The Short Report, February 12, 2020: Canada takes a step toward joining Horizon Europe; NSERC funding for basic research takes a dive; Google pursues rapid Canadian expansion

Mark Mann
February 12, 2020

Microsoft is partnering with Invest Ottawa and the Bayview Yards business accelerator to offer technical and business resources to entrepreneurs. Called Microsoft for Startups, the program gives innovative Ottawa companies access to its cloud services, enterprise sales team and partner ecosystem. - Ottawa Matters

Canada Infrastructure Bank CEO Pierre Lavallée signalled the bank is considering an investment in the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project to bring hydroelectricity and broadband internet from Manitoba to Nunavut. The 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line and fibre-optic link would cost an estimated $1.6 billion to construct. The bank has signed an MOU to provide advice to proponents of the project, including the Kivalliq Inuit Association and its business arm, Sakku Investments Corp., as well as Anbaric Development Partners, which includes Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. - The Globe and Mail

The online wholesale marketplace Faire opened its first official headquarters in Canada at a 14,000 square-foot office space in Kitchener, Ontario. 75 employees currently work there, most of them engineers; co-founder and CTO Marcelo Cortes wants to double that number within a year. The Faire platform allows independent retailers to find new products from niche creators, enabling more than 70,000 retailers in the US and Canada to buy products from 9,000 makers in over 60 countries. - BetaKit

Quebec City-based pipeline testing firm Eddyfi Technologies has raised over $600 million in order to acquire the Irish company NDT Global, which provides ultrasonic pipeline inline inspection (ILI) and data analysis. Together, they form a test & measurement (T&M) technology group focused on non-destructive testing (NDT), called Eddyfi/NDT. Eddyfi will now have more than 1,000 employees working in 20 global offices and serving customers in 110 countries. The acquisition was supported through a strategic partnership with the private equity firm Novacap and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), who invested $163 million and  $107 million respectively. The new equity investment is combined with new debt financing provided by a banking syndicate led by National Bank of Canada and additional debt from Investissement Quebec. - Canadian Manufacturing

McMaster University has become a founding member of the Digital Credentials Consortium, a 12-member group of international universities — led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — working to design an infrastructure to distribute, issue, store, display and verify academic credentials digitally. - McMaster

Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins made a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in which she argued that, given that low interest rates leave little room for central banks to stimulate the economy through cuts, boosting Canada's competitiveness and productivity will require investing in digital infrastructure, improving the tax and regulatory environment, and getting government and business to cooperate on education spending. - CTV News, Bank of Canada

Saugeen Ojibway Nation in Ontario are partnering with the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) to develop new isotope infrastructure on their territory. The agreement will leverage a project to produce Lutetium-177 for treating prostate cancer. Production will start in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals. - NetNewsLedger

The Government of Canada has made $50 million available to researchers who want to work with the European Union's Horizon 2020 program, as part of the international stream of the New Frontiers in Research Fund that was launched in 2018. This round of funding is part of an exploratory process that could lead to Canada formally joining the EU's proposed €94.1 billion research project Horizon Europe. - Science Business

The Ontario Research Fund announced a total of $37.4 million in investments in 183 research projects at 23 institutions. Most of the funding is being spent through the fund's Small Infrastructure program, which is supporting 176 projects with an investment of $31,336,101. Other programs are College-Industry Innovation ($1 million), Genomic Applications Partnership Program ($1,014,058), and Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition ($4,036,205). - Ontario News 

The Groupe de recherche en environnement et biotechnologie (GREB) at Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup has received $4.9 million from NSERC and local public and private partners, as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Québec to fund water treatment research. - Cégep RDL

The Government of Canada is looking for a successor to the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), three Earth observation satellites that launched on June 12, 2019. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) posted a request for proposal to industry for further innovation to meet Canada's increasing needs for Earth observation data. - Canadian Space Agency

NSERC funding for basic research is declining relative to applied research. The authors of a recent investigation found that "before 2007-08, research programs devoted exclusively to basic research made up over half (52 percent) of total annual funding from NSERC. Fast forward to 2015-16 and this tally stood at just 40 percent." - University Affairs

Google is moving into larger offices in Toronto and Montreal, and doubling the size of their R&D headquarters in Kitchener, as well as setting up a start-up accelerator in the city. The moves are part of a plan for the company to triple its presence in Canada, despite the passing of federal legislation in 2019 that will see higher taxes for foreign companies. Google could also have a hard time with Canada's new digital charter, which would require the company to be more transparent about how it uses personal data. - The Grit Daily


Parimal Nathwani will succeed Dr. Raphael Hofstein as president and CEO of Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (formerly MaRS Innovation). Currently serving as vice president, Nathwani has been with the organization since 2009 and specializes in the life sciences industry. He oversaw the creation and implementation of the LAB150 collaboration with the German contract research organization Evotec SE for drug discovery, and led venture creation and growth activities resulting in multiple TIAP portfolio companies that have raised third-party capital. - TIAP

Dr. Christopher Sands has been appointed the new director of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars's Canada Institute, in Washington, D.C. Sands comes to the Wilson Center from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he led the Center for Canadian Studies. Sands has worked in Washington think tanks since 1993, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a specialist on Canadian affairs, as well as the Smart Border North Congressional Working Group and the Hudson Institute. He is a member of the board of directors for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), serves on the executive committee of the Canada – United States Law Institute (CUSLI), and on the research advisory board for the Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI) in Ottawa.- Wilson Center

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