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The Short Report - June 28, 2022: Anand's NORAD upgrade plans for space-based surveillance system; new funding streams strengthen Canada's clinical trials; CIFAR launches Phase 2 of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, and more.

Cindy Graham
June 29, 2022

The Standards Council of Canada has launched a pilot program in partnership with Innovation, Science and Economic Development that will define and test requirements for a conformity assessment program for AI management systems. Ernst & Young LLP (EY Canada) will be the first conformity assessment body participating in the program and plans are underway for expansion to include more conformity assessment bodies and AI users starting in 2024. SCC

Alberta Innovates is launching a new Agri-Food and Bioindustrial Innovation Program (ABIP), which will allocate $10 million over three years to provide researchers and developers access to funding for eligible projects year round with no deadline to apply. The projects will focus on developing agriculture and forestry sector technologies to address global food insecurity and the demand for sustainable materials. Strategic project areas will include data and digital solutions, autonomous systems, agricultural biotechnology, food processing innovation, biofibre utilization, value-added biomass, and green construction. Alberta Innovates

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) will launch the second phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which was established in 2017 with national AI Institutes Amii (Edmonton), Mila (Montreal), and the Vector Institute (Toronto) to advance Canada's reputation in artificial intelligence (AI) research. The second phase will receive more than $443 million in federal support over ten years — including up to $208 million to CIFAR — that was allocated in Budget 2021 to advance recruitment of CIFAR AI Chairs, advance AI growth in health, energy, and environment sectors, accelerate commercialization and research computation power, and provide insights on the social implications of AI through research and knowledge sharing. Budget 2021 funding for the second phase consists of: $60 million for Canada’s national AI institutes to help translate AI research into commercial applications and grow capacity to adopt these new technologies; $125 million for Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters to accelerate AI commercialization by supporting Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises, attracting private investment from other public and private sources, and developing made-in-Canada AI solutions; $8.6 million for the Standards Council of Canada to advance the development and adoption of standards and a conformity assessment program related to AI; $160 million for CIFAR to continue programs to attract, retain, and develop academic research talent and maintain centres of research, innovation, and training at Canada’s national AI institutes; $48 million for CIFAR to renew and enhance its advanced research, training, and knowledge mobilization programs; and $40 million to provide dedicated computing capacity for AI researchers across Canada. CIFAR GOC

An initiative led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), aimed at connecting patients and researchers to improve service delivery and practice in Manitoba, has received $6.6 million in Phase 2 funding from the pan-Canadian Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). Additional contributions to the SPOR Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Unit bring the total investment to $30 million, which includes nearly $5 million from the Government of Manitoba, $12.5 million from the provincial health authority Shared Health, and more than $6 million from the University of Manitoba. U of M

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT STATS

Data from Statistics Canada suggests Canada's industrial in-house R&D has emerged comparatively unscathed from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Total industrial R&D spending increased by 3.3% from 2019 to 2020, with businesses expecting their R&D spending in 2021 and 2022 to increase by 3.5% and 1.75%, respectively. This is largely attributable to higher spending by companies in the service-producing sector, which rose by $1.0 billion (+7.4%) in 2020 compared with 2019. Professional, scientific, and technical services and information and cultural industries were the leading sub-sectors, at +7.2% and +11.8%, respectively. During 2020, in-house R&D spending in the oil and gas extraction, contract drilling, and related services sector dropped to its lowest level since 2005 ($530 million). Stats Can

Meanwhile, of the more than $22 billion spent on overall in-house R&D in Canada in 2020 (an increase of 3.3% from 2019), businesses spent $1.7 billion on in-house energy-related R&D—an increase of 2.8% from 2019. Proportionally, in-house energy-related R&D represented 7.7% of all in-house R&D in Canada in 2020, while outsourcing of energy-related R&D decreased by almost 25%, primarily driven by a drop in outsourcing of fossil fuels. Stats Can

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

Due to uncertainties in China related to Covid-19, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is relocating the second part of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) Summit from Kunming to Montreal. The Canadian city serves as the secretariat site for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and so became an automatic fallback location. The date has been set for December 7-15, 2022.  GOC Globe and Mail

Defence Minister Anita Anand has committed nearly $5 billion to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The upgrade includes plans to procure a space-based surveillance system "that will significantly expand the CAF and NORAD’s situational awareness of who and what is entering Canadian airspace from the North." It will also create a science and technology program with the United States that will: assess new and emerging threats; modernize command and control information systems and enhanced satellite communications in the Arctic; advance air-to-air missiles that engage threats from short, medium, and long ranges, and access and co-develop technological solutions to address this threat. SpaceQ GOC

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Luxembourg Space Agency to identify projects of common interest in the fields of earth observation and space exploration systems, including space resources utilization and space operations. The MoU  will also facilitate research, exploration, development, and use of space, not only by the two countries, but also by academic and research institutes and private sector space companies. In the past year Canada has signed MOUs or renewed agreements with the UK Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, the French space agency CNES and the State Space Agency of Ukraine. SpaceQ

NEW FUNDS & COMPETITIONS

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee is preparing to launch a new competition in early August to support international research collaborations and position Canada's researchers as partners at the international level. As part of the New Frontiers in Research Fund's (NFRF) International stream, the 2022 Horizon Global Platform competition will contribute $40 million over two years to support two-year grants, valued at up to $250,000 per year (including indirect costs of up to 25 per cent of the value of the direct costs of research). The grants will support Canadian researchers who are partnered on successful projects funded through Research and Innovation Action calls under Horizon Europe’s Pillar II. The Canadian researcher(s) must be part of the larger Horizon Europe team that was awarded a grant and a signing partner on the Consortium Agreement for the Horizon Europe project. See more details at GOC.

The Government of Canada has launched a Clinical Trials Fund (CTF) as part of a Budget 2021 investment of $250 million over three years for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Planned as a part of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, the CTF supports CIHR in reinforcing the clinical trials ecosystem by investing in three funding streams: the Pan-Canadian Clinical Trials Consortium, to strengthen coordination between domestic and international clinical trial networks; the Clinical Trials Training Platforms, to improve recruitment, training, and mentoring strategies; and the Clinical Trials Projects, to support the clinical trials pipeline from discovery to implementation, through operating grants targeting priority research areas. Already launched, the results of the first funding opportunities in each these streams will be released in Fall 2022. CIHR

THE GRAPEVINE

Dr. Pat Armstrong is Research Canada's 2022 Leadership in Advocacy Awardee. The award recognizes champions of health research and health innovation who attract public and political support  for health research. Armstrong is a Distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at York University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her work focuses on women, work, and the health and social services . She has also served as an expert witness in more than a dozen cases before Tribunals and Commissions, and led multiple team research projects, including the 10-year interdisciplinary “Re-imagining Long-Term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices” project. Research Canada

CEO and The Beacon Agency founder Janice McDonald has been awarded an honorary degree from Carleton University in recognition of her advocacy for women and her focus on women’s economic empowerment, leadership, and entrepreneurship. McDonald co-authored a national study, Women Entrepreneurs and Their Approach to Risk, with Carleton University in 2016 and another on Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation, released in 2018. She was board chair of Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) from 2013 to 2015 and was Startup Canada’s national ambassador for women entrepreneurs for two years. Meanwhile, Claudette McGowan was also awarded an honorary degree from Carleton in recognition of her career as a global information technology leader. McGowan has spent more than 20 years leading digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure. She began her career at Bank of Montreal in 2000, and held multiple senior leadership roles, including chief information officer, Enterprise Technology Experience, and vice-president of Digital Workspace Services. In 2020, she joined TD Bank as global executive officer, Protect Fusion and Cyber Experience. Carleton U

Dr. Paul Moore has been appointed chief scientific officer of Vancouver-based biopharmaceutical company Zymeworks, with an anticipated start date of July 18. Moore, who has more than 25 years of US-based experience in biologics drug discovery and development in biotechnology research, served as vice president of cell biology and immunology at Maryland-based MacroGenics. He discovered and developed a range of FDA-approved and clinical-stage biologics for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers and autoimmune conditions. Zymeworks

Health Canada has announced members of its new Science Advisory Committee on Pest Control Products (SAC-PCP), which will provide independent scientific advice to Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, to support evidence-based decision making on pesticides. The new SAC-PCP members are Dr. Maricor Arlos (University of Alberta); Dr. Stéphane Bayen (McGill University); Dr. Kyle Bobiwash (University of Manitoba); Dr. Valérie Langlois (Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre); Dr. Bruce Lanphear (Simon Fraser University); Dr. Eric Liberda (Toronto Metropolitan University); Dr. Christy A. Morrissey (University of Saskatchewan); Dr. Sean Prager (University of Saskatchewan), and Dr. Xianming Zhang (Concordia University). GOC


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