Solus , 7shifts, Actua, Aéro Montréal, Airbus Atlantic Canada, Airbus Canada, Airex Energy , Amazon, Amplitude Ventures, ARA Robotics , Artemis, B.C. Supreme Court, BC Hydro, BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative , Beacon , Bedrock Materials, Beijing Lizheng Technology, BioCanRX, Blossom Social , Bluvec Technologies Inc. , Boeing, Bombardier, BrainsCAN, British Consulate, Busbud, C-CORE, CAE, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Infrastructure Bank, Canada West Foundation, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Capital Cycle, Carbonity, Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, Cégep Edouard-Montpetit, Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Centre of Excellence for Carbon Capture and Removal, CGI, Co.Labs, Coconut Software, Cohere, Collaborative Innovation Center in Aerospace and Mobility, Communications Security Establishment Canada, Computer Modelling Group Ltd., Concentric Agriculture, Concordia University, Conexus Credit Union , Conexus Venture Capital Inc. , Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec, Crypto4A, DeepL, Eagle Flight Network , École de technologie supérieure, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ernst & Young, European Medicines Agency, evolutionQ, Evolved Therapeutics, Evommune, Inc., Express Mobile, Exxel Polymers, Finance Canada, First Climate , Flying Whales Québec, Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et culture , Genome Alberta, Genome Canada, Geotab , Google, Government of Alberta, Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, GreenMantra Technologies, Groupe Rémabec, H55 S.A., Harvard University, Haskayne School of Business, Health Canada, Héroux-Devtek Inc, House of Commons Industry and Technology committee , HTEC , Hydro-Québec, IBM, Indigenous Services Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Investissement Quebec, Jaunt Air Mobility Canada, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, KPMG, Kwiakah First Nation, Laflamme Aero, Lupin Platform, Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network , McGill University, Meta, Metlakatla First Nation, Microsoft, MineSense Technologies, Mitacs, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, New Relationship Trust , NGC Aerospace, Northvolt, NRStor Inc. , Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan , OpenAI, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Economic Development Canada, Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, Pegauni Technology Inc., Polystyvert, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Protein Industries Canada, PURIS Holdings , Ratality, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Reconciliation Energy Transition Inc., Reverb Therapeutics, Rivian , Shared Services Canada, Shopify, Sik-E-Dakh Band, Siksika Nation, Simon Fraser University, Six Nations Polytechnic, SkyCope Technologies, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, SPARK Microsystems, Stem Cell Network, Stripe, SUEZ, Sumitomo Corporation , Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Svante Inc. , Teachers’ Venture Growth , Teal , Techstars, Tentarix Biotherapeutics, Thales Canada, Toronto Metropolitan University, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, U.K. government, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, UCalgary School of Public Policy, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Liverpool, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Version One, Vertiko Mobility, VueReal, Western Institute for Neuroscience, Western University, Wisk Aero, Wisk Canada , Xanadu, YOSO Canada , and Zhipu AI


AI platform for translation and writing solutions, allegations of conflict of interest and financial mismanagement at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, app to help new Canadian immigrants, biochar, Canada's poor productivity performance, carbon capture and storage, carbon capture equipment and materials, carbon-removal credits, changes to senior ranks of federal public service, Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program, cyber threats against Canadian government, data preparation software, expanding Canadian lupin ecosystem, First Nations' clean energy projects, first recipients of Strategic Science Fund, foreign investments in Quebec businesses, funding for Quebec researchers, genomic research, Government of Canada Cyber Security Event Management Plan, Government of Canada Enterprise Cyber Security Strategy , ground travel booking software, ground-based station for satellites, Haskayne Business Exchange (HBX) event series, hydrogen production and refuelling in Western Canada , increase in tax rate on new investment in Canada , international cooperation on AI safety, investing social network, Investment Canada Act, McMaster-Liverpool Partnership Fund, National Cyber Threat Assessment 2023–24, national security concerns with Chinese investment , Ontario's Starter Company Plus program, open science in neuroscience , pediatric research and education, phasing out of faster capital write-offs in Canada , polar bear research, price of new medicines launched in Canada, quantum-based technology to defend power utilities against cyberattacks, Quebec's fourth innovation zone, on aerospace, Reconciliation Network in Response to Call to Action 65, recycled plastics , relaunch of University of Calgary's oil and gas engineering program, Shopify patent infringement case, sodium-ion batteries, software for bookkeeping infrastructure, software for integrating data, supporting Saskatchewan tech startups, U.K. action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, U.K.'s pivot to a net-zero economy, using virtual reality to help teens regulate their emotions, and venture capital support for Saskatchewan's high-growth tech companies

The Short Report: May 29, 2024

Research Money
May 29, 2024


The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is providing Vancouver-based HTEC with a $337-million loan to expand hydrogen production and build a hydrogen refuelling network between British Columbia and Alberta. HTEC, which designs, builds, owns and operates hydrogen supply facilities, will build a by-product hydrogen liquefaction facility in North Vancouver to liquify 15 tonnes per day of hydrogen. HITEC also will build three new hydrogen production facilities, in Burnaby, Nanaimo and Prince George, to expand Canada’s low-carbon fuel supply capacity. The investment also will establish 20 new hydrogen refuelling stations in B.C. and Alberta, more than doubling the amount of hydrogen refuelling stations in Canada. Fourteen of the 20 new stations will enable the refuelling of up to 300 heavy-duty vehicles per day, supporting the heavy-duty transportation sector in adopting hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The CIB’s investment contributes to the implementation of HITEC’s full-service, sustainable fuel supply chain focused on reducing emissions in the B.C.-Alberta transportation sector, called H2 Gateway. H2 Gateway, an estimated $900-million project, is focused on building hydrogen transportation ecosystems, driving adoption of hydrogen as a transportation fuel in targeted regional hubs. Once fully operational, H2 Gateway is forecasted to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions by 133,000 tonnes annually. The CIB’s investment builds on previous support HTEC has received from Canada to advance clean transportation, including $5 million from Pacific Economic Development’s (PrairiesCan) Business Scale-up and Productivity funding and $3 million from Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Zero Emissions Vehicle Infrastructure Program for HITEC’s two-tonnes-per-day low-carbon hydrogen production and liquid transfer facility in Burnaby. In Alberta, the Alberta Motor Transport Association launched a two-year trial program in February 2023 for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, in a project supported by PrairiesCan, NRCan, Emissions Reduction Alberta, and private industry. CIB

 The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced $26 million in funding through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program for 2024. This investment will spur the creation of 16 innovative training programs that will facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce while tackling crucial science and engineering challenges. Designed to improve the training environment for the next generation of researchers, the CREATE training programs foster the acquisition of important skills by highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows to improve their job readiness. Over the next six years, this diverse cohort will benefit from tailored professional development, inclusive mentorship, and unique networking opportunities while gaining expertise in cutting-edge technologies, developing their problem-solving abilities, and increasing their professional acumen. The CREATE programs funded in 2024 will support training and mentoring programs in a range of critical areas, including: agriculture and food security; biotechnologies and immunotherapies; public health and health equity; robotics; technological infrastructure security; data science; plastics management; and climate science and ecosystem restoration. NSERC

The Government of Canada released the results of how much funding organizations received from the Strategic Science Fund (SSF), which awarded up to $858.7 million in December 2023. Five organizations in Ottawa received funding, including:

  • Actua – up to $38.4 million
  • ArcticNet Inc. – up to $32.5 million
  • BioCanRx – up to $38 million
  • Canadian Association of Science Centres – up to $14.2 million
  • Stem Cell Network – up to $48.5 million

The largest award ($218.1 million) went to Mitacs, which on May 2 laid off 27 full-time employees – about 7.5 per cent of its workforce – in a restructuring of the organization. After Mitacs, the next-largest SSF awards went to Genome Canada ($154.2 million), Stem Cell Network ($48.5 million), Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation ($39.2 million), Actua ($38.4 million), Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network ($38.1 million), and BioCanRx ($38 million). Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Alberta is investing $15 million over three years in Genome Alberta, a not-for-profit research funding organization working toward a better future through genomic innovation. The  investment can lead to new solutions that companies, health care providers and environmental managers need to create high-value jobs, ensure talent development and contribute to economic prosperity, the government said. Work supported by Genome Alberta has already started yielding results. A good example is the development of new tools and technologies to support the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases, which has been transformational in the lives of patients and their families. Govt. of Alberta

Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) announced $9.8 million in federal and provincial funding for 35 First Nations throughout British Columbia, to help them develop and implement clean energy generation, energy efficiency and energy storage projects. The projects are receiving funding through the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI), a partnership between the Government of Canada, Government of British Columbia, and New Relationship Trust (NRT).This round of BCICEI support includes $7.5 million from PacifiCan and Indigenous Services Canada and approximately $2.3 million from the B.C. government through its CleanBC plan. The clean energy projects differ in size and scope, including: installing air source heat pumps in 70 homes for Sik-E-Dakh Band; installation of a solar PV system on a former fish farm that is being redeveloped into a research centre for regenerative forestry practices for Kwiakah First Nation; and conducting a feasibility study for a 40-megawatt wind project for Metlakatla First Nation. To further support First Nations clean energy projects, the Province, NRT and PacifiCan will design a new funding stream for BCICEI that will allow small-scale renewable energy projects, which are currently ineligible to submit to BC Hydro’s calls of power due to their size, to move forward and contribute to the power grid. The new stream will be funded with $140 million that was first announced in June 2023. PacifiCan

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) announced approximately $6 million over five years to support six partnership grants through the Reconciliation Network in Response to Call to Action 65, to advance collective understanding of reconciliation. Launched in November 2022, this opportunity supports the establishment of a national research program where the funded recipients will participate in activities managed by the NCTR, in its role as coordination hub for the Reconciliation Network. The focus of the six funded projects ranges from amplifying Indigenous stories to locating and commemorating residential school burial landscapes, and will play a crucial role in advancing Indigenous research, research training and knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities across Canada. SSHRC

The Government of Ontario is investing $4.8 million over the next two years to expand the Starter Company Plus program, helping an additional 500 entrepreneurs seed, start or grow a business. The Starter Company Plus program, delivered through the province’s Small Business Enterprise Centres, provides entrepreneurs aged 18 and up with one-on-one support, access to workshops, seminars or networking events and grants up to $5,000 to help start or expand a business. Over the past five years, Starter Company Plus has supported over 5,500 companies, resulting in the creation of more than 6,300 jobs across Ontario. This new investment will increase total funding for the program to $6.5 million per year. Govt. of Ontario

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced the federal and Quebec governments are providing nearly $2.9 million to Exxel Polymers, located in Bromont in the Estrie region. The aim of this project, valued at over $4 million, is to enable Exxel Polymers Inc. – a business specializing in the formulation and production of 100-per-cent recycled plastics – to acquire equipment to increase its productive capacity to meet the demand and pursue growth and efforts to export. As part of this project, the Government of Canada is providing a repayable contribution of $1 million under CED’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program. The Government of Quebec is granting a loan of $1.44 million under the ESSOR program, administered by Investissement Québec (IQ) as the government’s representative, as well as a loan of $455,150 from IQ’s own capital funds. CED

Infrastructure Canada announced more than $2.8 million to help make the Six Nations Polytechnic’s campus in Branford, Ont. more energy efficient and accessible. This project will replace the current geothermal heating system, re-clad the exterior façade, install high-efficiency boilers, and replace more than 400 light and electrical fixtures with LED and energy efficient units – all of which will bring down the campus’ expenses. The campus will also purchase a 150-kilowatt backup generator in case of a power outage. Six Nations Polytechnic provides community-based Indigenous knowledge, education and skills training through high-school and post-secondary programs that include literacy and essential skills, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), apprenticeships and professional development. Infrastructure Canada

The Regina-based Protein Industries Canada global innovation cluster is investing $2.6 million, with industry partners contributing the remainder, in a $6.2-million project with Calgary-based Lupin Platform, Minneapolis-headquartered PURIS Holdings and YOSO Canada in Cambridge, Ont. The aim of the project is to expand the Canadian lupin ecosystem by increasing opportunities for farmers and ingredient processors and bringing new plant-based protein products to market. The project will expand the lupin value chain to establish the legume crop as a viable and economically sound choice for Canadian farmers, optimize processes for cleaning, dehulling and milling of lupin, and develop, scale-up and improve new ingredient and consumer packaged goods products. Protein Industries Canada

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced a federal investment of more than $2.57 million to support the Saskatoon-based Co.Labs’ non-profit tech incubator. Co.Labs has incubated 201 Saskatchewan tech startups, raised more than $37 million in private investment, generated over $60 million in revenue, and created over 800 jobs. Co.Labs has also established an annual event for startups in Saskatchewan – Uniting the Prairies, or “UP” – attracting hundreds of investors, startups and community members from across Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba to showcase progress and achievements in the Prairies tech sector. The funding will help Co.Labs establish a new X in Residence program (for high-performing founders and high-growth companies) and deliver its UP conference over three years. PrairiesCan


 The Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC) and FRQSC - Nature et technologies awarded nearly $13.7 million to 28 University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) professors or research teams as part of their various programs for the year 2024-2025. One hundred and twenty-two students, mainly at the masters, doctoral and postdoctoral levels, received nearly $7.7 million in research/training awards. The support of the two research funds amounts to more than $21 million. FRQSC - Society and Culture awarded grants to 16 professors or research teams.  FRQSC - Nature et technologies awarded grants to 12 professors or research teams. UQAM

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine has received $2 million over five years from the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. This funding will help advance provincial pediatric research and education and recruit doctors specializing in children’s medicine. In addition to supporting the work of Dr. Terry Klassen, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist and the newly appointed Provincial Department Head in pediatrics, the funding will enhance pediatric education programs for USask medical students and help lead critical research that will positively impact families in Saskatchewan and beyond. USask

Microsoft has an agreement to buy 36,000 carbon-removal credits over the next three years, supplied by biochar-manufacturing company Carbonity, a Canadian joint venture co-owned by France-based SUEZ, Airex Energy in Quebec, and Groupe Rémabec, the largest private forestry operator in Quebec. The joint venture partners will begin operations at their Carbonity facility in Quebec by the end of 2024, with an expected annual production capacity starting at 10,000 tons of biochar. Produced from forest and agricultural residues, biochar is recognized to provide several benefits. When applied to soil, as one of the more common end-uses, the carbon contained in the biochar is permanently stored, making it an efficient carbon sink while at the same time improving soil properties and cultivation performance. Germany-based First Climate is Carbonity’s partner for the administration and marketing of carbon removal credits. First Climate has  developed a methodology to monitor and measure the climate impact of biochar, and supports Carbonity with monitoring, reporting and verification required to certify the project under the voluntary carbon removal standard and registry Microsoft has signed several agreements with carbon capture companies in Canada, Denmark and Panama, totalling one million carbon credits. Suez Group

A Delaware federal court has overturned a jury’s decision that Ottawa-based e-commerce platform Shopify owes US$40 million in damages for infringing patents relating to website-building technology. U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews said there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s findings that Shopify infringed the patents, which belong to patent-holding company Express Mobile.  A Shopify spokesperson called the decision “a significant victory in the battle against patent trolls.” Express Mobile owns patents related to internet and mobile technology developed by its founder, former IBM engineer Steven Rempell. It sued Shopify in 2019, arguing that Shopify’s website-building tools infringed its patents related to software for providing content to mobile devices. Express Mobile has sued dozens of tech companies for allegedly infringing the same and other patents, including Google, Meta and Amazon. Reuters

Oakville, Ont.-based automotive technology company Geotab and California-based Rivian which has a software hub in Vancouver announced a partnership to deliver an integrated data solution for Rivian’s commercial vehicles in North America. The solution will utilize embedded telematics in Rivian’s commercial vehicles to enable the seamless integration of vehicle data into the MyGeotabTM platform. With access to one unified and easy-to-use dashboard, fleet managers can view  their data and measure key insights to help optimize fleet performance and improve mobility, Geotab said. With no additional hardware or installation required, fleets can also reduce costs and maximize uptime, boosting profitably and increasing efficiency, the company said. Geotab

Calgary-based Eagle Flight Network (EFN) and St. John’s, Nfld.-based C-CORE announced a memorandum of understanding to work together to build a robust, industry-led satellite ground segment in Canada. EFN and C-CORE will work together to build a third ground station in Canada owned by EFN that will integrate with C-CORE’s current stations. The combined network allows EFN to leverage existing capacity for early revenues and provide increased capacity for new clients. EFN is an Indigenous owned and operated business based in Alberta on Treaty 7 Territory. C-CORE has been providing applied R&D and solutions for nearly 50 years to defence and security, energy, and environmental stakeholders. C-CORE currently owns and operates two satellite remote sensing ground stations in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. C-CORE

Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corporation and Reconciliation Energy Transition Inc. (RETI) announced a joint development agreement for the RETI East Calgary Region Carbon Transportation & Sequestration Hub project (CTS Hub) east of Calgary. Under the agreement, Sumitomo will acquire a significant equity interest in the CTS Hub. The CTS Hub project, expected to cost at least $100 million, intends to progress to the front end engineering design study as soon as possible, targeting first carbon capture and storage (CCS) operations in fiscal year 2026. The CTS Hub is expected to involve construction of compression capacity, a carbon dioxide pipeline network, and injection and monitoring wells to support permanent CCS in deep saline aquifers located east of Calgary, with a potential to store up to 10 million tons of CO2 per year. The open-access hub will provide a CCS-as-a-service solution for both existing emitters seeking to reduce emission  and newly proposed energy transition facilities, providing solutions that will contribute towards realizing a Net Zero Canada by 2050, including, but not limited to:

  • Power plants needing to comply with the federal Clean Energy Regulation
  • Clean hydrogen production facilities
  • Biofuel production facilities
  • Direct air capture facilities
  • Other industrial emitters

RETI is a private development company focused on low-carbon energy projects in partnership with Indigenous nations and industry. The Siksika Nation in southern Albert has a material interest in the proposed CTS Hub project. RETI and Sumitomo Corporation Group jointly envisage that the CTS Hub Project will be the start of a long-term partnership, with several other projects between RETI and Sumitomo Corporation Group currently being studied, including:

  • The Calgary Region SAF Facility – RETI-led project.
  • Direct air capture facility – Sumitomo Corporation Group-led project. Sumitomo Corporation Group

Burnaby, B.C.-based cleantech company Svante Inc. is considering relocating to the U.S., citing the big gap in financial supports offered by the Canadian and U.S. governments. Svante manufactures carbon capture equipment and materials. The company said it invested $165 million in the new Centre of Excellence for Carbon Capture and Removal in Burnaby to produce the filters necessary to capture carbon dioxide, and that it did so with the belief that the company would be eligible for the federal clean technology manufacturing investment tax credit (ITC). But when the 2024 federal budget was released last month, carbon capture equipment and manufacturing were not eligible for the clean technology manufacturing ITC, which means the new centre – which is almost complete – cannot claim Ottawa’s 30-per-cent tax credit. “I’m very disappointed in the Canadian government,” said Claude Letourneau, president and CEO of Svante. “If this is the policy gap that’s resulting from not including carbon capture equipment in the ITC for manufacturing, then the manufacturing base of the technology ecosystem will basically not happen in Canada.” Svante is the only major manufacturer of carbon capture equipment and materials to remain 100-per-cent Canadian-owned. Many other carbon capture, storage and utilization (CCUS) technology providers have been acquired by international companies or have moved to the U.S., which offers more appealing financial incentives for CCUS investment and manufacturing. “I get calls from all countries around the world these days to set up our filter manufacturing plant, and I get calls from every state in the U.S. rolling out the red carpet,” Letourneau said. “I’m not supported by my Canadian government.” Finance Canada said in a statement to Business Intelligence for B.C. that the manufacturing of CCUS equipment is not eligible for the reduced tax rates because it is unclear at the manufacturing stage which fabricated components would be used specifically for CCUS. For example, it would be difficult to identify carbon separation equipment that is intended for CO2 storage rather than for use in other industrial processes such as ammonia production, natural gas processing or transportation, according to the department. Business Intelligence for B.C.

Eleven governments agreed that their new artificial intelligence safety agencies will share information and research on AI systems. The governments represent Australia, Canada, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,  Republic of Korea,  Republic of Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S., which gathered at the AI Seoul Summit on May 21. The governments also said they advocate for policy and governance frameworks, including risk-based approaches that foster safe, innovative and inclusive AI ecosystems. At the AI Seoul Summit, 16 companies – including Amazon, Cohere, Google, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Beijing-based Zhipu AI, committed to: assess “frontier” AI models for potential harms; publicly report model or system capabilities, limitations and domains of appropriate and inappropriate use; prioritize research on societal risks posed by frontier AI models and systems; set thresholds at which the models become “intolerable,” and not develop or deploy the systems if they can’t mitigate those risks. Frontier AI models are highly capable general-purpose AI models or systems that can perform a wide variety of tasks, and match or exceed the capabilities present in the most advanced models. Canada and the U.K. also signed an agreement for their respective AI safety institutes to work together, including exchanging staff and accessing U.K. compute resources. Govt. of the U.K.

See also in the May 22 Short Report: General-purpose AI could produce both very positive and very negative outcomes in near future: international report

The Government of Canada has ordered the dissolution of the Canadian businesses carried on by Bluvec Technologies Inc. and Pegauni Technology Inc., and for these companies to cease all operations in Canada. The order comes as a result of the government’s multi-step national security review process, including under the Investment Canada Act. “The government’s decisions are based on facts and evidence and on the advice of Canada’s security and intelligence community and other government partners,” Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said. Bluvec Technologies, based in Burnaby, B.C., is a drone detection company that provides stationary and portable radio frequency sensors and optical cameras to provide real-time geolocation of the drone and pilot. Pegauni Technology, also based in Burnaby, makes wireless security products. Pegauni Technology appears to have been shuttered, and its website is no longer active. B.C. corporate records show both companies share Junfeng (Jack) Jia as CEO and sole director and the same mailing address in Surrey, B.C. The companies have offices in industrial parks in Burnaby about 500 metres apart. Bluevec was the subject of a civil suit by competitor Vancouver-based SkyCope Technologies, which alleged Bluevec stole trade secrets through former SkyCope employees and gained a competitive advantage. Last year, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer ordered Jia, Bluevec and another Bluevec employee to pay $800,000 to SkyCope for misusing its confidential information and selling a direction-finding code to Chinese anti-drone company Beijing Lizheng Technology. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Times Colonist

Solaris Resources scrapped plans to sell a minority stake to China's Zijin Mining Group because it feared the deal was unlikely to meet Canada’s stringent foreign-investment standards in a timely manner. In January, Solaris announced plans to sell a 15% stake in the company to state-owned Zijin for $130 million to help develop Solaris’ Warintza copper project in Ecuador. But the deal needed approval under the Investment Canada Act, which was revamped in late 2022 to bring additional scrutiny on foreign investments from state-owned enterprises in the critical minerals sector. “This transaction represented a minority equity investment from a well-known and respected, publicly-listed foreign company where the proceeds were intended to be used for the growth of a Canadian-controlled company’s principal asset in a foreign jurisdiction,” Daniel Earle, Solaris Resources’ president and CEO, said in a statement. “That this transaction cannot be completed in a reasonable time frame signals that Canada’s critical minerals policy is counterproductive in relation to foreign assets.” Solaris Resources

Canada Infrastructure Bank board director resigns in wake of funding mismanagement allegations at Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Andrée-Lise Méthot, a board director at the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) quietly resigned on April 16, 2024, following allegations of funding mismanagement at Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) when she was a board member of SDTC, according to a story by the Western Standard.

Housing and Infrastructure Minister Sean Fraser disclosed Méthot’s resignation from CIB at the House of Commons Transport, Infrastructure and Communities committee on May 21, 2024.

Methot served as a board member on SDTC’s Project Review Committee from July 2015 to September 2021, which provided recommendations to the full SDTC board on which cleantech projects should receive funding.

Methot is a managing partner of the firm Capital Cycle. While she was a board director at SDTC, SDTC’s board, from May 2, 2017 to September 15, 2021, approved more than $23 million to seven companies in which Cycle Capital was invested: MineSense Technologies, Spark Microsystems, GreenMantra Technologies, Concentric Agriculture, Polystyvert, and VueReal.

Méthot told the House of Commons Industry and Technology committee on November 28, 2023, that she “recused myself every time I declared a potential or actual conflict of interest.” However, she allegedly failed to recuse herself when SDTC approved emergency pandemic payments to about 140 of its portfolio companies.

Methot told the committee that at the time, SDTC’s board obtained legal advice from a lawyer at Osler. “This legal opinion stated that no conflict of interest existed, given that the measure in question [emergency pandemic payments] was universal and exceptional, applying equitably to all companies that had benefited from SDTC in the past,” she said.

A report by accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, commissioned by the federal government, found that SDTC’s board almost always unanimously supported projects, and there was no evidence of disagreements, challenges or vote mix. Records from the meetings are not public, so it is not clear which SDTC Project Committee members, if any, recused themselves, according to the accounting firm’s report.

Last December, a whistleblower testified that private companies, some with ties to top SDTC leadership, received nearly $150 million in taxpayer subsidies. Under its current agreement with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, SDTC had $1 billion to distribute to renewable energy enterprises through 2026.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced a pause last October on any new funding by SDTC. Several top executives resigned in the following weeks. Leah Lawrence, SDTC president and CEO, attributed her departure last November to “a sustained and malicious campaign to undermine my leadership.”

Lawrence is currently a 2024 Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) Fellow at Harvard University, according to a posting on Havard’s website. “As the president and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, she transformed the organization, making it a champion for young companies and providing over $1 billion to aspiring entrepreneurs focused on developing technologies to tackle the world’s largest sustainability challenges,” says the posting.

According to the ALI program, “ALI Fellows come to Harvard and embark on a year-long immersion in inter-disciplinary academic learning, leadership development, and peer-to-cpeer ollaboration to develop a social impact strategy focused on their issue of choice.”

SDTC board chair Annette Verschuren reportedly approved $217,000 in pandemic relief funding to her own firm, NRStor Inc. of Toronto, in 2020 – one of roughly 140 firms that received equivalent pandemic funding. Verschuren allegedly did not recuse herself from the vote. She resigned from SDTC’s board last December.

Other SDTC directors reportedly did the same and are being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. Auditor General Karen Hogan has also announced an investigation into SDTC’s spending. The Western Standard, R$

See also: Federal government temporarily suspends funding for all new SDTC projects

ANALYSIS: Government needs to fix problems at Canada’s main cleantech funding organization

Allegations of mismanagement beset Canada’s main clean tech funding organization


Quebec invests $85 million in province’s fourth innovation zone, in aerospace

The Government of Quebec announced the creation of the province’s fourth innovation zone, Espace Aéro, which will be located in Longueuil, Mirabel and Montreal.

The project, led by the Aéro Montréal cluster, aims to enhance Quebec’s attractiveness in the aerospace sector and make it a world leader in decarbonization and advanced air mobility. Concordia University will lead the Montreal hub’s flagship project: the creation of the Collaborative Innovation Center in Aerospace and Mobility, scheduled to open in 2027.

Other postsecondary institutions involved in Espace Aéro include Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, École de technologie supérieure, and McGill University.

The investments total $415 million, including $85 million from the Government of Quebec. Espace Aéro will prioritize two areas of development:

  • Decarbonization, through the configuration of more efficient vehicles, lighter structures and less polluting systems;
  • Aircraft autonomy and safety, through intelligent technologies and systems, communication, remote control and cybersecurity.

The establishment of Espace Aéro is accompanied by major investments, mainly from aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is expanding its operations in Quebec. The U.S. company is announcing three contributions totalling nearly $240 million, including:

  • $110 million for the development of the innovation zone, with a focus on potential facilities and equipment for collaborative research and development projects.
  • $35 million for Héroux-Devtek's research and development work on landing gear.
  • $95 million to increase the number of employees in Quebec of the Wisk Canada subsidiary of Wisk Aero, a subsidiary of Boeing, in order to continue the development of the Wisk drone taxi, which is electrically driven.

The Quebec government also announced its intention to acquire a stake in H55 S.A., whose Canadian subsidiary is located in the Longueuil hub. H55 is a leading company in the design, development and manufacture of aeronautically certified electric propulsion systems.

Following a second call for projects from the Ministère de l'Économie, de l'Innovation et de l'Énergie on the transportation of tomorrow, seven mobilizing and collaborative aerospace projects, with investments totalling $60 million, will be carried out, among others, by these private partners: Pratt & Whitney Canada, Bombardier, Flying Whales Québec, Thales Canada, CAE, Airbus Canada, Airbus Atlantic Canada, Vertiko Mobility, Jaunt Air Mobility Canada, Laflamme Aero, NGC Aerospace, ARA Robotics and H55 Canada.

In addition, Aéro Montréal will receive $19.2 million, including a $12.5-million contribution from the Quebec government, to launch Aéro Compétitivité (MACH 360), a restructured initiative to increase business productivity and performance.

To support companies located in the Espace Aéro zone, the Quebec government is allocating $3.3 million to the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec for nine collaborative industrial projects that will help accelerate the transformation of Quebec's aerospace industry towards advanced air mobility. The total value of the projects is $9.3 million.

An amount of $3.5 million will also be entrusted to the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies, to support the scientific programming of the innovation zone. Quebec’s other three innovation zones are: DistriQ in Sherbrooke (quantum), Technum Québec in Bromont (digital technologies), as well as the Energy Transition Valley in Bécancour, Trois-Rivières and Shawinigan (focused on batteries, transportation electrification, green hydrogen and industrial-port decarbonization). Govt. of Quebec


Montreal-based Amplitude Ventures, a VC firm investing in precision medicine at the intersection of biology and AI, announced it raised $263 million in its Fund II. Amplitude's second fund includes institutional investors CDPQ, Royal Bank of Canada, Investissement Québec, Fonds de solidarité FTQ , BDC Capital, Fondaction, Teralys Capital, Venture Ontario, Alberta Enterprise Corporation, and adds new limited partners NorthLeaf Capital Partners, InBC, Finchley Healthcare Ventures, and is also backed by the Government of Canada's Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, administered by BDC Capital, under the Life Sciences Stream. Amplitude said it has already made four of a total of 14 to 16 planned investments out of Fund II, including:

  • Evommune, Inc., a Palo Alto-based biotech company, is creating game-changing therapeutics to treat immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.
  • Tentarix Biotherapeutics, a Vancouver / San Diego-based biotech company, is developing first-in-class targeted, multifunctional, conditional therapies focused on modulating cell-specific functions while increasing the safety profile for biologics.
  • Reverb Therapeutics, a Vancouver-based company, is developing treatments for cancer and other diseases using the body's natural endogenous cytokines.
  • Evolved Therapeutics, a Vancouver-based company, is focused on establishing innovative antibody discovery platforms to enable the discovery of first- and best-in-class therapeutics. Amplitude

Vancouver-based Teal secured approximately $11 million in seed funding to offer bookkeeping infrastructure to vertical software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses. The round,  which consisted entirely of equity and primary investments, was spearheaded by Torch Capital. The round also saw participation from New York-based firms such as General Advance and Dash Fund, as well as Silicon Valley's Basis Set Ventures. Teal was founded by CEO Ian Crosby and design lead Adam Saint, accounting software veterans who previously co-founded Bench Accounting in Vancouver and gained experience working with Ottawa-based e-commerce giant Shopify. Crosby said Teal aims to create what he calls  “the Stripe for accounting.” This vision entails developing the necessary infrastructure for vertical SaaS companies to seamlessly integrate and provide accounting functionalities within their platforms. Scholars International Institute of Technology

Vancouver-based investment firm Version One co-led a $9-million seed funding round for Bedrock Materials, a Chicago-based startup that manufacturers the active materials for sodium-ion batteries. The round was co-led by Trucks Venture Capital and Refactor Capital. Bedrock is helping to manufacture a sodium-ion battery, utilizing affordable, widely available materials. Modern lithium-ion batteries (which are in most of today’s all-electric and PHEV vehicles) rely on critical minerals like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. These are rare elements and sourcing is weighed down by environmental and humanitarian concerns. In contrast, sodium-ion batteries rely largely on widely abundant elements – manganese, iron, sodium and aluminum. Sodium is heavier and doesn’t hold as much charge as lithium-ion batteries, but sodium-ion batteries are a thousand times easier to source, Version One said. Version One

Toronto- and Montreal-based fintech startup Beacon emerged from stealth, announcing $5.25 million in previously undisclosed seed funding, and launching the first iteration of its planned “super app” for Canadian immigrants. Beacon’s all-equity seed round, which closed in the fourth quarter of 2023, was financed by a group that included Jawl Residential Group, former PayBright CEO Wayne Pommen, Fitzrovia Real Estate CEO Adrian Rocca, McCain Capital president Jonathan McCain, and New Jersey’s MS Transverse Insurance Group. Beacon was founded last year by CEO Stuart Szabo and chief product and technology officer Aditya Mhatre, former leaders at Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Indian payments giant Paytm, respectively. The startup is developing an app aimed at helping immigrants settle and begin building their lives in Canada more easily. Beacon will provide resources, guides and various financial products to newcomers, beginning with its newly launched pre-arrival solution. BetaKit

Vancouver-based fintech startup Blossom Social secured more than $2.1 million in seed funding to fuel the growth of its investing social network in the U.S. Nearly $1 million came from Blossom users through a recent equity crowdfunding campaign, while more than $1.1 million was provided by LOI Venture, Goodwater Capital, and angel investors through simple agreements for future equity. The funding will support Blossom’s recent expansion into the U.S., where it hopes to achieve the same level of adoption and market penetration as it has in Canada. The funding will also fund the firm’s product development efforts, which include adding an investing “super-chat” and a desktop app to complement its existing mobile platform. Viatec

Vancouver-based Artemis, which offers data preparation software to address data quality challenges, raised $2 million in pre-seed funding. The all-equity round was led by Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, with participation from Telegraph Hill Capital, Ripple Ventures, and other angel investors. Raven works in partnership with Indigenous enterprises and social purpose organizations to accelerate their success by providing access to capital and technical assistance within an Indigenous cultural framework.  The company plans to use the funds to expand its engineering team and building out its user community. The SaaS News

Regina-based Conexus Credit Union and Conexus Venture Capital Inc. announced the launch of CVC Fund #2, a new venture capital fund hyper focused on backing Saskatchewan’s top high-growth tech companies. The fund is aiming to raise $30 million. CVC Fund #2 has secured an initial investment of $15 million from Conexus. This fund builds on the success of CVC Fund #1 and the tech incubator Cultivator powered by Conexus. CVC Fund #1 made a total of 17 total investments into Prairies-based startups, 13 of which are based in Saskatchewan, amassing a portfolio that includes two of the province’s most successful tech startups, 7shifts and Coconut Software. Conexus

Investissement Québec said it attracted $13 billion in foreign investments in fiscal year 2023-2024, five times higher than the $2.3 billion in 2019, before the creation of Investissement Québec International. Investments in the likes of Northvolt and Solus – among others in the electric-vehicle battery business – represented half of the amount. During the fiscal year from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024, Investissement Québec International’s export teams deployed 4,055 supports for companies wishing to expand their markets outside Quebec. The support provided to Quebec exporters enabled them to generate $5.1 billion in sales on foreign markets during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2024, compared with just over $1 billion for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The projects announced by foreign companies during the last financial year came from 27 countries, of which 55 per cent of the dollars invested came from Europe, 29 per cent from the Americas and 16 per cent from Asia. Eight hundred subsidiaries of foreign companies were supported in their efforts to establish themselves more firmly in Quebec. Investissement Québec

Teachers’ Venture Growth, the venture capital arm of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, participated in a US$30-million financing round for Germany-based DeepL, which offers a language AI platform providing translation and writing solutions. The investment, which included Iconiq Growth, and existing DeepL investors IVP, Atomico and World Innovation Lab, valued DeepL at US$2 billion. DeepL said it has amassed a customer network of 100,000+ businesses, governments, and other organizations worldwide. In January 2024, DeepL deepened its commitment to the U.S.—now its third largest market—by opening its first office in the region. The company continues to expand its team in the U.S. to support growing demand. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Montreal-based Busbud, a global ground travel booking platform, announced the acquisition for an undisclosed amount of Ratality, a South Africa-based provider of revenue management optimization software for ground travel operations. Busbud said by integrating Ratality's unique expertise, Busbud's business suite will be enhanced with game-changing features such as advanced demand forecasting, dynamic pricing, fleet and driver management, as well as solutions for the charter and rentals industry. The acquisition builds upon an existing partnership between the companies and extends Busbud's reach in Africa. Busbud


 First-ever federal cyber security strategy identifies numerous gaps in government’s cyber resilience

The federal government has released a first-ever cyber security strategy aimed at improving how the government responds to cyber-attacks and strengthening protection against them.

The strategy identifies numerous gaps in the government’s capacity to monitor and respond to cyber-attacks and in the government’s current cyber resilience and where it needs to be.

“While the Government of Canada has made progress in improving cyber security in recent years, the ever-evolving threat environment and evolution in technology has advanced even faster,” the strategy says.

“A renewed commitment is required across departments and agencies to serve Canadians credibly and transparently in a manner that maintains and improves trust in the delivery of secure and reliable digital services.”

The Government of Canada Enterprise Cyber Security Strategy was developed by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Communications Security Establishment Canada, and Shared Services Canada.

The strategy is a risk-based, whole-of-government approach that will improve collaboration among department and improve cyber security as a whole, Ottawa said.

The increasing digital nature of the federal government and reliance on information technologies means that the government is an attractive target for cyber threats due to its holdings of personal information, valuable research data and other sensitive information, the strategy says.

“As a result, cyber security events can have a significant effect on government operations, either through disruption of critical and essential services or through exposure of classified or personal information.”

The National Cyber Threat Assessment 2023–24 highlights the significant rise in the number and sophistication of cyber threat actors who take advantage of the dependency on Internet-connected technologies in order to conduct malicious activities.

“Canada faces persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns that threaten the public sector and ultimately Canadians’ security and privacy,” according to the strategy.

The adoption and integration of Internet of Things devices has led to the convergence of cyber and physical systems, which expands the attack surface where physical impacts can result from a cyber threat vector or where cyber impacts can result from a physical threat vector, the strategy notes.

In addition, widespread use of mobile devices and the adoption of cloud-based services are shifting the government’s technology environment and must be considered from a cyber security perspective.

While the traditional perimeter-centric security model has served the government well, the notion that digital assets and users within a defined boundary are trustworthy does not scale to the “new digital world” where the trusted perimeter cannot be defined, the strategy says.

“Increased connectivity, the risk of insider threats, and the need to protect and store data in various in-house and third-party repositories (for example, cloud) have led to new security concepts that do not rely solely on a perimeter-centric security approach (that is, zero-trust).”

Among the government’s steps to improve cyber security is establishing the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) as part of the Communications Security Establishment, to consolidate the operational cyber expertise from across the federal government and provide a single, unified source of expert advice, guidance, services and support on cyber security operational matters.

However, gaps remain between the current state of government cyber resilience and where it needs to be, the strategy says. These gaps include:

  • A year-over-year comparison of results, from the government’s TBS Cyber Maturity Self-Assessment tool, from 2021-22 with results from 2022-23, demonstrates that departments and agencies are making marginal progress in improving their cyber maturity, and that they remain on average below the target of having repeatable processes to identify and respond to threats in support of an effective defence against new and emerging threats.
  • The level of capability, investment and security understanding across federal departments and agencies remains inconsistent. The size and complexity of the government’s digital estate, including the presence of legacy applications and technology, also make the challenge significantly more complicated.
  • Recognizing the potential gravity of impacts on the government because of weaknesses in the supply chain, the increased use of third-party services has driven the need for more effective approaches and solutions to third-party risk management.
  • The ability to protect against evolving vulnerabilities and threats is further constrained by the presence of legacy government information systems. The tracking and maintenance of technology assets and data (both on-premise and in the cloud) are not comprehensively understood or managed, which limits visibility and awareness of which assets need to be protected. Many departments and agencies rely on manual processes, which can be time-consuming, error-prone and ineffective.
  • Departments and agencies are using a combination of different tools, methods and services to monitor their systems, which can make it difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of potential security threats and may lead to unintended duplication or gaps in monitoring. It should be considered that many departments are not trained, equipped or staffed to support this function.
  • While funding has been received to establish the enterprise cyber security capabilities, not all of these capabilities have been fully realized across the government for various reasons, including waterfall approaches for project delivery and lengthy procurement processes.
  • Treasury Board policies intended to secure government systems are not uniformly applied, given that individual departments and agencies retain considerable latitude over whether to opt into the framework or to accept specific defensive technologies. Also, a large number of organizations – notably Crown corporations and potentially some other government interests – are not obligated to adhere to Treasury Board policies nor use the cyber defence framework.
  • While the government has improved its central management of cyber security events through the establishment of the Government of Canada Cyber Security Event Management Plan, there is limited capacity within each department and it is not always clear which services provided at the enterprise level are available. 
  • The global demand for cyber talent far outweighs the supply, leading to a shortage of skilled professionals in the field. Vacant cyber positions continue to be a challenge for government departments and agencies to staff. There is also a need to establish a right-sized staffing model for cyber talent between departments and central agencies so that positions are filled on a prioritized basis. 
  • There is also a general lack of cyber security training available to government personnel, both from a cyber domain perspective (for example, cloud security, incident response, security monitoring, use of existing cyber security tools) and from a general workforce perspective. To minimize cyber events that occur due to human error, there is a critical need to upskill all personnel in order to drive cyber security leadership and knowledge across the government as a whole.

The government must prioritize efforts toward reducing cyber security risks so that departments and agencies can maximize the benefits of digital technology, the strategy says. The government needs to shift from a reactive posture to a proactive approach in identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities and capability gaps, while keeping pace with the rapidly evolving threat landscape.

The strategy says strong, collaborative relationships between departmental chief information officers, departmental chief security officers, and the designated official for cyber security will be needed to: a) implement government cyber security priorities and activities as part of the broader departmental security plans; and b) collectively ensure that departmental cyber security risks are managed to support the management of the overall cyber security risk posture.

The strategy establishes four key objectives along with supporting key actions. The objectives are:

  • articulate cyber security risks and their business impacts for effective, action-oriented and accountable decision-making. This includes multi-year departmental cyber security strategies being submitted to the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Office of the Chief Information Officer for approval on an annual basis.
  • Prevent and resist cyber-attacks more effectively, leading to greater protection of government information and assets. This includes transitioning government systems to use standardized post-quantum cryptography, rather than current cryptography methods, to protect against the threat of being hacked by a quantum computer.
  • Strengthen capabilities and resilience across the government to proactively prepare for, respond to and recover from cyber security events. This includes establishing a centralized or command security operations centre at the Cyber Centre to monitor the overarching government security infrastructure (including on-premise networks, cloud environments and other endpoints) where departments benefit from the cyber defence ecosystem and gain access to their data via a security analytics platform. At a minimum, departments and agencies will need to conduct one cyber tabletop exercise (responding to a simulated cyber attack) up to the deputy minister level each year.
  • Foster a diverse government workforce with the right cyber security skills, knowledge and culture. This includes establishing standardized, mandatory cyber security awareness training across government for all of the federal workforce.

According to the strategy, the expected immediate outcome (within two to five years) is that cyber security is a whole-of-government endeavour, where risks within government information systems are continuously monitored, communicated and remediated in an effective and timely manner.

The expected long-term outcome (within five to 10 years) is “a world-class, sustainable and resilient Government of Canada to reduce cyber security risks and enable secure and reliable digital service delivery.” Treasury Board Secretariat


Canada launches more new medicines, at higher prices, compared with OECD countries: report

The number of new medicines launched in Canada and their prices here are higher than the median for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to a new report by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).

Most new medicines come to market with high treatment costs, and specialty medicines such as biologic, orphan (a medicine used in rare diseases), and cancer treatments continue to make up a growing share of the new drug landscape, says the PMPRB’s 8th edition of its annual Med Entry Watch report.

In terms of prices of medicines in Canada compared with other PMPRB11 countries, the median PMPRB11-to-Canadian price ratio reported across new medicines was 0.84, indicating that international prices in the fourth quarter of 2021 were approximately 16 per cent lower than Canadian prices at introduction.

In contrast, the median U.S. price ratios show that the U.S. pays 40 per cent more than Canada for the same medicines. For the top-selling medicines, Canada’s prices were close to those of PMPRB11 countries.

The  report focuses on medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and/or Health Canada.

This edition examines trends in the market for new medicines approved since 2017, highlighting the 55 medicines that received first-time market approval in 2021 and providing a preliminary analysis of the 48 medicines approved in 2022

The report also includes a section focused on medicines that were new to Canada in 2020, with an analysis of the rate of approvals per quarter over the past five years.

Highlights of the report include:

  • From 2017 to 2022, an average of 50 new medicines were approved internationally each year. Half of these medicines received an orphan designation from the FDA or EMA.
  • In 2021, a five-year high of 55 new medicines were approved by the FDA, the EMA, and/or Health Canada. Of those, 23 (42 per cent) received an orphan designation, and 15 (27 per cent) were oncology medicines. Of the 42 medicines for which a treatment cost was available, 36 (85 per cent) had a high cost (more than $10,000 annually or higher than $5,000 per 28-day treatment cycle).
  • In 2022, 48 medicines received first-time market approval through the FDA, EMA, and/or Health Canada.
  • Canada approved 43 new medicines in 2021 and 46 in 2022, above the five-year average of 40.
  • Canada ranked fifth among OECD countries in terms of new medicines with sales, despite fewer 2021 new medicines approved in Canada than in the US and Europe.
  • New medicines with Canadian sales accounted for 81 per cent of all new medicine sales in the OECD in the fourth quarter of 2022, indicating that Canada continues to approve and sell the higher-selling medicines approved internationally.

The international markets examined in the report included the OECD countries, with a focus on Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. Results for the U.S. were also included for comparison purposes. Patented Medicine Prices Review Board


Significant tax increases coming on new business investment – and it’s not the increase in capital gains tax

A significant increase in taxes on new business investment is coming throughout the Canadian economy – and it’s not the increase in the capital gains tax inclusion rate proposed in federal Budget 2024, according to economist Trevor Tombe.

“It is likely the largest tax increase you’ve never heard of. And it will lower investment and productivity at a time when we need more of both,” Tombe, professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at the School of Public Policy, wrote in a commentary published in The Hub.

The tax increase has to do with how quickly Canadian companies can write off capital investments, and with the 2018 corporate tax changes that are now gradually being phased out, he said.

In 2017, the U.S. lowered its corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent and allowed companies to immediately deduct the full cost of certain capital investments. A company spending $1 million on new equipment could “expense” the full amount immediately, lowering its taxable income and tax bill.

Before the change, the company would write off this investment over years. And since a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, accelerating the write-offs is essentially a tax cut, Tombe said.

To understand the impact of these changes, he said, consider one particularly useful measure: the “marginal effective tax rate” on investment, or METR for short. If a project delivers a 10-per-cent return before taxes but leaves only five percent for the investor after all taxes are paid, then the effective tax rate is 50 per cent — taxes consume half of the investment’s returns.

Using this measure, the U.S. changes lowered their METR by roughly 11 percentage points— from 29.8 per cent to 18.7 per cent. “That’s an enormous tax reduction.”

Tombe said analysis suggests this could boost the U.S. economy by 1.7 per cent, increase wages by 1.5 per cent, and increase the total capital stock by 4.8 per cent, mainly due to increased investment levels.

Canada, fearing a loss of competitiveness, followed the U.S. in 2018 by also lowering taxes on new investments – not through tax rate reductions, but by allowing faster write-offs.

“But here’s the catch: these changes were temporary,” Tombe noted.

Starting in 2024, these faster capital write-offs are gradually being phased out and will be fully eliminated after 2027. “The incentive to invest in Canada will consequently fall.”

Overall, the effective tax rate placed on new investment in Canada is set to increase from 13.7 per cent to nearly 17 per cent, Tombe said.

Certain types of investment will see even larger increases. The tax on machinery and equipment investment – a critical source of labour productivity growth – will see an increase from 5.7 percent to 14.2 per cent.

[Editor’s note: Canada’s investment in machinery and equipment as a share of GDP already is the lowest of its peers for the past four decades. Canadian business investment in machinery and equipment is expected to decline, decreasing at an annualized rate of minus 2.2 per cent, to reach a value of $84.3 billion over the five years to 2024, according to a report by IBIS World.].

There are also differences across sectors in terms of impact of the phasing out of faster capital write-offs, Tombe said. The effective tax rate in agriculture will increase from 8.1 per cent to 11.6 per cent, in construction from 20.8 per cent to 22.5 per cent, and in services from 17.2 per cent to 20.7 per cent. The largest increase of all is in manufacturing, which will see the tax on its investments nearly triple from 3.1 per cent to 9 per cent.

“The consequence: smaller investment returns and, therefore, less investment and capital for Canadian workers and businesses,” Tombe said.

In a recently published paper for the Canadian Tax Journal and Finances of the Nation, researchers from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Andrew Sharpe and Tim Sargent, document that since 2000, approximately 90 per cent of all labour productivity gains were from more capital available per worker. 

“Any serious attempt to boost Canadian labour productivity must improve business investment incentives. Unfortunately, the coming federal tax changes will do precisely the opposite,” Tombe said.

Governments should adopt even more aggressive and expansive measures to lower those rates, as we’ve done for manufacturing, he argued. Provinces can help, with changes to both corporate taxes and sales taxes. British Columbia and Saskatchewan, for example, levy sales taxes on firm input purchases, which also lowers returns on investment.

“Given Canada’s dismal growth in living standards and real incomes recently, getting the tax system right is critical,” Tombe said. “The budget has led many to focus on capital gains. But we shouldn’t narrowly focus on just one tax change or another; the whole system of raising public funds in Canada needs a good, hard look.” The Hub


Lessons from the U.K.’s rapid pivot to a net-zero economy

Marla Orenstein, director, resources, environment and economy at the Canada West Foundation public policy think tank, travelled to the U.K. as part of a week-long Energy Commentators Mission organized by the British Consulate. The U.K.’s approach to net zero is quite different from what is happening in Canada, she found.

The U.K. has very ambitious net zero targets, which they have enshrined in binding legislation. The targets commit them to reducing economy-wide greenhouse emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In comparison, Canada’s target is to reduce GHG emissions by 40 per cent to 45 per cent relative to 2005 levels by 2030. Canada has “enshrined” its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 in the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which became law in June 2021. While the legislation and its regulation are binding on the government, there are no financial or other types of penalties for the government under the Act if the target is not achieved.

The U.K. government, to deliver on the nation’s emissions reductions, established the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero and has committed over £30 billion of domestic investment. By 2021, the U.K. had halved its emissions (compared to 1990) and over-delivered against its targets.

Some key elements of the U.K.’s transition are:

  • Installation of up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy – both fixed and floating – by 2030. To date, the U.K. has installed about 14.7 GW, and the cost has fallen by 50 per cent.
  • Hydrogen production. The U.K. plans to use hydrogen domestically for mobility and heat and to build a pure hydrogen pipeline between Scotland and Europe.
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS is also planned as a key element to reduce industrial emissions as well as emissions from power generation, landfills, etc. While the U.K. government is bullish on CCS being on the ground at scale by 2030, no industrial facilities have yet been built. In comparison, Canada has eight commercial CCS facilities in operation, all in Alberta or Saskatchewan, according to Natural Resources Canada.
  • Many other elements, including nuclear energy, EVs, heat pumps and building decarbonization, etc. Canada’s net zero plan also includes nuclear energy, especially small modular reactors, EVs, heat pumps and building decarbonization.

Orenstein’s top five takeaways are:

  • The U.K. has a very aggressive timeline for a net zero economy, and everybody appears on board, with a “Team U.K. mentality.”

There is strong desire in the U.K. to become energy self-reliant, both to wean off energy from Russia and to provide insulation from price spikes. The U.S. also sees an opportunity for re-industrialization. Also, the European Union – the U.K.’s largest trading partner – is bringing in a carbon border adjustment mechanism in 2026 (and the U.K. in 2027). If British products want to sell in the EU without a tariff, the U.K. needs to quickly find a way to produce them with low emissions.

  • Success comes from building on what exists.

The U.K. is using technology and know-how transferable from oil and gas to new energy applications, including offshore wind, CCUS and hydrogen production. In the U.K., much of the new energy industry has oil and gas majors as the developers, often as part of a joint venture.

  • The U.K. faces a huge shortage of skilled workers.

Along with a shortage in skilled trades workers, there is a shortage of professionals for planning and permitting activities, as well as the need for people in other roles, such as project managers and geoscientists. The U.K. is tackling the problem through apprenticeship, training and reskilling programs.

  • The U.K. is taking an industrial planning approach.

Unlike Canada, the U.K. is using a top-down industrial planning approach to manage and accelerate the transition. There are a few elements to take note of:

  • Regionally-based industrial clusters
  • Industrial clusters have a concentration of heavy industry.

Plans for these clusters combine different elements (offshore power, CCS, hydrogen production, etc.) in a way that creates new economic opportunities for each company while also providing decarbonization options.

  • Industry councils and framework deals.

Industry Councils bring together senior industry leaders with government for cooperative planning. The Offshore Wind Industry Council is one example;  Offshore Energies UK  (representing oil and gas production) is another. These provide the structural framework for policy development and concrete planning.

  • Planning for supply chain needs

As an example, Orenstein learned that apparently, there is not enough steel in the world for all the cables and chains that will be needed to meet the U.K.’s offshore wind ambitions. U.K.-sponsored innovation centres are testing and developing new synthetic chains as alternatives. Another example: floating wind turbines need deep ports where they can be assembled before being towed out to sea. Key U.K. ports are being overhauled so they will have sufficient depth.

  • Structural supports to help industry navigate change

The U.K. has created many organizations that provide supports for existing energy proponents, new energy entrants, supply chain providers, individuals, etc. Most of these operate as independent, public-private partnerships, often with commercial contracts as well. Here’s a sample of these organizations:

  • Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult – Technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy.
  • Floating Wind Innovation Centre – Provides technology developers with access to testing and demonstration infrastructure, which reduces risk and cost in advance of deployment.
  • CATCH – Addresses the skills shortage by providing hands-on training facilities and programs. Recruits and trains apprentices and places them with employers.
  • Energy Transition Zone – Transitions the SMEs that deliver oil and gas. They create wraparound supports to help companies commercialize successfully.
  • Net Zero Technology Centre – Develops and deploys technologies for an affordable net zero energy industry.
  • National Energy Skills Accelerator – Prepares the workforce for an energy transition.
  • UK Research and Innovation – Provides funding for research and innovation.

There are opportunities for Canada and the U.K. to help one another, Orenstein noted. For example:

  • Canada has more experience than almost anyone else in actually building large-scale CCUS (carbon capture, storage and utilization). This is an ambition in the U.K., but not yet the reality. Knowledge transfer to the U.K. could help their transition and our economy.
  • Conversely, the U.K. has substantial experience in building offshore wind, whereas Canada is just starting. Numerous U.K. organizations are pioneering solutions that Canada can benefit from. One natural ally is Flotation Energy, founded by Canadian Allan MacAskill, who started Kincardine, the world’s largest floating wind project.
  • Both countries are looking to add small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to the energy mix (as is the U.S. and several other countries). Time and cost are two challenges faced by both countries – and shared learning on technology, regulation and implementation may help bring down the time and cost involved. Canada West Foundation

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several changes in the senior ranks of the public service, including:

  • Catherine Blewett, currently Secretary of the Treasury Board, becomes Senior Official, Privy Council Office, effective June 3, 2024.
  • Bill Matthews, currently Deputy Minister of National Defence, becomes Secretary of the Treasury Board, effective June 3, 2024.
  • Stefanie Beck, currently Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, becomes Deputy Minister of National Defence, effective June 3, 2024.
  • Lawrence Hanson, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change, becomes Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, effective June 3, 2024.

Trudeau also announced the reappointment of Ron Hallman as President and Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, effective August 28, 2024. PMO’s Office

Dr. Ian Stirling, PhD, an internationally renowned polar bear researcher, died May 14 at age 82. A pioneering researcher, Stirling began studying polar bears in Canada in the early 1970s, when very little was known about them. In the early 1990s, he and his then-graduate student Dr. Andrew Derocher, PhD, were the first to suggest that sea ice loss from climate change may pose a threat to the polar bear’s survival – a hypothesis later confirmed. Stirling’s studies of mammals and their ecology also included seals, whales and walruses and took him to all seven continents. Stirling was a research scientist emeritus with Environment and Climate Change Canada and an adjunct professor in the University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences. In addition, he was a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Polar Bear Specialist Group and the author of more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers and five books, including Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species. Polar Bears International

Ernst & Young (EY) announced Alycia Calvert as chair and CEO, effective July 1, 2024. Calvert replaces outgoing chair and CEO Jad Shimaly as he transitions to EY global managing partner, client service. Calvert has been with EY for more than 25 years and a member of the EY Canada Executive Committee for 10 years, most recently as the chief operating Officer where she was responsible for achieving long-term value and sustainable growth for the Canadian business across service lines, functions and geographies. Previously, Calvert served as managing partner for markets and accounts, as well as managing partner for the tax practice. EY

KPMG in Canada announced the selection of Benjie Thomas as its next CEO, effective October 1, 2024. He will succeed Elio Luongo who is completing two consecutive terms on September 30, 2024. Thomas has been a member of KPMG’s management committee and served as managing partner of the firm’s advisory business since 2016. He is also the firm’s national industry leader for private equity and pension funds, a role he’s held since 2006. KPMG

Montreal-based IT and business consulting services firm CGI announced the appointment of François Boulanger as president and chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors, effective October 1, 2024. Boulanger is currently president and chief operating officer for CGI’s operations in Canada, U.S. Commercial and State Government, Asia Pacific Global Delivery Centers of Excellence, and Global IP Solutions. George D. Schindler, currently president and chief executive officer, will retire effective September 30, 2024. Schindler will continue to serve on the board and, for a transition period, will serve as strategic advisor to Serge Godin, founder and executive chairman of the board. CGI Inc.

Calgary-based Computer Modelling Group Ltd. announced the appointment of Alex Davern to the board of directors as an independent non-executive director, effective May 23, 2024. Davern previously was the chairman of the board of directors of ESI Group and spent more than 25 years in senior executive leadership roles at National Instruments, including serving as the chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer. He currently holds director positions with Faro Technologies and Cirrus Logic Inc. Globe Newswire

Meta named Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Ottawa-based Shopify, and Patrick Collison, cofounder and CEO of Stripe, headquartered in San Francisco and Dublin and which has an office in Toronto, to its four-member advisory group. The other members of the advisory group are former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and tech investor Charlie Songhurst. Meta said its management team will periodically consult the advisory group on “strategic opportunities related to our technology and product roadmap.” Meta

Techstars announced that Maëlle Gavet, CEO of the international accelerator, will be stepping down at the end of May 2024 due to health reasons, ending her 3 ½-year leadership. Gavet exits Techstars after what is considered to be an impressive tenure, with the company investing in more than 2,000 startups. In 2023 alone, 469 Techstars portfolio companies secured more than  $2.4 billion, with 69 per cent of them raising rounds of $1 million or more. However, under Gavet’s leadership, Techstars ended accelerator programs in Toronto, Seattle, Austin and Boulder, Colo., as well as in Norway and Sweden. David Cohen, the investment firm’s co-founder and chairman of the board, will take over the role.  Cohen will return as CEO after leading the company for 13 of its nearly 17-year existence. Techpoint

The University of Calgary is planning a relaunch of its oil and gas engineering program, which it suspended three years ago due to dwindling student demand. The university stopped admitting students to its petroleum engineering bachelor’s degree program in 2021 after a multi-year period of low oil prices, corporate consolidation and widespread energy sector layoffs. Anders Nygren, vice-dean of UCalgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, said the program will be on offer again for students beginning their post-secondary studies this fall. The Globe and Mail


The Western Institute for Neuroscience (WIN) is Western University’s first official open science institute. The institute partnered with McGill University’s Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI) and BrainsCAN to develop a framework that outlines WIN’s commitment to implement open science across the institute and provides researchers with hands-on guidelines and best practices. TOSI contributed $100,000 through their National Incentive Fund to help WIN launch and sustain its framework, which was matched by BrainsCAN. By becoming a TOSI-designated open science institute, WIN joins a growing network of five major Canadian research institutes focusing on neuroscience and mental health, all aiming to change research by embracing open science and collaboration. Open science is the concept of sharing data, information, tools and research results to eliminate barriers for collaboration and maximize research impact. It also fosters a more open approach to research that includes diverse voices and builds capacity in tackling society’s greatest challenges. The final framework includes six guiding principles that will support WIN researchers in voluntarily integrating open science into their projects from start to finish. The initiative comes after three years of extensive community consultations to identify open science needs, existing barriers and shape the new guidelines. Western University

The Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary launched a new event series, the Haskayne Business Exchange (HBX). HBX is designed to spotlight the most relevant research in management practices, engaging audiences to inspire real-world applications and contribute to resolving some of society’s most pressing issues. The inaugural event will take place June 13, 2024, at The GRAND in downtown Calgary. This event will explore the theme of the new digital era, focusing on topics such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and cryptocurrency, trust and privacy in data management and tradeable efficiency. Featured speakers are from UCalgary’s Haskayne School of Business and Schulich School of Engineering, Understanding that one of the barriers to research dissemination is its accessibility and perceived practicality, HBX will address both challenges head-on by having each researcher deliver short, impactful, 15-minute presentations. Following the researchers’ presentations, the event will include an engaging industry panel where business thought leaders will discuss how the research and insights shared can be integrated into mainstream business practices. Haskayne School of Business

McMaster University and the University of Liverpool in England partnered to advance research and innovation at both institutions. As a part of the McMaster-Liverpool Partnership Fund,, the two research-intensive universities have launched a $500,000 (£300,000) seed fund that will support collaborations in areas of complementary research strength. This includes health research across the life stages – it from pediatrics to healthy aging – and research and development in port design and sustainability. The first round of seed fund recipients were announced on May 13 at McMaster. McMaster University

Deepa Kundar, a researcher from the University of Toronto (U of Toronto) is leading a multidisciplinary research group that aims develop quantum-based technology solutions to defend power utilities against future cyberattacks. With the support of a first-of-its-kind $1.45-million NSERC Alliance-Mitacs Accelerate grant, the group is working at the intersection of quantum, cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. “Technology is always changing the threat landscape. And quantum computing, which is becoming more feasible and practical, is a powerful tool that will make our classical defences obsolete,” said Kundar, professor and chair of U of T’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Kundur’s project is a collaboration between academia, Hydro-Québec and quantum computer startup Xanadu. A second team – headed by associate professor Atefeh Mashatan of Toronto Metropolitan University and involving quantum solution leaders Crypto4A and evolutionQ – will build a road map for the classical-to-quantum migration for power grids in preparation for a future transition. Quantum enhancement is the next stage in the evolution of today’s smart grids, so-named because they incorporate information-communication technology into their operations. ICT has allowed smart grids to adapt to changing conditions and electricity load, as well respond more efficiently to natural disasters in order to meet society’s increasing power needs in an intelligent, sustainable way. One potential downside of a data-driven smart grid, however, is the introduction of new vulnerabilities since attackers can now target not just the physical infrastructure, but the information that flows through it. Also, ICT adds a level of complexity that results in emergent properties that are difficult to predict and can be challenging to safeguard. Kundar said his team will take classical data, use models to predict what quantum versions of the information would appear to be, and then perform anomaly and attack detection on it. The team will be experimenting with quantum machine learning for better pattern recognition to detect a cyberattack. U of Toronto

Alexandra Kitson, a researcher at Simon Fraser University (SFU), is using virtual reality (VR) to help teens regulate their emotions and is using their feedback to help design and develop better technologies for psychologists. Kitson, a post-doctoral researcher in the Tangible Embodied Child-Computer Interaction Lab, supervised by Alissa N. Antle, in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, presented five papers with co-authors in May at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘24) in Oahu, Hawaii. Two of the papers investigate the use of digital technologies to support the development of youth’s emotion regulation skills. Working with youth in the local community, Kitson and her team explore ways that they could design immersive environments, such as virtual reality, to enhance emotion-regulation training for teens. Emotion regulation is how people manage emotions, for example by purposely changing how they think about a feeling or experience to reframe it. The ability to use emotion regulation strategies during and after emotionally laden experiences is correlated with good mental health.  The advantage of using VR in emotion regulation training, Kitson said, is that it can simulate realistic scenarios that can evoke visceral, emotional responses, compared with roleplaying or reading about scenarios. VR and artificial intelligence can be used to help people reframe their thoughts. As part of her research approach, Kitson works with a diverse group of teens of different socio-economical and ethnic backgrounds, and neurodiversity, to co-design possible uses of these technologies for emotion regulation skills development training. The research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. SFU


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