The Short Report – September 23rd, 2020: New climate fund aims to boost awareness and research, Iain Stewart departs NRC for PHAC, and more

Cindy Graham
September 23, 2020


The federal government is launching a $206-million Climate Action and Awareness Fund to empower youth and communities and boost climate science and research. The fund has already issued a request for proposals (RFPs) to access up to $50 million in community-based climate action projects, such as transportation campaigns that encourage walking and cycling. RFPs will open in the coming months for climate science and technology proposals as well as activities by academia and think tanks to better understand Canada’s transition to net zero GHG emissions.The funding comes from the existing Climate Action Fund as well as the Environmental Damages Fund, which collects fines from polluters and invests the money in environmental restoration, quality and improvement; R&D; and education and awareness. – GoC


App Direct, a San Francisco-based subscription commerce platform, announced US $185 million in Series D funding, putting its most recent valuation above US $1.5 billion. The funding was led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec with additional backing from Inovia Capital, JPMorgan Chase and Mithril Capital. – AppDirect

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the lead for Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, is investing $9 million in three companies: Formula Solutions Inc., Burlington ON (automated vacuum infusion technologies); Sanctuary Cognitive Systems Corp., Vancouver BC (robotic hand for small part assembly); and Artificial Intelligence Imaging Sensors, Kitchener, ON (portable brain scanner). – GlobeNewswire

ApplyBoard, a Kitchener-ON based application platform for international students, raised $70 million in new Series C funding (round total now $170 million). The original round was led by Drive Capital, while new backers include ETS, Index Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, and Harmonic Growth Partners. The funding includes a new partnership with ETS, a non-profit education testing and assessment organization. – ApplyBoard

OnCall Health, a virtual care software for healthcare providers based in Toronto, has raised a $7.9-million Series A round bringing its total funding to over $10.5 million. Base10 Partners led the round, with participation from OnCall Health’s existing investors, Ripple Ventures, Panache Ventures, and Stout Street Capital. OnCall Health will use the new funding to attract more North America customers, expand its available integrations and developer tools, and grow partnerships with payers and software vendors. OnCall Health previously raised $2 million, and its team has grown to just over 30 full-time employees. – OnCall Health


mimik Technology, Vancouver, is now a member of the 5G Open Innovation Lab, a global ecosystem of developers, startups, enterprises, academia, and government institutions which help startups use 5G to develop new capabilities, use cases and market categories. Mimik will collaborate with Intel, T-Mobile and others to develop applications that will leverage the use of edge devices as a seamless extension of cloud resources. – mimik

BioCanRx, Canada’s Immunotherapy Network, announced funding of $10 million for 14 cancer immunotherapy research projects and eight core and biomanufacturing facilities. Matching partners are contributing an additional $16.5 million to BioCanRx’s investment, increasing the total investment in Canadian translational cancer immunotherapy research and manufacturing facilities to $26.5 million.

The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) and Innovate BC have signed an MOU that will see more than $2 million in R&D funding for 22 new projects through B.C.’s Fast Pilot Program. This is the second MOU between NRC IRAP and Innovate BC, and is the second round of B.C. Fast Pilot funding. – GoC

The Alberta government is awarding $9 million to Edmonton-based non-profit Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) to continue its research and commercialization of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Amii will receive $5 million from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system to focus on reducing GHG emissions in the energy and agriculture sectors. The remaining $4 million is from Alberta Innovates. – Amii

The Government of Alberta announced plans to develop a framework for intellectual property rules as a first step to diversifying its economy through the commercialization of research. The consultations are part of Alberta’s $75-million effort to kick start the economy, and will focus initially on the technology and innovation fields. – CBC

The Grapevine

Iain Stewart, president of the National Research Council Canada (NRC), will become president of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Sept. 28, 2020 as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Sept. 21 announcement of changes in the senior ranks of the public service. Stewart, just two years into his five-year term as head of the NRC, replaces Tina Namiesniowski as president of PHAC. Stewart has a Masters of Public Administration from Dalhousie University. Before joining NRC he was an assistant deputy minister at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), where he worked on national science and research policy.– GoC

The Canada Foundation for Innovation has appointed new members to five-year terms on its board of directors: Sophie Bouffard, president of the Université de Saint-Boniface; Carrie Bourrassa, scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan; and Jean-Paul Deveau, president and CEO of Acadian Seaplants Limited – CFI

William Flanagan has been installed as the 14th president of the University of Alberta. He served as dean of law at Queen’s University from 2005 to 2019 and is currently the chair of the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research Group. Flanagan is taking on the role of president at a time of trouble for the university, financially and academically, and has said that he will be looking at proposals for ways to amalgamate faculties. –University of Alberta

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