The Short Report - May 18, 2022: Genome Canada's climate-smart agriculture & food systems initiative, funding for critical minerals value chain development, CINUK's Arctic climate research projects, and more

Cindy Graham
May 17, 2022


Canada's Stem Cell Network is investing $19.5 million in 32 regenerative medicine research projects and clinical trials. With in-kind and cash support from partner organizations totalling $22 million, funding will cover 20 disease areas including stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, blood cancers, multiple sclerosis, wound repair, and sepsis. Projects are being funded in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. SCN Funded projects list

Genome Canada has launched a $30-million initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of Canada’s food production systems. The investment will see $24 million used for interdisciplinary fundamental and applied genomics research; $4 million for data coordination, and $2 million for knowledge mobilization and implementation. Potential impacts include net-zero carbon agriculture and food systems; biological carbon sequestration, building resilient and sustainable food systems, and developing scalable biology-based solutions. Genome Canada Backgrounder

Western University has received a $2.5 million donation supporting neuroscience research on the treatment and prevention of chronic pain. The donation from William and Lynn Gray, along with a matching contribution from Western, will support Dr. Siobhan Schabrun’s research on identifying biomarkers that predict whether individuals will continue to struggle with pain after their body has healed, as well as treatments to target pain's neuroscientific mechanisms. Western

Meanwhile, Western University and McGill are partnering on an initiative to test and evaluate drugs for brain disorders and identifying an efficient way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The projects are supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) through Western’s BrainsCAN and McGill’s Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiatives. Western U

The Ontario Brain Institute's inaugural NERVE cohort (formerly known as the Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurship program) has announced seven entrepreneurs in Canada's single largest award for early-stage neurotechnology development. The program provides $100,000 to each entrepreneur as well as training opportunities and mentorship. Among this year's awardees are Geoff Frost of Raft Digital Therapeutics (Alberta), developing home-based therapeutic exercise for children with spinal muscular atrophy; Sarah Lambert of Ora Medical (Quebec), empowering patients with debilitating conditions to improve their walking ability through an AI-powered digital gait trainer, and Nardin Samuel of Cove (Ontario), a company that takes 2D brain data and transforms it into 3D maps representative of the brain's complex networks. Cision

Digital health company Pentavere (Toronto) has been chosen to collaborate with pharmaceutical company Takeda Canada on Takeda's first innovation challenge, launched in January. Takeda's goal is to build partnerships for new digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to support patient care in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or rare disease conditions across Canada. Cision

Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (Edmonton) will partner with scientists from the University of Waterloo to conduct research in finding therapeutics and drugs for the treatment and prevention of current and future coronavirus variants. Key collaborators from UWaterloo include Dr. Aravindhan Ganesan, Dr. Subha Kalyaanamoorthy, and Dr. Todd Holyoak. API


The Government of Canada will provide nearly $11 million in funding for pilot plants and projects to support the development of critical mineral value chains as part of its call for proposals for the Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration Program (CMRDD). The program is part of the nearly $48 million initiative announced in Budget 2021 for federal research and development to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise. Applications can be submitted online for the June 17 deadline. GOC

RELATED: Backgrounder: Why demand for critical minerals is expected to skyrocket in the coming decades

RELATED: Canada’s first rare earths projects underway in push to build new industry

NorthStar Earth & Space (Montreal) is endorsing the Paris Peace Forum's Net Zero Space Declaration. NorthStar is currently the only Canadian organization endorsing the declaration, whose goal is "achieving sustainable use of outer space for benefit of all humankind by 2030." NorthStar

Maritime Launch Services (Halifax) and Reaction Dynamics (Saint Laurent, QC) have signed a letter of intent to conduct launches from Spaceport Nova Scotia, expected to begin in 2023, providing Canada with sovereign launch capabilities and adding Canada to the short list of launching states. Maritime Launch

Sheridan College has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to support the development of mobile health and machine learning innovation in health care delivery. The grant will be applied over two years and will support three Toronto-area companies in improving their health care services and products: Lusens (commercializing its app for virtual physiotherapy); Lucid (supporting design, development, and usability testing of its app-based music intervention for dementia patients and their care teams) and Cloud DX (supporting integration of its wearable monitoring device). Sheridan

Boston-based fish-tracking solutions company Innovasea has begun testing a technology that can detect, count and classify fish in real time using a combination of imaging sonar, optical cameras and artificial intelligence. The program was developed in conjunction with Dalhousie University's DeepSense research platform and Nova Scotia Power as part of the Innovasea-led Ocean Aware project, a part of Canada's Ocean Supercluster. Innovasea

Partners and funders of the Canada-Inuit Nunangat-United Kingdom Arctic Research Program (CINUK) 2021-2025, including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, POLAR Knowledge Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fonds de recherche du Québec, have chosen 13 projects to address the environmental, social, economic, cultural and engineering/infrastructure impacts of climate change in the Canadian Arctic. Projects for the new program will include shipping, wildlife health, country foods, ecosystem health, safe travel, search and rescue, renewable energy, community health, coastal erosion, and plastics and pollution. Natural Environment Research Council GOC


The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) has opened applications for the second edition of its Kickstart Program for women and gender-diverse individuals seeking an entry point to careers in artificial intelligence (AI), noting that  "diversity is particularly critical when designing systems for public use, as AI can amplify biases and perpetuate discrimination." Program applications are due May 31. Betakit

PrairiesCan and Alberta Innovates are contributing more than $1.5 million to advance Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging technologies in Alberta. PrairiesCan is allocating nearly $1 million towards the Fast Track Business Accelerator as well as the New to Canada Startup Visa (SUV) program over the next three years while AI's funding will support industry and academic collaborations through the Alberta Science Park initiative. Alberta IoT

Vancouver-based Total Flow, which has its roots in entrepreneurship@UBC, has raised more than $5.3 million in seed funding to develop its patented arterial cannula, a device that is critical to maintaining proper blood flow during cardiopulmonary bypass procedures. The company is now seeking regulatory approval for this technology in preparation for commercialization. Life sciences investment company Northview (Vancouver) is lead investor. Northview


The National Research Council has announced the passing of Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan, best known as the father of reverse osmosis and for breakthroughs in clean energy. Dr. Sourirajan started research at the NRC in 1961. He joined the University of Ottawa as the Director of the Industrial Membrane Research Institute following his retirement from the NRC in 1986 and in1991 moved to Singapore to establish a membrane research laboratory at the National University of Singapore.  NRC

Justin Riemer is the new CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), effective June 6. Riemer’s appointment follows Steve MacDonald’s announcement he would be stepping down after more than six years leading the organization. Riemer was most recently Assistant Deputy Minister, Alberta Region of Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan). ERA

Sandra Odendahl is the Senior Vice President and Head of Sustainability and Diversity, a new position created at the Business Development Bank of Canada. Odendahl will lead BDC's sustainability and diversity strategy and programs, including the bank’s "renewed and enhanced focus" on the environment, as well as its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy. Before joining BDC, Odendahl was Vice President and Global Head of Sustainability at Scotiabank, where she oversaw corporate sustainability and social impact programs, ESG reporting, and climate change strategy. BDC

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