The Short Report, January 15, 2019: Alternate data at Statistics Canada; bootstrapping medtech; better-tasting plant products

As response rates decline for conventional surveys, Statistics Canada is looking to start incorporating more alternate sources of data, such as satellite imagery, cell phones, credit data and transactional data. “Alternate sources of data are increasing exponentially, and we have the techniques and the mechanisms to convert them to public good with high-quality statistics,” chief statistician Anil Arora told the Empire Club of Canada in Toronto. – Financial Post

Canada’s first industry-led hub for medtech startups, Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), was launched in Kitchener. Spearheaded by Intellijoint Surgical CEO Armen Bakirtzia, MIX doesn’t take equity in participating companies. The hub seeks to help Canadian medtech entrepreneurs retain ownership, grow locally and go to market globally, through mentorship and strategic guidance. MIX provides assistance navigating costs associated with legal / IP requirements, manufacturing prototypes and products, and testing for compliance and medical trials. – Intellijoint Surgical

The Protein Industries Canada supercluster is launching a new initiative to commercialize new highly soluble, highly functional pea and canola protein isolates, which can eliminate grittiness and improve the flavour profiles of plant-based products. Merit Functional Foods, Pitura Seeds, Winning Combination and the Manitoba Food Centre are collaborating to use patented technology from Burcon NutraScience to produce the new protein isolates. The project is expected to increase the demand for and value of Canadian pea and canola crops. – ISED

The Canadian scientific and academic communities are severely hit by the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. Among the 176 victims were 85 students, researchers, academic faculty, and medical and engineering practitioners living and working in Canada. The Canadian Science Policy Centre has compiled their names and affiliations “to remember these incredible people whose lives ended far too soon.” – CSPC

As part of the federal government’s cloud-first strategyStatistics Canada will move its information holdings to the digital cloud. The agency anticipates that the move will raise questions about data sovereignty and the security of sensitive data, according to internal agency notes disclosed through the Access to Information Act. Former chief statistician of Canada Wayne Smith calls the move an unnecessary risk and says the agency should operate its own data centres offline. – CTV News

Microsoft Canada will increase the capacity of its Canadian-based cloud computing infrastructure by 1300 per cent, with the addition of Azure Availability Zones in its Azure Canada Central region in Southern Ontario. Microsoft says that its Availability Zones give users high availability for their most demanding applications and services, and protection from potential hardware and software failures by providing three or more unique physical locations within an Azure region. – Microsoft Canada

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies will receive up to $100,000 in cost-share funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to design and launch a pilot project called the Commercial Deal Accelerator, which will connect innovative agri-food and agri-tech entrepreneurs with corporate investors to create commercialization activity. – Food in Canada

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) announced the second round of the WIN Interdisciplinary Research Funding Program (WIN-IRFP), which will seed “high risk–high reward” research that leads to big impacts in the areas of climate change, reduction of global waste, and biodiversity loss. The WIN-IRFP has a total envelope of around $500,000 and provides awards of up to $250,000. – UWaterloo

Vancouver travel startup ToursByLocals took its first outside capital with a minority investment of $33 million by Austin, Tex.-based Tritium Partners. The deal values the 186-person company, which connects travelers with 4,100-plus guides in 1,000 locations, at more than $100-million. – The Globe and Mail


Tenured McGill professor Gregory Mikkelson has resigned over the university’s refusal to sell off its stocks and investments in fossil fuel companies. 8.7 per cent of McGill’s $1.7-billion investment pool is in the energy sector, according to a report by the school’s board of governors, which determined that divesting from fossil fuels would pose a financial risk and that other investment options would be too limited. – CBC

In a Q&A, Canada’s Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell spoke about his plans to rein in anti-competitive practices and behaviours in order to create trust in the digital economy. “Canada does not place sufficient importance on competition and we need to change that for the benefit of Canadians and our economy, to make it more productive.” – Financial Post