The Short Report, February 26, 2020: Transatlantic AI projects; multiplying ocean startups; scaling in the Big Apple

Mark Lowey
February 26, 2020

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, British High Commissioner to Canada, announced 10 winning projects in the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence Initiative, a $13.6-million program jointly funded by Canada’s three major research funding agencies and four research councils in UK Research and Innovation, the UK’s national R&D agency. Canada is contributing $5 million and the UK £5 million over three years to bring together interdisciplinary university teams from both countries to advance AI for several health care applications, to counter hate speech online, reduce bias in job hiring, and for self-driving vehicles. Canadian universities in the winning projects include McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba and Simon Fraser University. - Science Business

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster launched the $6.8-million Ocean Startup Project, aimed at increasing the number of quality, ocean-focused startup companies in Atlantic Canada. The project will engage entrepreneurs; identify academic prospects with high commercialization potential; develop solutions with global market potential; attract female-led, Indigenous-led and international startups; and award grants to companies. The project brings together six of Atlantic Canada’s leading incubators, accelerators and support organizations: Genesis, Creative Destruction Lab, Innovacorp, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, PEI BioAlliance, and Springboard Atlantic. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster provided $3.9 million for the project, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency $535,000, and up to $2.4 million from the Atlantic provincial governments and the six project partners. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Concordia University’s District 3 (D3) innovation hub and New York-based Ellis Accelerator have partnered on a new D3 “Global X” program, NYC District, to help Canadian startups in the Big Apple. D3 startups can scale their global business through access to office space, market testing labs, mentorship, funding, housing, training and referrals to trade commissioner services in Manhattan’s business district. Gisleine Silverira, former head of international partnerships for D3, is now in New York to help 15 D3 startups shortlisted for the NYC District program. D3’s Global X initiative has a goal of securing 30 foreign partners in 20 different markets to support more than 100 Canadian startups in expanding globally. University of Concordia

Innovation Solutions Canada is inviting Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to propose innovations that address two government challenges, both involving digitized documents. Successful applicants may receive up to $150,000 to develop a proof of feasibility and, if accepted into Phase 2, SMEs could receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. “Our government is using its purchasing power to help small businesses innovate and become more competitive,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. ISED

ENCQOR 5G (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) has signed memorandums of understanding with six telecom providers in Canada. They are Bell, Cogeco, Ecotel (Ambra Solutions), Rogers, Telus and Vidéotron. Under the agreements, ENCQOR 5G will work with small and medium-sized enterprises in Quebec and Ontario to develop innovative solutions using the 5G pre-commercial test platform offered by ENCQOR 5G. The ENCQOR 5G initiative is funded by the governments of Canada, Quebec and Ontario, along with industry players Ericsson, Ciena, Thales, CGI and IBM. ENCQOR 5G

Centennial College in Toronto is collaborating with construction services company EllisDon, and design firms DIALOG and Smoke Architecture, to construct the first zero-carbon emissions, mass timber higher-education building in Canada. The $105-million, 150,000-sq-ft expansion project, to form a new gateway structure at Centennial’s Progress Campus, will embody the college’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and sustainable design when it opens in 2023. The design, based on the concept of “two-eyed seeing” (viewing the world through the lenses of Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge), brings the cultures together in both form and function. Centennial College

Innovative Solutions Canada has awarded a $435,000 contract to Leonovus Inc., an Ottawa-based software provider, to help deliver data storage infrastructure though multi-cloud computing. The contract, involving Justice Canada and the Department of National Defence, includes rigorous testing of Leonovus “Vault” software, a secure multi-cloud data controller that manages data storage on-premises and across multiple public clouds. Also to be tested is Leonovus’s new “Smart Filer” technology, which facilitates the automatic transfer of file data to Leonovus Vault. Leonovus Inc.

Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation (CARIB) in London, ON, has signed an agreement with Guelph-based Bioenterprise, Canada’s leading agri-tech commercialization accelerator, to support Canadian startups and SMEs to drive economic growth. Bioenterprise will help connect innovative companies from across the country to the technology and resources offered through Fanshawe’s CARIB laboratories. Agri-food is the fastest-growing subset of London’s manufacturing sector, with more than 7,000 people employed by over 90 companies, including Dr. Oetker, Natra, Original Cakerie, McCormick and Labatt. Fanshawe College

Lauak Canada will establish an advanced technology aeronautics centre of excellence at the company’s Mirabel factory in Quebec, with financial support from the federal government. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced $3 million, through Canada Economic Development’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program, as a repayable contribution to Lauak Canada. Lauak Canada specializes in manufacturing tubes to transport fuel, water, air and liquids feeding various airplane systems. The company plans to expand its factory, acquire Industry 4.0 digital equipment, and equip a research office responsible for developing innovative products and processes. Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced a federal investment of $560,000 over three years in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) to develop the Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative. The new initiative will provide an online national platform for Canadian farmers and processors to proactively meet the growing demand for proof of sustainability from customers. With the support, the CFA will create a single window for data on the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food supply chain. The initiative also will serve as a hub to benchmark and track the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food industry compared with international standards. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Andrew McCormack, Payments Canada’s chief information officer, will lead a new fintech unit for the world’s central banks. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) named McCormack as the head, for a three-year term starting in April, of its new innovation hub in Singapore. At Payments Canada, McCormack was responsible for the country’s core payments systems and its technology strategy. The BIS is setting up similar units in Hong Kong and Switzerland to enable collaboration among central banks on innovation. Investment Executive

Penny Wise has been appointed the president of 3M Canada. Wise, who holds an MBA from York University, brings more than 20 years of international experience at 3M, including senior leadership roles in business, commercialization, brand and corporate marketing. In her most recent role based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Wise led 3M’s largest business as global marketing director of the Safety and Industrial Group. She succeeds former 3M president Lars Hanseid, who has taken on a new role as 3M’s vice-president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa corporate affairs and governance. 3M Canada

Alex S. Wilner, assistant professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, is leading a new research program focused on how artificial intelligence might be applied as a deterrent to military adversaries. His research is funded through the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. AI “could improve the certainty and severity of a coercive message” designed to affect the behavior of an adversary, Wilner says. Carleton University News

Kari Harvey is the new chief executive officer of Innovation Saskatchewan. Harvey has more than 25 years in the public service, including senior leadership roles in the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Intergovernmental Affairs. Most recently, she was the acting CEO and chief operating officer of Innovation Saskatchewan. Innovation Saskatchewan


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