The Short Report – Feb. 2, 2022: Canadian cleantech companies make Top 100 global list, major VC funds launched by MaRS and Deloitte Canada, regional tech ecosystems see record investment, and more

Mark Lowey
February 2, 2022


Environment and Climate Change Canada has opened the second round of applications for $200 million in funding for climate action initiatives through the Low Carbon Economy Fund “Champions” funding stream. Applicants can request between $1 million to $25 million for eligible project expenditures. Since being launched in 2018, the Low Carbon Economy Challenge has invested nearly $275 million in about 90 projects. Environment and Climate Change Canada

Prairies Economic Development Canada has announced an investment of $900,000 to support Regina’s new agtech accelerator, which was launched last year. Named Cultivator, it is the country’s first venture-backed agtech accelerator, established by Economic Development Regina, Conexus Venture Capital Fund and Emmertech (Conexus’s agtech fund). Prairies Economic Development Canada

The Government of Canada, though the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, has announced $2.27 million in non-repayable loans for eight East Coast tech startups and a $450,000 grant for Halifax-based not-for-profit Volta Labs, which supports entrepreneurs in the region. Halifax CityNews

The Government of Ontario is contributing more than $1.54 million, through the Ontario Together Fund, to support an investment of more than $2.9 million by five local companies to strengthen manufacture of domestic medical supplies to help control the spread of COVID-19. Canadian Manufacturing


Thirteen Canadian companies made the top 100 in the 13th annual Global Cleantech 100 list of leading cleantech firms, according to San Francisco-based market research firm Cleantech Group. Those companies included B.C.-based Carbon Engineering whose technology sucks carbon dioxide out of the air and converts it into low-carbon aviation fuel, and Halifax-based CarbonCure that uses captured CO2 to make cleaner, stronger concrete. The top 100 cleantech firms raised a total investment of $11.3 billion in 2021, according to the report. Cleantech Group

Federal procurement policies and practices can be improved to increase procurement of cleantech and environmentally preferable goods and services, says a new report by the Smart Prosperity Institute, based at the University of Ottawa. The report makes several recommendations, including that the government extend current pilot support programs to offer commercialization assistance to cleantech companies, and create a buyers’ group open to adopting cleantech post-pilot testing. Smart Prosperity Institute

The Toronto-Waterloo region ranked #12 and Vancouver #16 in the top 25 global cleantech ecosystems, while Calgary ranked #25 and was named as an “ecosystem to watch,” according to The Global Startup Ecosystem Report by San Francisco-based research and policy advisory organization Startup Genome. The second quarter of 2021 saw 77 per cent growth in the number of Series B+ deals by global cleantech firms (typically, an average of $33 million invested) compared with the same quarter in 2020 — an all-time high, stated the report, created in partnership with Foresight and Innovate BC. Startup Genome

The Calgary-based Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) announced the first projects awarded funding through CRIN’s $80-million Oil and Gas Technology Competitions. CRIN is providing total funding of $4 million for six projects in the Digital Oil and Gas Competition, which identifies high-impact digital technology solutions, that have a combined project value of nearly $12 million. CRIN

Global spending on the transition to low-carbon energy rose by 27 per cent to a record-breaking $755 billion in 2021 compared with the previous year, according to a new report from BloombergNEF (BNEF). The investment was driven by the electric vehicle and renewable power sectors. BNEF estimates that $2.1 trillion of investment is needed in the energy transition from 2022-2025, including spending on renewable electricity, electrified heat, energy storage and nuclear power. BNEF


The University of Alberta has begun clinical trials to test drug Apabetalone as a potential oral medication to help prevent severe infection from COVID-19. The clinical program will test the safety and efficacy of the drug on up to 100 COVID-19 patients, including those who were sick with a variant strain, at various sites in Canada and Brazil. CTV News

The University of Calgary has received a $25-million gift from the Azrieli Foundation to launch the Azrieli Accelerator and support a multidisciplinary team to accelerate research leading to groundbreaking therapies and programs for neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs). Dr. Susan Graham, PhD, has been appointed the accelerator's inaugural scientific director. NDDs, which include conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affect up to 17 per cent of Canadian children. This is the first significant investment for the Azrieli Foundation — the largest non-corporate foundation in Canada — in western Canada. UCalgary

Dr. Artem Babaian, PhD, a former post-doctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia, led an international collaboration called the Serratus Project that re-analyzed all public RNA sequencing data. The project uncovered almost 10 times more RNA viruses than were previously known, including several new species of coronaviruses. This planetary-scale database of RNA viruses is expected to help in rapidly identifying virus spillover into humans, as well as those viruses affecting livestock, crops and endangered species, according to the university. Babaian is now a Banting Fellow at the University of Cambridge. UBC


The University of Ottawa and TELUS have announced a new five-year partnership to transform the campus into a 5G-connected innovation hub. TELUS is investing $6 million to enable 5G technology across uOttawa’s multiple campuses to accelerate cutting-edge multidisciplinary research and innovation, including in global health and life-saving diagnostics and treatments, and cybersecurity. uOttawa

Two major artificial intelligence (AI) institutes, Mila and Vector Institute, have partnered with major Canadian banks. Montreal-based Mila entered a three-year deal with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to make “added-value” resources available to a cohort of BDC-backed companies actively developing AI technologies. TD extended its partnership with the Toronto-based Vector Institute to 2027. The partnership includes funding to support Vector Institute research initiatives and provide AI talent from TD to participate in Vector-led projects. Betakit

TD Bank Group announced plans to hire more than 2,000 technology workers this year, more than six times the number added last year, pitting the bank against fintech firms in the war for talent. TD said its technology strategy has increased the need for workers skilled in engineering, automation tools, cloud-computing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. TD

BioTalent Canada has launched a new $2.9-million project to provide employers with funds to integrate skilled newcomers and internationally educated professionals (IEPs) into the Canadian bio-economy. The project, Skilled Newcomer Internships for the Bio-economy, funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program, provides employers with 75 per cent of a participant’s salary to a maximum $20,000 for a three- to nine-month job placement. Running through October 2023, the program aims to place more than 165 newcomers and IEPs with SMEs across Canada. BioTalent Canada

The Stem Cell Network and Mitacs have announced a new industry-based, intern partnership that will pair the brightest graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with regenerative medicine-focused biotech companies moving innovative therapies and technologies into the marketplace. The new internship — offered through the Mitacs Accelerator program — will match up to five candidates per year (from 2022 to 2025) with Canadian companies to complete an eight-month internship. Stem Cell Network

RRC Polytech in Manitoba has partnered with SkipTheDishes on a new 12-week course to provide 25 high school students with the skills and knowledge to become the tech entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow. The online “Technovation Girls Manitoba” course includes hands-on, applied learning in IT coding and programming. Technovation Girls is a global tech education program created by nonprofit Technovation. RRC Polytech


Toronto-based MaRS tech hub and the Government of Ontario have partnered on a new $100-million private sector venture capital fund called Graphite to offer larger seed investments (up to $2 million) to early-stage and scaling tech companies. The government will invest $25 million of its returns on past MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) investments back into Ontario’s VC ecosystem to support the new VC fund. So far, the partners have raised $77 million of the new fund, including $25 million from the public pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System. MaRS

Deloitte Canada has launched a new $150-million venture capital fund, Deloitte Ventures, designed to make minority investments in emerging tech companies. Deloitte expects the fund to catalyze growth in Canadian financial technology, health and life sciences technology, consumer technology, cyber security, governance risk compliance, and sustainability and cleantech, among other areas. Deloitte Canada

Toronto tech companies collectively raised a record-setting $5.5 billion in venture capital in 2021 across 276 deals, an increase of 400 per cent from the $1.1 billion in 2020, according to a report from In every quarter of 2021, Toronto startups raised upwards of $1 billion, with a new quarterly record of $1.7 billion set in Q3.

The Waterloo Region tech ecosystem raised $1.4 billion in venture capital last year, a 117-per-cent increase year-over-year and roughly double the amount raised in 2020. However, 85 per cent of the total funding ($1.19 billion) for Waterloo Region in 2021 was raised by only two companies, Faire and ApplyBoard, across just three deals, according to a report from The region’s tech investment activity has declined since 2019, falling from 43 deals in 2020 to 32 in 2021, compared with 59 deals two years ago. Moreover, only eight seed-stage deals closed last year, compared with 26 in 2019. “We see this large decline as concerning for the health of the tech ecosystem,” said in its report. Betakit

Greater Montreal Area tech companies attracted $198.7 million in investment across 20 deals in in the fourth quarter of 2021, a 51-per-cent decrease quarter-over-quarter but a 47-per-cent increase compared with the same quarter in 2020, according to a BDO-Hockeystick report with data from Q4 2021 investment brought Montreal’s total funding for 2021 to $1.6 billion, a 33-per-cent increase from last year and a new two-year record for the city. BDO Canada

British Columbia’s tech ecosystem and Calgary tech startups attracted record-setting venture funding in 2021, according to reports (here and here) from B.C. tech firms attracted $3.96 billion in venture funding in 2021, a 316-per-cent increase over the previous year and the second-largest investment increase in Canada (Toronto was first with a 400-per-cent increase). Calgary tech companies raised $322.2 million in 2021, a seven-per-cent increase from $300 million in 2020.

The Government of Alberta is putting $31.2 million into three venture capital funds to spur technology and innovation sector growth. Through the Alberta Enterprise Corporation, a Crown corporation, the money will go to three funds: Builders VC Fund II, Yaletown Partners’ Innovation Growth Fund II, and Amplitude Venture Capital. The VC funds aren’t required to invest in Alberta-based companies, but the government estimates for every dollar Alberta Enterprise invests, $4.50 comes back to Alberta. Edmonton Journal

Wood, a U.K.-based consulting and engineering company, has received nearly $3 million in funding from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish an autonomous robotic inspection and maintenance program in the province’s offshore oil and gas industry. The funding, provided through the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Assistance Fund, could led to deployment of multiple robots in the industry. Wood


B.C. universities and industry need a more coordinated, collaborative approach to fill the gaps in the tech labour force, according to a new report by University Canada West. This should include a greater focus on interdisciplinary and iterative learning, developing skills in technology platforms and tools, and embedding students into companies earlier, stated the report. Tech jobs in the B.C. economy grew from 149,000 in 2015 to 196,000 in 2021, creating 47,0000 new jobs of which 30,500 were expected to go unfilled, according to the report. University Canada West

From farms to forests, plants sustain life and contribute nearly three per cent to Canada’s GDP. But plants face increasingly complex threats and protecting them is imperative to sustain the health and wealth they provide, according to a new expert panel report from the Council of Canadian Academies. The report, commissioned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, examines the existing and emerging risks to plant health in Canada and offers insights into promising practices that may help to mitigate such risks. CCA


Dr. Michael Kallos, PhD, was named interim head of the University of Calgary’s newly announced Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering. The new department will build on multidisciplinary research, bringing together undergraduate and graduate programming as well as research and scholarly activities. UCalgary

Montreal-based Lightspeed Commerce Ltd. has appointed internationally recognized technology entrepreneurs Nathalie Gaveau and Dale Murray to the company’s board of directors. The two appointments bring the overall female representation on Lightspeed’s board of directors to 44 per cent, surpassing the average of about 21 per cent at other Canadian companies and the current S&P 500 benchmark of 30 per cent in the U.S. Lightspeed

Dr. Peter Highnam has been appointed as chief executive of the UK’s new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to lead the formation of the agency and direct its initial funding of high-risk programs. Highnam has served as deputy director of the USA’s research agency DARPA since February 2018. He will take up his post as ARIA’s first CEO on May 3, 2022, for a fixed term of five years. GOV.UK


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