Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada , Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada ,  International Center of Expertise in Montreal on Artificial Intelligence, Acentury Inc., Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Auera Technologies , Battery Ventures, BeatConnect, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Business Development Bank of Canada, Calgary Airport Authority, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Steamship Lines , Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association , Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’, Canadian Space Agency, Carbonova Corp., Carleton University, Chapter AI Ventures, Clarius Mobile Health, Clean Foundation, Codezero, Cogeco Communications Inc. , Cogeco Inc. , Communitech, CORSphere Software Inc. , Cove, Cymax Group Technologies, Dalhousie University, Deloitte, Department of National Defence, Developer Capital , DSA Ocean, ElevateIP Alberta, Emera Inc., Energy Research & Innovation Newfoundland & Labrador, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Federal Republic of Germany, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Fortinet , Global Spatial Technology Solutions Inc., Go Deep International (NB) Inc. , Google, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of Quebec, Government of Saskatchewan, GridGear Solutions Ltd., H2Global Foundation , Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Innovate Calgary, Joyride, Leeway Marine , Livestock Gentec, MarineLabs, Memorial University, Microsoft, Monadical, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, National Optics Institute, National Research Council of Canada, National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics , Natural Products Canada, Natural Resources Canada, NOVA Chemicals Corporation, Opalia, Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation , Pacific Economic Development Canada, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Plascon Plastics Corporation , Poseidon Ocean Systems Ltd., Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Saskatchewan Research Council, Senate Standing Committee on National Finance, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Statistics Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Tesla, TrueContext Corporation , Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Colorado Boulder, University of New Brunswick, University of Prince Edward Island, University of Saskatchewan, Victory Advanced Technologies , WestJet, and Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub


Aerospace Innovation Hub in Calgary, AI-enabled drug discovery, AI-enabled ocean technologies, allegations of conflict of interest and financial mismanagement at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, aquaculture technology, battery energy storage, Black Entrepreneurship Program, Burchill Wind Project , Canada-Germany agreement on hydrogen , Canada’s Export Diversification Strategy , Canadian CubeSat Project, Canadians doing "gig" and digital platform work, changes to Canada's Competition Act, climate satellite instruments, connected electric vehicles, Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) network, e-commerce and shipping management platforms, federal business innovation and growth support, federal funding for reseachers, students and research projects, federal support for B.C. tech companies, financial health of Canadian SMEs, Futurpreneur program, Google investment in Canadian AI , HAWC (High-altitude Aerosols, Water vapour and Clouds) mission, home retrofits for energy efficiency, human impacts on Atlantic Canadian waters, increasing investment in Saskatchewan, Indigenous Growth Fund , Indigenous Leadership Fund, Indigenous-owned energy efficiency projects, international patents filed, investing in cybersecurity, making real milk without cows, maritime weather intelligence technology, micro-Small Modular Rector development in Saskatchewan, Nature Biotechnology (journal), NOVA Chemicals Centre of Excellence for Plastics Circularity, NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, OECD report on financing for Canadian SMEs and entrepreneurs, platform for collaborative music, portable wind turbine , processing of rare earths, producing sustainable materials from GHG feedstocks, Quebec's incentives to purchase electric vehicles, reducing methane emissions in oil and gas sector, research on cattle emitting less methane, research on food security, shared mobility sector, software development, State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada report, supporting startups in quantum sector, telecommunications and media, university-based battery prototyping and testing facility, using AI to discover new battery materials, Vancouver-based tech businesses, Venture Capital Action Plan, Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, video game to help youth cope with climate change fear, warming Arctic and ice-free conditions, where it's least expensive in Canada to drive electric vehicles, Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, and workflow software for field services

The Short Report: March 20, 2024

Research Money
March 20, 2024


Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced more than $1.7 billion in federal funding  for 7,700 researchers, post-secondary students and research projects across Canada. This previously allocated funding, part of the $16 billion invested in science and research since 2016, is being distributed to recipients through grants, scholarships, fellowships and other programs. It will support the acquisition of the state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure needed by researchers to advance their discoveries and innovations. The investment will also further efforts to attract and retain exceptional talent and promote domestic and international collaboration that strengthens Canada as a global leader in finding solutions to major challenges, the federal government said. The funding is distributed across the country through:

  • 2022-23 Scholarships and Fellowships–$275 million to 5,762 scholarship and fellowship recipients through Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
  • The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program –$191 million to 230 new and renewed chairholders at 50 institutions. This includes $8.7 million to CRC’s leading 40 research infrastructure projects at 22 institutions, funded by the John R. Evans Leaders Fund through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
  • The CFI Innovation Fund–$515.3 million to 32 institutions and 100 projects. Université de Montréal received support for three projects, including one that will supply researchers with medical imaging equipment to help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. The other projects included: infrastructure enabling coastal erosion research in Prince Edward Island (University of Prince Edward Island); more versatile wheelchairs for varied terrain (British Columbia Institute of Technology); medications to help manage opioid use disorder (University of Calgary); electric vehicle battery production (Dalhousie University), and 95 other cutting-edge projects at 32 institutions across the country.
  • SSHRC Insight Development Grants– $35.3 million to 577 emerging and established scholars.
  • 2023-24 Research Support Fund and Incremental Projects Grants administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat – $427 million to 148 Canadian post-secondary institutions.
  • NSERC Alliance Grants–$347 million to 882 university researchers who work with partners in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. ISED

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced the inauguration of a large battery energy storage system, part of the Burchill Wind Project in Saint John, N.B. Announced in the spring of 2022, the Burchill Wind Project partnership is a $95-million Indigenous-led project, which received nearly $50 million in funding from Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program to help deploy the project’s 10 wind turbine generators. The new battery energy storage system is the largest of its kind in New Brunswick and will help store the intermittent electricity created by Burchill’s wind turbines, which generate up to 42 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity to the Saint John Energy grid – even when the wind isn’t blowing. The battery energy storage system also helps store extra electricity when the demand is low and helps address peak energy demands during the coldest winter months. ECCC

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada officially launched Canada’s Methane Centre of Excellence and an associated call for proposals for methane emissions measurement and mitigation projects. With an initial investment of $30 million, work associated with the new Centre aims to improve the accuracy, understanding, reporting and mitigation of methane emissions by focusing on key data, measurement techniques and technology development. The Centre will also improve knowledge sharing, including a dedicated online collaboration community, among Canadian industry leaders, emitting sectors, provincial and territorial governments and international partners. The Centre will also convene a community of practice of experts and stakeholders to collaborate on efforts that will help drive the development, deployment and growth of methane measurement and mitigation solutions in Canada. Funded under the Energy Innovation Program, the call for proposals will invest mainly in projects that develop more effective approaches for methane measurement, reporting and verification, with remaining funding directed to projects focused on the mitigation of methane escaping to the atmosphere. Canada’s goal is to cut oil and gas methane emissions by 75 per cent below 2012 levels by 2030. NRCan

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) based in Atlantic Canada announced almost $18 million in new projects. The global innovation cluster invested more than $7 million across the three projects and project partners contributed the balance of funding. Project partners and collaborators include those based in British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The three projects are:

  • Empowering Maritime Collaboration with AI-Powered Intelligence Project, led by Halifax-based Global Spatial Technology Solutions Inc., which will work in partnership with Canada Steamship Lines as well as its customers and collaborators Montreal Port Authority, Laurentian Pilotage Authority, and Clear Seas. With a total project value of $12 million, OSC is investing $5 million through its funding through the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, with the balance coming from project partners. This project will develop and implement a Collaborative Berth Scheduler, a solution which connects ships, pilotages, and ports to provide optimal berth schedule management – the equivalent of an air traffic control system for ships. This advancement in digitization will enable digital corridors, facilitate just-in-time operations, and optimize- management of resources to minimize emissions, reduce fuel consumption and decrease wait-times.
  • Aids to Navigation Project, led by Victoria, B.C.-based DSA Ocean, with partner Go Deep International (NB) Inc. based in Saint John, N.B. With a total project value of $3.2 million, OSC is investing $1.2 million, with the balance from the project partners. The project will create a software-as-a-service product for aids-to-navigation systems with advanced dynamic analysis capabilities. The aim is to ensure safer and more efficient maritime transportation by enabling important upgrades to navigation buoys and mooring systems, through advanced technology, design, and management software integration.
  • OceanAI Navigation Project, led by St. John’s, Nfld.-based CORSphere Software Inc. along with Dartmouth, N.S-based project partner Leeway Marine and collaborator Energy Research & Innovation Newfoundland & Labrador. With a total project value of $2.4 million, OSC will contribute $950,000 from its funding under the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, with the balance of funding coming from project partners. The project entails developing an AI-powered platform by CORSphere for optimizing marine fleet  operations, a co-pilot to proactively assist fleet operators. This platform will seamlessly integrate with existing systems, utilizing AI to minimize fuel consumption, lower emissions, and predict maintenance needs accurately. OSC

The Government of Saskatchewan announced $15 million over five years for the Global Institute of Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan. In January, GIFS released the results of a two-year study providing evidence that Saskatchewan's production of five major field crops has a significantly smaller carbon footprint compared with regions that export the same products, including Australia, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. The conclusions of the study have become a fundamental aspect of Saskatchewan's sustainability story and the sector's increasingly important role in global food production. The funding will support GIFS’ ongoing operations, including supporting crop breeding through sequencing, bioinformatics and data analytics services, or technology development that facilitates commercialization of new products. Govt. of Saskatchewan

Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) announced almost $14 million to help seven Vancouver-based businesses and organizations grow even faster. The funding includes more than $11.5 million for four companies through PacifiCan’s Business Scale-Up and Productivity program, and over $2.4 million for three companies through the Jobs and Growth Fund. One medical device company, Clarius Mobile Health in Vancouver, is receiving nearly  $3.4 million in funding. This investment will help Clarius accelerate export sales of its wireless handheld ultrasound devices, which enables point-of-care ultrasound exams to be performed outside the radiology suite. Clarius’ technology connects to electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, allowing clinicians access to medical imaging in real time, which can improve patient care and reduce health care costs. The company’s business potential was recognized by PacifiCan in 2022 with a $2.4-million investment to support expansion internationally by registering its device in 10 new markets and growing distribution partnerships. Subsequently, in July 2023, with input from an independent selection panel, Clarius was announced as one of the firms included in the federal Global Hypergrowth Project – a whole-of-government initiative which helps high-potential Canadian firms to scale and become anchor firms in Canada. PacifiCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced an investment of $9.5 million to expand the Clean Foundation’s Clean Energy Financing program to municipalities in Nova Scotia. The funding is provided through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund. This investment allows for the Clean Energy Financing program to expand with program enhancements, such as reduced participation fees and enhancing marketing, and for improved services, including more effective home energy analyses and a new greenhouse gas emissions-reduction incentive to encourage deeper retrofits. The program uses a property assessed clean energy financing model where homeowners can gradually repay their loans at low rates within their existing property levies. Loans across the program support home energy upgrades including insulation, heat pumps, electrical vehicle charging stations, and the installation of solar panels. These upgrades are projected to deliver GHG reductions of 1,617 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and to save over 20,400 gigajoules of energy. NRCan

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced up to $7.39 million to support Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-led renewable energy, energy efficiency, or low-carbon heating projects that provide benefits to Indigenous peoples and communities. The funding is being provided through a new funding stream under the Low Carbon Economy Fund’s Indigenous Leadership Fund. The designated funding stream is open until March 31, 2027, for eligible applicants who are not already included in the funding streams for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This can include Indigenous-owned businesses, corporations and not-for-profit organizations, Métis Settlements, and Indigenous research, academic or educational institutions. ECCC

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrariesCan) announced up to $6 million to support the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) at its Rare Earth Processing Facility. This investment will help establish and commercialize a process to separate unrecovered rare earth oxides from radioactive monazite tailings that would have otherwise been disposed of, resulting in additional rare earths sufficient to manufacture up to 65,000 electric vehicles per year. The funding also helps to develop an automated metal smelting process to produce commercial grade rare earth element metals. The funding builds on earlier support from PrairiesCan of $2.5 million in interest-free repayable funding for SRC to purchase equipment needed to establish the Rare Earth Processing Facility, and a recent investment of almost $5 million from Natural Resources Canada through the Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration program. PrairiesCan

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) announced just over $1.6 million for two Delta, B.C.-based companies, Plascon Plastics Corporation and GridGear Solutions Ltd., through the Business Scale-up and Productivity program. Plascon will receive more than $1.2 million to expand its manufacturing capacity for sustainable plastic injection moulding. Plascon is innovating in using post-consumer recycled materials, such as recycled plastics, used car tires and carpet fibres, in the injection moulding process. This funding will allow Plascon to purchase new equipment and moulds, hire more employees and increase product offerings. GridGear, a producer of electricity submetering technology, will receive $381,750. Submetering allows users to better understand their energy use and help them reduce energy consumption to cut costs. GridGear will use the funding to scale up production and commercialize its next generation submetering technology, including offering industrial customers a submeter that can handle higher voltages. PacifiCan

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced a non-repayable contribution of just over $1.2 million over three years for Québec City-headquartered National Optics Institute (INO), to cover employee salaries, professional fees and outreach activities to provide guidance adapted to the specific needs of startups in the quantum sector. Quantino is a deep tech incubator in the optics, photonics, quantum and medical technologies sectors, created in 2020 by INO, the largest centre of expertise in optics and photonics in Canada. Its team helps emerging businesses by giving them access to frontline infrastructure, cutting‑edge equipment and world-renowned expertise. CED’s assistance will enable INO to strengthen its capacity to support the creation and launch of businesses that develop, adopt or commercialize quantum technologies with an intensive hardware component. CED

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) announced up to $826,400 for Richmond Hill, Ont.-based software technology company Acentury Inc., through NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. The funding will support the development of Acentury’s design simulation and test measurement software platform, which will help to accelerate component design and manufacturing process of semiconductors for wireless communications. NRC

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced $400,223 for Saint John, N.B.-based Victory Advanced Technologies (VAT), which specializes in a high-performance electric-drive system. The funding, through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program, will help VAT acquire the expertise, tools and equipment to commercialize and manufacture their high-efficiency, carbon-negative electric motor system at the company’s Saint John facility.  Designed for harsh environments like the Canadian climate, VAT’s rugged e-system will offer a sustainable, ethical alternative to other electric motors on the market today, and will serve the automotive, aerospace and marine industries. ACOA

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced $391,545 in repayable contributions to Dartmouth, N.S.-based Auera Technologies to support sales, marketing, and production of the company’s portable wind turbine. This investment will help Aurea increase efficiency and expand production of the Shine Turbine, which fits in a backpack and has a built-in battery to store power, by purchasing specialized quality control, assembly, packaging and prototype equipment. Aurea will also develop its digital marketing assets to help grow sales domestically and enter new global markets. ACOA said these improvements will help make Shine a cost-competitive choice for consumers, assist in company scale-up, and pave the way for the development of new wind energy products. ACOA

The Government of Saskatchewan released a new investment strategy, a “roadmap” to increasing investment in the province and further advancing Saskatchewan's Growth Plan goal of $16 billion in private capital investment annually. The strategy is built on the “Saskatchewan Advantage,” which includes a competitive business environment, low tax and utility rates, a transparent and predictable regulatory environment, a strong suite of incentives and a network of nine international offices that connect Saskatchewan to the world. The strategy includes new, expanded or improved incentives, including:

  • The expanded Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive is a non-refundable 45-per-cent tax credit to individuals, corporations and venture capital firms that invest in eligible technology startups. This program will see a doubling of its annual tax credit cap from $3.5 million to $7 million and expanded eligibility to include clean technology. 
  • The new Saskatchewan Critical Minerals Innovation Incentive will support innovative commercialization projects that target emerging critical minerals, including helium, lithium, rare earth elements, copper, zinc, magnesium, nickel, gallium and aluminum through a 25-per-cent transferable royalty/freehold production tax credit. This program also will provide a 15-per-cent transferable royalty/freehold production tax credit to support the development of processing facilities for 10 emerging critical minerals in Saskatchewan. 
  • The new Multi-lateral Well Program will provide an incentive to help jumpstart use of this new more sustainable drilling technology. 
  • Two successful existing incentives are being extended for five more years to 2029: the Oil and Gas Processing Investment incentive and the Saskatchewan Petroleum Innovation Incentive. 

As part of the strategy, the provincial government launched a new website,, which will serve as a gateway to the province for international business and investors. Private capital investment in Saskatchewan increased by nearly 25 per cent in 2023 and is expected to lead the nation with an increase of 14.4 per cent in 2024, the Province said. Govt. of Saskatchwan

In 2021, 17 per cent of all beneficiaries of federal government business innovation and growth support (BIGS) were exporters. In comparison, only one per cent of all Canadian businesses were exporters, according to Statistics Canada – illustrating the value of BIGS support for exporters. On average, BIGS beneficiaries received $274,000 in support from BIGS programs. BIGS beneficiaries that did not export received $105,000 of support on average. BIGS beneficiary exporters were more likely (51 per cent) to be in the manufacturing industry, compared with: “other service-producing sectors” (29.7 per cent); professional, technical and scientific services; (12.7 per cent); and other goods-producing sectors (6.5 per cent). The Strategic Innovation Fund was the top BIGS program for exporters, providing $368.8 million in support. The next four BIGS programs were: Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation – Business Scale-up and Productivity ($191.6 million); Industrial Research Assistance Program ($141.5 million); Mitacs ($84.9 million); and Collaborative Research and Development Grants ($50 million). The top five countries in terms of total value of exports for BIGS exporters were: U.S. ($250.1 billion); China ($21.3 billion); U.K. ($14.4 billion); Germany ($5 billion); and Australia ($1.2 billion). Statistics Canada


Dalhousie University to create Canada’s first university-based battery prototyping and testing facility

Dalhousie University will create Canada’s first university-based battery prototyping and testing facility, the $20-million Canadian Battery Innovation Centre. Construction hasn’t started yet, but the facility is projected to open in fall of 2025.

The project has received a $5-million grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, $350,000 from Emera Inc., $2000 from Tesla, and additional matching and promised funds.

Currently, battery scientists in academia and startups are required to send designs for new batteries they want to study to third parties outside Canada for manufacture. Dr. Michael Metzger and Dr. Chongyin Yang, the Dalhousie battery researchers championing the innovation centre, say the new facility will vastly accelerate the speed of experimentation and innovation –  turning a process that now takes months into days.

A series of state-of-the-art machines in an ultra-low humidity “dry room” will provide an assembly line for researchers to create battery cells to the highest industrial standards. Comprised of different functional zones, the lab will include large mixers and furnaces to make battery materials, a smaller closed-off room for the dirtier operations like mixing powders, and a main battery assembly room that includes large coating machines where mixtures of battery-active materials and other solvents get applied on metal foil that is then rolled up, inserted, filled and sealed into cell casings by a final group of machines.

The centre’s production line will allow researchers to create batteries using a wide range of materials, including the lithium used in conventional rechargeable batteries, as well as sodium, potassium and other more abundant materials that promise to decrease battery cost and increase lifetime, efficiency and sustainability. 

Metzger says the researchers will also focus on the development of new methods of production to remove toxic solvents and polymer binders that are in the process of being banned or shelved by the industry. “We will be able to produce 50 to 100 battery cell prototypes a week at the centre,” said Metzger, Dalhousie’s Herzberg-Dahn Chair in Advanced Battery Research. “Our focus is on high quality and flexibility, so that we can test many different battery chemistries and materials combinations.”

Yang, who is Dalhousie’s Tesla Canada Chair, said “businesses working in the critical minerals space will be able to send their products to us so that we can test and help develop them, giving us the chance to play a critical role in the whole industry supply chain.”

Metzger and Yang said  graduate students will play a central role in the operation of the centre, working with faculty to build and test new prototypes. They also envision students working closely with industry partners through internships to help them meet battery innovation goals.  

The only similar battery research facilities in Canada are held by corporations focused on developing proprietary intellectual property. Dalhousie’s battery testing and production line will be the first to provide open access.

For a relatively small fee used to maintain and operate the facility, the innovation centre will be available to researchers across Canada and around the world. Metzger and Yang predict businesses large and small will be attracted to Dalhousie and Nova Scotia as a hub for battery research and development.

An equivalent centre at the University of Michigan – one of just two in the U.S. – operates around the clock, with industry partners squeezing in time whenever possible. Dalhousie University


Carleton University professor creates video game to help youth cope with climate change fear

Carleton University psychology professor Stefania Maggi has created an interactive action-adventure video game designed to reduce eco-anxiety and motivate climate action. A recent study revealed that 78 per cent of Canadians aged 16 to 25 report adverse effects on their mental health due to climate change, as it causes widespread fear and sadness, particularly among youth.

Eco-anxiety is a relatively new school of thought that explores the deep emotional strain individuals face amid the escalating threats of climate change. The continuous onslaught of distressing news, coupled with a heightened awareness of impending ecological challenges, fosters a pervasive sense of helplessness and grief over the potential loss of a sustainable future.

Youth are disproportionately affected by eco-anxiety because they have the longest lives ahead of them, and planning for their futures is muddied by a one-sided narrative of a world in distress due to climate change. This one-sided portrayal risks paralyzing them with fear and impeding their ability to envision alternative outcomes.

To address this, Maggi said we need a shift towards solution-oriented communication, emphasizing the importance of presenting diverse future scenarios. “By providing youth with the tools to envision positive outcomes and fostering a sense of agency, we can empower them to develop skills and solutions, mitigating the paralyzing effects of eco-anxiety and inspiring meaningful action in the face of climate change,” she said.

Maggi launched Mochi 4ThePlanet in 2022 as a movement to help re-frame the way we think about climate change and help youth navigate their emotions around climate change in a non-threatening way. The video game, Kibou - The Guiding Light, follows Mochi4The Planet’s five tenets: Mindful, Optimistic, Compassionate, Healing, and Innovation.

The game, developed by an international team of young professionals, is set in a tech-dominated city where relationships take a back seat. The protagonist faces a turning point during a blackout that severs ties with their friend, prompting them to explore the impact of climate change.

“Kibou’s ultimate goal is to educate players about climate-related emotions, fostering understanding, normalization and the development of tools for expressing and coping with these emotions, emphasizing the importance of finding meaning and purpose in the face of adversity,” Maggi said.

The first instalment of a fully playable version of Kibou is planned by fall of 2024. Maggi is also developing a Kibou-themed virtual reality educational program for the Carleton community and general public. In addition to the video game, the initiative has also published a children’s book within the game’s world – written by Maggi and McKenna Corvello, a Carleton master’s student. Carleton University


University of Saskatchewan researchers have received $17 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in support of the HAWC (High-altitude Aerosols, Water vapour and Clouds) mission. HAWC is the Canadian contribution to an international, NASA-led four-satellite Atmosphere Observing System (AOS) mission. The climate satellite instruments supported by USask researchers for the AOS mission will provide new data for scientists to better analyze, interpret and understand factors contributing to climate change. The HAWC team is a Canada-wide group of researchers from 14 universities and numerous industry partners working in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA),  Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the National Research Council of Canada. Ottawa announced $200 million in federal funding for HAWC in October 2022. Supported by the CSA, part of the HAWC mission consists of three cutting-edge climate science satellite instruments designed and developed by Canadian universities: the Aerosol Limb Imager; Spatial Heterodyne Observations of Water; and TICFIRE (Thin Ice Cloud in Far Infrared Emissions). The HAWC instruments are unique because they will take never-before-seen simultaneous measurements of aerosols, water vapour and cloud formations. USask

Innovate Calgary has launched the Aerospace Innovation Hub (AIH). The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund invested $3.9 million over four years into AIH, alongside the support of inaugural industry partners including WestJet, Calgary Airport Authority, and Chapter AI Ventures. The AIH is projected to support up to 180 companies and create 150 new skilled, indirect jobs between 2024 and 2028. The Hub is set to offer a comprehensive range of resources, including funding, prototyping equipment and business support, to facilitate the development and scaling of innovative technologies in the aerospace sector. As part of this, the AIH will directly fund six companies through the accelerator program aimed at attracting talent to the province. Also, the AIH is projected to generate $1.5 million for research and development and 40 patents supported through ElevateIP Alberta. The Aerospace Innovation Hub joins the University of Calgary’s network of four themed innovation hubs managed by Innovate Calgary, including the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, the Energy Transition Centre, and the Social Innovation Hub. University of Calgary

Three “Cubesats” – miniature satellites – designed and built by Canadian students are scheduled to be launched on Thursday, March 21, to the International Space Station. This is the fourth and final launch of miniature satellites under the Canadian CubeSat Project. The teams finalized preparations of their CubeSats in November 2023 at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).The teams are:

  • QMsat – Université deSherbrooke
  • Killick-1 – Memorial University
  • VIOLET – University of New Brunswick

Live coverage of the launch will air on NASA Live. CSA

California-headquartered cybersecurity and data firm Fortinet is investing $30 million to build a state-of-the-art data centre in downtown Calgary. The investment – supported by $3 million from the Government of Alberta’s Investment and Growth Fund – is expected to add an estimated 85 permanent and 80 temporary jobs in addition to the company’s existing 50 positions in Alberta. Fortinet’s expansion will include a centre for cybersecurity training and a centre of excellence focused on keeping critical infrastructure and operational technologies safe. Fortinet already is a partner with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the University of Alberta, and the Northern Alberta institute of Technology. Calgary Economic Development

NOVA Chemicals Corporation launched its Centre of Excellence for Plastics Circularity, a Calgary-based hub for knowledge exchange and technology development for the circular economy of plastics. The Centre will serve as a network of industry innovators and Canadian research institutions who have a shared vision of furthering global efforts in sustainable plastics management. The new Centre aims to further Canadian innovation, meet customer needs and help achieve global plastics sustainability goals by focusing on two key objectives:

  • R&D Collaboration – Addressing the complex challenges and opportunities of plastics circularity by fostering collaborative relationships and integrating expertise across disciplines, including materials science, engineering, chemistry, environmental science and public policy.
  • Value Chain-Integrated Solutions – Ensuring solutions meet the needs of stakeholders across the value chain by actively working with strategic partners across industry, academia, and government to accelerate and deliver practical and scalable technologies.

NOVA Chemicals also launched its call for expression of interest targeted for Canadian research institutions and focused on mechanical recycling, advanced recycling and microplastics. NOVA Chemicals

Ottawa-based TrueContext Corporation announced an agreement to be acquired by Boston-based investment firm Battery Ventures in a share purchase for $1.07 in cash – a 39.9-per-cent premium to TrueContext’s closing share price prior to the announcement. The deal values TrueContext’s total equity at approximately $150 million on a fully diluted basis. TrueContext offers a workflow platform to gather and analyze intelligence for field services such as repairs and maintenance. TrueContext is the latest to join a growing list of Canadian tech companies that have opted to go private during the last year, including MDF Commerce, Q4 Inc., BBTV Holdings, Dialogue Health Technologies, Farmer’s Edge, mCloud and Mednow. TrueContext

The Government of Saskatchewan has designated the Saskatchewan Resource Council (SRC) to be the primary organization responsible for micro-Small Modular Reactor (nuclear reactors typically ranging from 20 megawatts to 300 megawatts) development in the province. The SRC will also be the sole organization authorized to hold the regulatory licenses and be the licensed operator of microreactors in the province, while the sector is in the early stages of commercial development. The SRC will now provide full life-cycle, integrated services on a commercial basis to industry and communities looking to establish microreactor operations to support their business and economic development. The government said the SRC process will be designed to reduce the risks and costs for industrial and community users, while providing consistency in safety practices, reactor operations, licensing and public engagement for all microreactor users within the province. In November 2023, the provincial government announced $80 million in funding for SRC to pursue the demonstration of a microreactor in Saskatchewan. Govt. of Saskatchewan

The Department of National Defence (DND) announced that the Waterloo-based Communitech accelerator and Dartmouth, N.S.-based COVE accelerator, along with 13 test centres, have joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) network. The test centres are located across Canada, including in Ottawa, Oshawa, Hamilton, St-Hubert and Boucherville in Quebec, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and St. John’s, Nfld. Announced in 2022, NATO DIANA is coming to Canada, with its North American Regional Office in Halifax. With a thriving innovation ecosystem, sustaining more than 300 entrepreneurial science and technology startups, the Halifax Regional Municipality is also home to several major universities and research centres as well as Canada’s Atlantic naval fleet. NATO DIANA unites the best and brightest innovators from across the Alliance and provides deep tech and dual-use innovators with access to NATO resources. DIANA focuses on deep tech and dual-use technologies that have both civilian and military uses. DIANA supports companies with training, funding, commercial advice, and access to defence expertise and investors. Through competitive challenges, selected innovators can receive grant funding, acceleration advice, and access to the NATO DIANA network of accelerators and test centres. DND

The Government of Canada announced key findings of the annual report on the State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada, produced by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub with support from the federal government. The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship (SOWE) annual report provides the most complete picture of research on women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. Some of the findings from the 2024 SOWE report include:

  • Women business ownership is growing: In 2023, approximately 18.4 per cent of all businesses were majority owned by women in Canada, compared with 15.6 per cent in 2017.  
  • Women entrepreneurs drive economic growth and sustainability. Women-owned businesses focus more on innovation and environmental sustainability than men-owned businesses.
  • Women entrepreneurs still earn less: 37.1 per cent of women entrepreneurs earn less than $50,000 annually, compared with 31.7 per cent of men entrepreneurs.
  • Canadian women were more engaged in total early-stage entrepreneurial activities compared with the global average (14.8 per cent vs. 10.1 per cent).
  • More than 80 per cent of women entrepreneurs are self-employed, and women are 37.2 per cent of the self-employed population.
  • Indigenous businesses are majority-owned by women at a higher rate than the Canadian population (24.7 per cent).
  • About 19.2 per cent of small businesses in Canada are majority-owned by racialized individuals. 

The report shows that while women entrepreneurs are making progress, they continue to face challenges and more work needs to be done, the government said. The federal government continues to support under-represented entrepreneurs through programs like Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a nearly $7-billion initiative that is helping tens of thousands of women entrepreneurs from all walks of life across Canada get the support they need to succeed. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

The Government of Canada and the Federal Republic of Germany signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a first-of-its-kind bilateral program on hydrogen development. The MOU aims to accelerate commercial-scale hydrogen trade between Canada and Germany, secure early access for clean Canadian hydrogen producers in the German market, and strengthen the two countries’ efforts to fight climate change and enhance energy security. Under the MOU, Canada and Germany will work to establish a dedicated bilateral window through Germany’s H2Global Foundation that will support commercial transactions between Canada’s hydrogen producers and Germany’s industrial manufacturing and energy distribution sectors. The Canada-Germany bilateral window will be administered by the H2Global Foundation and will conduct coordinated supply and demand side auctions that will connect Canadian hydrogen exporters with German buyers to facilitate the completion of commercially binding contracts for the sale of clean Canadian hydrogen and its derivatives within the established timelines. Both nations will contribute US$217 million for bilateral hydrogen auctions – to buy quantities of hydrogen and resell them at a lower price to European buyers via auctions, Bloomberg reported. This MOU follows on the  commitments made under the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance signed in Stephenville, Nfld., in August 2022. More than 80 low-carbon hydrogen projects have been announced in Canada to date, Ottawa said. Natural Resources Canada

International patents filed from inventors in China surpasses applications from the U.S.

For the first time, the number of international patents filed from inventors in China has surpassed applications from the U.S., according to a report by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). “[We’ve] never seen a country grow its patenting both at the rate and the volume” as China has, said Robert Atkinson, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. It is a “pretty serious indicator” and “should be a wake-up call,” he said.

Inventors in China applied for roughly 68,600 patents in 2022 through the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which allows inventors to file across many countries at once. There were about 58,200 U.S.-based applications the same year – the most recent year for which the data has been compiled. In 2015, the U.S. had twice as many applications as China, and in 2020 China pulled even with the U.S.

The growth patterns reflect the different growth rates of economies and science and engineering institutions, said report author Carol Robbins, a senior analyst at NCSES. Those rates sped up for some, like China, while others slowed down.

AI-related patents saw tremendous growth. In 2012, AI inventors in China were granted 650 worldwide utility patents – those given for non-obvious inventions. By 2022, that number climbed to more than 40,000. U.S.-associated AI patents also grew from about 920 to 9,400 during the same time. According to the congressionally mandated report, China had the highest number of patents in the top three categories of patents issued: machine learning, computer vision, and personal devices and computing.

For the first time, the biennial report looked at patenting in critical and emerging technologies identified in the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act. These technologies include AI, advanced materials, semiconductors, quantum information science and tech, and biotech. About 190,000 USPTO utility patents were granted in these technologies – about 45 per cent overall were granted to U.S. inventors.

As a comparison, the U.S. had 3,674 USPTO (U.S. Patent Technology Office) utility patents granted in semiconductors in 2022, while China had 2,165. Canada had 38 – less than Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. The U.S. had 18,574 USPTO utility patents in chemistry in 2022, while China had 2,815. Canada had 829.

For many of the technology fields, the share granted to U.S. inventors was roughly 50 per cent, but for some, it was less: 31 per cent for energy-related technologies and 35 per cent for advanced materials.

“Patents are an output, not an outcome,” Atkinson noted. An abundance of patents doesn't necessarily translate to a successful product or technology. “The competitive environment for tech innovation is way tougher than it was” a decade ago, he said.

China’s trademark activity in the U.S. grew massively between 2011, when there were about 2,500 trademarks assigned to China, and 2022, when there were more than 120,000. Axios Science


Campbell River, B.C.-based Poseidon Ocean Systems Ltd., an aquaculture tech firm, raised $28 million in Series  B financing led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund and joined by InBC Investment Corp., along with additional investment support from one of Poseidon’s existing investors, Export Development Canada. Poseidon said the funds will expand the company’s manufacturing capacity and support the growth and delivery of its turnkey Life Support Systems and Hybrid Sea Cage Systems, for modern salmon farming operations. Poseidon said the funding also will enable the company to continue its expansion into global markets and deepen its relationships with Canadian, Chilean and U.K. fish farmers. Poseidon Ocean Systems

Toronto-based Joyride, a platform in the shared mobility sector, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Yamaha Motors. The round included returning investors Urban Innovation Fund, Proeza Ventures and Two Small Fish Ventures, all of which took part in the company’s post-seed round in 2021, as well as participation from Export Development Canada. Joyride said the funding will be used to propel the global adoption of sustainable, connected, keyless and trackable electric vehicles. Joyride’s software allows operators to launch, manage and grow public or private fleets of scooters, bikes, e-bikes, minicars and golf cars and other connected, keyless and sustainable vehicles. The company said it has software-connected electric vehicle deployments in more than 250 global markets across five continents. Joyride

Calgary-based Carbonova Corp., which aims to produce sustainable materials from greenhouse gas feedstocks, raised $6 million in equity financing, The round was led by Kolon Industries, a multi-billion-dollar Korean conglomerate that has an interest in Carbonova’s technology applications in Asia, including batteries, plastics and other materials. Another major participant in this round was the Natural Gas Innovation Fund NGIF Capital, a venture capital firm focused on innovative technologies for improving the environmental performance of existing or renewable natural gas and hydrogen production. The round also saw strong participation from Carbonova's directors, management, and staff team. The company intends to use the financing to advance its strategy towards building the first commercial demonstration carbon nanofibers unit in Canada. Carbonova

Victoria, B.C.-based ocean startup MarineLabs, which provides cutting-edge maritime weather intelligence technology, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. The round was led by BDC Capital’s Sustainability Venture Fund, with participation from Seaspan Shipyards, which operates shipyards in Vancouver and Victoria. MarineLabs will use the funding to accelerate its flagship product, CoastAware, a real-time weather intelligence solution that provides users with detailed, actionable, real-time and historical weather conditions data for informed decision-making. The company also offers a buoy camera with a 360-degree view of weather conditions in remote coastal locations. Marine Labs

Vancouver-based Codezero, a cybersecurity-focused firm whose “Teamspace” product offers secure multi-cloud microservices development for businesses, raised $3.5 million in a seed-funding round led by Ballistic Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm dedicated exclusively to funding entrepreneurs and innovations in cybersecurity. Ballistic joins a list of angel investors that have previously backed Codezero, including: Github CEO Thomas Dohmke; Peloton chief product officer Nick Caldwell; and former Reddit CTO Marty Weiner. Codezero will use the funding to grow its sales and marketing teams and expand its partner network. Codezero

Montreal-based Developer Capital (DevCap), operating from software development consultancy Monadical, raised $2.5 million for its fund, which doesn’t charge management fees or have a general partner and limited partners structure. DevCap is led by Monadical CEO Jordan Steiner and Max McCrea, co-founder of Monadical, serving as chair and chief technology officer respectively. Through DevCap, they aim to support 15 to 20 early-stage startups across North America and Europe. Initial investments will range from $100,000 to $400,000, with the flexibility to increase funding for promising startups. DevCap’s investment strategy focuses on companies leveraging AI technology to address problems in innovative ways made possible by recent advancements in large language models, fusion models and machine learning. While many VCs offer funding and network access to founders, DevCap sets itself apart by providing startups with access to Monadical’s team of 31 developers for guidance and advice. Scholars International Institute of Technology

Montreal-based music-tech software startup BeatConnect, a platform for collaborative music creation, raised $2.25 million in a round that included prominent tech and music industry investors like U.S. VC firm Sfermion and existing investors  Fonds d’investissement de la culture et des communications, Anges Québec, and Triptyq Capital. Founded by CEO Alexandre Turbide and CTO Nicholas Laroche – both CBC Radio-Canada alumni – BeatConnect offers a digital collaboration-based music platform, which includes a multiplayer digital audio workstation, that allows users to connect with other music makers globally. BeatConnect will use the funding to fuel its launch this spring of its music creation platform that takes a gamified approach that the company said aims to change the way musicians, producers and vocalists connect and create music together. MusicBusinessWorldwide

Montreal-based startup Opalia raised $2 million, in a round Led by the Netherlands-based Hoogwegt Group. Other investors include Ahimsa Foundation, Box One Ventures, Cycle Momentum, Kale United, and the Quebec government through its Impulsion PME program, managed by Investissement Québec. Opalia also received funding from Natural Products Canada in its Proof of Concept program. Opalia is developing a technology to make real milk without cows, using bovine mammary cells. Opalia

Google is providing $2.7 million in grant funding to three Canadian organizations working on artificial intelligence: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) in Edmonton, and the International Center of Expertise in Montreal on Artificial Intelligence (CEIMIA). The funding will  support critical AI research in areas such as sustainability and the responsible development of AI. Google's grants include:

  • $1.3-million to CIFAR will support its Accelerated Decarbonization program, which brings together experts in carbon capture, storage, and utilization, biochemistry, chemistry, biology and more to address the carbon cycle and offer new ways of solving climate-related problems. The funding will also support CIFAR’s work to promote responsible AI research and development. The grant also will help foster the next generation of AI scientists by supporting programs and training, including for individuals who identify as members of underrepresented groups in AI.
  •  $1.1 million to Amii will support its Autonomous Drinking Water project, which enables the deployment of modular water treatment systems into underserved regions using reinforcement learning. While this project aims to support underserved communities in Canada, the insights learned will help reduce the overall water treatment energy use globally through automation driven optimization.
  •  $335,000  to CEIMIA, as part of the Digital Futures Project, will fund work that explores opportunities to deepen collaboration and increase interoperability between governments globally on their policy approaches to AI. Announced last year, the Digital Futures Project was created to support researchers, academics, and organizations creating research, analysis, and promoting debate on public policy solutions for the responsible development of AI. Google


SDTC completes corrective actions ordered by ISED, but agency’s ability to fund new projects remains on hold

Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s board of directors completed a list of specific actions by December 31, 2023, as required under a “Management Response and Action Plan” sent to SDTC by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

ISED required STDC to take corrective actions after a third-party investigation ordered by ISED found several instances where STDC wasn’t in full compliance with its contribution agreement with ISED, as well as issues with governance, oversight and human resources.

However, SDTC’s ability to grant funding to new cleantech projects is still on hold – 5 ½ months after François-Philipe Champagne, ISED’s minister, temporarily suspended that ability –as ISED continues to assess “the completeness of SDTC’s response and ensuring that appropriate measures are in place,” ISED media relations officer Hans Parmar said in an email to Research Money. “Pending satisfactory implementation of these actions, the funding of new projects remains suspended by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. Agreements established prior to the suspension continue to be funded.”

ISED’s Audit and Evaluation Branch also has prepared an evaluation of the ongoing programs of grants and contributions in the Sustainable Development Technology Fund (“SD Tech Fund”), which is part of SDTC’s portfolio, as required every five years in the contribution agreement between ISED and SDTC and by Treasury Board policy, Parmar said.

But the evaluation report’s approval process by ISED’s deputy minister “is on hold to enable consideration of findings stemming from the fact-finding exercise undertaken by [accounting firm] Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, and the results of the Office of the Auditor General’s audit of SDTC, that may be relevant to the draft evaluation report,” he said. The Auditor General continues to investigate and has yet to release her audit findings.

Once the evaluation by ISED’s Audit and Evaluation Branch is approved by ISED’s deputy minister, the evaluation will be made public no later than 120 days after it’s approved by the deputy minister, Parmar said. “We do not yet have an estimated date for publication.”

Champagne has yet to appoint a new chair of the board for SDTC, after board chair Annette Verschuren resigned on December 1, 2023. “Work is underway to appoint a new Chair. However, exact timing for an appointment cannot be confirmed at this time,” Parmar said.

Verschuren’s resignation came about a week after SDTC CEO Leah Lawrence resigned. Both Lawrence and Vershuren denied allegations of financial mismanagement and conflict-of-interest at SDTC by some of the agency’s former employees. Three SDTC board directors have also stepped down since last fall. R$

See also: Canada risks losing cleantech startups due to halt in SDTC’s funding, entrepreneurs say


OECD update on financing for Canadian SMEs and Entrepreneurs

Total venture capital investment levels in Canada reached a peak of $14.4 billion in 2021, followed by a decline to $9.8 billion in 2022, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD).

The OECD report, Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs: an OECD Scoreboard, provides information on recent trends in SME and entrepreneurship finance for nearly 50 countries worldwide, and gives an overview of the range of policies and instruments governments deploy to support SME access to finance.

According to the report, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), a Crown corporation with the mandate to support Canadian entrepreneurship, had $47.8 billion in financing and investments, as of March 31, 2022, committed to 95,000 clients operating across Canada.

The Government of Canada has further supported the development of Canada’s VC ecosystem by convening public, private, and institutional sources of financing through its Venture Capital Action Plan, and Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative. Taken together, the government has invested $761 million, resulting in a combined total of more than $3 billion in capital raised from public and private sources to help Canadian companies start up and grow.

The federal government also has established a number of programs to provide support targeted to entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. This includes: total investments of nearly $7 billion in the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy; $265 million in the Black Entrepreneurship Program; $38 million for Futurpreneur, a program to support youth entrepreneurs; and $150 million for the Indigenous Growth Fund launched by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association with the BDC.

Also, the federal government launched Canada’s Export Diversification Strategy in the fall of 2018. In total, this strategy is a $1.1-billion investment over six years, that aims to help Canadian businesses access new markets and increase Canada’s overseas exports by 50 per cent by 2025.

In 2022, small businesses establishments (1-99 employees) constituted 98 per cent of all businesses in Canada. Small businesses employed 6.6 million individuals at the enterprise level, or 41.1 per cent of the private sector labour force.

Supply-side survey data show that outstanding debt held by all businesses increased in 2022 to just over $1.2 billion. Lending to small businesses increased to $140.4 billion (from $125.7 billion in 2021). As a result, small businesses’ share of total outstanding business loans in 2022 was 11.4 per cent.

Small business credit conditions tightened in 2022. The average interest rate charged to small businesses increased from 4.1 per cent in 2021 to 6.2 per cent in 2022, with an average business prime rate (the rate charged to the most creditworthy borrowers) of 4.1 per cent (from 2.5 per cent in 2021).

The business risk premium (measured as the difference between the average small business interest rate and the business prime rate) stood at 2.1 per cent reflecting a tightening in access to financing for small businesses in Canada. Bank of Canada survey results indicate that lenders reported that overall business lending conditions tightened towards the end of the second half of 2022. Borrowers also reported tightening of credit conditions during the same period.

Globally, 2022 marked a sharp increase in the cost of SME financing, “unprecedented in the history” of the OECD’s SME and entrepreneur finance reporting, which started more than a decade ago. This, along with an increase in the share of SMEs requiring collateral for loans, deterred many SMEs from seeking debt finance, weighing down on new lending and the outstanding stock of SME loans. Equity finance also fell sharply as investors turned towards fixed-return asset classes, driving down startup valuations and affecting VC fundraising. OECD


Hundreds of thousands of Canadians doing “gig work”

In the fourth quarter of 2022, a total of 871,0000 Canadians did “gig work” in their main job, according to a report by Statistics Canada. Gig work is defined as a form of employment characterized by short-term jobs or tasks which doesn’t guarantee steady work and where the worker must take specific actions to stay employed.

 In fourth quarter 2022, an average of 624,000  Canadians aged 15 to 69 who were self-employed had a main job with characteristics consistent with the concept of gig work, StatsCan said. These characteristics include a lack of employees, business partners, or a physical building or premises dedicated to their self-employment activity.

Beyond that, these gig workers generally fell into two categories: those who worked very short hours or operated their business intermittently (91,000 workers); and those who usually dedicated more time to their business but did not have a stable client base (449,000 workers). In addition, 84,000 self-employed workers had characteristics of both groups.

In addition to self-employed gig workers, 247,000 Canadians who were paid employees in their main job had employment characteristics that were consistent with the definition of gig work in the fourth quarter of 2022. In Q4 2022, an additional 1.5 million people on average reported having done freelancing, paid gigs, or short-term jobs or tasks at some point during the previous 12 months.

In December 2022 and December 2023, Statistics Canada collected data on digital platform employment through supplements to the Labour Force Survey. Three types of platforms or apps that are used to work and earn income can be distinguished:

  • Apps or platforms which pay workers directly.
  • Apps or platforms which do not pay workers directly but exercise some control over the work process.
  • Apps or platforms which help workers and clients connect, but do not otherwise intervene in the work process (e.g. social media and online message boards).

In December 2023, 468,000 people aged 15 to 69 (1.7 per cent of people in this age group) indicated they had worked through a digital platform or app to earn income in the previous 12 months and were paid by the platform for their work.

For 79,000 people (0.4 per cent of the employed population), working through such digital platforms or apps was their main job or business during the December 2023 Labor Force Survey reference week.

The broadest definition of digital platform employment includes platforms that pay workers directly, those that exercise another form of control, and those that simply connect workers with clients and let them arrange the payment by themselves. Based on this definition, 927,000 people (3.3 per cent of the population aged 15 to 69) reported that they had engaged in digital platform employment in the 12 months preceding December 2023.

Self-employed gig workers and workers who work through digital platforms sometimes lack access to the full benefits associated with being self-employed, such as the freedom to hire paid help, choose their work hours, or set their own prices. At the same time, they do not have access to the same benefits as employees, such as protection under employment standards legislation.

When a self-employed worker depends on another business or person for a large part of their commercial activity, and when that second business or person controls key aspects of the work, a self-employed worker may be in a situation of "dependent self-employment," StatsCan said.

In June, July and August 2022, an average of 1 million self-employed workers (without employees) aged 15 to 69 were dependent on a single business relationship for at least 50 per cent of their commercial activity. Among them, 427,000 relied on a single main client and 235,000 relied on another company or person subcontracting tasks, projects or clients.

Of these 1 million workers, 588,000 were in a situation where the other party exercised a large extent of control over a key dimension of their work, such as their schedule, the organization of their work or the supply of essential tools or materials. Statistics Canada


Proposed changes to Competition Act will stifle Canada’s economy, innovation, U.S. policy think tank says

The federal government’s Bill C-59 aims to amend Canada’s Competition Act, in part to prevent concentration from forming in various industries and encourage more competition to stimulate innovation and the country’s economy. Bill C-59 follows Bill C-56, an Act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act.

However, in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance studying Bill C-59, the Washington, D.C-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a nonprofit public policy think tank, says “there is simply no evidence that Canada’s economy is suffering from a concentration problem. Rather, it appears that there has been a decline in the large-scale firms that are often best positioned to drive innovation, productivity and Canada’s global competitiveness.”

Moreover, Bill C-56 – already enacted into law – risks harming, rather than promoting, innovation in the Canadian economy, the ITIF says. Bill C-59 troublingly doubles down on Bill C-56’s problematic approach and empowers the Competition Tribunal to eschew any consideration of a merger’s likely competitive effects in lieu of a myopic focus on market structure, according to the ITIF.

Canada’s share of global GDP fell from 2.5 percent in 1978 to 1.9 in 2020, with its leading firms “no longer world-class,” according to a 2019 report by Deloitte. “Canada’s vanishing corporate titans” is due to slower innovation from long-gone superstar firms, the report said. Innovation in Canada has faltered: homegrown innovation (innovation domestically generated as opposed to imported) grew by a cumulative 0.11 per cent from 1970 to 2010 – the lowest increase of any G7 nation.

However, Statistics Canada has not measured industry sector concentration since 2009, making it very difficult to know what the state of concentration is in Canada, the ITIF notes. Without any evidence, it adds, “policymakers are acting in the dark.” 

If lack of industry concentration is the problem in Canada, one would expect to see poor productivity performance of firms in non-traded sectors (such as grocery stores, telecom services, retail, banking). Traded sector firms (such as software, manufacturing, farming) by definition face more competition because they compete against firms in other nations and have stronger incentives to boost productivity and innovation. However, from 2011 to 2022, non-traded sector productivity in the U.S. grew 28 per cent, compared with 14 per cent in Canada – double the rate.

 But non-traded sector productivity in the U.S. grew 3.5 times faster than the same sectors in Canada. As such, it was the non-traded sectors in Canada that, relative to the U.S., performed the best, the ITIF says.

“This suggests that it is not a lack of competition in Canada that is the cause of Canada’s poor productivity performance. It is much more likely to be the lack of firms with scale economies that can gain high productivity.” As economist Joseph Schumpeter made clear almost a century ago, the innovation and dynamic competition that drives long-run economic growth is often spurred by scale, which incentivizes appropriability and risk-taking in the face of the uncertainty inherent in the innovation process, the ITIF says.

Bill C-59 removes the caveat that the Competition Tribunal shall not condemn a merger based solely on evidence that the concentration or market share will be increased. But concentration by itself is a poor predictor of market power or economic performance, not just because of efficiencies but other market dynamics like entry that affect behaviour, the ITIF says. Rather than reflect a lack of competition, the organization argues, mergers that increase concentration can stimulate the healthy process of dynamic and innovative competition described by Schumpeter decades ago.

In effect, Bill C-56 and Bill C-59 reflect a “Europeanization” of Canada’s competition law regime and abandonment of the consumer welfare model that defines the American approach, the ITIF says. Its recommendations to the Senate standing committee include:

  • Rethink the “big is bad” narrative: Not only is there little evidence to suggest that concentration has increased either in Canada or the U.S., but increased business dynamism can be spurred by the increased scale needed to support the Schumpeterian and innovation competition that drives long-run economic growth.
  • Reconsider Bill C-56:  Bill C-56’s excessive pricing offence, its shift toward intent evidence for abuse of dominance cases, and removal of the efficiencies defence in merger enforcement are each highly problematic from the standpoint of promoting innovation. They warrant reconsideration and ultimately repeal.
  • Amend Bill C-59: At the very least, Canada should not proceed further with the amendment in Bill C-59 which will empower the Competition Tribunal to condemn mergers based on market structure alone – regardless of contrary economic evidence or efficiency justifications – and which in so doing ratifies the failed old European approach to competition policy.

Canada already has such a deficit in large firms, and a surfeit of small, less-productive firms, that this legislative change will just reinforce this problematic structural feature of the Canadian economy, says the ITIF. “Bills C-56 and C-59 will stifle the innovation and productivity gains that are critically needed to reinvigorate the Canadian economy and make it an innovation leader in the 21st century.” ITIF

*******************************************************************************************************************************Canadian auto dealers call on Quebec government to keep incentives for EV purchases

The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) is calling on the Government of Quebec to reconsider its decision, announced in the recent provincial budget, to gradually eliminate incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.

The decision comes at a time when Quebecers are facing a major affordability crisis, making purchase rebates absolutely necessary for the eventual attainment of the ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) standard imposed by the Quebec government, CADA said in a statement. “Removing these incentives could significantly slow down the progress Quebecers have made so far in adopting electric vehicles.”

Data also demonstrate that the fundamental reason behind Quebec’s success in the transition to EVs is the usage of this aggressive and comprehensive incentive program, CADA said. The two best-performing provinces – Quebec and British Columbia – are also the only ones that offer greater financial incentives than those proposed by the federal government.

(Editor’s note: In contrast, the Alberta government in its Budget 2024 announced a $200 annual tax on EV owners when they register their vehicles).

The Quebec government’s rationale behind its decision to eliminate incentives for purchasing EVs appears to be flawed, CADA said. While Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard has indicated that the price differential between electric and internal combustion engine vehicles is now marginal, impact assessments conducted and adopted by the federal and Californian governments have shown that price parity will not be achieved at least until 2033, CADA said.

“This budget proposes to turn back the clock by putting forward an approach similar to that of provinces that have barely begun the transition to electric vehicles. Essentially, this decision seems to mean that the Quebec government, with its restrictive, mandatory ZEV standard, inevitably expects a transition, and that helping consumers to take part in it is no longer a priority,” CADA said.

Meanwhile, a study by University of British Columbia researchers found that it’s cheaper in Quebec to drive an EV than in any other region in Canada. The study was published in the journal Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability.

The researchers analyzed how far people need to drive their electric car to break even on the cost, factoring in the impacts of tax rebates and tax rates, charging costs, typical distance households travel in a region, and electricity costs – all of which vary from region to region.

They found Quebec had the biggest advantage, followed by B.C. and Manitoba, while Nunavut came up last. “In Quebec, an electric car owner must travel at least 46 kilometres per day to come out ahead in comparison with owning a traditional car. In Nunavut, this number rises to 180 kilometres,” says study author Bassam Javed, a PhD candidate at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES).

The study’s results suggest that if you’re looking to make the switch to electric, choosing a smaller, basic EV can realize more savings than a luxury electric car, says study author Dr. Amanda Giang, PhD, a professor in the department of mechanical engineering and at IRES.

As the cost of switching to EVs will be higher in some places and for some households, targeted interventions will be needed to address the affordability gap. Giang said. “Canada needs to take many paths towards clean and affordable transportation for all, which means not only supporting transitions to EVs, but also public transit and active transport.” CADA, UBC


Human impacts have significantly changed Canada’s Atlantic waters and ecosystem, report says

Recent changes in temperature, sea ice, acidity and oxygen in Atlantic Canadian waters have had wide-ranging consequences on the marine environment, pressuring species to adapt, according to a report by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Warming of ocean waters at the bottom and at the surface, along with changes in the ocean’s chemistry, have shifted ocean circulation, driving further changes in the amount of nutrients, phytoplankton and zooplankton in Atlantic Canadian waters, says the report, Canada’s Oceans Now: Atlantic Ecosystems, 2022. “All across Atlantic Canada’s continental shelves, water near the seafloor had unusually high temperatures from 2016 to 2021 and all measures of bottom temperature were at or above average.” Changes to nutrients and lower trophic levels ripple up the food chain, ultimately affecting the abundance and distribution of invertebrates, fish, seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals.

The report is based on key findings and summaries of the marine ecosystem's physical, chemical, and biological components derived from monitoring and research programs. 

While Atlantic Canada has seen an increased productivity and biomass of American Lobster and redfish in recent years, other species, like kelp, Atlantic Salmon, Snow Crab and Northern Shrimp, have declined in some areas, the report says. Even marine mammals are impacted by ocean warming – the endangered North Atlantic Right Whales (the total estimated global population was only 256 in 2019) are facing new challenges finding their preferred prey, while changes in sea ice have shifted where Harp and Grey Seals give birth to their pups.

Other stressors also impact Atlantic marine ecosystems. Some invasive species have damaged or displaced kelp and eelgrass, while others prey on young Atlantic Salmon. Commercial overharvesting of fish and invertebrate species has affected their abundance and distribution with cascading effects on the rest of the food web, from other fish species to marine mammals and seabirds. Fishing has also impacted sea turtles, pelagic sharks, whales, and seals which can either be caught as bycatch or become entangled in gear. Pollution of all types – noise, light and chemical contaminants – have broad impacts on the habitats and species of the marine ecosystem.

Scientific research and monitoring that increase our knowledge of where, when, and how these stressors are occurring can help us understand, prevent, and mitigate their impacts, the report notes. Management and conservation efforts based on this knowledge can contribute to the recovery of species at risk – Striped Bass, Porbeagle and White sharks, and Northern Bottlenose Whales have all shown recent signs of improvement. “Together these efforts are helping to protect marine biodiversity in Canadian waters and to make more sustainable decisions for future ocean uses.” Fisheries and Oceans Canada

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Nizar J. Somji, an entrepreneur, community leader and University of Alberta alumnus was elected by U of A’s Senate, as the university’s 23rd chancellor, to succeed Peggy Garritty. He begins a four-year, non-renewable term after he is installed as chancellor during spring convocation in June. During more than 30 years of leadership developing new initiatives, forging strategic partnerships and driving innovation, Somji founded multiple successful businesses. He is best known for launching Matrikon Inc., a leader in industrial automation, which he grew from a one-person venture to a global company operating in five continents. He currently leads the Jaffer Group of Companies, which has invested more than $130 million in Alberta through ventures in construction, staffing, information technology, realty, hospitality, petroleum and property management. Somji, who holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering, has funded two engineering research chairs at the U of A, leading to many developments in process control and automation that were adopted by several multinational corporations. University of Alberta

Burnaby, B.C.-based Cymax Group Technologies, a multichannel e-commerce platform and shipping management platform, appointed majority owner Markus Frind as its new CEO, effective March 12, 2024. He succeeds interim CEO, chief operating officer Mike Herenberg who will continue as COO on the executive team. Frind has been part of the company since 2015 when he invested in the company and has been on the board of directors for more than nine years. A well-known technology industry thought-leader and investor, Frind is the founder of Plenty of Fish Media Inc. (sold to Match Group in 2015), CEO of Frind Properties and proprietor of Frind Estate Winery in West Kelowna. Cymax Group

Montreal-based telecommunications and media firms Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Communications Inc. appointed Frédéric Perron as president, CEO and director of both companies, effective immediately. He succeeds Philippe Jetté who is retiring. Perron previously held the position of president of Cogeco Connexion, Cogeco’s Canadian broadband business. Prior to joining Cogeco, Perron led T-Mobile's consumer business in Poland, held executive roles at Vodafone in the U.K. and the Czech Republic, and ran customer base management at Rogers Communications. To facilitate a seamless transition in leadership, Jetté will serve as a strategic advisor to the incoming CEO and boards of directors until August 31, 2024. Cogeco Inc.

A proposed multimillion-dollar national research program aims to help beef producers breed cattle that emit less methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to global warming and climate change. Scientists have applied for federal funding to start looking for molecular breeding values for genetic traits that reduce methane, John Basarab, head of beef operations at Livestock Gentec, an applied research and commercialization centre based at the University of Alberta, told the Western Producer. The research program depends on receiving approval from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Although the program would be led by the U of A and Livestock Gentec, it would likely also include Olds College, Lakeland College and the federal research centre in Lacombe, Alberta, as well as Dalhousie University and University of Guelph. The four-year project will include emissions monitoring equipment costing more than US$100,000 per unit, and will require numerous researchers to operate such devices at several locations across Canada. Agriculture is the leading contributor of atmospheric methane, with livestock accounting for roughly 32 per cent of methane emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Canada’s cattle industry has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, by 15 percent for each kilogram of boneless and consumed beef between 2014 and 2021, according to the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s National Beef Sustainability Assessment and Strategy report.

An international team of researchers has used artificial intelligence to identify a novel therapeutic molecule and advance it to early human trials in just 18 months. This process typically takes five to eight years using traditional drug discovery methods. The study is published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The study employed two distinct machine learning models to streamline the drug discovery process. First, the PandaOmics platform analyzed vast datasets to identify the molecule TNIK as a promising new target for treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Next, the Chemistry42 platform used genAI to design a potent and selective TNIK inhibitor with desirable drug-like properties. The AI-designed compound demonstrated anti-fibrotic activity across the lungs, kidneys and skin in animal models and exhibited a favourable safety profile in two Phase I clinical trials. In separate research,  researchers from Microsoft and Pacific Northwest Laboratory combined AI and supercomputing to identify a promising new solid electrolyte for batteries from more than 32 million candidates in just 80 hours. They then synthesised and tested the material, creating a working prototype within six months. Nature Biotechnology

The Arctic could see summer days with practically no sea ice as early as the next couple of years, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder. The findings, published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth ­­& Environment, suggest that the first ice-free day in the Arctic could occur more than 10 years earlier than previous projections, which focused on when the region would be ice-free for a month or more. The trend remains consistent under all future emission scenarios. By mid-century, the Arctic is likely to see an entire month without floating ice during September, when the region’s sea ice coverage is at its minimum. At the end of the century, the ice-free season could last several months a year, depending on future emissions scenarios. For example, under a high-emissions, or business-as-usual, scenario, the planet’s northernmost region could become consistently ice-free even in some winter months. Researchers said the Arctic is considered ice-free when the ocean has less than 1 million square kilometers of ice. This threshold represents less than 20 per cent of what the region’s seasonal minimum ice cover was in the 1980s. Greenhouse gas emissions are the main contributors to sea ice loss, said Alexandra Jahn, associate professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and fellow at Colorado University Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. A decrease in snow and ice cover increases the amount of heat from sunlight absorbed by the ocean, exacerbating ice melt and warming in the Arctic. EurekAlerta



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