AbCellera Biologics, Alberta Innovates, Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc., ArchAngel Network, Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Canadian COVID Genomics Network, Canadian Immunization Research Network, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Carleton University, Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, CHU Sainte-Justine, Clean Energy Canada, Clean Resource Innovation Network, Coalition for the Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Communitech, COVID-19 Genomics UK, COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, Dalhousie University, DMZ, Eavor Technologies, Eli Lilly, Emissions Reduction Alberta, Genome Canada, Globe and Mail, Humber College, Industrial Research Assistance Program, Innovation Economy Council, Innovation Metals Corp., Invest Ottawa, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Manitoba Health, MaRS, McGill University, McMaster University, Montreal Heart Institute Research Center, Natural Resources Canada, Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Office of the Chief Science Advisor, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Public Health England, Sheridan College, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, TerraVerdae Bioworks Inc., Ucore Rare Metals, Ucore Rare Metals Inc., Université Laval, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Ghana, University of Lethbridge, Women’s Health Research Institute, and World Health Organization



The Short Report, May 6, 2020: AbCellera receives $175.6M for COVID-19 therapies; Canada contributes $850 million to global pandemic response; new “super angel” fund launches; and more

Debbie Lawes
May 6, 2020

Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics will receive up to $175.6 million from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund to fast-track antibody therapies against COVID-19. The funding will also go to build a first-of-its-kind antibody manufacturing facility over the next four years to help Canada respond to future pandemics. AbCellera has partnered with global biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to rapidly manufacture and distribute a treatment. The investment is part of $192 million in SIF COVID-19 funding announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau March 23. The largess of public money has raised concerns from a few researchers on Twitter, with some questioning the lack of a peer-review selection process and whether the funding is repayable. “Is this a grant or an actual investment? Does the Crown now own part of the company? It should, given the circumstance and cost,” writes Dr. Jim Woodgett, director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. – AbCellera

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other global leaders to launch the Coronavirus Global Response – an online pledging marathon running throughout May that aims to raise USD$8 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to combat COVID-19. Funds may also be used to strengthen health systems. Canada has so far committed $850 million, including for: R&D of medical countermeasures, accelerated vaccine development (e.g., Coalition for the Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial, and genome sequencing. – GoC

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium has begun working with the newly formed Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to share knowledge, lessons learned and protocols as both countries sequence and analyze the spread and evolution of the SARs-CoV-2 virus and how it affects patients. Prof. Sharon Peacock from Public Health England said the UK’s experience in this area “will help CanCOGeN rapidly develop its capacity”. – Genome Canada

The new COVID-19 Immunity Task Force is moving quickly. In its first weekly meeting, members agreed on an accelerated process that, by mid-May, will enable the scale-up of existing fieldwork on immunity. The group began setting an agenda for new immunity analyses to meet the needs of Canadian decision-makers and the general public. For example, the task force will be supporting rapid implementation of population surveys, geographies, and occupational groups, in collaboration with biobanks, blood banks, public health agencies, hospitals, others. The task force has also agreed to plan and support a program of rapid-cycle research to address questions about how immunity to the novel coronavirus develops, how strong it is and how long it lasts. – Task Force

A consortium of super angels and venture capitalists from the Toronto-Waterloo region has created an investment fund to support early stage companies. In addition to funding, the ArchAngel Network of Funds will provide access to expertise and global partner networks. The network will focus initially on supporting entrepreneurs creating solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, before expanding to smart manufacturing, green technology and health sciences. The fund is looking to raise about $10 million and the first investments are expected to be awarded within weeks. – ArchAngel Network of Funds

The founders of the newly established Innovation Economy Council (IEC) —MaRS, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Communitech, DMZ, Invest Ottawa and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine — have published the group’s first white paper: The post-viral pivot: How Canada’s tech startups can drive the recovery from COVID-19. Authored by former Globe and Mail columnist Barrie McKenna, the report examines how Canada’s startups are best positioned to lead Canada’s post-COVID-19 recovery, and the consequences if they are not adequately supported. – MaRS

Canada’s intellectual property marketplace – ExploreIP – has begun highlighting technologies that interested companies can license and commercialize in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched August 2019, ExploreIP is a free online searchable database of over 3,250 inventions held by government, academia or other public sector institutions. For more information, contact

Canada Revenue Agency is expediting claims to its Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program to help cash-strapped companies weather the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. CRA posted a notice May 1 stating that, “Most refundable claims will be processed as soon as possible with minimal burden on the claimants, injecting funding into businesses that need it now to help manage the adverse financial implications of the pandemic. Claims accepted at this time may be subject to review/audit at a future date to ensure eligibility.” - CRA

The Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition has awarded over $1.5 million to 40 research teams focused on COVID-19 related projects. Projects include clinical sciences, delivery sciences, health systems improvement and social sciences. A few projects include COVID-19’s impact on infant feeding, burnout of front-line health care workers, dementia patients, and leveraging artificial intelligence to provide direction on how to deploy tests, vaccines or other interventions. – NS Health

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) Research Center has extended its COLCORONA COVID-19 clinical trial to a third Canadian province. As of April 30, Ontarians who test positive for COVID-19, but are not hospitalized, may be eligible for this contactless at-home study which is investigating whether this anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the rate of hospitalization of individuals recently diagnosed with COVID-19. There are now numerous sites across Canada, the US and Spain taking part in the trial, which is expected to expand to other provinces soon. – MHI

Vancouver-based Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (formerly Breathtec Biomedical) has received the go-ahead from Health Canada to proceed with a Phase 2b/3 trials multinational clinical trial for Ifenprodil (NP-12) as a potential coronavirus therapy. Ifenprodil is a generic neurological drug developed by Sanofi in the 1970s that Algernon is hoping to repurpose as a possible treatment to reduce the number of COVID-19 patients from progressing to mechanical ventilation with intubation and death. – GlobeNewswire

In other news…

Provincial and federal investments of $4.5 million will help Edmonton-based TerraVerdae Bioworks Inc. develop new product development capacity for biodegradable industrial plastics used in agricultural, forestry, food packaging, adhesives and personal care markets. TerraVerdae’s polymer technology (polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA) uses renewable carbon feedstock such as municipal and forestry waste or agricultural residues. Funding was provided by Alberta Innovates, Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, Industrial Research Assistance Program and other investors. – TerraVerdae

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Clean Energy Canada, the Clean Resource Innovation Network and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada have created an alliance to promote Canadian geothermal development and to create jobs in the struggling oil and gas sector. One technology being promoted is Eavor-Loop™, developed by Calgary-based Eavor Technologies. A successful demonstration project last year, supported by Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta, showed that the technology can be scaled up quickly and financed with little production risk. – Eavor

Ucore Rare Metals Inc., a junior exploration and technology company based in Bedford, NS, is acquiring Toronto-based Innovation Metals Corp. for $5.8 million. Innovation Metals has developed a technology (RapidSXTM) that lowers the capital and operating costs for separating critical metals, including rare earth elements, lithium, nickel and cobalt. As part of the deal, Ucore will also invest $2.8 million to further develop RapidSXTM as well as UCore’s M3 (Mine to Metal to Market) Plan of Action. – Ucore


New members have been named to the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. The current list now includes: Co-chairs, Dr. Catherine Hankins, (Professor of Public and Population Health at McGill University) and Dr. David Naylor, (former president, University of Toronto); executive director, Dr. Tim Evans (director of the School of Population and Global Health, McGill University); ex-officio members, Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer); Dr. Mona Nemer (Canada’s chief science advisor), and Dr. Stephen Lucas (DM Health); leadership group members, Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Indigenous engagement lead (scientific director, Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health), Dr. Vivek Goel (VP research and innovation, University of Toronto), Dr. Scott Halperin (professor, Canadian Immunization Research Network), Dr. Charu Kaushic (scientific director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity), Dr. James Kellner (consultant in pediatric infectious diseases and professor, University of Calgary), Dr. Susan Kirkland (professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University), Dr. Gary Kobinger (director, Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Laval University, Dr. Mel Krajden (Medical director, BCCDC Public Health Laboratory), Dr. Richard Massé (special advisor, Government of Quebec), Dr. Allison McGeer (professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto), Dr. Deborah Money (clinician scientist, Women’s Health Research Institute), Dr. Gina Ogilvie (professor, School of Population Health, University of British Columbia), Kevin Orrell (DM, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness), Dr. Jutta Preiksaitis (professor emeritus, Infectious Diseases, University of Alberta), Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh (lead, infection prevention and control unit, CHU Sainte-Justine), Dr. James Talbot (adjunct professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta), and Dr. Paul van Caeseele (medical director, Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Manitoba Health). – COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

Darren Lawless left Humber College this week to join McMaster University as the assistant VP, research innovation partnerships. Lawless joined Humber in 2015 as dean of research, after several earlier positions as a senior R&D executive, and as Sheridan College’s first dean of research and innovation. At Humber he played a key role in the development of the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation.

Dr. Erasmus Okine has been appointed interim provost and VP (academic) at the University of Lethbridge. Okline joined the university in 2015 as VP (research), during which time he grew the number of research partnerships by about 60%. Okine, a native of Ghana, completed a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science at the University of Ghana before coming to Alberta to complete a PhD at the University of Alberta. – University of Lethbridge

Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEO of Innovation Metals Corp. of Toronto, will become the chief technology officer of Ucore Rare Metals, Bedford, NS. Ucore is acquiring Innovation Metals, which has developed a technology (RapidSXTM) that lowers the capital and operating costs for separating critical metals. Ucore

Amber Lannon has been appointed university librarian at Carleton University after serving on an interim basis since January. She joined Carleton in July 2016 as associate university librarian (Academic Services), responsible for research support, research collections and other services. Previously, she held several positions at McGill University, including head librarian in the humanities and social sciences branch and acting associate dean of user services. – Carleton

Other News

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