The Short Report - May 26, 2021: Canada's funding agencies launch interdisciplinary peer review program, Alberta launches medical studies website, and more

Cindy Graham
May 26, 2021


Alberta Innovates has launched a website to attract more medical studies to Alberta. The Clinical Trials Alberta platform connects pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with academics, government, the health-care system and trial participants and provides a portal to navigate resources for conducting medical research trials. – Alberta Innovates

Health science professionals in the bioscience sector will receive mentorship and free training in advanced business, financial and intellectual property commercialization skills to help bring their solutions to market, thanks to a $5-million investment from the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization and its Business Development Skills Program. – Ontario Government


The Government of Alberta has asked the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge and Athabasca University to stop seeking research projects with any link to the Chinese government, and "to follow strict risk assessments and due diligence" in reviewing their relationships with any potentially-linked entities. – Edmonton Journal

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) have launched the Tri-agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee, a one-year pilot program to support interdisciplinary research and to provide an option for researchers to direct applications to experts from the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, engineering and health sciences. Individuals applying for SSHRC Insight Grants, CIHR Project Grants (link to come following the funding opportunity launch) and NSERC Discovery Horizons Grants are eligible to have their applications reviewed by this new interdisciplinary peer review committee. – GoC 

BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo are partnering on a five-year, multi-million project to fast-track research and technology development into market-ready products in areas including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and safety assurance. The primary focus will be on conducting research in conjunction with the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute and the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute along with developing business partnerships with faculty members and students. - UWaterloo

The National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) is providing up to $2.9 million in R&D funding in support of seven collaborative projects with UK partners. The projects were delivered through a call for proposals from the NRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and will focus on improving productivity and sustainability in the agricultural industry including crop, livestock, and aquaculture systems. – Cision

Grand Challenges Canada's Indigenous Innovation Initiative has chosen the first 10 recipients of its gender equality program, which was established to fill a funding and support gap for First Nation, Inuit and Metis People innovators. The selected projects will receive $2.5 million of new seed investments to advance Indigenous gender equality and will include projects on pre- and post-natal health, sustainable beauty, human sex trafficking and sex exploitation and food sovereignty and sustainability. – Indigenous Innovation Initiative

Meanwhile, the Indigenous Innovation Initiative has made public its Indigenous Knowledges and Data Governance Protocol. The protocol was created between March 2020 and March 2021 to guide communities on collecting and using Indigenous knowledge and data. – Indigenous Innovation Initiative

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), one of the six regional development agencies (RDAs), is financing $2.5 million in a repayable contribution to Fruit d'Or (Villeroy, QC), the world's largest processer of organic cranberries and second-largest processor of organic blueberries, to build its processing and production capacity. Other businesses receiving repayable contributions through CED's Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation Program include: craft brewery Brasserie du Bas-Canada ($400,000); confectionary and nut company Les Aliments St-Germain ($225,000) and wild blueberry processor Bleuet Nordic and La Maison du Bleuet (over $1,000,000). – GoC

Research Manitoba and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) are supporting industry-academic R&D collaborations to assist small- and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) innovations with commercialization. The NSERC Alliance-Research Manitoba Accelerate, Commercialize, Transform (ACT) Program will offer industry-academic research teams the chance to match Manitoba-based SME funding. Research Manitoba will match the contributions at a 1:1 ratio, up to $25,000 per year for up to two years, and NSERC will match cash contributions from all recognized partners at a 2:1 ratio, from $20,000 to $1 million per year for up to five years. – Research Manitoba

The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL, Charlottetown) is partnering with education non-profit STEAM PEI to develop experiential learning opportunities centred on bioscience and local bioscience companies for students from kindergarten through grade 12. CASTL was developed by the PEI BioAlliance, along with support from the Government of Canada, the Future Skills Centre, and the Government of Prince Edward Island. Partners include Acadia University, BioTalent Canada, Holland College, National Research Council, PEI BioAlliance, Université de Moncton, University of Prince Edward Island, and local and regional businesses. – CASTL

Concordia University's V1 Studio, along with Concordia University and the District 3 technology innovation hub, are launching a two-year innovation program exclusive to postdoctoral researchers to provide resources, skills and networks to bridge the gap from academia to entrepreneurship. The Scientific Venture Program is valued at $71,000 per year. It opens this September and is accepting applications from researchers across the country. – Concordia

Social enterprise tech innovator HelpSeeker Technologies (Calgary) is launching Community Success Hub, Canada's first social sector platform to support decision-making and solutions based on community dynamics and insights. The application leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to shorten the time between data collection, analysis and decision-making by streamlining data points in a community, allowing for comparison of social trends with similar-sized communities and against provincial averages. - Ci

Ontario Tech University (Oshawa) has been designated an official collaboration centre in the clean energy field by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the first Canadian institution to receive the international designation. The agreement supports R&D, as well as training and education on hybrid renewable energy systems with advanced, small modular and micro nuclear reactors as part of climate change mitigation. – Ontario Tech University

RELATED: Feds invest $20 million to advance regulatory approval for small nuclear power plants

Green energy solution company Eco Innovation (Van Nuys, California) has formed the company's first subsidiary, ECOIG Canada, to drive green technology growth and has named Patrick Laury its interim CEO. – Globe Newswire


Preclinical-stage biotech company Giiant Pharma  (Montreal) has raised $13.5 million in seed funding in a round led by Amplitude Ventures (Montreal) and Genesys Capital (Toronto), with participation from Fonds de solidarité FTQ (Montreal), AmorChem II Fund (Montreal), Theodorus Investment Funds (Belgium), Anges Québec (Montreal) and other angel investors. The company will use the funds to initiate a preclinical program for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. – Giiant Pharma

Plant-based protein company Sol Cuisine (Mississauga) will resume trading on the TSX Venture Exchange after completion of its qualifying transaction on May 19 and raising $15 million in two private placements to accelerate its near-term growth pipeline. – Cision 


Jennifer Ditchburn is the new president and CEO of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IIRP), effective June 1. Ditchburn covered national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and CBC Television for twenty years and is editor-in-chief of Policy Options, IIRP's digital magazine. She is adjunct professor at Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication and a mentor for Ottawa-based NPO Informed Opinions, an organization working to ensure that diverse women’s perspectives and priorities are equitably integrated into Canadian society. Ditchburn is an external adviser to the Government of Canada Policy Community. - IIRP

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