Back Issue


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

copyright 1999, Research Money Inc.

editor: Mark Henderson


Volume 11, Number 12, JULY 30, 1997

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 latest grant competition results from the Medical Research Council (MRC) reinforce growing evidence that basic research in Canada is facing a funding crisis, and they come at a time when the federal government can respond. A dramatically improved fiscal climate should spell good news for researchers, but to date the Liberals have yet to make any commitments (see lead story).

In the meantime, departments forced to rationalize their budgets are closing down important research programs, chipping away at the national knowledge base. This flies in the face of the argument that Canada must maintain competence in all areas of research in order to gain access to the global pool of knowledge.

For its latest round of awards, the MRC managed to maintain the same success rates as in 1996, but the system as a whole has been shrunk meaning fewer scientists are participating (link to item). These talented individuals go should be addressed by the Advisory Council on S&T, which is now examining the high tech human resource shortage.

There's little doubt that relief for the granting councils is forthcoming, but the timing and amount of additional funding remains undetermined. Perhaps once some of the structural and reporting elements of the new S&T Strategy are implemented, the government will have a better understanding of where its efforts and dollars can be best applied.


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FEATURE REPORTS...

    Exclusive interview with the Industry Minister
INCREASED SPENDING ON S&T AND BASIC RESEARCH MUST
LINE UP ALONG WITH OTHER GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES: MANLEY

MONEY HANDED OVER BUT CANADA FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION WAITS FOR GOVERNMENT TO MAKE ITS MEMBERSHIP APPOINTMENTS

BUDGET CUTS COMPEL MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL TO
"SHRINK THE SYSTEM" FOR LATEST GRANTS COMPETITION

CANADIAN RANKING IN PHARMACEUTICAL R&D PERFORMANCE
REMAINS LOW ACCORDING TO NEW PMPRB DISCUSSION PAPER

IRIS AND PRECARN ASSOCIATES INC SET TO BECOME MERGED
OPERATION IF PHASE III NCE FUNDING PROPOSAL ACCEPTED

SOFTWARE R&D GROWTH OUTPACES
ALL OTHERS BY A FACTOR OF TWO

MOST FEDERAL R&D GRANTS GO TO QUEBEC,
WHILE ONTARIO FAVOURED FOR CONTRACTS


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RESEARCH BRIEFS

  • Theratechnologies Inc spins off stethoscope technology
  • Government teams with drug firms to fund osteoporosis study
  • NRC enters pact to commercialize natural, low-calorie sweetener
  • International Datacasting avoids collapse with help of CAVI funds
  • KyberPASS growth fuelled with private placement and contract
  • Simon Fraser Univ applies for patent on specialized microchip


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Theratechnologies Inc spins off stethoscope technology Theratechnologies Inc has joined forces with Socit gnrale de financement du Qubec (SGF) to commercialize electronic stethoscope technology and other medical device products now in the prototype stage. The new joint venture, Andromed, will be financed with $5 million from SGF and fulfils Theratechnologies' intention to restructure its commercial activities relating to medical devices to maximize their value and revenue. The first product is a stethoscope currently marketed in Canada by Theratechnologies and by Mitsui in Japan. Up to 30 highly technical positions will be created by Amdromed in the next two years and manufacturing of products will be contracted out. The firm's inaugural president is Nadim Bakhach, former VP operations and manufacturing at Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. A company representative says Andromed may also acquire other small firms in the field....


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Government teams with drug firms to fund osteoporosis study A $6.5-million study to determine the prevalence of osteoporosis and develop prevention measures has been launched in nine centres across Canada. Headed by McGill Univ researcher Dr Alan Tenenhouse, the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study involves 6,000 women and 3,000 men. Funding sources include Health Canada's National Health Research Development Program ($3 million); Merck Frosst Canada Inc ($1.4 million); Eli Lilly Canada Inc ($1.4 million); the Medical Research Council ($650,000); and, Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc ($160,000). The study is expected to lead to development of potential prevention strategies....


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NRC enters pact to commercialize natural, low-calorie sweetener The National Research Council's Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology (ICPET) has entered a three-way agreement to construct a pilot plant in Singapore for the production of a natural source, low-calorie sweetener which is stable at high temperatures. The pact, signed with Royal-Sweet International Technologies Ltd, Calgary, and Singapore's Environmental Technology Institute. Royal-Sweet and ICPET will see the development of a non-chemical, membrane-based process for extracting and concentrating a sweetener refined from the Stevias rebaudina plant. The agreement stems from an accord signed earlier between NRC and Singapore's National S&T Board. Other projects under the accord involve alliances in semiconductor research, membrane technologies and information networks....


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International Datacasting avoids collapse with help of CAVI funds Employees and managers of Ottawa-based International Datacasting Corp (IDC) have staved off financial ruin with the purchase of a 45% stake in the satellite equipment manufacturer held by ASCII Corp with funds primarily provided by Capital Alliance Ventures Inc. The deal sees CAVI buy $1.25 million worth of convertible debentures, with another $250,000 to be purchased by the management group, incorporated as 1238651 Ontario Inc. Of the funds raised, $150,000 will be used to acquire the ASCII holdings, as well as a 27% stake held by Toronto-based Shieldings Inc, which is in receivership. The remainder will be used for working capital. The agreement is still subject to regulatory approval and execution of definitive agreements. IDC ran into financial difficulty in its last two fiscal quarters and was set to be purchased in June by Calian Technology Ltd, but the deal fell through when Calian withdrew its offer....


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KyberPASS growth fuelled with private placement and contract KyberPASS Corp has received a $2.3-million private placement to accelerate the first phase of a major expansion program for the developer of business authentication and security systems. Formerly known as Devon Software Corp, the Ottawa-based firm has also announced a contract with Public Works and Government Services Canada for a 12,000-user licence for its software and servers. Application transparency eliminates the need for program modifications and equipment upgrades....


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Simon Fraser Univ applies for patent on specialized microchip Simon Fraser Univ is awaiting patent approval for a micromachined thermal accelerator which measures acceleration, motion and vibration in devices such as air bags and other automotive applications. The device, which is much cheaper and 1,000 times more sensitive than current devices, was developed by Albert Leung, a professor and director of SFU's school of engineering science. The university's industry liaison office assisted in prototype development and is involved in efforts to commercialize the specialized microchip. It was recently chosen for a Canadian Semiconductor Design Association award....


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PERSONALITIES

Dr Ian McWalter has been appointed executive VP and COO of Gennum Corp, a designer and manufacturer of silicon integrated circuits and hybrid products for the video and broad and hearing aid industries. McWalter was previously Gennum's VP manufacturing operations with responsibility for research and development. He holds a BSc in physics and a DIC and PhD in electrical engineering. Prior to joining Gennum in 1991, McWalter accumulated more than 15 years of product development experience in the microelectronics and telecommunications sectors....

Mark Lievonen has been appointed GM of the newly created oncology business unit at Pasteur Merieux Connaught Canada (PMCC) following the firm's successful pursuit of a 10-year Cancer Vaccine Research Initiative and the accompanying global mandate to develop cancer immunotherapeutic products. As PMCC's senior VP, Lievonen retains responsibility for the firm's business development, strategic planning, public affairs and operations in Mexico. Last month PMCC secured the global mandate with the assistance of a $60-million investment from the federal government through Technology Partnerships Canada (R$, July 16/97)....

Dr Marc Renaud has been appointed the new president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSRHC), replacing Dr Lynn Penrod. Renaud is a sociology professor at the Univ of Montreal and held the presidency of Conseil Qubecois de la recherche sociale. He was previously VP and Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a director of the Groupe de recherche sur les aspects sociaux de la sant et de la prevention. Renaud holds a BA from Collge Saint-Viateur, a BSc and MA in sociology from the Univ of Montreal and a PhD in sociology from the Univ of Wisconsin. In terms of funding, SSRHC is the smallest of the federal government's three granting councils. This year its budget is $94.4 million....

Dr Joseph Laurino has been appointed director of scientific operations for Spectral Diagnostics Inc, Toronto. Prior to joining Spectral he was director of chemistry and toxicology at Rhode Island's Memorial Hospital, and an assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown Univ. Experience in the biotechnology industry includes a stint as senior VP of R&D at American Biogenetic Sciences Inc. Laurino has a PhD from the Univ of Virginia, followed by post doctoral training at the Washington Univ School of Medicine, St Louis MO....

Dr Neal Koblitz has been retained by Certicom Corp as an exclusive consultant for research projects involving elliptic curve cryptography (EEC) focused on the communications and computing sectors. Koblitz, a co-discoverer of ECC, is a mathematics professor at the Univ of Washington and a leading expert on elliptic curves. He will work with Certicom's cryptographic research team led by Dr Scott Vanstone, a close collaborator and friend. Koblitz co-discovered ECC in 1985 with Victor Miller while working at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Centre in New York....

Brett Newbold has been appointed president of Open Text Corp, a Waterloo ON-based supplier of web-based document management systems. He joins Open Text from Oracle Corp, where he served as VP of its ConText Division. Newbold takes over the firm during a period of rapid change within the sector and less than a year after completing its initial public offering. He has a BSc in physics from the Univ of Washington....

Daniel Mathers has been appointed at MOSAID Technologies Inc as VP and GM of its semiconductor division. He comes to MOSAID from Celestica Inc, where he was responsible for its memory products business and developed experience in business development, marketing, product development and manufacturing. He has an MBA from York Univ and a BEng degree in electrical engineering from McMaster Univ....


RE$EARCH MONEY -- July 30, 1997
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