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The Short Report - December 7, 2022: New ocean supercluster projects; finding a home for Volkswagen's first gigafactory, "evidence-based medicine" pioneer garners international award, and more.

Cindy Graham
December 7, 2022

FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENTS & CALLS FOR PROPOSALS

The Government of Canada's new Indo-Pacific strategy, an almost $2.3-billion investment to position Canada as a reliable partner in the region, will include funding for a number of science, technology and innovation initiatives. Investments will include:

  • more than $47 million to launch a cyber security capacity initiative
  • nearly $32 million to increase and diversify agriculture and agri-food exports via establishment of Canada’s first agriculture office in the region
  • $13.5 million to expand natural resource ties with area partners in trade and investment in addition to science, technology and innovation. GOC

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne has announced funding of $30 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund in artificial intelligence and robotics company Sanctuary Cognitive Systems (Vancouver) to support a $121-million project to develop the world’s first functioning human-like intelligence in general-purpose robots.The company was founded in 2018 in part to address labour challenges many organizations face today. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) is investing almost $5 million in two Newfoundland and Labrador-based companies focused on coastal mapping and monitoring and the mitigation of marine fatigue. Mount Pearl-based Compusult will receive a total of $6.3 million in funding, including $1.8 million from OSC, to lead a coastal mapping project deploying autonomous vehicles to monitor and map coastlines for coastal defence, life sciences, aquaculture, emergency planning and climate change monitoring. Another $4.5 million will come from industry partners and the Government of Nova Scotia, which is contributing $30,000. Meanwhile St. John's-based educational technology company Training Works will receive $1.9 million in funding from OSC, $335,000 from the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, and almost $2.8 million from industry partners, to help mitigate the effects of marine fatigue on offshore workers, marine companies and their communities, as well as providing technology and training to help workers recognize, understand and anticipate this problem. Coastal Monitoring project Fatigue Risk Mitigation project

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is investing $10 million in repayable contributions to scale up innovation in three Kitchener-Waterloo tech companies. Kitchener-based Miovision Technologies will receive $7.4 million through the Jobs and Growth Fund to develop traffic monitoring technology; Cambridge-based medical technology manufacturer Advanced Electrophoresis Solutions will receive $1.7 million through the Business Scale-up and Productivity stream to increase production of ready-to-use customized testing instruments and augment sales and marketing to expand their market presence in Europe and Asia, and St. Jacob's-based Huron Digital Pathology will receive $1 million through the Business Scale-up and Productivity stream to expand its production of scanners and to fast-track commercialization. Huron hopes to revolutionize disease diagnosis by being the first company to bring an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled image search engine in the pathology field to market. FedDevOntario

Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson has launched an open call for proposals through the renewed Multi-Partner Research Initiative, part of the Government of Canada’s Budget 2022 commitment to provide $2 billion over nine years to renew Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan and expand its work into new areas, including oil spill response and research. The initiative will provide more than $20 million in funding over the next five years to proposals that aim to improve understanding of oil spill response in offshore, coastal and onshore environments. Applications for this first open call will be accepted until January 20, 2023. Natural Resources Canada

Montreal-based École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), a member of the Université du Québec network and one of Canada's largest engineering research universities, has received a non‑repayable contribution of $3.7 million from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions that will enable ÉTS to acquire equipment to develop new manufacturing processes and strengthen R&D with small and medium-sized businesses in the aerospace sector. CED

HEALTH FUNDING

A more than $8-million investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation will enable the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) to upgrade areas that will allow it to achieve containment Level 4 (CL4) capacity, the highest level of containment, and making VIDO the only non-government CL4 facility in Canada. Currently the only CL4 facilities in Canada are the federal government’s National Microbiology Laboratory and Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg. VIDO

A team at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has been awarded $6 million in funding from the Terry Fox Research Foundation to explore ultrasound technology techniques that may make existing cancer therapies up to 60 times more effective. The team, led by Dr. Gregory Czarnota, will also examine the imaging power of ultrasound with the aim of better predicting how cancer patients will respond to treatments. Sunnybrook Research Institute

COLLABORATIONS

The Government of Canada will be entering into formal negotiations in the coming weeks for closer collaboration under Horizon Europe's Pillar II, the European Commission’s research and innovation framework program focusing on developing interdisciplinary solutions to global challenges. Horizon Europe will be accessible to Canadian researchers through the New Frontiers in Research Fund, a Tri-Council program overseen by the Canada Research Coordinating Committee. Canada funds much of Canadian participation in Pillar I programming on research scholarships and research mobility through Mitacs. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

RELATED: NSERC initiatives geared at mobilizing knowledge on a global scale

Volkswagen Group (Wolfsburg, Germany) has signed an agreement with the Canadian government to make Canada the home of its first gigafactory outside Europe and has signed an agreement to begin searching for suitable locations for a battery cell factory. The agreement comes in the form of an addendum to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) Volkswagen signed with Ottawa in August to work together on battery value creation, raw material supply chains and cathode material production. Volkswagen's battery subsidiary PowerCo SE also signed an MOU to secure cathode materials for future cell production in North America with Belgian-based materials technology company Umicore, which has plans to build a $1.5-billion cathode materials and precursors plant near Kingston, Ontario in 2023, with deliveries to its partners expected to start in 2027. Volkswagen

The University of Manitoba has joined business accelerator Bioenterprise Canada (Guelph) to give researchers at the Richardson Centre for Food Technology and Research access to Bioenterprise's food and agri-tech innovation and commercialization support services. Another benefit of the partnership is the opportunity for the Richardson Centre to share and promote applied research with Bioenterprise Canada members across Canada and to pair University of Manitoba graduates with businesses and organizations through the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) program. Bioenterprise Canada

McMaster University is partnering with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to advance nuclear research, education and training. The partnership will allow for the use of specialized infrastructure, including McMaster's nuclear reactor and other nuclear facilities on campus, to pursue research collaborations in areas with national strategic importance including small modular reactors, hydrogen, materials characterization, medical isotopes and radiochemistry. McMaster

CONSULTATIONS, REPORTS & REVIEWS

Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng has launched a public consultation on the provisions of the Business Development Bank of Canada Act and is expected to table a report on the review to Parliament in 2023. Organizations and members of the public are invited to provide input, which is required every ten years to help ensure the bank responds to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. Canadians have until March 31, 2023, to submit their views. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

The Department of Finance has launched consultations on an investment tax credit for clean hydrogen based on the lifecycle carbon intensity of hydrogen, including an appropriate carbon intensity-based system for the Canadian context and the level of support needed for different production pathways in Canada. It is also consulting on the labour conditions attached to the investment tax credits for clean hydrogen and clean technologies, including requirements to pay prevailing wages based on local labour market conditions and create apprenticeship training opportunities. Stakeholders are invited to share their feedback until January 6, 2023. GOC

A Council of Canadian Academies report says enhancing carbon storage in Canada's natural ecosystems could put a small but significant dent in overall GHG emissions, but an aggressive commitment to reducing human-caused emissions remains critically important. The report notes that development and land-use changes, as well as increasing temperatures, are making existing landscapes vulnerable to disturbance and risk the release of more GHGs into the atmosphere. CCA

THE GRAPEVINE

Dr. John Barrett has been appointed the inaugural board chair of Neutrons Canada, the recently-established not-for-profit representing Canada’s infrastructure program for neutron beam R&D. Barrett is president of Portolan Global, a consulting firm specializing in the nuclear energy sector and is past president and CEO of Canadian Nuclear Association and former Canadian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Neutrons Canada was founded by the Canadian Neutron Initiative working group led by University of Saskatchewan vice-president research Baljit Singh and McMaster vice-president research (nuclear) Karen Mossman. University of Saskatchewan

RELATED: No charge, but plenty of value

McMaster University professor Dr. Gordon Guyatt will receive the Einstein Foundation Award, an international award worth nearly $280,000 which recognizes initiatives that enhance the rigor, reliability, robustness, and transparency of research in natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Guyatt is being recognized for promoting quality in research and for establishing gold standards for how health research should be done and evaluated; he coined the phrase ‘evidence-based medicine,’ publishing his first description of it in a 1991 paper and helped pioneer the development of it at McMaster. McMaster U.

Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng has reappointed Mairead Lavery as president and chief executive officer of Export Development Canada until February 4, 2025. Lavery has served in these roles at EDC since February 5, 2019, having joined in 2014 as senior vice president of the Business Development Group. Global Affairs Canada

Canada's National Research and Education Network (CANARIE; Ottawa) has made changes to its executive team. Kathryn Anthonisen, who has served as vice president, external relations since 2011, is now senior director, corporate strategy while Ela Yazdani, CANARIE’s senior director of communications has been promoted to vice president, external relations. Anthonisen is responsible for strategic initiatives, including the development of the proposal for CANARIE’s 2025-2030 mandate while Yazdani will oversee marketing and communications activities. CANARIE

Maggie Fox has been appointed chair of the Heart & Stroke foundation's national board of directors. Fox became a member of the national board in 2019 and has served as vice chair since 2021. She has led multinational marketing organizations at German software company SAP, Aeroplan and management software company Workhuman. She replaces outgoing board chair Alison Twiner, who will now serve as past chair on the Heart & Stroke national board. Heart & Stroke


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