The Short Report - October 13, 2021: CIHR launches Indigenous opportunity fund to tackle COVID-19 challenges; a new president for PHAC, Communitech focuses on company scaleups, and more.

Cindy Graham
October 12, 2021


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is launching a $6-million funding opportunity to support research and knowledge mobilization for Indigenous Peoples, communities, organizations and researchers and to address the well-being and health needs of Indigenous Peoples as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunity is being led by CIHR's Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health in partnership with the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health, the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, the Institute of Population and Public Health, and the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. The registration deadline is Nov. 9, 2021 and the application deadline is Dec. 7, 2021. – CIHR


Materials science company Dow Chemical plans to build the world's first net-zero carbon emissions ethylene and derivatives complex at its Fort Saskatchewan site, which will convert cracker off-gas into hydrogen as a clean fuel. The site will be retrofitted to net-zero capacity on scope 1 and 2 carbon dioxide emissions and is expected to more than triple its ethylene and polyethylene capacity. – Dow

Calgary-based TC Energy and zero-emission truck pioneer Nikola Motor Corporation (Arizona) have signed an agreement to co-develop, construct and operate hydrogen production hubs in the United States and Canada which may accelerate the adoption of heavy-duty zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen across North America's industrial sectors. – Nikola

Electric motorcycle manufacturer Damon Motors (Vancouver) has started construction on a 110,000 square-foot R&D cleantech manufacturing plant to produce its first fully electric motorcycle. The plant is being built in partnership with Vancouver property management firm Bosa Commercial in Surrey and is expected to create more than 300 high-tech manufacturing jobs and more than 500 high-tech office jobs by 2025. – Damon Motors


Ottawa-based viral medicine scaleup company Virica Biotech has closed its first round of Series A financing with a "multimillion-dollar investment" led by Dynamk Capital (New York) and expects to close with additional investors by the end of Q4-2021. Virica is positioning itself as a manufacturing partner for global viral medicine producers and plans to use the funding to open a lab facility as part of the Ottawa Health Innovation hub. – Virica

Waterloo innovation centre Communitech is streamlining its programming to focus on helping tech founders grow by using data to quantify the likelihood of Canadian companies growing to scale. The True North Strategy has set a goal to help 14 Canadian founders reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2030. – Communitech

RELATED: Q&A: Chris Albinson on why Canada's Waterloo region could be the next Silicon Valley

LinkedIn has published its top 15 list of Canadian startups for 2021 based on data from across four areas: employee growth, jobseeker interest, member engagement with the company and its employees and how well the startups pulled talent from the LinkedIn Top Companies list. Top startups included Wealthsimple (Toronto), Neo Financial (Calgary and Winnipeg) and Apollo Insurance (Vancouver). – LinkedIn

Digital-process developer Daylight Automation (formerly FormHero; Toronto) announced a US$12.3-million Series A round led by RTP Global, Bessemer Venture Partners and Golden Ventures. The round builds on a US$2.26-million seed round in March 2020. – Communitech

Meanwhile, health-care compliance company MedStack (Toronto) closed a US $3.1-million round led by existing investors Blu Venture Investors and TELUS Ventures with participation from York IE, Argonautic Ventures, Archangel Network of Funds, MFD Investments and Donville-Kent Asset Management. – Communitech

The Toronto-Waterloo startup ecosystem has been ranked 14th out of 140 in a global ranking of startup ecosystems, up four spots from 2020. The 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network includes a ranking of the leading ecosystems in the world broken down by continent. Toronto-Waterloo startups have created nearly $21 billion in economic value with $2.3 billion in total early stage funding over the last 2.5 years. – Communitech

Newly rebranded Brampton-based tech incubator Altitude Accelerator (formerly RIC Centre) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Algoma University's School of Business and Economics that will assist area entrepreneurs and students through Altitude's new Investor Readiness Program. The program will provide experiential learning opportunities for students to assist high potential tech startups in the region. – Algoma U

The Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba are contributing $1.5 million to Manitoba Egg Farmers to advance research on modern egg production techniques by establishing the Egg Layer Research and Public Engagement Facility at the University of Manitoba’s Glenlea Research Station. Funding is through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3-billion investment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments to grow Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. – UM


The Terry Fox Research Institute is seeking an Executive Director for the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network (MOHCCN) launched in 2017 to accelerate precision medicine for cancer patients across Canada. The Network was established through matching investments of up to $300 million over the next five years, including $150 million from Health Canada. Designated centres include the BC Cancer Consortium (BC Cancer lead), the Princess Margaret Cancer Consortium (Princess Margaret lead) and the Marathon of Hope – Quebec Cancer Consortium including hospitals and institutes affiliated with McGill University and the Université de Montréal. Cancer centres in the Atlantic and Prairie provinces are expected to apply to join the pan-Canadian Marathon of Hope network in the next round of designations. – TFRI

As part of changes in senior ranks of the public service announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar, former Associate Deputy Minister of Health, is now president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, effective Oct. 12, 2021. Kochhar replaces Iain Stewart, who is returning as president of the National Research Council. Other appointments include Heather Jeffrey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Integration of the COVID-19 Task Force for Health Canada, who is now Associate Deputy Minister of Health; Nancy Gardiner, previously Assistant Deputy Minister, Departmental Programs and Operations, Women and Gender Equality Canada, is now president of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, effective Sept. 1, 2021. She replaces James Meddings, who has retired from the position. – GoC

Nadia Chaudhri, a Concordia University professor and neuroscientist who raised over $615,000 for marginalized students in neuroscience while in palliative care and sharing her final days on Twitter and with the media, passed away on Oct. 5, 2021, more than a year after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. – Concordia

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