Back Issue


reports and analyses of the forces driving
science and technology investment in Canada

copyright 1999, Research Money Inc.

editor: Mark Henderson


Volume 10, Number 20, DECEMBER 18, 1996

How it looks to me.... by Mark Henderson

FEATURE REPORTS | RESEARCH BRIEFS | PERSONALITIES

How it looks to me....
by Mark Henderson, editor, RE$EARCH MONEY The Ontario government has awakened and apparently accepted the reality that science and technology is an indispensable catalyst for the provincial economy. With the long-awaited release of its revamped strategy for the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) program, the Harris administration is once again positioning the private sector as its saviour of choice.

The reduction in the number of OCEs from seven to four comes with a 13% budget cut that the private sector is expected to replace through enhanced industry-university interaction. The leverage achieved by the Centres to date will have to be increased to make up the shortfall.

That's fine if the gamble pays off. Since its inception, the OCE program has survived the agendas of all three of Ontario's major political parties -- a testament both to the excellence of its work and value to industry. As Ontario's sole remaining business assistance program, its role in providing competitive advantage demonstrates why S&T-savvy governments will be the ultimate winners.

The restructured OCE program is also being touted as the central plank in the province's S&T strategy. But until the strategy is released, we'll have to accept the claim on faith. More has to be done to ensure Ontario maintains its position of S&T leadership. And that requires more industry funding, within a vibrant fiscal environment with government providing an effective regulatory and administrative framework.


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FEATURE REPORTS...

ONTARIO CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE TO BE RESTRUCTURED
WITH FEWER INSTITUTES AND A 13% BUDGET CUT

STATSCAN PROFILE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SECTOR
DETAILS HIGHLY SPECIALIZED EXPORT ORIENTATION

U OF T'S VOLUME OF SPONSORED RESEARCH TOWERS ABOVE
COMPETITION WHILE MANY SMALLER INSTITUTIONS LOSE GROUND

NEW ONTARIO-BASED LABOUR-SPONSORED FUND TO TARGET SMALL
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANIES

TECHNOLOGY-BASED FIRMS CONTINUE TO ATTRACT LION'S SHARE OF
VENTURE CAPITAL FINANCING ACCORDING TO LATEST BDC SURVEY

NOVA TRANSFORMS STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGY PURCHASE
INTO BREAKTHROUGH FOR POLYETHYLENE SOLUTION PROCESSING


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RESEARCH BRIEFS

  • TRLabs signs two agreements worth $5.5 million with MCI
  • TechnoCap invests in Ottawa Internet software firm
  • Digital Media Networks sells software for $15 million
  • Canadian researchers join in marine ecosystem study
  • CIBC launches $100M fund for early-stage technology firms
  • Saskatchewan teams with IRAP to ease access to R&D
  • MDS-backed funds invest in Synapse Technologies


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TRLabs signs two agreements worth $5.5 million with MCI TRLabs has signed two agreements worth $5.5 million with Washington DC-based MCI Telecommunications Corp. The first deal for $2.75 million is a five-year sponsorship agreement, allowing MCI to participate in the consortium as an industrial affiliate, gaining access to technology advances in the areas of network systems, network access, fibre optics and photonics, data networking and wireless communications. The second is a licensing agreement (also for $2.75 million) giving MCI a package of patented technologies, proprietary expertise and applications for network operation and design. The announcement was made at ceremonies celebrating the 10th anniversary of TRLabs, and its three founding members Northern Telecom Ltd, the Univ of Alberta and the Alberta government....


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TechnoCap invests in Ottawa Internet software firm TechnoCap has invested $750,000 in Ottawa-based FuseWorks Inc, an Internet game platform firm. The Hydra software allows users to access multiplayer, interactive games on the world wide web through any web browser, and is used by Internet service providers and Internet game developers. FuseWorks' management team consists of Robert Muise (co-founder and president), Joel Grant (co-founder and CFO) and Karim Sultan (VPR&D)....


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Digital Media Networks sells software for $15 million Toronto's Digital Media Networks Inc (DMN) has received $15 million from the Millennium Cyber Technologies Fund for all rights to its Q Smart software technology. DMN will use the proceeds to raise critical growth capital and will be retained by Millennium to market the product, which permits delivery of advertising messages anywhere through networked television monitors, electronic billboards and interactive kiosks. Millennium is a tax driven limited partnership which seeks out firms requiring marketing and distribution capital and expertise, purchasing their software products outright. The purchases are designated as Class 12 assets under the Income Tax Act, providing investors a 100% capital cost allowance deduction over two years. Announced earlier this year, Millennium was hoping to invest $100 million by year's end (R$, April 24/96)....


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Canadian researchers join in marine ecosystem study The Globec Canada research network dedicated to examining the impact of environmental factors on the marine ecosystem has received $6 million over four years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. More than 50 researchers in 15 teams from six universities and DFO laboratories will be involved in the project, which is part of the larger Global Ecosystems Dynamics program involving the US, Japan, Norway and England. The Canadian program will conduct research into the ways in which weather, temperature and current affect fish and other marine ecosystem components. The secretariat will be located at Memorial Univ. Other participating universities are: Dalhousie Univ, Univ of Quebec at Rimouski, Queen's Univ, Univ of British Columbia and the Univ of Victoria. Participating DFO labs are in St John's, Dartmouth, Mont Joli PQ, Sidney BC and Nanaimo BC. NSERC will provide $3.4 million, while DFO is contributing $2.6 million....


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CIBC launches $100M fund for early-stage technology firms The CIBC Innovation Fund has launched a $100-million equity fund to provide between $250,000 and $2 million in venture capital financing to early-stage, knowledge-based firms poised for growth and expansion. Targeted sectors are: information technology (computers, software, telecommunications), instrumentation (medical devices), environment technology, and entertainment technology (multimedia). In a related announcement, CIBC has entered a strategic preferred partnership with California's Silicon Valley Bank. The partnership will make it easier for Canadian firms wishing to expand into California to obtain lines of credit up to $10 million....


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Saskatchewan teams with IRAP to ease access to R&D Saskatchewan's Agri-food Innovation Fund is teaming with the National Research Council's IRAP program to launch a $2-million program to reduce the R&D costs of small companies involved in the processing of agricultural products for non-food uses. The MOU between the two groups calls for money to be channelled through IRAP towards firms with good technical and marketing potential. The program was developed to assist entrepreneurs and firms who cannot afford the full cost of accessing Saskatchewan's R&D infrastructure. It is also aimed at encouraging industry to develop new non-food products....


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MDS-backed funds invest in Synapse Technologies Three funds managed by MDS Health Ventures Capital Corp have invested $1.4 million in Synapse Technologies Inc, a Vancouver-based firm developing P97 protein technology which may provide first-line confirmation of Alzheimer's disease. The Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund is investing $1 million ($200,000 in seed capital and $800,000 at a later stage), while $400,000 is being provided by Neuro science Partners Limited Partnership and BC Life Sciences Fund. P97 is being investigated as a means of transporting materials across the blood-brain barrier, which surrounds the brain and protects it from potentially harmful chemicals. Synapse is developing diagnostic kits for Alzheimer, which can be sold to pharmaceutical companies conducting clinical trials on potential Alzheimer therapeutics....


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PERSONALITIES

Dr Martha Piper has been appointed as the 11th president of the Univ of British Columbia, effective July/97. She succeeds Dr David Strangway. Prior to the appointment, Piper was a passionate advocate for university research and commercialization at the Univ of Alberta, where she held the position of VP research and external affairs. During her three-year tenure as VP at U of A, external research funding increased by 25%. She also served as U of A's dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine for seven years, and was the director of McGill Univ's School of Physical and Occupational Therapy between 1979 and 1982. Piper received a BSc in physical therapy (Univ of Michigan), an MA in child development (Univ of Connecticut), and a PhD is epidemiology and biostatistics (McGill). She currently sits on several boards, including TRLabs, Alberta Research Council, and Protein Engineering Networks Centre of Excellence....

Michael Volker has been appointed director of Simon Fraser Univ's university-industry liaison office, replacing John Fraser who moves to Florida State Univ as director of technology transfer. Volker has BSc and MSc degrees from the Univ of Waterloo and currently teaches business basics to SFU engineering students. He is the founding chair of the Canadian Centre for Creative Technology, and served as executive director of the BC Institute of Technology's advisory board....

Dr Ian Munns, Mitel Corp's senior VP marketing and technology, has left the Kanata-based telecommunications firm following a restructuring of its business communications systems (BSC) operating group. A company release said Munns and Dr Peter Bohacck, VP client server telecom products, left to pursue other interests. The reorganization joins their divisions to the core semiconductor business under Kirk Mandy, VP and GM semiconductors, and with new responsibility for product line management and product marketing for BSC products....


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