The Short Report - Sept. 15, 2021: COVID-19’s financial impact on universities, boosting biotherapeutics manufacturing, and more

Cindy Graham
September 15, 2021

A Statistics Canada study looking at the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canada's universities projects they could lose between $438 million and $2.5 billion of projected revenues for 2020/2021 if the most pessimistic scenario – a decrease of 22 percent of international students combined with a 20 percent decrease of domestic students – plays out. In this worst-case scenario, the greatest impact as a share of existing revenues would be experienced among universities in Ontario (-$1.7 billion/-8.9 percent of projected revenues) and British Columbia (-$430 million/-6.9 percent of projected revenues). The provinces and the federal government are attempting to offset some of the tuition losses through increases in research funding, notably the $450 million in research support announced in May. – StatsCan

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Projected Revenue Loss for Canadian Universities, 2020/21

Table summary

Low Loss (L1) Medium Loss (M1) Medium Loss (M2) High Loss (H1) High Loss (H2)
thousands of dollars
Canada -438,313 -1,094,641 -574,023 -2,543,748 -2,428,295
Newfoundland and Labrador 2,768 -1,504 1,745 -8,764 -17,595
Prince Edward Island -451 -1,660 -65 -5,277 -13,934
Nova Scotia -18,811 -41,518 -19,416 -94,842 -129,068
New Brunswick 1,952 -3,144 5,948 -29,305 -14,830
Quebec 72,704 31,756 72,292 -43,148 -235,548
Ontario -357,668 -756,575 -452,181 -1,664,778 -1,410,293
Manitoba -3,578 -15,192 -2,689 -48,597 -34,065
Saskatchewan 9,461 4,252 22,134 -52,328 -21,473
Alberta -6,499 -39,570 8,223 -166,238 -124,247
British Columbia -138,191 -271,485 -210,013 -430,471 -427,241

Source: Projected Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Universities for the 2020/21 Academic Year, Statistics Canada, Aug. 18, 2021

Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment (BioCanRx), one of the Networks of Centres of Excellence, along with The Ottawa Hospital's Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre and the University of Alberta's Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets the stage for a biomanufacturing ecosystem that would see collaborations to manufacture vaccines, gene therapies, cell therapies and more in Canada. "This partnership... serves to support our 'made-in-Canada' approach focused on expanding access to clinical trials for potentially life-saving cancer treatments, right here, in Canada,” said Dr. Stéphanie Michaud, President and CEO of BioCanRx. – BioCanRx

Waterloo's Quantum Valley Ideas Lab is one of eight industry and university research teams to receive funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of its new Science of Atomic Vapors for New Technologies (SAVaNT) program. The program seeks to advance quantum research in defence applications by focusing on warm atomic vapours as opposed to cold-atom technology, which presents challenges due to the extensive equipment needed to transition breakthroughs from the lab to practical use. – DARPA

A newly signed MOU between the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Lincoln, Ontario) and Bioenterprise Corporation (Guelph) will focus on strengthening Canada's horticulture and agri-tech innovation networks. The collaboration will include knowledge-sharing, developing funding proposals, assessing new technologies, presenting webinars and education programs, as well as increasing access to commercialization services, corporate and industry partnerships, and on-farm testing and trials. – Vineland Research

The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) has released a submission for pre-budget consultations for the 2022 federal budget. It recommends a patent incentive program at the national level to help small and medium-sized businesses protect trademarks by funding a brand protection strategy. It also recommends adopting legislation or policies that would mandate federal government subsidies and research grants to allocate a small portion of funds for advice and professional services. – Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Toronto-based startup Nuula, a fintech company focused on small businesses, has secured $20 million in funding led by Edison Partners (New Jersey) for a mobile app that allows businesses to monitor cash flow and credit activity, as well as $100 million in equity funding managed by the credit group of Ares Management (Chicago) towards a credit facility that will provide scale to the app’s integrated credit product. – Nuula

Rémi Quirion, Quebec’s Chief Science Advisor, has provided a newsletter update on Quebec's new research and innovation strategy, Stratégie québécoise de la recherche et de l’innovation (SQRI 2022). The past year of consultations on SQRI 2022 will culminate in a November event: “the Grande rencontre sur la recherche et l’innovation chaired by Premier François Legault: two days of presentations, discussions and co-construction workshops to define the directions, themes and means action of the next strategy.” There was also a one-day virtual consultation with the directors of Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ)-funded research groups on Sept. 10 to go over research-related issues and challenges. – Government of Quebec

Vancouver-based identity verification company Truiloo has been named 2021 Innovator of the Year by the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX-Toronto), an awards program that selects early and growth-stage startups in Canada. Truiloo uses a digital identity network to verify consumers to ensure they can participate in the digital economy. – CIX

World Wildlife Fund Canada is accepting applications to its Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge, which provides up to $125,000 in contracts and grants for technologies that measure carbon in nature. Applicants can submit their proposal between Sept. 7 and Nov. 8, 2021. – WWF Canada


The Royal Society of Canada has announced awards to 15 Canadian scientists, scholars and researchers for contributions in their fields. Award winners will be honoured during the RSC Awards Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, as part of its 2021 Celebration of Excellence and Engagement. – RSC


Dr. Violet Ford is Memorial University's new associate vice-president, Indigenous research, effective Sept. 7 for a renewable five-year term. Ford is the first Indigenous woman to become a lawyer in Newfoundland and Canada’s first woman lawyer of Inuit ancestry. She helped draft provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples related to intellectual property rights and cultural heritage. – MUN

Janet Hope has been named vice-president of policy and innovation at Colleges Ontario. Hope is  assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Long-Term Care and served as the director of the colleges branch at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. – Colleges Ontario

Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan is Mount Saint Vincent University’s new associate vice-president, research, effective Sept. 1. Gahagan served as the head of the health promotion division and interim director of Dalhousie’s School of Health and Human Performance, and as a founding fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Policy and Governance. – MSVU

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