The Short Report: January 31, 2024
January 31, 2024
The Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo together invested more than $15.1 million in two projects to provide Grand River Transit with 11 fully electric, 40-foot buses and new charging units. The projects will increase access to public transit in Waterloo, while also helping cut greenhouse gas emissions and noise. The buses will be bought over two years, the first of which has arrived in Waterloo. The other project will see the installation of the charging units for the new buses. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo bought the buses from Saint-Eustache, Quebec-headquartered Nova Bus, a member of the Volvo group, with a bus-assembly plant and a structural plant in Quebec. The company's activities at its then-GM plant in St.-Eustache started in 1979. Nova Bus was created in 1996 and became a property of Volvo in 2004. Last June, Nova decided ended its bus production in the U.S. market in 2025 to focus on its plants and business in Canada, where it is the market leader. This month, Nova announced it was awarded a five-year contract to provide up to 53 long-range battery-electric buses the the City of Regina in Saskatchewan. The company also is providing up to 541 battery-electric buses to the Toronto Transit Commission. To date, more than 250 infrastructure projects under the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream have been announced in Ontario, with a total federal contribution of more than $5.4 billion and a total provincial contribution of more than $7.1 billion. Infrastructure Canada
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s ElevateIP program has provided $9.9 million to ElevateIP Alberta, delivered on behalf of the University of Calgary in partnership with Innovate Calgary and Economic Development Lethbridge. ElevateIP Alberta aims to support more than 2,500 startups in Alberta by offering comprehensive intellectual property support. This involves fostering an in-depth understanding of IP through collaborations with business accelerators and incubators and extending financial assistance to facilitate the development and execution of effective IP strategies for these startups. ElevateIP Alberta is wrapping up a highly successful pilot program that garnered more than 175 applications from a spectrum of industries, including life and health sciences, clean tech, agriculture and digital media. Participating startups can access funding of up to $15,000 for the development of their IP strategies, along with potential funding of up to $100,000 for implementing these strategies. University of Calgary/Innovate Calgary
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) along with Innovation, Science and Industry and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, announced a $9.3-million investment, through the Green Municipal Fund, to build a new net-zero fire station in the City of Peterborough, Ontario. The new station will replace the existing Fire Station 2 at Carnegie Road, which is over half a century old. The new station, to be constructed from mass timber to reduce carbon footprint, will have automated control systems, ground source heat pumps, solar panels on the rooftop and a heat-recovery system. The green design is expected to save the city an estimated $24,270 per year in operational costs. NRCan
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced an $8.7-million research investment, in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation and its Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, to support 13 research teams studying ways to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in aging. Through this investment, seven teams are researching risk reduction and care for people with dementia; four teams are studying the short- and long-term health risks for caregivers of people with age-related dementia; one team is investigating the impact of infection and inflammation on brain health; and one team is focusing on Indigenous health research and how to provide culturally appropriate care for those impacted by dementia. These grants will also enable the training and mentorship of the next generation of dementia researchers in Canada. According to the latest national data, almost 477,000 people aged 65 and older have been diagnosed with dementia in Canada. Of those living with the condition, nearly two-thirds are women. CIHR
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced $6.8 million – a nearly 14-per-cent increase from last year – to support 30 new livestock and forage research projects this year. The projects which are awarded funding on an annual competitive basis, focus on topics such as the development of a rapid and sensitive pathogen surveillance method for bovine respiratory disease in cattle, development of new red clover cultivars for Western Canada, and African swine fever preparedness with a focus on evaluating manure management and treatment strategies and understanding pathogen survival in mortality management. The funding is provided through the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. In addition to the federal-provincial ADF funding, five industry co-founders contributed a total of $478,597 for eight projects. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Infrastructure Canada announced nearly $6 million for 12 projects under the Research and Knowledge Initiative’s first call for proposals. Through this initiative, the federal government is providing funding to eligible applicants for research projects that tackle housing and infrastructure challenges in Canada’s communities. Examples of project include:
- In Edmonton, a research team led by Jen Beverly, PhD, at the University of Alberta will combine innovative modelling on human behaviour, transportation and wildfires. The project will help communities better plan for and manage emergency responses, infrastructure needs, and evacuation approaches in the event of wildfires.
- In Charlottetown, the Government of Prince Edward Island is making coastal hazard information and floodplain maps publicly available. Once complete, this project will support infrastructure adaptation, better protect communities, and increase resilience in a changing climate.
- The University of Toronto, in collaboration with the City of Toronto and other organizations, will work to better understand how government investments in infrastructure can enable low-carbon mobility choices, while enhancing air quality, public health and equity. Infrastructure Canada
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced a non-repayable contribution of $3.5 million to Cape Breton University (CBU) in Nova Scotia to help equip science classes and laboratories at the university’s new net-zero ready Centre for Discovery and Innovation. These cutting-edge research and teaching facilities will help CBU deliver an enhanced learning experience for students while encouraging technology-based research. The funding is provided under the Canada Coal Transition Initiative - Infrastructure Fund. ACOA
CQDM and Oncopole - Pôle cancer du Fonds de recherche Santé have partnered to support collaborative translational research and development projects on precision care in oncology. This program and call for proposals, which offers up to $1.75 million for R&D, aims to support interventions with a personalized approach that optimize the treatment available to a person affected by cancer, and more specifically via oncogenetics, patient profiling and targeted recruitment for clinical studies. The partnership creates a unique funding opportunity to bring together experts from academia and industry to support the development of biopharmaceutical platforms, tools and biopharmaceuticals that will pave the way for new advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. CQDM
The Canadian Space Agency announced the Aqualunar Challenge, aimed at developing new technologies to purify water on the Moon’s surface, for human deep-space missions. Novel technologies could also help advance water purification processes on Earth. The Challenge is held both in Canada and the United Kingdom. It is delivered by the Canadian Space Agency in partnership with Impact Canada in Canada, and by Challenge Works on behalf of the UK Space Agency in the U.K. Canadian innovators are invited to submit a design concept for their Moon water purification solution before April 8, 2024. Canadian Space Agency
RESEARCH, TECH NEWS & COLLABORATIONS
A University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work research funding proposal written entirely in nêhiyawewin, the Cree language, has been approved for funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, demonstrating SSHRC’s commitment to supporting Indigenous languages in government-funded opportunities. This is the first proposal submitted exclusively in an Indigenous language to be funded by a federal funding agency. The research project’s long-term goal is for Indigenous service providers, such as Children’s Services and other agencies, to understand the vital role that ceremony, language and protocol play in healing. The project’s focus was born from the team’s extensive research and practice experience, which revealed that the languages, protocol, stories and ceremonies of Indigenous Peoples are integral to the healing process, providing insight into a distinct worldview parallel to the Western perspective. Elder Dr. Leona Makokis (nocikwesiw), EdD, alongside Dr. Ralph Bodor (oskâpêwsis), PhD, with Kristina Kopp (âpihtawikosisân), PhD candidate, and Stephanie Tyler (nisoyahk ohci), PhD candidate, were the driving forces behind the proposal. Their primary goal was to ensure that Indigenous language and culture was represented and valued within the evaluation process. Dr. William Ghali, UCalgary’s vice-president (research), said he sees this project as being in alignment with UCalgary’s ii' taa'poh'to'p Indigenous strategy, specifically with the recommendation around preserving Indigenous culture through languages in research. Ted Hewitt, president of SSHRC, said: “As the first Cree-language application to undergo merit review, as we move forward in our support of Indigenous research, pilot projects such as this will be invaluable in exploring new ways of strengthening Indigenous research capacity in Canada.” University of Calgary
See also: SSHRC will consider first-ever research proposal written in Cree language after initially rejecting it
Dr. Chris Fletcher, PhD, an expert in Earth systems modelling and associate professor and chair of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo, is part of the Canadian Space Agency’s $200-milllion High-altitude Aerosols, Water Vapour and Clouds (HAWC) mission. HAWC will provide critical data to support extreme weather prediction, climate modelling, and monitoring of disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, wildfires and extreme precipitation. This mission consists of three innovative Canadian instruments and a Canadian satellite that will be part of the international NASA -led Atmosphere Observing System. “We already have climate prediction models, but the problem is that we need to narrow the level of uncertainty as we project further into the future, like 50 or 100 years from now,” Fletcher said. “This mission will enhance our monitoring capabilities, allowing us to fill in gaps like monitoring the Arctic and other remote regions and make better predictions of climate impacts through to 2100.” With work underway to design and build the instruments, Fletcher and the team will contribute to the pre-launch equipment testing on Earth before the space launch. As the largest Canadian-led space mission in more than a decade, HAWC is part of a wider global effort to reduce uncertainties in climate projection models as identified by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. University of Waterloo
SaskPower has selected Iyuhána Solar to construct and operate Saskatchewan’s largest solar facility to date, a $200-million project in the Estevan area in southeast Saskatchewan. The project will be one of Canada's top 10 solar facilities by size. With a total generating capacity of 100 megawatts, the emissions-free solar facility will produce enough power for the equivalent of approximately 25,000 homes. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2025 and the facility is expected to come online as early as December 2026. Iyuhána Solar is a partnership of New York-headquartered (and with an Ontario office) Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure, Saturn Power Inc. in Baden, Ontario, and Ocean Man First Nation in Saskatchewan. Iyuhána Solar will permit, finance, construct, own, maintain and operate the facility and sell power generated to SaskPower through a 25-year power purchase agreement. As a founding partner, Ocean Man First Nation will have an ownership stake in Iyuhána Solar. Band members will also receive specialized training to maintain the solar facilities and access employment opportunities with the project. Iyuhána, partnering with two of Saskatchewan’s leading post-secondary academic institutions, will provide scholarships, internships and direct research projects in clean energy to benefit the community. SaskPower plans to add at least 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar generation to the province’s system by 2035. SaskPower, Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure
The University of Windsor plans to use tunnels built below campus starting six decades ago as part of a roughly $430-million strategy to become carbon neutral by 2050. UWindsor’s Carbon Neutrality Plan is the result of a year-long study from a consulting firm the university hired to develop its first carbon neutral plan. The first target is a 45-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 2019, the last year before COVID-19 that the campus was fully operational. The 2019 baseline was set with several criteria, including data from in-house tracking systems and utility costs, which were almost $5.7 million for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2019. A major step toward the 2030 target was the unveiling last August of a dual-drive electric-steam turbine chiller – the first of its kind at a Canadian university. The chiller, which drives the heating, cooling and ventilation systems for about 30 buildings across campus, will be responsible for much of the 2030 target. UWindsor estimates the chiller will annually reduce the equivalent of 8,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – akin to removing 2,000 cars from the road – by minimizing natural gas use. The second target is being carbon neutral by 2050. Getting there will include building retrofits, new procurement standards, HVAC upgrades, and a phase-out of the university’s steam plant. UWindsor will install renewable energy sources such as solar power starting over the next couple years. The tunnels below campus – the first ones were built in the 1960s – make it possible for UWindsor to move toward carbon neutrality by 2050. The three-kilometre network of narrow underground passageways carries high-pressure steam, high-voltage cabling and refrigeration lines. The tunnels connect every building on the main campus, feeding them power, steam and water. The physical connection means an upgrade in one building results in improvements to all the buildings, said Gillian Heisz, the university’s vice-president of finance and operations. Windsor Star
Quebec Superior Court Justice David R. Collier has rejected a request by a trio of citizens and the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement environmental law group to obtain an injunction stopping preparatory construction work for the multibillion-dollar Northvolt battery plant in St-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville. The company will therefore be able to resume tree-felling work on its land. In his decision rejecting the injunction request, Judge Collier wrote, “If there is a public interest in protecting the environment, there is also a public interest in protecting the legal certainty of activities authorized by the pubic administration.” Even though the provincial minister had refused a different project on the same site last March, the minister "exercises his discretionary power on a case-by-case basis, according to each proposed project," and the law does not provide “that the minister, by refusing to issue an authorization on a site given, binds its discretionary power for the future on this same site," Judge Collier wrote. The Gazette
Ottawa-based Space Strategies Consulting Ltd. has entered into an agreement with Ansys, a Pennsylvania-based company known for its simulation software, to become an Ansys Channel Partner to support the growing demand for digital mission operations and digital mission modelling in Canada. Wayne Ellis, president of Winnipeg-based AppSpace Solutions Inc., an aero and defence consultancy, will become director, Ansys DME Technology Solutions. Ansys announced earlier this month that it is being acquired by California-headquartered Synopsys, an electronic design automation company, in a US$35-billion deal. Digital mission engineering uses computer-based modelling, simulation, and analysis software to evaluate the mission effectiveness of technology or systems within an operational context. This allows users to analyze operations and outcomes in a realistic environment and reduces the need for physical prototypes. Space Strategies Consulting Ltd.
VC & PRIVATE INVESTMENT
Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Inc. announced that its subsidiary, Recurrent Energy based in Austin, Texas, secured a $500-million preferred equity investment commitment, convertible into common equity, from New York-headquartered BlackRock through a fund managed by BlackRock’s climate infrastructure business. The investment represents 20 per cent of the outstanding fully diluted shares of Recurrent Energy on an as-converted basis. Canadian Solar will continue to own the remaining majority shares of Recurrent Energy after the closing of the deal. The investment will provide Recurrent Energy with additional capital to grow its high-value project development pipeline, while executing its strategy to transition from a pure developer to a developer plus long-term owner and operator in select markets including the U.S. and Europe. Canadian Solar
Ottawa-based e-commerce giant Shopify is investing $260 million in San Francisco-headquartered Flexport, a supply chain logistics firm in which Shopify is one of the biggest shareholders, according to sources in a story reported by The Information. Shopify will get notes that are convertible into Flexport equity in exchange for the money. The investment follows Shopify’s sale of its money-losing logistics business to Flexport in exchange for equity last year. The investment also comes on top of a US$40-million cash infusion into Flexport from Shopify last June as part of the logistics deal. Flexport, which was valued at a peak of US$8 billion in early 2022, has seen a sharp drop in revenue after freight rates tumbled from pandemic-era peaks. Sophic Capital
Toronto-based medical technology company Thornhill Medical was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to supply up to US$356 million of anesthesia and life-support system equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, the agency responsible for managing the medical supply chain for all the Armed Forces of the United States. The five-year contract – with a five-year renewal option – is one of the biggest in years between a small Canadian contractor and the U.S. Department of Defense. Thornhill’s MOVES® SLC™, a rugged, golf bag-sized, 18-kilogram life-support system, is the only micro-integrated life support system that combines an oxygen concentrator, a unique oxygen-conserving ventilator, suction, and complete vital signs monitoring in a single, compact, portable, battery-operated system, which operates without oxygen cylinders. Thornhill’s MADM™ technology is a toaster-sized, in-line gas anesthesia vaporizer that can be hand-carried to safely and accurately deliver gas anesthesia near the front lines. Thornhill was spun out of Toronto’s University Health Network in 2004 by anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph Fisher. Thornhill’s medical technologies are in more than 19 countries and its R&D capabilities continue to grow with more than 40 patents awarded and pending. The company’s U.S. customers include the U.S. Marines Corps and the U.S. Navy, among others. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health has deployed MOVES® SLC™ during the war in Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. Canadian Commercial Corp., The Globe and Mail
Toronto-based climate tech venture capital firm ArcTern Ventures announced US$335 million for its Fund III, including securing new investments from limited partners including TD Bank Group, Allianz, Church Pension Group, OPTrust, Credit Suisse Asset Management and other large institutional investors. Primarily focused on the North American and European markets, ArcTern, which has offices in San Francisco and Oslo, Norway, is committed to deploying its funds in ways that maximize the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) over the lifespan of the fund. Only early growth-stage companies – particularly those undergoing a Series A or B funding round – with the greatest potential for GHG avoidance are selected to become part of ArcTern’s investment portfolio. ArcTerm, previously the MaRS Cleantech Fund, is part of a group of Toronto-based VC funds that have come out of MaRS, alongside Amplify Capital, StandUp Ventures, and Graphite Ventures. ArcTern Ventures
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan led a Series C funding round of US$95 million for Instagrid GmbH, a German maker of portable battery systems designed to replace gasoline-powered generators used to power mobile work in construction, film, events and emergency services. Teachers’ Venture Growth, part of the $250-billion Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, led the round with participation from Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s private equity fund, 1GT. Existing investors Energy Impact Partners, SET Ventures, blueworld.group, and High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as the chair of Instagrid's advisory board, Pierre-Pascal Urbon, also contributed to the round. Instagrid more than doubled revenues in 2023 and will use the funding to continue its growth by entering the North American market, increasing production and expanding its range of mobile power solutions to decarbonize off-grid power. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
Former Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) chief executive Mark Machin and a former senior lieutenant are raising a US$500-million growth capital fund to back artificial intelligence startup companies in Canada and abroad. Intrepid Growth Partners is led by Machin and Mark Shulgan, who worked together at the CPPIB when Shulgan co-founded and led the pension fund’s growth equity unit from 2009 to 2018. Their new fund seeks to invest in fast-growing AI companies that have reached US$10-million in annual sales and are on a path to achieve profitability. The firm will look to lead investment rounds, committing US$30 million to US$50 million per initial financing per company. The pair have hired principal Grant Wallace, who was previously an associate at Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System working under Shulgan, who led the pension fund’s growth equity unit until last April. Intrepid Growth Partners is hoping to raise about US$200 million in a “first close” for the fund by mid-year, which would allow it to start deploying capital into deals. The Globe and Mail
Toronto-based Cross-Border Impact Ventures Ltd. (CBIV), a women-owned venture capital fund, announced the closing of its first fund after exceeding $135 million in commitments. CBIV’s Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund is focused on investments in technology companies that address the health needs of women, children and adolescents or make health systems more resilient. CBIV invests in early growth-stage startups commercializing medical devices, and diagnostic, therapeutic and digital health solutions. Limited partners for Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund include KfW Development Bank, Global Health Investment Corporation, Grand Challenges Canada, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation, Hamilton Community Foundation, RockCreek, The Equality Fund, Rally Total Impact Fund, M&G’s Catalyst, Wire Group, Fondation du Grand Montréal, the McConnell Foundation and family offices. The fund also has a guarantee from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The fund will invest primarily in companies in North America, Europe and Israel in large markets with unmet needs. Private Capital Journal
Femtech Canada, a women’s health network initiative operated by Hamilton, Ontario-based business accelerator Innovation Factory, celebrated its official launch. Femtech Canada is the first organization in the country dedicated to advancing women's health innovation, commercialization and investment. Femtech Canada represents and supports companies with technologies that cater to the health and wellness needs of women, girls, non-binary individuals, trans people, and those assigned female at birth – thereby shaping a more inclusive and effective healthcare landscape. The team provides strategic networking, training and business advisory support including fundraising and mentorship. Femtech Canada has assembled a strong ecosystem with more than 120 Canadian women’s health startups and scale-ups, industry partners, investors, accelerators and service providers. Rachel Bartholomew, the founder of Femtech Canada (and founder of Hyivy Health, a women’s health company) began the initiative more than two years ago, enabling Femtech Canada to serve as a platform for companies to come together to share knowledge and connections while addressing barriers ranging from a lack of resources and investment to advertising bans and talent shortages. Innovation Factory
Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP), a health science accelerator, is partnering with the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) to offer new support to accelerate the health science industry’s use of cutting-edge technologies. TIAP, a partner of OBIO’s Life Sciences Critical Technologies and Commercialization Centre of Excellence, will deliver the centre’s “De-Risking of Emerging Technologies and Venture Creation” funding stream. OBIO’s centre provides infrastructure, commercialization, technology adoption and talent programming to Ontario SMEs and emerging technologies to advance innovative made-in-Ontario ventures utilizing critical technologies. Under the new funding stream delivered by TIAP, emerging life sciences technologies and early-stage ventures utilizing 5G and advanced networks, blockchain, cybersecurity, ethical artificial intelligence, quantum computing and/or robotics are eligible to receive up to $200,000 to be applied to technology development and/or executive advisory support. Click here for more information or to apply. TIAP
GeologicAI, a Calgary-based startup providing digital rock analysis, has secured a $20-million investment from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, billionaire Bill Gates’s climate-focused venture firm and one of the world’s leading cleantech investors. GeologicAI is planning to expand its 175-person staff to 2,000 people globally over the next two years, in countries that include Chile, Brazil, Africa and Australia – all major mining centres. Last September, GeologicAI received US$10 million from Export Development Canada as an extension to its Series A financing round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures. GeologicAI’s technology combines hardware, software and advanced machine learning into an integrated digital rock analytics platform. A proprietary core-scanning robot uses a unique blend of high-resolution multi-sensor data to analyze rock samples, which the company says provides unparalleled accuracy in identifying resources hidden beneath the Earth’s surface. Advanced machine vision and AI algorithms convert scan data to key rock properties, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming laboratory testing and reliance on subjective manual interpretation. GeologicAI’s cloud-based digital rock viewing and analysis software gives geologists worldwide instant access to high-resolution AI-enhanced digital rock twins and automated digital geoscience workflows. The company’s technology represents a transformation from traditional core logging practices that include drilling rock samples and manual data entries. Rapid development and expansion of critical mineral production – needed for batteries, wind turbines and solar panels — is considered key to a net-zero transition. GeologicAI, Calgary Herald
Toronto-based Spellbook, which offers a generative AI contract-drafting tool to legal practitioners for contract reviewing and drafting, raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Inovia Capital. Thomson Reuters Ventures, The Legaltech Fund, Bling Capital, Moxxie Ventures, Concrete Ventures, Path Ventures, N49P and Good News Ventures also participated in the round. Spellbook plans to use the new capital to continue innovating within the legal AI sector and partnering with law firms. The company aims to scale up from working with more than 1,700 law firms and legal teams to 30,000 law firms worldwide. Spellbook
Vancouver-headquartered Beatdapp, whose technology detects streaming fraud in the music industry, closed a $23.5 million all-equity fundraising round, together with new partnerships with SoundExchange and streaming service Napster as well as a strategic collaboration with Universal Music Group. The round was led by Saltagen Ventures, as well as angel investors Larry Fichtner and Jamie King, with participation from existing investors. In 2023, Beatdapp analyzed more than 2 trillion streams and 20 trillion data points. The new financing will be invested in hiring senior leaders, expanding the data science and technical teams, and entering new markets, including Asia, India and Europe. Founded in 2018, Beatdapp aims to help digital service providers, music labels and music distributors discover fraudulent streams. T-Net
Toronto-based Bagel Network, a decentralized machine learning data network, closed $4.18 million in a pre-seed franchise round. The round was led by CoinFund with participation from Protocol Labs, Borderless Capital, Maven11 Capital, Graph Paper Capital and Breed VC. Bagel Network, whose platform combines web3 and AI, aims to establish the largest machine learning data network, connecting all of artificial and human intelligence for a world of open, decentralized innovation AI. This funding will be used to bolster internal operations and further drive Bagel Network's development of its data ecosystem. Bagel Network said its technology redefines the AI data landscape by creating a two-sided marketplace where machine learning engineers, researchers, and AI agents collaboratively build, trade and license datasets. Bagel Network
Vancouver-based STEMCELL Technologies, Canada’s largest biotechnology company, announced the acquisition of Propagenix Inc., a Maryland-based bitotech company focused on developing technologies to enable new approaches in regenerative medicine. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Propgenix’s patented EpiX technology has the potential to address clinical needs in replacing a patient’s own damaged barrier tissues, like skin and intestinal tissue, with engineered tissue solutions. The acquisition enables STEMCELL to develop products based on EpiX technology for clinical applications. STEMCELL Technologies
Vancouver-based Skylab Technologies, developers of an innovative photo processing service that makes high-quality retouching accessible to anyone in the world, was acquired by Raleigh, North Carolina-based ImageQuix, which provides workflow and e-commerce software for the high-volume photography industry. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Skylab was founded by accomplished photographer TJ Rak and machine learning expert Alireza Shafaei. T-Net
Italy-based Objectway Group, a fintech provider of software and services to banks, wealth and asset managers, acquired Toronto-based Nest Wealth, which provides digital solutions aimed at helping financial institutions, asset managers and custodians manage client investments. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Objectway plans to add Nest Wealth’s client onboarding and financial planning solutions to enhance its own wealth and investment management offering. Nest Wealth said the acquisition will accelerate the company’s expansion in new markets, including Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Objectway
Ontario-based Trillium Health Partners (THP) announced a $10-million donation from local family and long-time supporters Brent and Jodie Cator. The donation will increase the size of THP’s diagnostic imaging program by 66 per cent within the future home of The Peter Gilgan Mississauga Hospital, set to become Canada’s largest hospital. THP’s diagnostic imaging program, already among the most innovative in Ontario, will be renamed The Cator Family Diagnostic Imaging Program, and aims for earlier detection, fewer follow-up tests and an improved patient experience. The family’s donation will unlock investments that will help expand after-hour screening services, launch new programs and integrate AI tools to provide staff with enhanced diagnostics and the ability to improve patient safety. Among the program’s changes will be:
- The Emergency Department will gain 24/7 access to a Satellite Diagnostic Imaging Centre for swift diagnoses, with portable X-rays and ultrasounds facilitating rapid bedside care.
- An increase in diagnostic imaging rooms and equipment across THP’s three sites, including seven additional ultrasound rooms and five more catheterization laboratories.
- Learner facilities at Mississauga Hospital and increased interventional suites at Mississauga Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital.
- Separation of inpatient and outpatient services at Mississauga Hospital and separation of all outpatient services at Queensway Health Centre. Trillium Health Partners
REPORTS & POLICIES
Queen’s University budget deficit highlights Ontario universities' challenge
Recent comments by Queen’s University Provost Matthew Evans highlight a financial challenge facing Ontario universities. Evans told a town hall meeting on campus in December that the university has a projected budget deficit and is expected to exhaust its reserve funds by 2025-2026, with the Faculty of Arts and Science running out of funding as early as 2025, according to a report by the Queen’s Journal student newspaper. “Unless we sort this out, we will go under,” Evans, who is also the university’s chief operating and budget office, is reported as saying. Evans said six other Ontario universities are similarly nearing bankruptcy, but he didn’t identify them. According to Kingston’s Economic Development Corporation, Queen’s University is the biggest public sector employee in the city, employing more than 9,000.
Anyone reading national news coverage of Queen University's financial situation “will likely have seen headlines suggesting Queen’s is losing its position as a top tier institution and may be under threat of financial ruin. I can assure you none of this is true,” Patrick Deane, principal of Queen’s University, said in a statement, after a recording and transcript of the town hall were publicized by the advocacy group Queens Student vs. Cuts on its Instagram account. “Let me be very clear that there is no risk that Queen’s in any foreseeable future will close its doors. The university continues to provide for and produce some of the best minds in Canada and that will be its future,” Deane said.
Deane said while the current financial situation for Queen’s poses challenges, the same is true for most postsecondary institutions in Ontario. “The current economic situation combined with chronic underfunding by government and caps on enrolment have significantly strained our resources. That strain will continue to be felt in the coming year, but I know that as we have done in the past, we will face whatever obstacles lie ahead and emerge stronger for our efforts.”
Queen’s is planning for a deficit of $48 million this year, an improvement on earlier projections for a deficit of more than $60 million. The operating shortfall is expected to be covered by university reserves, as was last year’s deficit of more than $50 million, according to university’s financial statements. Queen’s has been hard hit by a provincial government decision to cut tuition by 10 per cent in 2019 and freeze it at that level ever since. A blue-ribbon panel report on the financial sustainability of the postsecondary sector last November recommended that universities be allowed to raise domestic tuition fees by five per cent next year to address their financial pressures. The Ford government is still evaluating the report’s recommendations.
Faculty and staff layoffs at Queen’s aren’t planned, but they’re highly probable, Evans told the town hall. To prevent the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) from going bankrupt after the exhaustion of its $163 million carry-forward fund next year, a system of cross-faculty subsidization will be implemented. The future of many FAS departments – Evans used the department of classics and archaeology as an example – depends on financial support from other faculties. However, there aren’t existing plans for the department’s shutdown.
Staff and faculty questioned Evans on why the university hasn’t dipped into its $600-million accumulated surplus or why senior administrators haven’t taken pay cuts to alleviate the financial strain. Leaked documents revealed the FAS will cut undergraduate courses with less than 10 students next year, and graduate courses with less than five students in 2025-26. Cuts may be overridden at the discretion of the FAS Dean, but no process for this was laid out at the town hall. Adjunct professors will also be terminated, although there is no specific timeline for this process. Last year, Queen’s University suspended admissions to its undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Art program, and it has instituted a hire freeze for faculty and staff.
Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, wrote in a commentary on the company's website that it's important to distinguish between Queen's University's overall financial health and its operating budget. In the past 10 years, only one year (2021-22) has seen Queen's post a deficit, and the cumulative surplus over the last decade is about $680 million, he wrote. "As a result of these surpluses, if you look at the big institutional metrics, the university looks healthy. It far exceeds key provincial metrics with respect to financial sustainability." However, Queen's is "unusually reliant" on donors and invested income to make up shortfalls in its operating budget, he noted. "The operating budget needs to come back into balance." Higher Education Strategy Associates
United Steelworkers Local 2010, which represents several Queen’s University employees, said it’s considering filing a grievance after four of the union’s members received indefinite notices on January 17, with a fifth member expected to be laid off soon. Queen’s Journal, Global News, The Globe and Mail
Ontario taking measures to protect integrity of postsecondary education
The Government of Ontario announced it will introduce a suite of measures “to protect students and improve the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education.” The measures are in response to the recent spike in international students coming to Canada, including predatory practices by bad-actor recruiters, misinformation regarding citizenship and permanent residency, false promises of guaranteed employment, and inadequate housing for students, said Jill Dunlop, minister of Colleges and Universities.
To protect the integrity of postsecondary education and promote employment in critical sectors like health care and the skilled trades, the government’s measures will include:
Colleges and Universities
- Institute a review of programs offered by postsecondary institutions that have a sizeable amount of international students to ensure that program quality protects Ontario’s reputation as a world leader in education and meets Ontario’s labour market demands.
- Ensure that programs being offered are meeting the needs of the labour market so that students can build a life in Ontario once their education is complete.
- Introduce a moratorium on new public college-private partnerships while further work is done to strengthen oversight mechanisms and ensure the quality of existing partnerships.
- Implement measures to improve the response rate to student outcome surveys that will help ensure the best academic outcomes are being achieved.
- Require all colleges and universities to have a guarantee that housing options are available for incoming international students.
- Better integrate enforcement efforts across ministries to strengthen oversight of career colleges, including enhanced data management, documentation processes, and the efficacy of compliance investigations, ensuring timely responses to concerns and complaints.
The Ontario government said it will also work with sector partners and the federal government to explore ways to “further crack down on bad-actor recruiters who take advantage of international students and make dubious claims of employment and citizenship.” The government is also continuing to evaluate the recommendations on postsecondary financial stability that were submitted by the blue-ribbon panel late last year. As this review process continues, the government said it will work closely with the sector to reach an outcome that provides stability and certainty for postsecondary institutions and students alike, with further details to be announced by the end of February. Govt. of Ontario
B.C. launches new critical minerals strategy
The Government of British Columbia launched 11 key actions under Phase 1 of its new B.C. Critical Minerals Strategy, aimed at building a clean economy by expanding the critical minerals sector in alignment with the standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Critical minerals, such as copper, nickel and molybdenum, are essential components in products used for clean energy like electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, electrical transmission lines and batteries.
The first phase of the Critical Minerals Strategy launches 11 key actions, including:
- taking action to expedite critical minerals projects and maximize federal funding opportunities through a new Critical Minerals Project Advancement Office.
- a B.C. critical minerals atlas to provide world-class geoscience data that is always current, and to support exploration and land-use planning.
- alignment of Provincial and First Nations Energy and Mining Council critical minerals strategies, and continued engagement with First Nations across the province.
- B.C. to work in partnership with First Nations and industry to identify and advance critical-mineral infrastructure like the North Coast Transmission Line that's essential to critical mineral development and growth, supported by a $36-billion BC Hydro capital plan.
- taking action to ensure the highest environmental, social and governance standards, including a new Energy and Mines Digital Trust project that empowers major mining operators in B.C. to be more transparent about where and how their products are made.
Next steps to expand B.C.’s Critical Minerals Strategy will include actions to support First Nations participation in projects, including economic analysis and support for First Nations’ capacity building to develop and refine policies and actions, the government said. “As the economy transitions to clean energy, B.C. and the world are going to need critical minerals to build electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and more,” said Josie Osborne, B.C.’s minister of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “With rich mineral deposits, B.C. has a generational opportunity to drive growth and create new jobs for people across the entire value chain of critical minerals, from mining to manufacturing to recycling.” Govt. of B.C.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner releases new strategic plan
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced its new Strategic Plan 2024-2027. The plan comes as Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022, aimed at modernizing federal private-sector privacy law and artificial intelligence regulation, is currently before Parliament. The OPC’s new strategic plan also comes amid studies that show 93 per cent of the Canadian population has some level of concern about their privacy, the OPC said. “This widespread apprehension is rooted in worries related to, for example, identity theft, profiling by social media platforms, and the potential misuse of online information by businesses, including in making decisions impacting jobs, residence, insurance or health coverage.” Only four in 10 Canadians say they feel that businesses, particularly in sectors like social media, big tech, retailers and telecommunications, respect their privacy, the OPC said. “These figures underscore our critical role in advocating for individuals’ privacy and in guiding organizations toward privacy-protective innovation, enabling trust in the digital economy.”
The OPC’s new strategic plan includes three key strategic priorities:
- Protecting and promoting privacy with maximum impact
- Addressing and advocating for privacy in this time of technological change
- Championing children’s privacy rights
“These priorities are where we believe that we can have the greatest impact and where the greatest risks lie if they are not addressed,” said Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne.
For priority #1, the initiatives to advance this priority are:
- Increase the use of information and data to identify trends and assist with decision-making
- Provide focused guidance and outreach
- Cultivate and leverage strategic partnerships
- Plan for the effective implementation of potential new privacy legislation
These initiatives are aimed at achieving: optimized programs and services; increased compliance in areas with the biggest impact on privacy; and federal privacy law reforms and regulations that are positively influenced by OPC’s interventions.
For priority #2, the initiatives are:
- Strengthen OPC’s tech-focused alignment
- Augment OPC’s capacity around advanced and emerging technologies
- Maximize external partnerships involved in tech
- Establish privacy standards for technologies
These initiatives are expected to achieve: timely and aligned guidance, advance and compliance activities; an enhanced capacity to proactively anticipate, evaluate and swiftly respond to privacy challenges in emerging technologies; and partnerships that complement OPC’s areas of involvement and technological capacity.
For priority #3, the initiatives are:
- Enhance our knowledge and expertise
- Engage youth for informed education and outreach
- Apply a children’s privacy lens to compliance work
- Cultivate networks and partnerships
These initiatives are intended to achieve: deepened understanding and appreciation of youth-related audiences, privacy risks and issues; meaningful engagements and partnerships that increase reach; positive changes among organizations, parents/caregivers, and youth to uphold children’s right to privacy.
Meanwhile, the Government of Alberta announced an initiative to strengthen privacy protections for Albertans. Over the next 18 months, Nate Glubish, minister of Technology and Innovation, will launch a series of initiatives to further strengthen Albertan’s privacy rights. This will include a proposal to amend Alberta’s privacy legislation to ensure that the penalties for misusing the data of Albertans or violating their privacy are the strongest in Canada. The Ministry of Technology and Innovation will also create a portal to ensure Albertans can see how their data is being used and provide an avenue for people to file a complaint if they feel their data has been misused. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta reviewed and provided feedback on the frameworks and supports both initiatives. OPC, Govt. of Alberta
Quebec City is a fast-growing economic “tiger”
Quebec City is one of the fastest-growing large metropolitan economies in Canada, with currently the second-best performing economy in Canada, according to a report by Policy Options, the digital magazine of the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy. From 2001 to 2019, Quebec City registered the fastest growth of real GDP per work-age person among Canada’s 11 largest metropolitan areas. This common measure of economic performance is the real output an economy produces per person aged, say, 15 to 64. Quebec City’s real GDP per work-age person in 2019 is surpassed only by Calgary’s, the report says – making Quebec City the second-best performing economy in Canada. If Quebec City’s advantage over Calgary in real per-capita growth persists (43 per cent compared to 15 per cent from 2001-2019), Quebec City will soon be Canada’s most productive major metropolitan area.
“Quebec City’s impressive performance is the product of a combination of factors: strong social capital, sustained investments in education, openness to entrepreneurial flair, a strong local identity, and, not least, astute political leadership,” said the report’s coauthors Pierre Fortin, emeritus professor of economics at the Université du Québec à Montréal, and Mario Polèse, professor emeritus at Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Montreal.
The Greater Quebec City Area has a population of 850,000 and is remarkably homogenous, they note. Barely seven per cent of the population was born outside Canada. Ninety-seven per cent of the population has French as their language spoken at home. No major Canadian metropolis is as linguistically and ethnically homogeneous. As American political scientist Robert Putnam defined it, social capital is the shared rules and values that facilitate informal and contractual relationships. New ideas are adopted more readily in societies with strong social capital. It is difficult to sustain in societies with sharp inequalities.
Quebec City is the least unequal of the 11 listed metropolitan areas, according to Statistics Canada’s Gini coefficient and the ratio of the 10-per-cent richest to 10-per-cent poorest. Add to this other redistributive measures such as low post-secondary cost (Quebec’s CEGEPs are tuition-free, and university fees are the lowest in the country) and subsidized childcare (early childhood centres have a $9.10 daily fee). At the local level, the most evident measure of social capital is low crime. Here again, Quebec City stands out with the lowest crime rate and lowest crime severity index among all 35 of Canada’s metropolitan areas.
Quebec City counts the highest percentage (82.9 per cent) of individuals aged 25 to 54 with a postsecondary degree among Canada’s 11 major metro areas. This population includes CEGEP graduates, a uniquely Quebec institution. “It is in this intermediary category of skilled workers that Quebec City excels. The region has manifestly succeeded in keeping these skilled workers at home,” the co-authors say.
They point out that the region has built on an entrepreneurial base that goes back to the 19th century in finance (Desjardins, the first caisse populaire founded 1900), insurance (Industrial Alliance, founded 1892), and manufacturing (Price Paper, founded 1820; Davie Shipbuilding, founded 1825). Compared with other Canadian cities, Quebe City has above-average employment in electronic equipment and component manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical and precision instruments, software publishers and engineering services.
Quebec City’s economic development strategy, unlike others that focus on specific industries, promotes entrepreneurship as a general objective without playing favourites. And, unlike other metropolitan areas, manufacturing employment has not declined, attributable in part to its sister city, Lévis, across the river, which manages 14 industrial parks, and has added to the double advantage of low energy costs and presence of a container port. “All told, Quebec City’s story demonstrates the role of investments in social infrastructure, beautification, and quality of life in urban economic development,” say co-authors Fortin and Polèse. Policy Options
Renewable energy capacity additions hit new record in 2023
Global annual renewable energy capacity additions increased by almost 50 per cent to nearly 510 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, the fastest growth rate in the past two decades, according to the new Renewables 2023 report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), with analysis and forecasts to 2028. Last year was the 22nd year in a row that renewable capacity additions set a new record. While the increases in renewable capacity in Europe, the United States and Brazil hit all-time highs, China’s acceleration “was extraordinary,” the IEA said. In 2023, China commissioned as much solar PV as the entire world did in 2022, while its wind energy additions also grew by 66 per cent year-on-year. The IEA’s forecast shows that China is expected to reach its national 2030 target for wind and solar PV installations this year, six years ahead of schedule. At the end of the forecast period to 2030, almost half of China’s electricity generation is expected to come from renewable energy sources.
In 2023, an estimated 96 per cent of newly installed, utility-scale solar PV and onshore wind capacity had lower generation costs than new coal and natural gas plants. In addition, three-quarters of new wind and solar PV plants offered cheaper power than existing fossil fuel facilities. Wind and solar PV systems will become more cost-competitive during the forecast period, the IEA said. Globally, solar PV alone accounted for three-quarters of renewable capacity additions worldwide in 2023.
Under existing policies and market conditions, global renewable capacity is forecast to reach 7,300 GW by 2028. This growth trajectory would see global capacity increase to 2.5 times its current level by 2030, falling short of the goal of tripling global renewable power capacity by 2030 – the target that world governments set last year at the United Nations COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates. Governments can close the gap to reach more than 11,000 GW by 2030 by overcoming current challenges and implementing existing policies more quickly, the IEA said. These challenges fall into four main categories and differ by country:
- policy uncertainties and delayed policy responses to the new macroeconomic environment
- insufficient investment in grid infrastructure preventing faster expansion of renewables
- cumbersome administrative barriers and permitting procedures and social acceptance issues
- insufficient financing in emerging and developing economies.
The IEA’s report’s accelerated case shows that addressing those challenges can lead to almost 21-per-cent higher growth of renewables, pushing the world towards being on track to meet the global tripling pledge. In the accelerated case, which assumes enhanced implementation of existing policies and targets, the G20 could triple their collective installed capacity by 2030.
In the main case forecast in the IEA’s report, almost 3,700 GW of new renewable capacity comes online over the 2023‑2028 period, driven by supportive policies in more than 130 countries. Solar PV and wind will account for 95 per cent of global renewable expansion, benefiting from lower generation costs than both fossil and non‑fossil fuel alternatives.
Over the coming five years, several renewable energy milestones are expected to be achieved:
- In 2024, wind and solar PV together generate more electricity than hydropower.
- In 2025, renewables surpass coal to become the largest source of electricity generation.
- Wind and solar PV each surpass nuclear electricity generation in 2025 and 2026 respectively.
- In 2028, renewable energy sources account for more than 42 per cent of global electricity generation, with the share of wind and solar PV doubling to 25 per cent.
On the negative side of the ledger, in 2023 new renewable energy capacity financed in advanced economies was exposed to higher base interest rates than in China and the global average for the first time. Since 2022, central bank base interest rates have increased from below one per cent to almost five per cent. In emerging and developing economies, renewables developers have been exposed to higher interest rates since 2021, resulting in higher costs hampering faster expansion of renewables.
Moreover, inflation has increased equipment costs for onshore and offshore wind and partly for solar PV (excluding module costs). Also, policy has been relatively slow to adjust to the new macroeconomic environment due in part to expectations that cost reductions would continue together with permitting challenges. This has left several auctions for renewable energy in advanced economies undersubscribed, particularly in Europe. Additionally, some developers whose power purchase contracts were signed prior to these macroeconomic changes have had to cancel their projects.
The wind industry has experienced a significant decline in market value as European and North American wind turbine manufacturers have seen negative net margins for seven consecutive quarters due to volatile demand, limited raw material access, economic challenges and rising interest rates. Offshore wind has been hit hardest by the new macroeconomic environment, with its expansion through 2028 revised down by 15 per cent outside China. In 2023, developers cancelled or postponed 15 GW of offshore wind projects in the U.S. and U.K.
Renewable power capacity dedicated to hydrogen-based fuel production is forecast to grow by 45 GW between 2023 and 2028, representing only an estimated seven per cent of announced project capacity for the period. “Despite announcements of new projects and pipelines, the progress in planned projects has been slow,” the IEA said. “The main reason is the slow pace of bringing planned projects to final investment decisions due to a lack of off‑takers and the impact of higher prices on production costs. The development of an international hydrogen market is a key uncertainty affecting the forecast, particularly for markets that have limited domestic demand for hydrogen.” IEA
THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities
Peter Cowan, a recognized leader in intellectual property strategy, will become Innovate BC’s next president and CEO, effective February 5, 2024. Cowan is currently on the governance committee for the College of Patent and Trademark Agents. Most recently, he held the interim CEO role as Intellectual Property Ontario’s first CEO where he led the launch of a new IP agency for the Province of Ontario, which developed and launched innovative IP programs that helped researchers and companies maximize the value of their IP. Cowan is also the founder of Northworks IP and co-founder and past board member of the Innovation Asset Collective, Canada’s first patent collective. His more than 25 years of experience spans a diverse range of roles in the innovation ecosystem, from startups, multi-national organizations and venture capital corporations to non-profits and innovation-based government agencies. GlobeNewswire
Dr. Verna Yu was appointed provost and vice-president of the University of Alberta. Yu, who took on the role in an interim capacity in July 2022, has been guiding the development of the university’s new strategic plan, Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact. Moving forward as provost, she will continue to lead the implementation of Shape to grow the U of A’s reputation and impact on an international scale. Yu completed her undergraduate degree, medical degree and residency at U of A. She has also served in several other leadership roles in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, including interim dean (2011), vice-dean (2008-2011), and assistant dean, student affairs (2000-2008), in addition to her clinical practice and professorship in the Department of Pediatrics. She also served as the president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services for more than six years. University of Alberta
Dr. Laura Middleton, a researcher in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, has received a grant of more than $979,000 over four years from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The funding is for a project called Dementia Lifestyle Intervention for Getting Healthy Together (DELIGHT). Middleton, the Schlegel Research Chair in Dementia and Active Living, leads the project alongside Dr. Heather Keller and Dr. Carrie McAiney, both in the Faculty of Health. The DELIGHT program is an eight-week multi-component healthy lifestyle program for people living with dementia and their care partners. The project will build on promising results from previous pilots, adapting DELIGHT to new contexts by working with diverse organizations and audiences so that it can be implemented in community centres, rural communities and cultural centres that service the Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking communities. Dr. Carrie McAiney, who the leads the Forward with Dementia project, also received $435,492 funding from PHAC. The Forward with Dementia initiative is expanding across Canada by adapting resources, developing website content, and designing and implementing campaign strategies to address stigma within diverse cultural and linguistic groups, specifically Chinese, South Asian and Italian communities, McAiney said. University of Waterloo
Dr. Nikolas Knowles, a researcher in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, has received a Stars Career Development Award from Arthritis Society Canada in recognition of his research on improving early detection and treatment of shoulder osteoarthritis (OA). The Stars Career Development Awards program rewards emerging academics with a three-year funding commitment of $375,000, matched with an additional three years of funding by the researcher’s host institution. Recent advances in biomechanical and imaging technologies now allow for significant advancements to detect early disease characteristics that may allow for improved diagnosis and early treatment of OA before reaching end-stage, Knowles said. His research will use these technologies and OA knowledge to provide strategies to significantly improve healthy pain-free years for individuals across the spectrum of shoulder OA, from at risk-populations, to those with established OA. University of Waterloo
Tamara Vrooman left her role as chairperson of the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), effective January 27, 2024, after being appointed in 2021 for a three-year tenure. Under her guidance, CIB’s portfolio expanded significantly, reaching more than 50 investment communities. This includes 45 projects that have reached financial closure and 36 that are in active construction or operation. Additionally, she played a key role in expanding CIB’s mandate to support a low-carbon economy transition and enhance Indigenous partnerships. In the interim, Jane Bird, a member of CIB’s board of directors since the inaugural board was appointed in 2017, will assume responsibility for overseeing the CIB until a permanent chairperson is appointed by the Governor in Council. Infrastructure Canada
Rechie Valdez, minister of Small Business and minister responsible for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced four new appointments to the BDC’s board of directors. The new appointees are:
- Lena Bullock, chief financial officer at Frind Properties Ltd. She brings over 32 years of senior-level experience in financial planning and analysis for corporations.
- Michael Ladha, vice-president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, where he is responsible for all legal, governance, supply chain and procurement matters. He has more than 14 years’ experience as an executive and corporate director.
- Konata Lake, a partner at Torys LLP and is head of the firm’s Emerging Companies and Venture Capital Group and a member of the firm's Mergers and Acquisitions Group. He brings over 15 years of experience representing businesses on all aspects of corporate transactional matters.
- Melanie Nadeau, chief executive officer at COVE, an industry-led commercialization centre and global tech hub. She brings over 20 years of experience in business development initiatives. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
CQDM, a Montreal-based not-for-profit biopharmaceutical consortium, announced the appointment of two new directors to the organization’s board. They are: Michele D'Elia, executive director, medical and scientific affairs at Roche Diagnostics; and Dr. Pierre Côte, PhD, global senior director for immunology’s new pipeline portfolio at Sanofi US. CQDM said these additions to the board of directors will bring a depth of experience and a wealth of knowledge to the life sciences sector, thereby consolidating and facilitating biopharmaceutical innovation in Quebec and Canada. CQDM
A University of Alberta research team has uncovered a universal biological marker for myasthenia gravis with the aim of developing a simple, fast and accessible diagnostic test for the rare autoimmune disease. Affecting one in 5,000 people of all ages, but mostly women under 40 or men over 60, myasthenia gravis means “severe muscle weakness.” Patients may experience drooping eyelids, double vision, difficulty speaking, chewing, breathing and controlling their limbs, and in rare, severe cases the condition can be fatal. In newly published research, the team used advanced proteomics techniques and discovered blood levels of the protein fibrinogen in myasthenia gravis patients at 1,000 times the level found in both healthy controls and patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disorder. Current blood tests for myasthenia gravis assess one of three antibodies and can take several weeks to get results. Depending on the type of disease, the tests may be negative in 15 to 50 per cent of patients who have myasthenia gravis but no antibodies. The symptoms of myasthenia gravis can be confused with other neurological conditions such as stroke or multiple sclerosis so, on average, an accurate diagnosis may take up to two years. Principal investigator and neurologist Dr. Zaeem Siddiqi hopes the biomarker may also be useful in future to determine how well patients are responding to treatment. A further study to confirm the findings and early development of the simpler, more rapid diagnostic test are in the works. This study is part of a larger project led by co-author Dr. Richard Fahlman, PhD, a U of A biochemistry professor, to bring the test to market, through Alberta Innovates’ Accelerating Innovations into CarE – Concepts program. University of Alberta
The University of Toronto is offering a graduate course in electric vehicle systems that combines a theoretical background in power and energy flow with hands-on experience. As demand grows for automotive engineers in the fast-growing electrification field, the multidisciplinary course –offered through the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering – aims to give graduate students a solid understanding of the concepts needed to design high-performance EV systems. The new course, launched in fall 2023, comes amid efforts to build Stellantis-LGES and Volkswagen battery plants in Ontario, creating the need for more engineers with EV technology skills. The laboratory setup, situated in the department’s undergraduate Energy Systems Lab, took six months to develop and incorporated research from the University of Toronto Electric Vehicle Research Centre into the hardware and software requirements. The setup – with components arranged on lab tables, “as if a bench-top EV” – includes a dynamometer that simulates how the road applies loading force to the vehicle propulsion system, a lithium-ion battery, hardware switches to selectively connect the battery to motor and charger, and a power supply to act as the on-board charger. The lab also has EV supply equipment that one would actually see in a home. To do this, the lab customized the connection between its charger and power distribution panel to allow students to step through the communications interface required for the vehicle to engage the charging sequence. University of Toronto