The Short Report – Jan 20, 2021: Western U's antibody test in peer review, Tesla renews contract with Dal lab, Biden elevates role of science advisor to cabinet, and more

Cindy Graham
January 20, 2021


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing $6 million to mobilize knowledge, build research capacity and prepare for future pandemics through its national clinical trials network system, the Canadian Network of COVID-19 Clinical Trials Networks. – GoC

A team of researchers from Western University under Dr. Shawn Li and collaborators at the University of Toronto have developed a five-minute test to determine who has developed COVID-19 antibodies. Faster and more accurate than any approved in Canada, it may help identify and determine immunity from COVID-19, whether from previous infection or vaccination. It is under peer review for publication. – Western

The COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel has released its first report, Priority Strategies to Optimize Testing and Screening for COVID-19 in Canada. The report provides evidence-based advice on science and policy for the latest techniques in COVID-19 testing and screening, including the use of rapid tests. – GoC

The federal government is investing $1 million to support the COVID-19 Evidence Network, a collaboration of Canadian and international partners coordinating COVID-19 R&D to reduce duplication in evidence synthesis, technology assessments and guidelines. The Network is led by Dr. John Lavis (McMaster University). Co-leads are Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute), Dr. Andrea Tricco (SPOR Evidence Alliance at St. Michael's Hospital of Unity Health Toronto), and Dr. Nancy Santesso of Cochrane Canada (McMaster University). – GoC


Six Ontario universities have partnered to provide access to networking and collaborative opportunities for Indigenous and Black students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering. The IBETS Momentum Fellowship comprises the engineering and math faculties at the University of Waterloo and the engineering faculties at McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Western University. – UWaterloo

Enterra (Calgary), an insect-based feed producer for the pet food, poultry and wild bird markets, received $6 million from the Government of Canada through the AgriInnovate Program to improve efficiency and reduce food waste. Its products are shipped throughout North America and it has recently expanded to the EU. – GoC

The federal government will contribute $3.1million from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund to improve productivity and sustainability within the aquaculture, harvesting and seafood processing sectors on Prince Edward Island.– GoC

McGill University and Alimentation Couche-Tard, which has over 14,000 stores globally, are launching a retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management as a live testing ground for frictionless technologies in the retail sector, including autonomous and contactless checkout. – McGill

Toronto-based energy storage innovator e-Zinc raised $2.3 million in a closed round led by BDC Capital's Cleantech Practice. E-Zinc’s technology stores energy in physically-free zinc metal for a fraction of the cost of lithium batteries and for a longer period. A January equity round led by Energy Foundation raised $3.5 million and the company has received $6.5 million in non-dilutive grant funding, including a $1.6 million investment from Natural Resources Canada’s Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada. – Newswire

Venture capital investor TVM Life Science Innovation II SCSp (Munich, Montreal) is investing US $15 million in tissue-imaging innovator Kent Imaging (Calgary) to accelerate the commercialization of its non-invasive tissue assessment technology. – Kent

Western Economic Diversification Canada is granting $1.9 million to the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus to create an innovation hub that will work with manufacturing, mining and lumber companies to create sustainable clean technology products. – GoC

Kanata North Business Association (Ottawa) is building a state-of-the-art global technology centre to promote growth with members of industry, academia and finance (sponsors to be announced). University of Ottawa and Carleton University will establish satellite campuses to provide direct research and training on site. – EP&T HUB 350


Incoming US president Joe Biden has announced his White House science team and elevated the role of presidential science advisor to cabinet for the first time. Dr. Eric Lander is the presidential science advisor-designate and the nominee for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Other members of the team include: Dr. Alondra Nelson, OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society; Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, external Co-Chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health; Kei Koizumi, OSTP Chief of Staff, and Narda Jones, OSTP Legislative Affairs Director. – US Govt.

Dr. Jeffrey Dahn will continue as the NSERC/Tesla Canada Inc. Industrial Research Chair and the Canada Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries, following Tesla’s five-year renewal of its contract with his Dalhousie University lab. Two new chairholders were also appointed: Dr. Chonyin Yang and Dr. Michael Metzger as Tesla Canada Research Chair and Herzberg-Dahn Chair, respectively. – Electric Autonomy, Dalhousie

Former Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins was appointed to the board of directors of health technology solutions company Think Research (Toronto). Hoskins served as the chair of the Federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare and previously served as president of War Child Canada. – Think Research

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