; and Loyalist College (Belleville, Ontario), $2.1 million  to lead research in health equity. NSERC

The Government of Ontario is investing more than $62.9 million in two of the province’s foundational skilled trades program, to help more than 18,000 young people explore and prepare for life-long careers in a growing industry. The record increase in funding will help train 100,000 skilled workers needed to build transit, hospitals and at least 1.5 million homes by 2031, the government said. The funding includes $21.1 million to expand the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a specialized high school program that gives students who have completed Grade 10 the chance to explore the trades through cooperative education courses. The province is  sending 72 OYAP recruiters into more than 800 secondary schools to compete directly with recruiters from colleges and universities. The government also is investing $41.8 million to launch about 100 free pre-apprenticeship training projects around the province, to help young people get first-hand experience working in trades such as welding, electrical and arboriculture. Govt. of Ontario

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced joint federal-provincial funding of $86.1 million for 58 projects under the second phase of the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF). Launched in March 2019, BCSRIF has made investments in support of habitat protection and restoration, ensuring the fish and seafood sector in B.C. is positioned for long-term environmental and economic sustainability. These new projects are jointly funded through Canada’s Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative and the Province of B.C. The overall goal of the projects is to restore salmon ecosystems while providing sustainable, resilient and prosperous fisheries. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta announced more than $15.2 million for five projects in Phase III of the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge (CFGC). The funding will be shared by five teams to refine and scale up their carbon fibre production technologies. The projects are based in Alberta and British Columbia, with teams competing to produce carbon fibre from Alberta oil sands bitumen. They must demonstrate the ability to produce between 0.5 to one kilogram of carbon fibre per day using technology that will allow them to scale to more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon fibre per year by the early 2030s. As part of the competition, the commercial carbon fibre must cost 50 per cent less than current carbon fibre products. Teams will have 36 months to complete their projects. Alberta Innovates

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced funding for five Canadian companies developing six projects for lunar exploration and infrastructure on the Moon’s surface. Canadensys, Canadian Space Mining Corporation, Honeywell and MDA will share a total of $2.9 million to advance technologies focused on five fundamental fields for lunar exploration:

  • Agriculture and food production
  • Autonomous and intelligent robots and rovers
  • Avionics and communication
  • Mining and in-situ resource utilization
  • Power generation and distribution

Canadensys’s two projects focus on prototypes of a plant growth tray and water disinfection assembly designed to support crewed lunar habitation, and a prototype of a complete rover-representative vehicle rated for terrestrial operations. Canadian Space Mining’s project is a prototype of the company’s HYDO+ technology that leverages gas-reduction methods to process diverse ore and minerals sourced from diverse geological regions on the Moon. Honeywell’s project is a prototype of a low-power tracking terminal component for long-range optical communications. MDA’s two projects are the development and assessment of algorithms to achieve continuous driving, and development of algorithms and autonomous plant management tools for a nuclear power system on the lunar surface. CSA

The Government of Ontario is investing $1.5 million in funding for 15 projects under the province’s new Forest Biomass Program. Each project supports new and emerging uses of forest biomass, the mill by-products from manufacturing, bark, shavings and sawdust, as well as trees or above-ground tree parts unsuited in the production of other forest products. The projects include: research on using underutilized hardwoods to produce biochemicals and other products; increasing the use of birch and poplar wood in innovation technology that has potential to reduce carbon emissions in industrial steel production; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by exploring energy production using forest biomass. Govt. of Ontario

Infrastructure Canada announced a call for proposals, under the Research and Knowledge Initiative, to support a variety of research projects that will generate critical knowledge for addressing housing and infrastructure needs in meaningful ways. For example, projects may include: piloting innovative ways to increase new housing starts; assessing how changing environmental conditions affect region-specific infrastructure needs; understanding successful strategies that have generated positive infrastructure and housing outcomes in at-risk communities; or evaluating how international best practices could support community resiliency and improved quality of life in Canadian communities. More information including how to apply can be found on Infrastructure Canada’s website. Infrastructure Canada


The University of British Columbia launched the Centre for Wildfire Coexistence (CWC), aimed at advancing research, collaboration and innovation to enable society to coexist with wildfire through proactive management and eco-cultural restoration. The new centre is supported by a $5-million donation from the Koerner family. The funding will enable the centre to undertake cutting-edge research, assess the efficacy of proactive wildfire management strategies, and co-develop solutions for communities at risk. The CWC’s multidisciplinary approach will leverage expertise from leading researchers, Indigenous knowledge holders, other national and international wildfire experts, as well as government agencies to address the complex and evolving wildfire landscape. The goal of wildfire coexistence is to strike a balance between human safety and vital ecosystem functions, recognizing the dual nature of wildfires – destructive yet ecologically beneficial based on context and severity. Dr. Lori Daniels, PhD professor of forest and conservation sciences, was named as the inaugural holder of the Koerner Chair in Wildfire Coexistence at UBC. Canada’s 2023 wildfire season was the worst ever, with B.C. and Canada setting new records for area burned by wildfires. UBC

The University of Calgary has partnered with the United Nations University (UNU) to establish at UCalgary the world’s first UNU hub focused on water. The UNU Hub at UCalgary on Empowering Communities to Adapt to Environmental Change is a partnership between the university and the UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health, the UN think tank on water based in Hamilton, Ont. The hub will have four research clusters led by world-class scholars from across campus, collaborating to bring their expertise to bear on four key areas of water studies: understanding changes in aquatic ecosystems; infectious diseases in a changing climate; environmental predictions for water sustainability; and resilience in Indigenous communities. The hub will develop collaborative programs for UCalgary researchers and students, with a global reach and outcomes that are accessible and applicable beyond Canada, extending to the Global South. The hub’s research and training activities will be paired with community outreach that engages the public. UCalgary

École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal has partnered with the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada, the City of Montreal and the private sector to create a new $48-million space for entrepreneurial innovation in Montreal’s business district.  Espace Ax-C will be located in the currently-under-construction Place Victoria Tower. Starting in 2025, Ax-C will provide a place to help sustainable startups grow. The services at Ax-C will be developed and delivered by Startup Montréal. The project is a flagship measure of the 2022–2027 Québec strategy to support research and investment in innovation and the plan to revitalize downtown Montreal. The strategy aims to create an environment conducive to the commercialization and export of innovations by providing accelerators, incubators and technology startups with an inspiring and inclusive space, and resources and support essential to their growth. ÉTS

Carleton University in Ottawa and Ross Video, a leading live event and video production technology manufacturer, have established a three-year partnership to spearhead innovation and foster talent development in robotics, artificial intelligence, and digital systems and hardware design. In addition to a shared focus on research and innovation, the partnership is a commitment to continue engaging students through cooperative education, internships, research initiatives  and experiential learning. This will provide opportunities for new and current students and also help create a stronger workforce for the video and live event production industry for years to come, the partners said. Ross will also remain a founding partner of the Women in Engineering & IT (WiE&IT) Program for three more years. Carleton University

McGill University said it will divest, starting in 2024 with completion in 2025, from all direct holdings in fossil fuel companies listed in the Carbon Underground 200 index (CU200). The divestment is one of eight commitments announced in Phase 2 of McGill’s results-driven socially responsible investment strategy. The divestment will involve liquidating the remaining direct CU200 holdings within the McGill Investment Pool (MIP) – holdings which constituted just 0.5 per cent of total MIP assets as of December 31, 2022, after years of targeted decarbonization. At that point in time, more than 99 per cent of the MIP was held outside the CU200, with a sizeable proportion held in sustainable investments. In 2020, according to a survey done by Research Money, approximately $32 million ($1.9 per cent) of McGill’s endowment fund was invested in the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and gas companies listed in the CU200. McGill University

See also: Survey: Canadian universities are increasingly cutting fossil fuels from their investment portfolios

The Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) launched the Innovator Network of Canada, a collaborative platform dedicated to fostering innovation, economic growth and community development across the country. The first chapter of this new national network is Waterloo Inc., developed in partnership with Medical Innovation Xchange and Catalyst Commons. Waterloo Inc. is led by local entrepreneurs who are committed to the advancement of Waterloo Region, and its membership will be open to all innovators, community leaders and ecosystem partners. Innovator Network of Canada aims to support other regional chapters and to connect innovators nationally through a shared brand and community. Entrepreneurs and technologists can join the network’s national Slack channel by going to CCA

Bobaek America Inc., a South Korean electric vehicle parts manufacturer, is investing $35 million to build a new EV battery components manufacturing facility in Windsor, Ont. As part of this investment, the Government of Ontario is providing $1.5 million through the Regional Development Program’s Southwestern Ontario Development Fund. Bobaek’s investment marks the company’s first entry into the North American EV supply chain and will create 144 new jobs in the region, the government said. The new, 71,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility, expected to open in June 2024, will include state-of-the-art equipment to produce the insulation panels and cell sheets needed for EV batteries. The plant will supply Stellantis and LG Energy Solution’s NexStar battery cell plant in Windsor. Govt. of Ontario

British Columbia will be the first jurisdiction in North America to require fuel suppliers to incorporate low-carbon jet fuel into fossil fuel jet fuel, Advanced Biofuels Canada announced. B.C. also approved a revamped Low Carbon Fuel Regulation, designed to modernize the previous standard. There are now hundreds of planes using low-carbon biofuel which is available at more than 100 airports. Using biofuel is expected to add only three dollars to the cost of a typical flight out of Vancouver, according to an analysis by Advanced Biofuels Canada. B.C. plans to use highly combustible forest-floor biomass to produce biofuel, which will not only reduce wildfire severity but also displace high-carbon fossil jet fuel. Advanced Biofuels Canada


Vancouver-based venture capital firm Vistara Growth announced it raised more than US$150 million for its Vistara Technology Growth Fund (Fund V), toward a target of US400 million. Vistara has maintained a consistent focus on mid-later stage enterprise software companies across North America seeking flexible and typically less dilutive forms of growth capital such as term debt, convertible debt, and/or structured equity. With its Fund V target raise, Vistara said it expects to be strategically positioned to invest in 18 to 24 companies across North America at US$10 to US$30 million per investment. Vistara

Durable, a Vancouver-based AI-powered website builder, raised $18 million in Series A financing. The round was led by Spark Capital with participation from existing investors Torch Capital, Altman Capital, Dash Fund, South Park Commons, Infinity Ventures, and Soma Capital. Unlike e-commerce platforms, which generally support product-based businesses, Durable targets its platform exclusively to small service suppliers, such as personal trainers, landscapers or freelancers. The website builder allows users to input information about their business, and in less than 30 seconds, Durable generates a website complete with a banner, list of services, elevator pitch and more. From there, users can sign up to customize their new site. The company says it has built six million websites in less than a year and more than a million businesses use its platform. BetaKit

Natural Products Canada (NPC) announced $1.1 million, through its strategic Commercialization Programs, to support 11 clients and their products. The recipients represent a diverse range of sustainable, natural product innovations from industrial dyes and asphalt, to bioplastics and poultry feed. The recipients, which include startups and research institutes from across the country, are: AltaGreen, Aplantex Bio, BioDiffusion Technologies, Climicals, Enhanced Medical Nutrition, Infusd Nutrition, Lite-1, Naturfect, New Protein International, Opalia, and the University of British Columbia. NPC’s Commercialization Programs focus on three gaps commonly found in highly innovative companies: product validation, talent, and competitive strategy. NPC


Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne denied, to a scrum of reporters, claims by a former Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) employee that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) covered up wrongdoing at the cleantech funding organization. Champagne said ISED followed “due process” in investigating conflict of interest allegations. Israr Ahmad, the former SDTC employee, testified before a House of Commons industry committee that senior bureaucrats at ISED had kept him apprised weekly of the investigation into SDTC from its start early this year. As late as the first week of September, the government was planning to replace SDTC’s management and board, but in the end softened the final report of a third-party investigation into governance and conflict of interest breaches at SDTC. Champagne insisted there was no coverup, telling reporters that ISED hired Ottawa accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to conduct the investigation, showing the government was “responsible and transparent.” Champagne kept SDTC’s management and board in place to complete a series of measures by the end of this year to improve governance and financial practices; however, he suspended the organization’s ability to grant money until those measures were completed. Long-time SDTC chief executive officer Leah Lawrence and board chair Annette Verschuren resigned several weeks after the investigation report’s release in early October. The Globe and Mail

Less than half – 44 per cent – of Canada’s large 41 corporate emitters listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange have set net-zero emissions targets that cover all or nearly all of their direct operations, according to the CEC Net Zero Benchmark, a report by Climate Engagement Canada, an investor-led organization. None of the companies with targets has explicitly aligned capital expenditures to their targets, although several companies have begun mobilizing their capital expenditures to align with action on climate change, the report said. Ninety-eight per cent of companies on the list explicitly commit to align disclosures with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations and/or are a public supporter of TCFD. Forty-one per cent of companies indicate that their CEO's and/or at least one other senior executive’s remuneration specifically incorporates climate change performance as a key performance indicator. Overall, the report said, significant effort and further disclosures are required to demonstrate that the companies' climate action plans have: positive social and economic impacts for communities and workers; meet thresholds of free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities; and are supported by sound planning and capital alignment. Climate Engagement Canada

Canada’s economy is being negatively affected by the large and rising costs of climate change impacts, according to the Canada in a Changing Climate: Synthesis Report, released by the federal government and which involved more than 650 external and government experts. The report, led by Natural Resources Canada, said climate change impacts – and adaptation actions – are particularly evident in certain critical sectors and ecosystems. Higher temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, extreme weather events such as floods and heatwaves, and rising sea levels “are just some of the changes already affecting our country,” the report said. Rapid, informed and coordinated action is needed to close Canada’s large climate change adaptation gap, it said.

The report’s key conclusions are:

  • Canada’s aging infrastructure is at high risk from climate change
  • Climate change is harming Canadians’ health
  • Canada’s food and natural resources are highly climate-sensitive and adjustments are needed in managing natural resource and food production sectors
  • The business case for adaptation, including avoided costs from climate change impacts, is strong
  • Nature-based approaches to adaptation save money and provide many benefits
  • Improved incentives and coordination can help close Canada’s adaptation gap
  • Local-level adaptation plays a leading role in Canada’s climate change response
  • Self-determined and Indigenous-led climate action supports reconciliation
  • Adaptation can help address social, economic and health inequities
  • Now is the time for the private sector to step up on adaptation Natural Resources Canada

Canadian small and medium-sized businesses that have taken several actions to reduce their carbon footprint saw significantly more annual sales growth than SMEs not taking action, according to a report by BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada). Half of Canadian SME business owners have taken action to reduce their carbon footprint over the last five years, a survey by BDC found. Twenty-six per cent of SMEs taking action posted annual sales growth of 10 per cent or more over the last year, compared with 12 per cent of firms posting that rate of sales growth that haven’t taken action. SMEs that adopted technology to reduce their carbon footprint over the past three years are more likely to have shown strong growth in the past year than those that did not, regardless of sector or size. For companies taking action, it only took 16 months on average to recover their climate investments, BDC’s report said. Of those businesses that haven’t yet taken action, 18 per cent said they intend to do so within the next five years and 32 per cent have no intention of taking action. BDC estimated that SMEs generate 52 per cent of all greenhouse gases produced by Canadian businesses – equivalent to 41 per cent of Canada’s total emissions. Some of the challenges that entrepreneurs cite for not being more proactive on climate include various other business priorities, a lack of internal expertise, uncertainly about the return on investment, and fewer financial resources to allocate to climate actions than larger companies. BDC

The United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, closed with an agreement by nearly 200 countries that signals “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance, the UN said. The agreement calls on countries to take actions towards achieving, at a global scale, a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030. The list of actions also includes accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead. Reaction to the agreement ranged from it being a “historic agreement” to it being a vaguely-worded agreement that’s not legally binding and is filled with “a litany of loopholes.” UN Climate

The Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed a memorandum of understanding to enable the province to take the regulatory lead on offshore wind energy projects within its inland bays. The MOU establishes a clear process for Newfoundland and Labrador to administer land tenure and life-cycle regulation of wind projects. Recognizing that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has ambitious growth plans and wants to move ahead quickly, this agreement will allow the province to dictate the speed and pace of wind power development in the inland bays, the provincial government said. Govt. of Newfoundland and Labrador

The federal government is appealing the Federal Court of Canada’s recent decision on the listing of plastic manufactured items within the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The government will keep working through its evidence-based and comprehensive plan to reduce plastic pollution through a range of complementary actions, said Steven Guilbeault, minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECC). In November, the Federal Court ruled that Ottawa’s labelling of all plastic manufactured items as toxic was both unreasonable and unconstitutional. A consortium of companies with petrochemical operations had applied to the Court for a judicial review of the federal cabinet’s order to add plastic manufactured items to the list of toxic substances in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, on both constitutional and administrative law grounds. The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan intervened to support the corporate consortium’s argument. ECCC

The Government of Canada increased the cost-of-living financial requirements for prospective international students. Single study permit applicants – who previously had to prove they had $10,000 – will be required, starting January 1, 2024, to prove that they have $20,635, in addition to the funds to pay their first year of tuition and travel costs. Moving forward, the threshold will be adjusted each year. The change was made to address the increasing cost of living and to prevent student vulnerability and exploitation, the government said. Postsecondary institutions are expected to only accept the number of international students they can provide supports for, including housing options, said Marc Miller, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The waiver on the 20-hours-per-week off-campus work limit for international students will be extended to April 30, 2024. Also, a measure allowing online studies to count towards future post-graduation work permits will no longer apply to international students who begin their studies starting in September 2024. And a temporary policy that provided an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders whose initial permit was expiring will not be extended. Ottawa said that international education accounts for more than $22 billion in economic activity annually, greater than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft, and supports more than 200,000 jobs in Canada. Govt. of Canada

The resources required for cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence – including large datasets, talented AI scientists and enormous computing power – are concentrated in a few large, private companies, according to a report by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. In contrast, public organizations and academic institutions lack the same resources, resulting in a shortage of high-quality AI models that are in the public interest, the report said. “Industry’s dominance will likely continue to give it an outsize impact in both basic and applied AI research going forward,” the report said, noting that this dominance “threatens continued innovation and the future direction of AI research.” In 2020, nearly 70 per cent of AI PhD holders were recruited by industry, up from 21 per cent in 2004, according to the report. By 2020, nearly 100 per cent of the 10 biggest AI models were from industry, compared with zero per cent in 2004. Recent research suggests that private-sector AI professionals typically focus on deep-learning techniques that require large amounts of data and extensive computational power, and that they do this at the cost of considering the societal and ethical implications of AI and developing applications for sectors such as health care, the report noted. “Accordingly, a concern is that industry researchers will be less likely to reflect society’s priorities since profit maximization via the commercialization of science is a key priority for firms.” Enabling academic researchers to play a larger, publicly-minded role in AI will require a variety of initiatives, including direct support to keep academic researchers from leaving for industry and more open immigration policies to attract and retain promising researchers from other countries, the report said. Also, investments will be needed in public computing platforms and data, and resources and provided to academics and other publicly minded experts to audit the most consequential industry AI systems. Brookings Institution

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Dr. Alan Bernstein, PhD, professor emeritus of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto and former inaugural president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has joined the University of Oxford as its new director of Global Health. Bernstein, whose extensive convening experience also includes previous roles as executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and president and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, will lead Oxford Global Health, spanning all four academic divisions of the University of Oxford to transform research capacity and impact in global health across the university, catalyze collaborative activities across disciplinary boundaries and drive support for global health at the university. Bernstein’s laboratory has made significant contributions to cancer research, stem cells and retrovirology and his lab alumni have gone on to successful careers in academia and the private sector. Oxford University

Catherine Régis, a law professor at Université de Montréal (UdM) was appointed, effective January 2024, to the new position of director of social innovation and international policy at IVADO, the Montreal artificial intelligence consortium. Régis will lead development of the knowledge mobilization strategy of IVADO’s R3AI program, as well as spearhead partnerships focused on responsible innovation and adoption in different environments.  Régis is also the university’s special advisor and associate vice-rector for strategic planning and responsible digital innovation. She holds a Canada-CIFAR Chair in AI and Human Rights at UdeM-affiliated Mila – Quebec AI institute, and a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy. Université de Montréal

John Giamatteo was appointed the new CEO of BlackBerry, replacing chief executive John Chen who retired after 10 years as the company’s CEO. Giamatteo, who has served as president of BlackBerry’s cybersecurity business unit since October 2021, has more than 30 years of experience with global technology companies. BlackBerry also announced it will separate its Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity businesses and they will operate as full standalone divisions. BlackBerry said it will no longer pursue a subsidiary initial public offering of the IoT business, which includes the company’s in-car software business QNX. The process will include the separation and streamlining of BlackBerry’s centralized corporate functions into business-unit specific teams, “with a view to each division operating independently and on a profitable and cashflow-positive basis going forward,” the company said. BlackBerry

Cindy Woodhouse was elected the new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), besting six candidates after six ballots. Woodhouse, the AFN’s regional chief for Manitoba, is a member of the Pinaymootang First Nation. She worked as an AFN negotiator for a $23-billion child and family services class-action settlement reached with Canada last year. Woodhouse succeeds RoseAnne Archibald, after the change-oriented Ontario Cree leader was ousted earlier this year, following harassment allegations and two regional chief-led revolts. Assembly of First Nations

Roya Aghighi, co-founder and CEO (with Sarah Graham) of Sydney, N.S.-based Lite-1, received this year’s Mission from MaRS Climate Technology Venture Diversity Award, presented in collaboration with HSBC and which included a cash prize of $75,000. Lite-1offers an alternative to traditional colour production processes in the textile dye sector, an industry responsible for 20 per cent of global water pollution and harmful toxic textile dyes. Lite-1 replaces traditional petroleum-based chemicals by using bacteria to create sustainable colours. Winners of the Climate Impact Venture Pitch Awards Series A and Seed were: Seed Winner – Natasha Kostenuk, CEO of Ayrton Energy Inc., a Calgary-based hydrogen storage company; Series A Winner: Corey Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Ottawa-based Growcer, which offers modular vertical farms. Apoorv Sinha, CEO of Carbon Upcycling, a Calgary-based waste and carbon utilization company, received the Fasken Climate Tech Founder of the Year Award. MaRS Climate Impact

Two of the 40 global finalists in the NASA International Space Apps Challenge are from Canada, one team from Mississauga and the other from Hamilton. Satellite Campus 2.0, the team from Mississauga, competed in the challenge “International Space Station Earth-Observing Data VISION-aries wanted!” Null Terminators, the team from Hamilton, competed in the “A Marketplace for Open Science Projects” challenge. In early October, more than 280,000 students worldwide participated as part of teams in 2,400 locations in the NASA led Space Apps Challenge. From that weekend hackathon, 587 teams were selected as Global Nominees of which 40 were selected as Global Finalists. The Global Winners will be announced in January 2024. The Space Apps Challenge has grown into a global event in more than 185 countries and territories, with participation from 13 space agencies including the Canadian Space Agency. NASA

BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) officially opened its third BDC Square, a collaborative space for entrepreneurs located in downtown Vancouver in The Stack, a recently opened zero-carbon high-rise building. Following the success of similar spaces in Montreal and Toronto, Vancouver’s BDC Square is now available to host events for small and medium-sized businesses – enabling them to make powerful connections with peers, clients and BDC employees. BDC Squares all aim to showcase the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage collaboration and peer-to-peer learning among entrepreneurs. Techcouver

The International Astronomy Union announced 40 new asteroid names – half of them named after Canadians – including environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki and science journalists Ivan Semeniuk, Dan Falk and Nicole Mortillaro. Of more than 20,000 asteroids that have been named, 618 have a Canadian connection. Beyond Canada, all four Beatles have an asteroid named after them, as do Mozart and Beethoven. Freddy Mercury and Brian May of Queen also have asteroids named after them. Montreal’s William Shatner and fellow Star Trekker Leonard Nimoy are up there, as are James Bond, Mother Teresa, and the Tsawout First Nation on Vancouver Island. Capital Daily (Victoria, B.C.)

The Government of Prince Edward Island unveiled plans for the $25-million Cleantech Park, a 60-acre, tax-free zone for clean tech companies, in Georgetown, which will include the 44,000 sq ft Cleantech Innovation Centre (CIC). CIC will house the Cleantech Academy, a joint initiative between Holland College and the University of Prince Edward Island. Students will work collaboratively with local industry to develop cutting-edge environmental solutions that can be brought to market. Demonstrating the province’s commitment to carbon sequestering, the CIC building will use an exposed timber structural system. It will be as airtight as possible, reducing the amount of energy used by the building, and include passive solar windows along with planted and reflective roof surfaces. The building’s planned solar panels will not only generate energy but will also be a rooftop classroom where various types of solar panels can be installed so students and researchers can study, test and collect solar energy data in real-world conditions. The inaugural program, by the Cleantech Academy in partnership with Holland College, is the post-graduate certificate in Sustainable Business Leadership. This program, which will transition from the Culinary Institute of Canada building in Charlottetown to the CIC once it opens, is designed to empower students with the knowledge, essential skills and practical experience required to spearhead organizations toward sustainable practices and implement innovative cleantech solutions. Govt. of Prince Edward Island

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) launched a completed 4.86-megawatt community solar farm north of Métis Crossing in Smoky Lake County, about 115 km northeast of Edmonton. The project, called Salay Prayzaan (which in the Métis language Michif means gift from the sun), will produce enough electricity to power all MNA and affiliate buildings – roughly equivalent to 1,200 homes. The solar farm also will offset 4,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The project is a collaboration by the MNA, the Town of Smoky Lake and Smoky Lake Country. The federal government invested nearly $9 million in the project. A portion of the project’s revenue will be dedicated to a community development fund to support other green energy and sustainable development in the area. Métis Nation of Alberta

University of Alberta research shows pulp mill destined for the landfill could instead be used as an organic fertilizer that can help reduce the impact of using conventional fertilizers while improving soil and tree growth. A two-year study conducted on a hybrid poplar tree plantation in northern Alberta found that compared with using conventional fertilizers alone, adding biosolids – wood and other fibres left over from pulp and paper production – reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the soil. Combining biosolids and conventional fertilizer also improved soil fertility, according to the study. Conventional fertilizer, containing industrially produced urea, has been shown to stimulate GHG emissions from soil – particularly nitrous oxide, a major contributor to global warming. The results of the study show the potential for developing a “win-win strategy” in managing pulp mill waste, said Scott Chang, the study’s lead author and a professor in U of A’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. “Repurposing biosolids as an organic fertilizer, which may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could improve the sustainability of the pulp and paper industry," he said. The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries. University of Alberta




Other News

Events For Leaders in
Science, Tech, Innovation, and Policy

Discuss and learn from those in the know at our virtual and in-person events.

See Upcoming Events

You have 1 free article remaining.
Don't miss out - start your free trial today.

Start your FREE trial    Already a member? Log in


By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.