The Short Report – Feb 24, 2021: A level-four disease containment facility at U of Saskatchewan, NSERC provides $118 million for research partnerships, CIHR's plan for the next decade, and more

Cindy Graham
February 24, 2021


The Government of Saskatchewan is committing $15 million to upgrade the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan to a level four containment facility, which would allow it to work with the deadliest animal and human diseases. The funding is contingent on the federal government providing $45 million in funding that the province has requested.  – GovSask

A grant from the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force is enabling researchers at Queen’s University to study COVID-19 transmission on asymptomatic medical students to inform pandemic policies and procedures on university campuses. – Queen’s


Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards is moving from the design phase to construction of its offshore oceanographic science vessel (OOSV) project with a $453.8-million contract from the Government of Canada. When completed (estimated date 2024) the OOSV will perform oceanographic, geological and hydrographic survey missions to understand the impact of climate change on oceans. – GoC

The Government of Canada has awarded nearly $118 million to 414 projects through Alliance grants, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s new research partnership program to accelerate collaboration in R&D between university researchers and the public, private or not-for-profit sectors. Projects range from manufacturing and aerospace to energy, the environment and agriculture. For example, more than $6 million was secured by 12 Queen’s University researchers, with four projects awarded more than $1 million each in computing, wireless communications and nuclear energy. – NSERC

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada is investing $16.8 million in a multi-partner project led by Aspire Food Group based in London, Ont., to develop the world’s first fully automated food grade, insect protein manufacturing site. Other project contributors are TELUS Agriculture (Calgary), A&L Canada Laboratories (London, Ont.), Swiftlabs (Kitchener) and DarwinAI (Waterloo). – NGEN

RELATED: BC firm using $6 million from feds to scale up sustainable insect production, reduce food waste

NGEN is also co-funding Brampton-based aerospace technology company MDA along with partners Promark Electronics (Montreal) and AV&R (Saint-Bruno, QC) to scale up manufacturing. MDA will develop industry 4.0 solutions in automated assembly and testing for high-volume satellite constellations; Promark will develop flexible robotic systems for small parts electronics assembly and use artificial intelligence (AI) for production planning; and AV&R will apply the funding to AI in manufacturing for robot and cobot task management. – NGEN

R&D tax credit software company (San Francisco) has secured a $100-million credit facility from Brevet Capital to launch a platform that simplifies the R&D credit process, allowing Canadian startups to receive cash advances on a monthly or quarterly basis rather than the wait of up to 16 months during tax-filing season.  – Cision

The federal government is investing a total of $1,430,500 in repayable contributions through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to help four Halifax companies commercialize and market their healthcare technology products: Novalte receives $500,000 to develop a managed service platform that promotes independent living; Boondoc Technologies receives nearly $500,000 to market its collaborative network for physicians and pharmacists; FIVAMed receives more than $230,000 to obtain regulatory approval for a third-generation intravenous fluid monitoring device, and PhotoDynamic will receive $200,000 for commercialization and approval of an orthodontic hygiene product used at home to destroy biofilm. – GoC

Mecanium, a college centre for technology transfer in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec, will receive more than $500,000 in non-repayable funding from Ottawa through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions to purchase digital equipment and advanced software that will foster technological innovation in small to medium-sized businesses (SME’s) and develop Mechanium’s expertise in mechatronics. – GoC

Zifo RnD Solutions (India) is setting up its Canadian hub in Mississauga.  Zifo is a global provider of informatics solutions and a supporter of research-based organizations. It cites Canada’s two per cent global pharma share as a reason for entering the Canadian market now. – Cision

Innovation hub Volta (Halifax), with support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, has partnered with the Black Business Initiative (BBI) and Ulnooweg to develop a 16-week program that supports BIPOC entrepreneurs with early-stage business ideas or professional development goals with skills development sessions to build their businesses. Preference is being given to entrepreneurs with tech-enabled startup ideas. – Chronicle-Herald


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has released its strategic plan for 2021-2031 after consulting stakeholders via online surveys, town halls, meetings with all levels of government as well as academia, Indigenous organizations and communities, international partners, charities, and the health care sector.  – CIHR


University of British Columbia’s Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation appointed three UBC faculty members to the role of tri-agency faculty research advisors. Dr. Purang Abolmaesumi will advise for the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Dr. Liisa Galea will represent the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Dr. Lisa Sundstrom will advise for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Outgoing advisors Drs. Tim Salcudean, Lara Boyd and Alan Kingstone each completed two terms of service. – UBC

Reza Moridi, a former Ontario minister of research, innovation and science, is the inaugural chair of the faculty of science at York University’s Dean's Special Advisory Board. The board was created to strengthen collaboration with industry, governments and not-for-profits and could provide a model for other universities. – York

Dr. Lehana Thabane, professor in biostatistics at McMaster University, has accepted the positions of vice president research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and scientific director of the Research Institute of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Thabane is considered a pioneer in health research and clinical trials methodology. – St. Joseph

Dr. Feiyue (Fei) Wang, a tier-1 Canada Research Chair in Arctic Environmental Chemistry at the University of Manitoba, is the recipient of a national award from the Chemical Institute of Canada. Wang has been awarded the Environmental Division Research and Development Dima Award for distinguished contributions to R&D in environmental chemistry or environmental chemical engineering. – UManitoba

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