The Short Report, November 27, 2019: African researchers denied entry; open science gets easier; Big Oil moves into the cloud

Canada refused visas to dozens of African researchers seeking to attend the Neural Information Processing Systems conference (NeurIPS) in Vancouver next month. The visas were commonly denied on suspicions that the participants would not leave Canada once the conference was over. The issue is recurring: last year, more than 100 attendees were denied visas to the conference, held in Montreal. “It is imperative that all voices be heard at NeurIPS to enable future success in the field of AI,” said Katherine Heller, a professor at Duke University and the event’s diversity and inclusion co-chair. “We are opposed to any attempt to impede progress made by our international community.” – BBC

The Tanenbaum Open Science Institute at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (aka The Neuro) has created an Open Science Agreement Toolkit (OSAT), providing a series of legal templates that can be downloaded, adapted and used for a variety of situations, including open science material and data transfer, open science funding, open science projects and open science collaboration. – Twitter

Cenovus Energy struck deals with Amazon Web Services and IBM that will see its data moved from local data centres and into the cloud. The oil and gas producer will use Amazon’s cloud computing power to process and analyze the data produced by its steam-based oilsands plants. “I don’t want this to be our grandfather’s industry,” said Ian Enright, Cenovus vice-president and chief information officer. – Financial Post

Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB) will acquire CoPower Inc., a green financing platform that launched one of Canada’s first countrywide green-bond funds for retail investors and has focused on community-scale green projects. The fund recently sold out of its latest tranche of six-year bonds, which offer a five per cent annual return. “I think the new generation is going to look more actively at putting their money into the things that they care about, and you’re seeing that momentum increasing,” said Jay-Ann Gilfoy, chief executive of VCIB. – National Observer

On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (Nov 19), the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) released a report titled The Changing Face of Canadian Entrepreneurship. The report found that the number of female entrepreneurs has grown more than 3 times faster than the number of male entrepreneurs since 1976; more than a third (39%) of all entrepreneurs that started businesses in 2018 were women; and women entrepreneurs now account for 28% of all entrepreneurs in Canada and are growing 3.1 times faster than men. – BDC

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) released its latest survey, which found that colleges and institutes across Canada led over 6,000 applied research projects in 2017-2018, resulting in over 2,100 prototypes, 880 new products, 480 processes and 360 services. Over 57,000 people, including more than 4,000 faculty and staff, and 53,000 students contributed to applied research projects at college and institute laboratories and research centres in 2017-2018.  – CiCan

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and affiliate Canadian Construction Innovations (CCI) are teaming up with consulting group Invennt Business Inc. to help association members secure Scientific Research and Experimental Development credits. Invennt will provide credit writing services to assist contractors preparing and filing claims offered under the SR&ED program. The CCA says the partnership aims to help grow the industry share of SR&ED claims from the current 0.7 per cent to approximately seven per cent. – On-Site Mag


The ACENET consortium of universities and community colleges in Atlantic Canada offering advanced research computing resources has appointed Greg Lukeman its new CEO. Lukeman has served as ACENET’S CTO since 2005. He represented Atlantic Canada on the Technology Leadership Council and helped prepare a report for the federal government that led to a five-year, $572.5-million investment from the federal government in last year’s budget for digital research infrastructure (DRI) in Canada. As part of the Compute Canada federation, ACENET provides nearly 200,000 CPU cores and dozens of petabytes of storage to its researchers. “I see organizations like ACENET as a critical space for innovation, agility, creating and piloting new services, and quickly responding to provincial and regional priorities,” he said in a statement. – Memorial University Gazette

York University has selected Professor Amir Asif to be its new Vice President of Research & Innovation. His five-year term will begin on May 1, 2020. Asif has served as the Dean of the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science (GCS) at Concordia University since 2014, where he recently led the development of the 2016-21 Strategic Plan and the creation of faculty research support and capital infrastructure funds focused on attracting the best researchers and achieving excellence in research. During his five-year term as Dean, the School of Engineering and Computer Science grew by 35 per cent in terms of student enrolment and 40 per cent in terms of faculty complement. The research funding within the school grew by over 50 per cent during his deanship. – YorkU