The Short Report, June 24, 2020: Canada's pandemic recovery, investments in sustainability, and more

Mark Mann
June 24, 2020


The economic recovery from the pandemic presents a unique opportunity to break Canada's weak track record on innovation through inclusive growth. Canada performs poorly on business investment in R&D, technology adoption, productivity and patent generation and protection, and our record on inclusion and equity is poor, write Dan Breznitz and Daniel Munro. But we can create a more inclusive innovation economy by rethinking how we collect, analyze and understand the implications of data on innovation and inclusion. - Policy Options

International students, who pay substantially higher tuition fees, accounted for 14.7% of total university enrolments in Canada in 2017/2018, up from 8.2% in 2008/2009, reports Statistics Canada. The pandemic could lower their enrollment, which would severely affect Canadian colleges and universities. - The PIE News

Tiff Macklem, the current governor of the Bank of Canada, says the economic recovery from COVID-19 will be "prolonged and bumpy," with "lasting damage to demand and supply." Although strong job growth is anticipated as the economy reopens, not everybody's job is coming back, he warns. - CBC


The federal government is offering financing of close to $100 million for the new Merit Functional Foods plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, including $10 million in a repayable contribution from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriInnovate Program; $25 million in debt financing from Farm Credit Canada; $55 million in debt financing from Export Development Canada; and $9.2 million from the Protein Industries Canada supercluster announced earlier to support a project for the commercialization of a new highly soluble, highly functional pea and canola protein isolate. Merit Functional Foods will be the first facility in the world with the capability to produce food-grade canola protein ready and safe for human consumption and will source 100 percent of its inputs from Canadian producers, with a projected forecast to utilize 10,000 metric tonnes of yellow peas and 17,000 tonnes of canola seed in its first year. -

Rogers Communications and the University of Calgary announced a five-year agreement to advance innovative Internet of things (IoT) research. Together, they have established the Rogers Internet of Things Chair with research led by Dr. Steven Liang (PhD). - Rogers

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today announced the leadership of its newly-established Office of Economic Growth and Innovation, focused on accelerating innovation, bolstering capital formation and reducing regulatory burden in Ontario’s capital markets. The office will expand the work of OSC LaunchPad through deeper engagement with businesses and support for a strong Ontario innovation ecosystem. - OSC

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced it is awarding $492 million in funding to 2,400 researchers across the country through its Discovery research program. The funding also includes support for more than 500 early-career researchers. - NSERC

Innovate BC has awarded $1.2M to four research projects through its Ignite Program: Dr. Dominik Roeser (UBC) and industry partners LlamaZOO and FPInnovations for an immersive visual analytics platform for the forestry industry; Dr. Edward Park (SFU) and Human in Motion Robotics Inc. for a next-generation, wearable lower-limb exoskeleton; the Wulff research group and Epic Ventures Inc. to develop a new class of molecules that function as universal crosslinking agents for polymer chemistry; and Dr. Martin Ester (SFU) and Terramera for a computational platform to design antifungal formulations and accurately predict their efficacy. The funding will accelerate commercialization efforts and bring these four projects to market within three years. - Innovate BC


Canada needs social innovation and business model innovation in the oil and gas industry, just as much as technical innovation, to achieve environmental and social justice along with prosperity. The authors of a new OpEd argue that the most productive and cost-effective way for the federal government to keep generating oil revenue through the pivot to renewable energy is to make a majority interest in the Trans Mountain pipeline available to a coalition of western Canadian First Nations. - CBC

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) announced a total investment of $41.8 million in ten innovative Canadian small businesses bringing clean technologies to market. The investments are part of the federal government's multi-year Innovation and Skills Plan. See all ten projects here. - Newswire

The University of Toronto and more than a dozen Canadian universities have signed a landmark charter that aims to tackle climate change through a commitment to responsible investing practices. The “Investing to Address Climate Change” charter calls on universities to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment practices and regularly measure the carbon footprints of investment portfolios, among other things. - U of T

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