The Short Report - July 29, 2020: Facebook Canada moves against online hate, Alberta rediscovers R&D grants, and more

Mark Mann
July 29, 2020


The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) will give $4.8 million to Trent University to support the creation of the Trent Enterprise Centre (TEC) in the university's upcoming Cleantech Commons, a green technology research and innovation site set to be built on 85 acres of campus land. TEC will offer shared labs, space for technology assessment, demonstration and piloting, office space, and scale-up facilities to support the commercialization of clean technologies. - TrentU

Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan are using the Canadian Light Source synchrotron to examine the structure of the COVID-19 virus at a molecular level. Using X-ray "light" millions of times brighter than the sun, the synchrotron acts as one of the world's most powerful microscopes. Researchers are using the synchroton to answer questions like how the coronavirus is transmitted through airborne droplets. - CBC

University of Lethbridge researchers, in partnership with scientists at Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API), received funding from MITACS to develop a drug to treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The partnership between the university and API is made possible through a one-year MITACS Accelerate grant worth $210,000. - Praire Post

Facebook Canada announced that it is investing $500,000 over five years and teaming up with Ontario Tech University's Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism to create what it calls the Global Network Against Hate. The network will look for emerging trends in online extremism and developing strategies, policies and tools to counter them. - CBC


A new report by Statistics Canada indicates that online shopping in Canada has more than doubled this year due to the lockdown. While total retail sales fell by 17.9% between February and May,  Internet-based sales surged by 99.3% in the same period, as e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May. - Baystreet

"The COVID-19 crisis generates an ironic opportunity for Canada because it induced structural changes normally spread over years into a few months, which should compel our policymakers to update their strategies. We can use this moment to start building an innovative, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient national economy,” Jim Balsillie said at a recent ITWC virtual conference. -


Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (COS) announced the Ocean Aware Project for Atlantic Canada with $29 million in funding to help marine-industry and tech companies develop and test new technology to provide more information on the ocean environment and marine life, applying the knowledge to both wild fisheries and aquaculture. The Ocean Aware project is led by Innovasea, a Boston-based company specializing in fish-tracking solutions. One of the chief goals of the project is to develop sensors to monitor changes in fish health in aquaculture. - The Chronicle Herald

The customer experience management startup Vision Critical secured CAD$26.7 million in growth debt financing through Vancouver-based Vistara Capital Partners. The company previously raised $20 million in funding from OMERS Ventures. The company's customers include Red Bull, LinkedIn, Condé Nast, and Twitter. Founded in Vancouver, Vision Critical moved its headquarters to Toronto at the end of last year. - BetaKit

Less than a year after slashing tax credits and grants that caused investment to leave the province, Alberta's United Conservative Party government reversed course with R&D grants and a $175-million program through Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC) to help startups access venture capital. The Innovation Employment Grant will provide funding for R&D spending at small and medium-sized businesses. The grants range from 8 percent on expenditures and up to 20 percent on increasing R&D spending. - The Globe and Mail

North Focals is "winding down" its smart glasses and Focals app, just one month after being acquired by Google. The company is ending support for Focals smart glasses, Focals app, and services, and will be issuing a full refund for all paid Focals orders. North received a $24-million investment from the federal government in 2018, and those payments were frozen a few months later as North began laying off employees. -


Michael Woolhouse left the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) to join TPG, a global alternative asset firm. Woolhouse was CPP Investments’ Head of Secondaries and Co-Investments and before that, a Senior Principal in its Funds group. - Businesswire

Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s ex-principal secretary who resigned during the 2019 SNC-Lavalin controversy, has been named vice chairman of the political consulting firm Eurasia Group, where he will advise clients on “climate and sustainable finance, trade and other global negotiations, political campaigns, and artificial intelligence.” Butts joined the firm earlier this year and helped launch its expanded coverage of global climate policy and sustainable finance.- iPolitics

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