The Short Report – March 17, 2021: Canadian government invests heavily to bolster biomanufacturing, D-Wave Systems gets funding for quantum tech, Canada’s largest study on aging gets a top-up, and more

Cindy Graham
March 17, 2021


The Government of Canada is investing more than $100 million through its Strategic Innovation Fund to strengthen biomanufacturing and drug development capacity in Canada. KABS Laboratories (St. Hubert, Que.) will receive up to $54.2 million to expand its current facility and establish a new facility in Val-des-Sources; Novocol Pharmaceutical (Cambridge, Ont.) will receive up to $32.7 million to expand its biomanufacturing facilities, and Immune Biosolutions (Sherbrooke, Que.) will receive up to $13.44 million to advance a therapeutic candidate to treat COVID-19 from preclinical studies through to Phase II clinical trials. The government is contributing an additional $150 million through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to support early stage R&D of promising COVID-19 clinical candidates developed in Canada. – GoC

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research will invest more than $25 million to address evidence gaps in COVID-19 research, complementing a recently launched competition to build on knowledge of the disease. Funding has been awarded to 52 research projects that will study variants of the virus, vaccine development and uptake, testing, mental health and ways the pandemic is having specific impacts on women, racialized populations and Métis, Inuit and First Nations Peoples. – GoC

Canada’s largest study on aging has received $9.6 million as part of the federal government’s Canada Foundation for Innovation funding announcements earlier this month. The funding will help researchers identify the early causes of chronic health conditions such as mobility impairment, disability and cognitive decline. – CSLA

Ottawa biotechnology company VBI Vaccines has started a phase one clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at The Ottawa Hospital. The vaccine was developed in partnership with the National Research Council and the study is funded by the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund – VBI Vaccines


Electric truck and bus manufacturer Lion Electric (Saint-Jérôme, QC) will begin construction of a battery manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec (location to be decided) and will start manufacturing operations in 2023, thanks to a combined $185-million investment by Lion and the federal and Quebec governments, which are contributing $50 million each. – Lion

Toronto-based financial technology company Koho, part of the MaRS FinTech cluster, raised $70 million in series C financing, putting its post-money valuation at an estimated $300 million. The round was led by TTV Capital (Atlanta) with participation from Drive Capital (Ohio), and Portag3 Ventures (Toronto). The company will use the funding to grow their financial services. – Betakit

D-Wave Systems (Burnaby, BC) has received a $40-million contribution through the Canadian government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, the BC government, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada to accelerate Canada’s quantum technology development. It will use the funding to update processing capabilities and the power of its current systems as well as to provide greater access to its cloud-based service. – GoC

RELATED: Emerging Tech: Creating a Quantum Canada

The Government of Ontario is providing $39.5 million to help Mitacs create more paid research internships for postsecondary students, postdoctoral fellows and recent graduates. The funding comes from the Canada-Ontario Workforce Development Agreement after the Ontario government’s new, performance-based funding model for colleges and universities was implemented last fall. – Government of Ontario

Mississauga-based biotechnology company Amgen is joining artificial intelligence (AI) research institute Mila (Montreal) to scale up knowledge of AI use in biotherapeutics R&D and manufacturing in a new, multi-year partnership. – Amgen

Photonics company AEPONYX (Montreal) has raised $10 million in funding with investments from Fonds Ecofuel, the Business Development Bank of CanadaInvestissement QuébecPangaea Ventures and Fonds Innovexport. AEPONYX is developing advanced integrated photonics and combining it with MEMS (micro-electromechanical system) technology to create products for the telecom industry. – AEPONYX

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) are part of an international consortium of academic and commercial seed companies from the US, Europe and Israel that has successfully mapped the canola pan-genome (its entire set of genes). The consortium was led by Dr. Isobel Parkin from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and affiliate researcher at GIFS; Dr. Andrew Sharpe, director of genomics and bioinformatics from GIFS, and NRGene, a leading genomic artificial intelligence (AI) company from Israel. – GIFS

The University of Calgary has formed the Canadian Space Health Research Network thanks in a part to a donation from an anonymous Calgarian. The network will collaborate with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to advance space health research. – UCalgary

Mission Control Space Services (Ottawa) has received close to $2 million from the CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program to develop technology that will be used to manage data on commercial lunar missions. – Cision

A Canadian internship program modelled after US-based fellowship programs was launched in February by the Zenith Canada Pathways Foundation to fill a gap in retaining highly qualified personnel in Canada’s space industry. According to the CSA’s State of the Canadian Space Sector 2018 report, “49% of Canadian space companies faced difficulties hiring personnel to the extent that positions went unfilled.” The program will connect students and young professionals with work-integrated learning opportunities and industry mentors and advisors. – Zenith Pathways Brooke Owens Fellowship Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

The Government of Canada is awarding close to $2 million to five western Canadian universities to build equity, diversity and inclusion in research, while three Ontario universities will receive $1.2 million. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institutional Capacity-Building Grant was launched as a pilot program in 2019 and is administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies. The 2021 pilot competition will be open to small institutions and colleges only. – GoC

Sudbury’s Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, has launched the Canadian Mineral Processing Ecosystem Innovation Portal, a moderated online portal that serves as a dialogue hub for academic institutions, research centres and private enterprises in the mineral processing industry. – CEMI


Stefanie Beck has been appointed acting high commissioner of Canada to the United Kingdom, effective last October, according to the Canada-UK Foundation. Beck assumed the Canada House lead on an interim basis following the departure of previous high commissioner Janice Charette, who returned to Ottawa in early March as interim clerk of the Privy Council.

Marie Lapointe is the new executive director of Hydrogène Québec and the new regional manager of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association for Eastern Canada. LaPointe is a former CEO of Aluquébec, Quebec’s aluminum industrial cluster. – CHFCA




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