The Short Report – March 24, 2021: Genome Canada creates data portal to address COVID-19 variants, Suncor invests US$25M in carbon capture tech, a national agriculture network, and more.

Cindy Graham
March 24, 2021


Genome Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, has created a Canadian SARS-CoV-2 data portal to manage data sharing of viral genome sequences among Canada’s public health labs as part of Genome Canada’s $53-million Variants of Concern Strategy. The development and implementation of the portal will be led by McGill University’s Dr. Guillaume Bourque, director of the Canadian Center for Computational GenomicsThe VOC strategy builds on the previous $40-million federal investment in the Canadian COVID Genomics Network. – Genome Canada McGill


The Government of Canada will invest $185 million over the next 10 years in a national network that develops and shares best management practices for storing carbon. The first phase of the Agricultural Climate Solutions program, launching April 1st, will offer grants of up to $100,000 for proposals focused on regional innovation hubs. The second phase (target date Fall 2021) will support projects up to $10 million. – GoC

The Canadian government is also contributing more than $4.5 million to improve plastic waste management and on-farm sustainability for Canada’s farmers. The recipients are CleanFARMS (Toronto; $1 million for strategy development for plastic waste management); EcoEnviro Labs (Beaverton, Ont.; $1 million to develop bioplastic mulch); Titan Clean Energy Projects (Craik, Sask.; $1 million to test food-grade bioplastic); TerraVerdae Bioworks (Edmonton; $1 million to develop biodegradable bioplastic film), and Red Leaf Pulp (Saskatoon; $495,000 to research and test a straw pulp bio-polymer to replace plastic and Styrofoam packaging). – GoC

Ottawa is investing $50.5 million in St. John’s Moltex Energy to reduce storage needs for existing used nuclear fuel. The investment includes $47.5 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund and $3 million from the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program. The federal government is also contributing $5 million through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to help NB Power prepare a small modular reactor (SMR) deployment site, and an additional $500,000 to support SMR technology development in New Brunswick through UNB’s Centre for Nuclear Energy Research. – Moltex

Canadian Protein Ingredients and Protein Industries Canada are committing $27.3 million to produce and manufacture soybean ingredients and soybean oil that comply with organic and non-GMO labelling standards. The project will see the construction of a new processing plant that processes 25 MT of crops per year to meet global demands. – Protein Industries Canada

The University of Alberta and TELUS have joined in a five-year partnership to establish a 5G “Living Lab” that will allow U of A to prioritize research projects with a path to public or commercial viability in precision agriculture and autonomous vehicles with potential subsequent partnerships in precision health, virtual medicine and smart cities. TELUS’s $15-million investment is also meant to leverage strengths in artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver innovation and technology solutions in these areas. – U of A

Montreal's FinTech Station and Toronto's venture studio Highline Beta are launching a startup acceleration program that will partner financial institutions with start-ups that can address specific challenges of the finance industry. FinTech Station is part of Finance Montreal, one of Quebec's financial services industry cluster. – Finance Montreal

The Institut national de la recherche scientifique has announced the creation of five unités mixtes de recherché (UMR) in partnership with five universities in the Université du Québec network: Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, the Université du Québec à Rimouski, the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Université du Québec en Outaouais, and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. The inter-university research units will prioritize research that is strategic for Quebec, such as materials and technology for energy transition, cybersecurity, digital transformation to support regional development, sustainable health, and Indigenous studies. The project is funded through $15 million from the Government of Quebec and will create three new professorships at each UMR. - UQuébec

Laboratories Canada, the 25-year initiative to revitalize federal research laboratories, has selected a joint venture team comprising of Architecture49 (Montreal), HOK (Toronto and Ottawa) and WSP (Montreal) to design projects in the Ontario Regional Projects bundle to enhance scientific research in Ontario. – WSP

The Canada Infrastructure Bank has launched an initiative to spur investments in infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative will provide loans of at least $5 million for up to 80 percent of total project capital cost for community-based, revenue-generating projects from any of CIB’s priority sectors: green infrastructure, clean power, broadband, public transit and trade and transportation.  – CIB

G6 Consulting (Toronto) has launched a scalable software solution to reduce the impact of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy claw back on Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SRED) tax credits. The software analyzes money received from both programs to isolate and deduct the exact amount of overlap between the two. – Cision

A two-year pilot program will explore the carbon-storing power of Canada’s grasslands. The project is led by the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, with funding from the AgriAssurance Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and industry funding from Shell Canada. – CFGA


Calgary’s Suncor Energy reached an equity financing agreement with carbon capture tech company Svante (Vancouver), thanks to an equity financing investment of US$25 million. The investment by Suncor, Carbon Direct Capital Management (New York) and a number of family office investors brings the total raised under Svante’s Series D financing to $100 million USD, the largest single private investment into point source carbon capture technology globally to date. – Svante Inc.


Dr. Nancy Ross, associate vice-principal (research and innovation) at McGill University, has been appointed to a five-year term as vice-principal (research) at Queen’s University, effective August 1, 2021. Ross will succeed Kimberly Woodhouse, who has been interim in the role since 2018. – Queen’s

Audrey Haukioja, the global head of pharma development operations at Hoffman – La Roche (Burlington) has been appointed to Saskatoon phyto-therapeutics company ZYUS Life Science’s Clinical Advisory Committee, which provides strategic guidance to ZYUS’ clinical trial programs. – ZYUS


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