Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association , Harvest Moon Foods , Real Life Robotics , Renaissance BioScience , RFINE Biomass Solutions , Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Air Canada, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Investment Management Corporation , AltaML, Amazon Web Services, Bank of Montreal, Bell, Blue J Legal, Bombardier, Brookfield Asset Management, C100, CAE, Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, CAN Health Network, Canada West Foundation, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Food Innovation Network, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canadian Space Agency, CanDry Technologies, CDQM, CIFAR, Co.Lab, Communitech, Conference Board of Canada, Connect Tech, Council of Canadian Innovators, DeepSight Réalité Augmentée, Deloitte Canada, Department of Finance, Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, Elanco Animal Health, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Evidence for Democracy, Exro Technologies Inc. , Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, Fentum, Finn Way General Contractor Inc., Flow Consulting, Foundation for Food & Agricultural Research, Four Eyes Financial, Gazifère Inc. , GoBolt, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, Government of the U.K., Heart Aerospace, Humi, Index Biosystems, Innovate Calgary, Innovation, Science and Industry, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Lightspeed Commerce, Living Legends of Aviation, Maia Farms, McGill University, MediaValet, Merck Animal Health, Mila - Quebec AI Institute, Ministry of Labour and Seniors, NanoTess, National Research Council, Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Northern Nanopore Instruments, NRStor Inc, NVIDIA, Office of the Chief Science Advisor, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Ontario Financing Authority, Ontario Health, Ontario Power Generation, Parks Canada, Polytechnique Montreal, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, Quaternion Aerospace, Roche Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Saydi Biotech , SEA Electric , Senate Standing Committee on National Security, Defence and Veteran Affairs, SMBC Aviation Capital, Smile Digital Health, STG, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, SWTCH, The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital), Theratechnologies Inc, Tortoise, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, UK Research and Innovation, Université Laval, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, University of the Fraser valley, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Waterloo, W21C Research and Innovation Centre, Wisedocs , and ZayZoon


"Passive House Plus" construction, AI-powered medical records technology, Alberta opens Ottawa office, allegations of conflict of interest and financial mismanagement at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Arctic Frontiers conference, Artificial Intelligence Discovery Place, Astrolith space resources and infrastructure engineering group, Canada-EU digital partnership, Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, challenges in Canada's Arctic, CIHR Governing Council, classifying Parkinson's disease for research purposes, clean fuel production, Communitech's Team True North initiative, creative operations software, deep learning neural networks, Ecojet Research Project, efficient fertilizers, Electric vehicles, federal cap on oil and gas industry emissions, federal consultation on SR&ED program, Federal Open Science Repository of Canada , federal public engagement on 2035 GHG emissions target, food and agriculture innovation, foodtech projects, Forbes' 30 Under 30 list, hybrid-electric aircraft , impacts of climate change in the Arctic, improving federal regulatory and permitting processes for major projects, increasing Canada's AI compute capacity, increasing diversity in tech industry, investment in cleantech, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area , lasers for scientific, medial and industrial sectors, leasing fuel-efficient aircraft, new treatment approaches and diagnostic tools for cancer, novel wound care treatment, Ocean Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic workshop, quantum sensing technologies, refurbishment of Picking Nuclear Generating Station , research on Arctic permafrost thawing, Roadmap for Open Science, Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) program, UCeed investment program, University of Fraser Valley Food and Agriculture Institute, University of Guelph Arrell Food Institute, and UVic Centre for Aerospace Research

The Short Report: February 7, 2024

Research Money
February 7, 2024


Ontario government backs Pickering Nuclear Station refurbishment, including with green bonds 

The Government of Ontario said it’s supporting Crown-owned Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) $2-billion budget for the “project initiation phase” of refurbishing the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s “B” reactors (units five through eight). Pickering came online in 1971 and hasn’t been expanded since 1986. The Pickering station (photo at right), which supplies about 14 per cent of Ontario’s electricity, was scheduled to be shut down in 2025, but the provincial government is seeking approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend that to September 2026.

Once refurbished, Pickering would operate for at least another 30 years and would produce a total of 2,000 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to powering two million homes, helping to meet increasing demand from electrification and fuelling the province’s economic growth, the Ontario government said. The government didn’t say how much it would cost to refurbish the four B reactors. The project initiation phase includes engineering and design work as well as securing long-lead-time components that can require years for manufacturing.

Based on OPG’s preliminary schedule, the refurbishment of Pickering is anticipated to be completed by the mid-2030s. According to independent preliminary analysis by the Conference Board of Canada, the refurbishment is expected to increase Ontario’s GDP by $19.4 billion over the 11-year project period. The project is also expected to create about 11,000 jobs per year.

“The population density around the Pickering plant is far too high for the continued operation of a nuclear power plant,” Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), said in a statement. The 10-kilometre contingency planning zone around the Pickering station extends well into the City of Toronto and Durham Region, she noted. “Putting a major commercial nuclear power plant in the midst of high population area is unconscionable,” McClenaghan said. If such a proposed nuclear facility was brought forward today, it would never pass the siting guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Canada says it follows, she said. CELA said it’s unrealistic to imagine that successful alerting and evacuation could move people out of harm’s way in time if something went seriously wrong.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance called the Ford government’s refurbishment plan “another backroom deal bonanza,” given the government didn’t require Ontario Power Generation to put forward its proposal in any sort of competitive procurement process. The government is offering no information on how much this “dubious plan” will cost in total, “but lots of happy talk about its ability to get these ancient (and outdated) reactors rebuilt on schedule,” the Alliance said in a statement. There is not a chance that the cost of power from these rebuilt reactors will be competitive with the current cost of solar and wind power, the Alliance said. “The Pickering Nuclear Station is a dangerously outdated facility surrounded by more people (within 30 km) than any other nuclear plant in North America.”

Meanwhile, the Ontario government will for the first time use the proceeds from its multi-billion-dollar green bond program for nuclear power projects. The Ontario Financing Authority, which issues the province’s bonds, unveiled a new framework for green bonds that includes a provision for “measures supporting the deployment of nuclear energy to generate electricity and/or heat.” The program had previously excluded nuclear energy. Ontario offers the green bonds when it borrows money to finance capital projects to advance environmental goals.

The federal government moved to include nuclear in its green bond program late last year, after objections from the nuclear industry when Ottawa field initially didn’t include the sector. Govt. of Ontario, CELA


Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario announced more than $37 million for the contract award to construct the zero-carbon administration and visitor centre for Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in Nipigon, Ontario. The centre, expected to open in 2026, will be the first Parks Canada-administered building constructed to “Passive House Plus” certification and net-zero carbon standards, and will demonstrate innovation and leadership in sustainable building practices. The building has been designed, and will be constructed, using sustainable practices such as superior thermal storage due to its super-insulated envelope, optimized site orientation, sustainable material selection, and on-site energy generation using renewable energy sources. The construction contract has been awarded to Finn Way General Contractor Inc., based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, following a competitive process. Parks Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced an investment of more than $3.3 million in Gazifère Inc. for a clean fuels project in Gatineau, Quebec, for a total project cost of over $7.3 million. The funding will support Gazifère in conducting a hydrogen blending feasibility study. The study will assess the development of a water electrolysis facility that would allow for the injection of low-carbon hydrogen to help decarbonize Gazifère’s gas distribution network across the Outaouais region. Doing so would reduce emissions by more than 18,000 tonnes annually by displacing nearly 10 million cubic metres of conventional gas per year. Gazifère will seek further emissions reductions through waste -heat recovery. NRCan said this investment will help unlock growth in Canada’s clean fuels market and lay the groundwork for the low-carbon fuels of the future. NRCan

CDQM, a Montreal-based not-for-profit biopharmaceutical consortium, is supporting three R&D projects on improved cancer treatment and diagnosis, made possible by a grant of more than $2.4 million from the Government of Quebec. In many cases, cancer treatments are accompanied by serious side effects, have limited efficacy, and fail to prevent disease recurrence. To remedy this situation, local research teams are developing innovative therapeutic approaches and diagnostic tools that target the properties of cancer cells with the goal of ultimately improving the survival and quality of life of patients. The three collaborative research projects, which are being supported and executed in collaboration with Theratechnologies Inc., Saydi Biotech and Roche Canada, have an overall investment of more than $12 million. The projects are: transformative advances in targeted colorectal cancer therapy; a new clinical-stage targeted cancer therapy platform; and optimizing the monitoring of patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma. CDQM

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced approximately $1.3 million in federal funding over four years to support the Government of Canada becoming a founding member of the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium (EFC). Created by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, the EFC is a public-private partnership that funds research to advance enhanced efficiency and novel fertilizer products and practices that help farmers produce crops while reducing environmental impacts. Canada joins 11 other committed members, including the U.S.,  the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and other international governments, fertilizer companies, crop groups and foundations. There is an ongoing opportunity for Canadian fertilizer and nutrient management innovators to be a part of the consortium. The federal government has committed to reduce GHG emissions from the application of fertilizers by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in partnership with the National Research Council, issued a call for proposals, through its Alliance Quantum grants, for advancing the industrial readiness of quantum sensing technologies. The call is open to university researchers collaborating with at least one Canadian small or medium-sized enterprise and the National Research Council. Funding of $100,000 to $350,000 per year for one to three years is available for the academic team, and up to $350,000 per year for the SME. NSERC


The Government of Canada launched the Federal Open Science Repository of Canada, a web-based platform for scientific articles and publications from federal science-based departments and agencies. It provides access to research output, including journal articles, book chapters, technical reports, and more. The repository contains material from:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Transport Canada

The repository is scalable, customizable, and continues to grow as new scientific articles and publications become available. Site users can conveniently search, download and share content from a single interface. For general enquiries or to learn more about joining the repository, email The Evidence for Democracy group said the repository delivers on recommendations from the Roadmap for Open Science, released by the Office of the Chief Science Advisor in 2020. Federal Science Libraries Network

The University of Alberta and Amazon Web Services have teamed up to launch Artificial Intelligence Discovery Place. The initiative brings Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud computing technology to U of A’s researchers – faculty and students – to accelerate the speed of discoveries and make AI skills training more accessible for Edmonton’s tech sector. The facility, located in the U of A’s Enterprise Square in downtown Edmonton, will offer programming to help entrepreneurs commercialize technologies by leveraging AWS’s technology. Coral Kennett, education lead with AWS Canada, said the flexibility of the cloud offers the most accessible and affordable way to experiment with AI and machine learning. In December 2023, AWS opened a new data centre hub in Calgary, becoming the first major cloud services provider to have an infrastructure region in Western Canada. University of Alberta

Quebec’s AI institute Mila and Bell announced an 18-month collaborative project to apply deep learning neural network algorithms to Bell’s systems and data. Bell has made significant investments to develop extensive data analytics capabilities and AI applications in multiple areas of its operations, and this collaboration is the latest step in advancing the company’s AI expertise. Mila researchers will work alongside Bell’s machine learning and AI teams, using cutting-edge deep learning neural network techniques to identify opportunities for improving business performance and customer experience. These neural network deep learning models, inspired by the human brain, teach computers to recognize complex patterns in pictures, text, sounds and other data to produce accurate insights and predictions. As part of the collaboration, Bell and Mila will write a paper highlighting their technical findings in support of global AI advancement. Bell Canada

Montreal-headquartered Bombardier announced the University of Victoria as the company’s first academic partnership in its pan-Canadian Ecojet Research Project. UVic’s Centre for Aerospace Research, along with Victoria-headquartered Quaternion Aerospace, which provides design, manufacturing and testing of small-scale airframes, complement Bombardier’s manufacturing expertise with globally recognized know-how in scale model fabrication and operations, Bombardier said. The EcoJet Research Project explores blended wing body aircraft configuration and new technologies to reduce business jet emissions by up to 50 per cent. The multi-year research project that debuted around 15 years ago kicked off its first phase of flight testing in 2017 with eight-foot-span prototypes and is now leveraging a flight vehicle more than twice as large. Bombardier

Polytechnique Montréal has created a research unit, Astrolith, in space resources and infrastructure engineering – the first such group dedicated to the development of lunar engineering in Canada. Comprising experts from all seven Polytechnique departments, Astrolith will help develop next-generation technologies and train the engineers of tomorrow to ensure Canada’s presence in space and lunar exploration, as well as address critical needs on our planet within the context of climate change, resource management and sustainable development. Giovanni Beltrame, co-founder (with Pooneh Maghoul, associate professor in civil, geological and mining engineering) of Astrolith, a  professor in computer engineering and software engineering, and a former microelectronics engineer with the European Space Agency, has been named to a two-year term as head of Astrolith. The new unit’s objectives include supporting the goals of Canada and the Canadian Space Agency in advancing knowledge relative to exploration of the Moon and cislunar space (between the Earth and the Moon’s orbit). Besides developing next-generation technologies to support exploitation of cislunar and space resources and the related infrastructure, Astrolith will focus on the economic and environmental aspects of space technology. Polytechnique Montréal

The University of Guelph and University of the Fraser Valley – two of Canada’s leading agri-food research universities – have launched a new partnership aimed at advancing new pathways for sustainable innovation within Canada’s $140-billion food and agriculture industry. The memorandum of understanding names long-time collaborators Evan Fraser, director of Arrell Food Institute the University of Guelph, and Lenore Newman, director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, as co-leaders of the partnership. First priorities of the new agreement will include establishing accelerator workshops, a national network of agricultural technology players, and funding R&D to scale new innovations into the marketplace. In the face of ever-growing climate concerns, yearly food waste in Canada contributing up to 9.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, nearly one in five Canadians being food insecure, and the impending shortage of skilled agricultural workers, decision makers are recognizing the key role that local and global food systems can play in generating lasting solutions. The solutions needed are too big for any one group to find alone – hence this collaboration, the partners said. University of Guelph

Kitchener-Waterloo innovation hub Communitech has added six Canadian companies to its “Team True North” list of 67 companies (including the new companies) that have the potential to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2030. The new companies are: Toronto-based delivery startup GoBolt; human resources software startup Humi in Toronto; Toronto-based health data company Smile Digital Health; electric vehicle charging startup SWTCH in Toronto; Calgary-based FinTech startup ZayZoon; and Guelph, Ontario-based hardware design company Connect Tech. Through the initiative, Communitech aims to provide members with greater access to talent, sales and networking opportunities, and growth capital. To be considered for the Team True North list, companies must meet specific criteria for year-over-year revenue growth and annual revenue. Communitech

Calgary-based electric vehicles developer Exro Technologies Inc. announced it is acquiring California-based SEA Electric in a $332-million deal, involving equity and debt financing. Exro’s Coil Driver™ technology, which replaces a vehicle’s inverter used to regulate power flows from a battery, helps EVs operate more efficiently. SEA Electric is an automotive and e-mobility tech company that provides 100-per-cent drivetrain system technology which controls all the components that electrify a vehicle. The business combination, with integration of the two company’s platforms, is expected to strengthen Exro’s technology offerings while accelerating revenue growth and Exro’s path to profitability, the company said. Exro Technologies

Indianapolis-based Elanco Animal Health announced it entered into an agreement to sell its aqua business,  to New Jersey-based Merck Animal Health for approximately $1.3 billion in cash, which Elanco said is about 7.4 times the estimated 2023 revenue of the Elanco aqua business, which includes products across both warm-water and cold-water species. The sale includes an Elanco manufacturing site with 140 skilled workers in Prince Edward Island that makes products such as a vaccine that protects Atlantic salmon against pancreas disease. Elanco said the transaction reinforces its focus and investment on its most significant value-creation opportunities, notably in pet health and livestock sustainability. Elanco’s targeted areas of focus include next-generation products for pet parasiticides, dermatology and pain, as well as livestock sustainability. The company also is pursuing platform-aligned targets, such as monoclonal antibodies, and other major emerging spaces of high unmet need. Elanco

Deloitte Canada in Toronto has acquired Toronto-based Flow Consulting. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The deal strengthens Deloitte’s footprint in the startup and technology media, and telecommunications ecosystem, Deloitte said. With a history spanning more than 17 years, Flow assists clients in sourcing tax credits (including from the federal Scientific Research & Experimental Development program), grants, venture capital funding and loans, employing a comprehensive founder-focused approach that has enabled numerous Canadian companies to secure millions in funding, thereby optimizing time and enhancing success rates. Deloitte Canada

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Dublin, Ireland-based SMBC Aviation Capital announced an agreement to create a US$1.5-billion platform for leasing and financing fuel-efficient “NexGen” aircraft. The platform will focus on worldwide opportunities in new technology aircraft, and target an initial investment of US$500 million per year over three years. SMBC Aviation Capital will source transactions, invest in opportunities alongside the platform. and act as servicer of the platform, operating as  Maple Aircraft Company Holdings Limited. SMBC Aviation Capital said it is the second-largest aircraft operating leasing company globally, with a fleet of more than 900 aircraft. CDPQ

Vancouver-based MediaValet announced it entered into an agreement to be purchased by California-based STG in an all-cash share-purchase deal which values MediaValet at $80 million. Media Valet provides enterprise digital asset management, video content management and creative operations software. STG is a private equity partner to market-leading companies in data, software and analytics. MediaValet


Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management announced it raised $10 billion in the first closing of the second Brookfield Global Transition Fund. BGTF II is co-headed by Mark Carney and Connor Teskey and focuses on investments to accelerate the global transition to a net-zero economy. The Fund continues the predecessor fund strategy of investing in the expansion of clean energy, the acceleration of sustainable solutions, and the transformation of companies operating in carbon-intensive sectors to more sustainable business models. The Fund’s seed portfolio includes a U.K. onshore renewables developer and a solar development partnership in India. The Fund is the successor of the inaugural Brookfield Global Transition Fund which closed on a record $15 billion in June 2022, making it the largest such fund in the world. Brookfield

The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) announced its new $1-billion Energy Transition Opportunities Pool fund, dedicated to investing in the global energy transition and decarbonization sectors. AIMCo’s approach includes the introduction of a climate taxonomy that evaluates and classifies the energy transition readiness and carbon intensity of existing and new investments. This tool helps the investment teams analyze climate risk within client portfolios, as well as measure and improve total portfolio transition readiness, AIMCo said. Many of AIMCo’s clients have allocated funds to the new pool, which will offer them exposure to a variety of energy transition opportunities and themes, including:

  • Industrial decarbonization, carbon capture and sequestration
  • Sustainable solutions and renewable fuels
  • Low-carbon renewable energy production and related technologies
  • Electrification, storage and energy efficiency

AIMCo invests on behalf of pension, endowment, insurance and government funds in Alberta and has more than $158 billion in assets under management. AIMCo

Toronto-based Wisedocs announced it secured $12.7 million in a Series A round of financing, for its artificial-intelligence medical record review platform. The round was led by Information Venture Partners, an early-stage B2B fintech investment firm, and by Thomson Reuters Ventures and ManchesterStory. Wisedocs offers a medical record indexing, reviewing and AI-powered summaries software platform for medical insurance carriers, health care providers, law firms and third-party administrators. Wisedocs said it plans to use the new funding to invest in growing its team, product and increasing its sales footprint. Wisedocs launched in the U.S. in 2022, followed by the opening of a new American headquarters in Florida to support a growing U.S. customer base.

Quebec City-based startup Fentum, which manufactures laser solutions for the scientific, medical and industrial sectors, announced it secured more than $5 million in seed-round financing. The equity round was co-led by ELAS Technology Investment, a German high-tech fund specializing in photonics, and i4 Capital, a Canadian deep-tech fund. Additional contributors include Quantacet, Boreal Ventures, and Eureka along with globally recognized photonic technology funds Hamamatsu Ventures, and VIGO Ventures. The funding will accelerate the commercialization of cutting-edge mid-infrared lasers tailored to semiconductor manufacturers, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence, communication and quantum technologies, Fentum said. Founded in 2017 by CEO Louis-Rafaël Robichaud and CTO Simon Duval, Femtum is a spinoff from the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers at Université Laval. Fentum

Air Canada joined other new investors in a US$107-million Series B funding round for Swedish hybrid-electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace. Other new investors were Sagitta Ventures, a Danish investor focused on early-stage companies, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, European Innovation Council Fund, EQT Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital,  Norrsken VC, United Airlines and Y Combinator. Heart Aerospace intends to use the funds to further build its business and make progress toward type certification of the company’s first hybrid-electric airplane, the ES-30. The ES-30 is a regional airplane with a seating capacity of 30 passengers that offers lower emissions, lower noise pollution and lower operating costs on short-haul routes than current conventionally fueled airplanes. Heart Aerospace said it has 250 orders for the ES-30, with options and purchase rights for an additional 120 planes. Air Canada, which ordered 30 Heart planes in 2022, is putting an additional US$5 million toward the plane’s type certification, a process to ensure designs are airworthy. PhocusWire

The Canadian Food Innovation Network is awarding more than $1.9 million to eight foodtech projects through its FoodTech Next program. These projects will pilot their innovations in real-world conditions to validate their market fit within the food sector. The combined value of the projects is just under $4 million. The 2024 FoodTech Next ultimate recipients are: Index Biosystems in Toronto, Harvest Moon Foods (Ottawa), CanDry Technologies (Vancouver), Real Life Robotics (Waterloo), RFINE Biomass Solutions (Halifax), Maia Farms (Vancouver), Renaissance BioScience (Vancouver) and DeepSight Réalité Augmentée (Montreal) Food in Canada

The University of Calgary’s UCeed pre-seed startup investment fund has expanded during the last 3 ½ years from two donor-supported funds housed within Innovate Calgary, to a group of six funds that back early-stage tech startups developing innovation health, social impact and energy-related solutions. During this time, UCeed has become one of Canada’s most active pre-seed and seed-stage investors, according to a report by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, deploying $8 million into 44 startups and amassing $22 million in assets under management. UCalgary said UCeed is the largest university-based investment fund of its kind in the country. UCeed doesn’t derive its capital from traditional limited partners. Rather, all its funding is provided by donors and all its returns are recycled back into the fund. UCeed’s financiers include University of Calgary alumni, as well as successful entrepreneurs or high-net-worth individuals from Alberta looking to give back. BetaKit


 Finding solutions to challenges in the Arctic

This week’s Innovation This Week issue features a story on the report by the Senate Standing Committee on National Security, Defence and Veteran Affairs, about the need for the federal government to take action to ensure Canada’s security in the Arctic.

Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, based in Atlantic Canada, recently spent a couple of weeks in the Arctic exploring the region’s opportunities and challenges. The Ocean Supercluster, with support of local partners including host sponsor Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, held its first Ocean Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic workshop in Iqaluit, Nunavut. MacDonald also attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway.

In a blog in the Ocean Supercluster’s monthly newsletter, MacDonald said she was struck by the consistency of several messages she heard during the two weeks in the Arctic, including:

  • With the rapidly warming climate there was much focus on changing sea ice, biodiversity loss, vulnerable ecosystems, and significant impacts on traditional ways of life. “Any solutions must be sustainable. How do we move quickly given the urgency of the climate challenges but also with respect?”
  • Solutions or programs must be co-designed and co-led with communities. Solutions need to consider the broader challenges facing communities, including food security, day care, housing, health care and education. Every community is different and solutions must meet them where they are at. “However, we must balance engaging communities and overburdening them.” Communication with communities must be culturally relevant, with ongoing dialogue with those who call the Arctic home. Priorities of the communities can be season-dependent and organizations that wish to work with them must have a good understanding of these priorities. Traditional knowledge within communities must be respected and can bring significant value to any partnership. “Indigenous communities are partners and rightsholders, not just stakeholder consultations that tick a box.”
  • It is hard for decision-makers to make the right decisions without access to the data. There is a lack of baseline data, shortage of publicly accessible data exchange platforms, no interoperability of existing datasets, and little capacity and training on visualizing raw data. “This is a significant challenge across the Arctic. Knowledge must be at the centre of decisions.” There is a need to leverage technology to collect more data, but there was also a reminder that gathering data should not be extractive. Companies and researchers need to be mindful of the CARE principles: data should be for the Collective benefit of Indigenous peoples; Indigenous people should have the Authority to control the data; those working with the data have a Responsibility to share how that data is being used; and data should be used Ethically, with Indigenous People’s rights and concerns being a primary concern throughout.
  • There is a meaningful value in enhancing collaborative innovation by bringing people together where ideas happen. This also creates opportunities to offer novel technological solutions to support the traditional knowledge. R$


Human-caused warming affecting Arctic people, ecosystems and communities

Human-caused warming of the air, ocean and land is affecting people, ecosystems and communities across the Arctic region, which is heating up faster than any other part of the world, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2023 Arctic Report Card. Summer surface air temperatures during 2023 were the warmest ever observed in the Arctic, while the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet experienced melting for only the fifth time in the 34-year record, the 2023 report says. Overall, it was the Arctic’s sixth-warmest year on record. The Northwest Territories’ largest wildfire season on record burned 4.36 million hectares.

Sea ice extent in the Arctic continued to decline, with the last 17 Septembers now registering as the lowest on record. “The overriding message from this year’s report card is that the time for action is now,” said Dr. Rick Spinrad, PhD, NOAA administrator. “NOAA and our federal partners have ramped up our support and collaboration with state, tribal and local communities to help build climate resilience. At the same time, we as a nation and global community must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving these changes.”

The Arctic has an estimated 965,000 square miles of subsea permafrost, one-fifth of the amount of permafrost found on land. International research collaboration is urgently needed to address questions about the extent and current state of subsea permafrost and to estimate the potential release of greenhouse gases as it thaws, the report says.

A new study from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science – looked at how Arctic watersheds are shaped by permafrost, and the researchers concluded that every one degree Celsius of global warming could release as much carbon from permafrost as 35 million cars emit in a year. Scientists estimate that a gradual thawing of Artic permafrost could release between 22 billion and 432 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2100 if current greenhouse gas emissions are reined in – and as much as 550 billion tons if they are not, said study lead author Joanmarie Del Vecchio, a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth.

As for Arctic sea surface temperatures, NOAA’s report card says in August 2023 these temperatures were 9 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (5-7 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1991-2020 August mean values in the Barents, Kara, Laptev and Beaufort seas. August mean sea surface temperatures show warming trends for the period from 1982 to 2023 in areas of the Arctic Ocean that are ice free in August, with mean sea surface temperature increases of nearly one degree Fahrenheit (0.5 of a degree Celsius) per decade. Arctic Ocean regions, except for the Canadian Archipelago, Chukchi and Beaufort seas, continue to show increased ocean phytoplankton blooms, or primary productivity, with the largest per cent increases in Eurasian Arctic and Barents Sea.

Tundra greenness across the Arctic was the third-highest in the 24-year satellite record, a slight increase over 2022. The Arctic continues a trend of increased shrubs, willows and alders where once there was tundra. The Greenland Ice Sheet continued to lose mass despite above-average winter snow accumulation. Summit Station, the highest point on the ice sheet, reached a temperature of 32.7 degrees Fahrenheit on June 26, 2023, experiencing melting for only the fifth time in the 34-year record. The annual Arctic Report Card, now in its 18th year, is the work of 82 authors from 13 countries. NOAA


SDTC’s former CEO says she warned about conflict of interest

Leah Lawrence, the recently resigned chief executive at Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), said she raised concerns with government officials about conflicts of interest as SDTC’s incoming board chair was being vetted, but those concerns went unheeded. Lawrence was testifying to a House of Commons committee. She stepped down from her position last November, after a third-party investigation into STDC’s governance practices.

Lawrence said she and her team had alerted senior officials at Innovation, Science and Industry, including its then-minister, Navdeep Bains, about potential fallout as Annette Verschuren was being considered for the chair position in 2019. Verschuren was and remains chair and CEO of energy storage developer NRStor Inc., which at the time was receiving funding from SDTC. She has said that she consulted the then-ethics commissioner before taking on the role of SDTC's chair and was advised that she could accept the position if she recused herself from boardroom discussions about her company.

Lawrence said ISED’s assistant deputy minister, Andrew Noseworthy, had informed her that without a specific written policy barring a recipient of SDTC funds from sitting on the board, the appointment would proceed. “I fear that my ongoing efforts to strengthen the governance regime at the board level were largely stymied from that point on. Henceforth, it became largely an exercise in managed conflict rather than precluding or eliminating conflict,” Lawrence told the House of Commons committee.

Now, the interim ethics commissioner is probing Verschuren’s role in approving nearly $40 million of pandemic-related payments to SDTC’s portfolio of companies in 2020 and 2021, including NRStor. Another SDTC director currently still on the board, Guy Ouimet, is also being investigated by the ethics commissioner under the Conflict of Interest Act. Verschuren resigned from the SDTC board in November, more than a month after the report of the investigation produced evidence of conflict breaches and inappropriate funding. She has denied any wrongdoing and has disputed the findings. Last October, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne suspended SDTC’s ability to grant money to cleantech startups until its board completes a series of corrective management, governance and human-resources measures. Four months on, SDTC’s ability to provide funding remains frozen. The Globe and Mail

See also: ANALYSIS: Government needs to fix problems at Canada's main cleantech funding organization


Federal government launches consultations on SR&ED program

The Government of Canada launched consultations on improving support for research and development and on creating and retaining intellectual property in Canada. The 76-year-old Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program supports Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors that conduct research and development, by providing tax incentives (both a deduction against income and an investment tax credit). As a cornerstone of Canada’s innovation strategy, in 2021, the tax credit provided approximately $3.9 billion in support for R&D to over 22,000 businesses in Canada.

The government has committed to undertaking a review of the SR&ED program to ensure that it is effective in encouraging R&D that benefits Canada, and to explore opportunities to modernize and simplify it. Ottawa will also consider whether the tax system can play a role in encouraging the development and retention of intellectual property stemming from R&D conducted in Canada through a patent box regime. A patent box provides a preferential tax rate to income derived from certain types of intellectual property to incentivize research and development. Several companies use patent box regimes, including Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, France and Spain. To enhance support for innovative Canadian businesses, the Department of Finance launched consultations on:

All Canadians and stakeholders are invited to share feedback by emailing by April 15, 2024, with either “SR&ED Review” or “Patent Box” as the subject line, as appropriate.

Under SR&ED, Canadian-controlled private companies can earn tax credits for 35 per cent of up to $3 million in eligible R&D expenses, and 15 per cent above that. Public and foreign companies can receive 15-per-cent tax credits for qualified expenditures conducted in Canada.

One ideal outcome would be to maintain the 35-per-cent SR&ED rate for smaller, financially stretched companies but lower the incentive for other businesses and use the savings to fund the patent box approach, Laurent Carbonneau, director of policy and research with the Council of Canadian Innovators, said in a LinkedIn post. This would deliver “probably the most bang for buck that Canada could get with a cost-neutral approach,” he wrote. “As innovation policy continues to evolve in a more cost-constrained fiscal environment, we have to think hard about the kinds of trade-offs we will have to make in making sure Canadians see real value for their investments in future growth and productivity.”

The SR&ED program needs to be redesigned to be straightforward and clear, so companies would be able to make the application themselves rather than rely on consulting firms, four Canadian tech company CEOs wrote in commentary in The Globe and Mail. Also, the government should closely examine which foreign multinationals with subsidiaries in Canada are using the SR&ED program for R&D work that doesn’t actually benefit the Canadian economy, they said. “We should know what kind of R&D is being done, and by which companies,” they wrote. Writers of the op-ed – all members of the Council of Canadian Innovators – were: JP Chauvel, CEO of Lightspeed Commerce; Lori Weir, CEO of Four Eyes Financial; Benjamin Alarie, CEO of Blue J Legal; and Nicole Janssen, co-CEO of AltaML.

Kyle Briggs, a Canadian biophysicist, entrepreneur, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, and founder of the nanotech company Northern Nanopore Instruments, said that with proper design, the SR&ED program could be a significant incentive to develop Canadian intellectual property. But the program is “currently constructed in a way that severely reduces its potential impact, with more than 40% of the [tax] credit going to waste,” he wrote in an open response on his CanInnovate website. More of SR&ED’s outlays go to large firms that “certainly do not need the support, while only a small fraction is spent where it is needed,” he said. Briggs recommended that the federal government:

  • Require that the parent company of any firm applying for SR&ED qualify as a Candian-controlled private corporation in order for its subsidiary to be eligible for the tax credit. “Canadian branch plants of multinationals should not be eligible.”
  • Move to a default approval mode where all submissions by eligible firms are approved, provided the base documentation is present, similar to the income tax model, with a subset spot-checked for compliance annually. This would remove the need for technical due diligence by non-technical Canada Revenue Agency staff, reduce administrative overhead, and remove subjectivity from the approval process.
  • Simplify the SR&ED credit calculation to be a fixed percentage of the salary of employees conducting R&D, eliminate the direct method of SR&ED claims, and integrate SR&ED claims with the payroll tax submission system to reduce the management overhead for both application firms and administrators. Pay out credits monthly following the payroll tax submission, to ensure that small companies aren’t limited by cash flow in their ability to conduct R&D. This eliminates the need for dedicated SR&ED consultants and SR&ED-based lending, “which currently takes anywhere from 15-30% of the value of the credit away from innovators.”
  • Require that firms that have received SR&ED credits submit annual reports on the use of IP developed with the tax credit, and that this requirement be inherited by any acquirer, assignee, or licensee of that IP, for a period of no less than 10 years. This provides a means for data collection on the long-term impact of SR&ED spending and a means to track the flow of patents and IP resulting from the credit. Department of Finance Canada, CanInnovate, The Globe and Mail


Ottawa commits to improving federal regulatory and permitting processes for major projects

The Government of Canada said it’s taking “further action” to improve federal regulatory and permitting processes to make them more efficient, transparent and predictable. “An efficient and effective review process for clean energy, critical minerals, transportation and other major projects is essential,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr., minister of Labour and Seniors, and chair of the Ministerial Working Group on Regulatory Efficiency for Clean Growth Projects, said in a statement. He said the government will:

  • Drive coordination across federal regulatory departments: Ensure predictable timelines are met through early coordination, information-sharing and effective communication across more than 10 federal departments and agencies responsible for regulation of major projects.
  • Amend the Impact Assessment Act: Bring it in line with the October 2023 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding federal jurisdiction in impact assessments, by introducing legislation this spring.
  • Launch a public permitting dashboard: Increase transparency and accountability on the progress of major projects, beginning with major projects subject to a federal impact assessment and building on the existing Canadian Impact Assessment Registry.
  • Collaborate with provinces and territories to maximize efficiencies: Apply more flexible approaches and leveraging existing partnerships, such as the Regional Energy and Resource Tables, to maximize efficiencies and reduce duplication across federal and provincial and territorial regulating and permitting processes, while respecting roles and jurisdictions.
  • Improve engagement with Indigenous partners: Work with Indigenous partners to determine the best ways to enhance federal coordination of Crown consultation activities and ensure opportunities for meaningful and equitable engagement and participation of Indigenous peoples in regulatory processes from the outset and in a manner that adheres to our commitments under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Catalyze Indigenous ownership: In collaboration with Indigenous leaders and experts, develop an Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program to facilitate Indigenous equity ownership in major projects in the energy and natural resource sector, with more details to be announced in Budget 2024;
  • Address issues unique to the North: Advance major projects in the three territories through the Northern Regulatory Initiative, through regional studies, improved participation of community members and regulatory dialogues in the North.

It can currently take more than a decade and sometimes longer to get major projects approved. That timeline is too slow given that Canada needs to build many dozens of new critical mineral mines, renewable energy projects and electricity grid expansions by 2050 to meet the country’s net-zero emissions target. Privy Council Office


Federal government and Nvidia aim to increase Canada’s AI compute capacity

The federal government signed a letter of intent with California-based artificial intelligence chip manufacturer Nvidia, aimed at increasing Canada’s AI compute capacity. Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced the signing in a post on X (previously known as Twitter). Neither party revealed the contents of the letter during Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang’s trip to Toronto on February 1.

Huang told The Canadian Press that Champagne wants his support “to ensure that Canada can have access to leading- edge technology so that it could, with necessary funding, build its own infrastructure.” Between Mila in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto, Canada has such deep AI research that is quite significant in scale, Huang said. “Don’t squander that and make sure that these researchers have the instruments they need, the funding they need to continue to advance the science they, in a lot of ways, invented.”

Stephen Toope, president of CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research), said Canada’s global ranking on AI infrastructure fell from 15th to 23rd between 2021 and 2023, according to a report from U.K. firm Tortoise. "My fear is that we could reach a point where the people who we brought here and retained here actually can't do the work they want to do because they don't have access to the computing power," Toope said.

R&D on generative AI depends on compute, the processing power and other infrastructure necessary to train and run machine-learning models.

At the end of January, Canada and the U.K. signed a memorandum of understanding on AI compute. The MOU is to explore opportunities for collaboration on areas of shared strategic importance, such as climate research and biomedicine, and working with likeminded countries on compute capability, including exploring new shared resources to further joint research on AI. The U.K. will share with Ottawa the results produced by London’s new AI Safety Institute, which is testing new generative AI models from major AI providers.  

Alongside the agreement on compute, the U.K. and Canada also signed a refreshed partnership to further strengthen wider collaboration on science and innovation. This agreement identifies a number of key technologies, such as quantum, AI, semiconductors, engineering biology and clean energy technology, where the U.K. and Canada will redouble efforts to foster research and bring innovative new solutions to market to help tackle shared global challenges. An additional focus on scientific diplomacy will see both countries exchanging expertise on issues such as international standards, governance and regulation of new technologies, helping to inform discussions with international forums such as the G7 and G20. 

Between 2020 and 2023, some £350 million was awarded by UK Research and Innovation on collaborative programs with Canada. This includes the first industry-led partnership between any two countries to develop quantum technologies, and an £8-million project in partnership with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami on Arctic ecosystems which funds research projects around climate-driven changes in Inuit Nunangat. BNN Blomberg, Govt. of the UK

See also: Lack of supercomputing power is impairing Canada’s research and business innovation


Canada and EU start work on digital partnership

François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Thierry Breton, the European Union commissioner for internal market, met to begin work on implementing the Canada-EU Digital Partnership, which was concluded at the Canada–European Union Summit 2023 held in Canada last November. In a joint statement following their virtual meeting, they said:

  • The Digital Partnership aims to increase cooperation on: artificial intelligence; quantum science and semiconductors; public policy related to online platforms; secure international connectivity; and cyber security. These priorities will be discussed at the officials’ level through a Digital Dialogue this month.
  • On semiconductors, the EU and Canada intend to cooperate to address future disruptions in the semiconductor supply chain by exploring monitoring and early warning mechanisms, including exchanging information on public support to the sector. The two sides also explored collaboration in R&D of cutting-edge semiconductor technologies.
  • On AI, the two partners intend to set up regular channels of communication and exchange information through workshops, including on AI governance and international standards.
  • On quantum science, the EU and Canada will expand mutually beneficial collaboration to accelerate research, development and innovation while promoting jobs and the utilization of quantum technologies in the broader economy.
  • On online platforms, the parties intend to continue to cooperate and exchange information on measures to ensure transparency, fairness and accountability and to make the internet a safer and more inclusive place for users.
  • On secure and resilient connectivity, the partners will explore actions to develop secure and high quality connectivity between Europe, North America and Asia – for example, potential routes in the Arctic or North Atlantic.
  • On cyber security, the EU and Canada intend to collaborate on the implementation of cyber security regulatory frameworks, including in the areas of critical infrastructure protection and cyber security of products.
  • On digital identity, digital credentials and trust services, both partners intend to promote interoperability through pilot projects.
  • The EU and Canada agreed to convene a ministerial-level Digital Partnership Council in the spring to take stock of progress and decide on next steps. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


Feds launch public engagement on Canada’s 2035 GHG emissions target

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) launched a public engagement process to hear the opinions of Canadians and Indigenous peoples to inform setting Canada’s 2035 national greenhouse gas emissions target. This step is mandated under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act and by Canada’s international obligations under the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, in December 2015.

In 2015, Canada was trending to exceed 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels. Today, following successive climate plans, culminating in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Clean Air, Strong Economy, Canada is now projected to surpass its interim objective of achieving 20 per cent GHG emissions below 2005 levels by 2026. The 2023 Progress Report on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, published in December 2023, demonstrates that Canada’s climate plan is working and that the emissions curve is bending, ECCC said.

Setting the 2035 target will help advance ongoing economic opportunities that are driving Canada to net zero by 2050, such as electrification, energy efficiency and waste reduction. To help inform the government’s work in setting the 2035 target, Steven Guilbeault, minister of Environment and Climate Change, is inviting Canadians to share their views on the virtual public engagement platform, Talking Targets: Canada's Climate Future, which is open until March 28, 2024. The input collected through this engagement process is one of several components that need to be considered when setting the 2035 target. ECCC


Critics call on Ottawa to scrap proposed oil and gas industry emissions cap

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce is calling on the federal government to withdraw its proposed cap on oil and gas industry emissions. Ottawa should instead focus on advancing decarbonization technologies and existing policy frameworks, such as investment tax credits, the Chamber said in a statement. “After consultation with members across economic sectors including traditional energy, aviation, agriculture, telecommunications, finance, petrochemicals, electricity, clean technology and others, we contend that the emissions cap, as drafted, imposes untenable financial and regulatory consequences on industry.”

The cap aims to lower emissions in the upstream oil and gas sector by 35 to 38 per cent by 2030 from 2019 levels, using a new cap-and-trade system. The plan includes several flexibility measures that would allow companies to purchase some carbon offset credits, or contribute to a decarbonization fund, if they exceed their emissions allowances. The federal government plans to publish the draft regulations for the cap this year, with final regulations being published in 2025.

The Government of Alberta maintains the plan will curtail oil and gas production and infringe on the province’s exclusive constitutional rights and responsibility for resource development. Premier Danielle Smith has vowed to use either Alberta’s sovereignty act or court action to oppose the cap. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the federal government’s draft framework is “effectively a cap on production,” and that the cap is unnecessary. The cap is “unnecessary, unattainable, unaffordable and unconstitutional,” Gary Mar and Colleen Collins, chief executive and vice-president, respectively, of the Canada West Foundation, wrote in a commentary published in the Calgary Herald. “It will be an expensive blow to the Canadian economy if producers choose to reduce production below market demand to stay under the cap,” they warned.

Alberta has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in the country, and Canada’s oil and gas sector was responsible for 28 per cent of national emissions in 2021. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce also called on the government to implement its investment tax credit for carbon capture, utilization and storage, as well as for carbon contracts for difference. Carbon contracts for difference guarantee investors in projects a fixed carbon price over a contract duration, say $80 or $100 dollars per tonne –  guarding against risks from political and market uncertainty. The Chamber said policies also are needed to support technology adoption and digital growth across sectors, including early-stage companies. Calgary Chamber of Commerce

See also: Feds need to accelerate clean investment tax credits or risk losing billions in investment

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Michael Buhr is the new executive director of C100, the Silicon Valley-based global networking group of Canadian tech company builders, operators and investors supporting Canada’s most promising tech founders. Buhr succeeds Ray Newal, who left the job after about a year and a half. Buhr, a Canadian based in the Bay Area and who has been a member of C100 since 2012, brings over three decades of expertise in the technology sector. He has served in leadership roles at Apple, Adobe, and eBay and is an entrepreneur himself, founding and serving as CEO of several early-stage companies. C100 is expanding support to encompass growth-stage founders with scaling firms, alongside early-stage innovators. C100

Anuj Ranjan, an 18-year veteran of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, was named the CEO of the firm’s private equity group. He replaces Cyrus Madon, who is now executive chairman of the private equity business. Ranjan had been president of the global private equity group business, which has about US$140 billion in assets under management. Brookfield raised US$12 million last October to invest in private equity assets. Pensions&Investments

Carrie Cook, co-head of Canadian investment banking at Royal Bank of Canada, is leaving the firm to take a more senior position at the Bank of Montreal. Cook will join BMO in April as global head of investment and corporate banking, and remain based in Toronto. Cook, who has more than 25 years of experience in investment banking, spent more than a decade at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce before joining Royal Bank. Cook’s co-head at Royal Bank, Trevor Gardner, will continue to lead the firm’s domestic investment-banking division, according to news reports. Brad Chapin, interim global head of investment banking at Bank of Montreal, will resume his previous role of global head of corporate banking in April. BNN Bloomberg

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland announced three new appointments as members to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Governing Council. The new members are:

  • Christine Fahim, assistant professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Fahim also leads the team for implementation, evaluation and sustainability at the knowledge translation program, St. Michael’s Hospital.
  • Bernard Le Foll, a senior scientist specializing in drug addiction within the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Le Foll, a francophone, also is chair of addiction psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry of University of Toronto and a professor in the departments of Family and Community Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Psychiatry, Institute of Medical Sciences and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
  • Caroline Tait is a professor at the University of Calgary in the faculty of Social Work and the Cumming School of Medicine. She is a member of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and has conducted community-based research in partnership with First Nations and Métis communities and organizations for more than 25 years. Health Canada

Dr. Catherine Zahn was appointed the new chair of Ontario Health, the province’s agency that connects, coordinates and modernizes the delivery of health care. Zahn, who will be stepping down as Ontario’s deputy minister of health effective February 7, 2024, previously was CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is a professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She succeeds Bill Hatanaka, who completes his five-year term as Ontario Health’s chair on March 6, 2024. He has served as the inaugural chair of Ontario Health since 2019, including through the COVID-19 pandemic. Govt. of Ontario

Almost nine years after closing its office in Ottawa, the Alberta government opened a new office in the downtown of the nation’s capital. Premier Danielle Smith travelled to Ottawa to officially open the new three-person mission, with James Carpenter heading the office as Alberta’s senior representative to Ottawa – a post he has held since last September. Carpenter, who previously served as chair of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership, said his mandate is “to raise Alberta’s profile and stature, and the understanding of Alberta” in Canada. Alberta currently has 16 international offices, in the U.S. in Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis and Dallas, as well as missions in Mexico, Europe and Asia. Govt. of Alberta, Calgary Herald

Marc Parent, president and CEO of Montreal-based CAE, was inducted as a “Living Legend of Aviation” by the Colorado-based Living Legends of Aviation during its annual gala in January. The Living Legends of Aviation are individuals recognized for their exceptional contribution to the field. Throughout a career spanning more than 40 years, Parent has helped shape the aerospace industry in Canada and around the world. At just 17, he earned his private pilot’s licence. After graduating from mechanical engineering at École Polytechnique in 1984, Parent joined Canadair as an engineer on the Challenger and Canadair Regional Jet programs. From 2000 to 2004, he held numerous executive positions within Bombardier Aerospace. In 2004, he returned to Montreal as vice-president and general manager of the Challenger 300, 604, and 850/870 programs, as well as the CRJ 200 regional aircraft product line. Parent jointed CAE in 2005 and became president and CEO in 2009. In 2022, he was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. He is still an active pilot, holding an airline transport pilot licence from Transport Canada. CAE

University of Waterloo alumni Helen Huang and Sefunmi Osinaike, co-founders of Toronto-based Co.Lab, aim to increase diversity in the technology industry. Their company, an online school, is a hands-on digital training and mentorship program for people from all walks of life who want to break into tech. Co.Lab brings together teams of product managers, designers and software engineers to help participants develop their collaborative thinking skills and create a tangible product. Huang and Osinaike, who both participated in UWaterloo’s Enterprise Co-op program, were named to the prestigious Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. They said their company has helped more than 1,000 people in 50 countries switch careers and find jobs at Apple, Google, Amazon and others. UWaterloo

Calgary startup NanoTess’s NanoSALV new wound care treatment technology, called Catalytic Advanced Wound Care Treatment Matrix, uses a hydrogel with proprietary nanotechnology aimed at maximizing natural wound healing while providing infection protection. Alberta Health Services’ Innovation and Business Intelligence team, the CAN Health Network, and W21C Research and Innovation Centre, at the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary, collaborated to conduct a real-world evaluation of the technology. The evaluation included adults in Calgary and Edmonton suffering from a variety of chronic wounds, including pressure injuries, diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers. Baseline measurements were taken from each participant for four weeks while receiving the standard of care wound treatment ordered by their physician. After four weeks, the dressing that had been used was swapped out for NanoSALV; all other care parameters remained the same. The size of the wound was measured each week, and the reduction in the wound area compared between the control (first four weeks) and the intervention (second four weeks) periods. The project examined a variety of factors, including how effective NanoSALV is compared to the current best-in-class dressings, user satisfaction (from both the participant and care provider perspective), feasibility of implementation and economic impact. Results show that overall, wounds in patients decreased by 58 per cent when using NanoSALV, compared with wounds actually increasing one per cent when using traditional standard of care. For patients who had been using NanoSALV longer in the retrospective review portion of the project, 77 per cent of wounds healed completely within eight weeks and 81 per cent healed in 16 weeks. In comparison, 40 to 50 per cent of wounds treated with current best-in-class dressings would be expected to heal in 16 weeks. Further work is underway to explore factors that influence the ability for health care providers to implement NanoSALV into daily practice. Ultimately, this research will help support the adoption of NanoSALV in health care settings and patient care practices within Alberta. In 2022, NanoTess received The A100 One to Watch Award at the Start Alberta Tech Awards. The award is given to an early-stage company that’s voted by A100 members as “mostly likely to succeed.” University of Calgary

A group of international scientists, including researchers at McGill University, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, is proposing a new way of classifying Parkinson’s disease for research purposes, a classification not based on clinical diagnosis but on biology. In a German-led study published in The Lancet Neurology, the authors call their biological model “SynNeurGe.” The “Syn” stands for alpha-synuclein, a protein that in most Parkinson’s patients causes abnormal deposits called Lewy bodies. Abnormalities in synuclein identify and probably cause degenerative changes in the brain that can impact movement, thinking, behaviour and mood. “Neur” stands for neurodegeneration. This is the breakdown of the function of neurons in the brain. In doctor’s offices, specific neurons in the dopamine system are the way that Parkinson’s is diagnosed. In the SynNeurGe model, however, neurodegeneration in all areas of the brain are included in the classification. The “Ge” stands for genetics. Mutations in many different genes have been found to predispose someone to Parkinson’s disease. The likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease depends on the gene involved, the specific mutation within the gene, and environmental exposures. The authors argue that for research purposes, patients should be classified by the presence or absence of these three factors. This would allow the identification of Parkinson’s patients before symptoms appear, and aid development of treatments tailored to patients’ unique biology. Right now, patients are diagnosed based on symptoms and signs, even though the disease may have been present in their brain for many years. By shifting classification criteria, researchers can identify disease earlier (even before people may experience symptoms), and target specific patient groups that have more in common with each other biologically, giving drug development a higher chance of success. “If you think of it, it’s quite unusual that we’ve had to wait until Parkinson’s patients have important symptoms before we could make a diagnosis,” said Dr. Ron Postuma, a clinician-scientist at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University and one of the study’s authors. “We don’t wait for someone to feel pain from cancer before we diagnose it. Instead, we detect and diagnose it, hopefully before someone is aware of any symptoms. This research classification is a critical step towards bringing our thinking about Parkinson’s into the 21st century.” McGill University



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