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 19, NOVEMBER 26, 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 drive to become internationally competitive has been a hallmark of the Chrtien administration, leading to the dismantling of trade barriers in numerous sectors and the high-profile Team Canada missions. Therefore the failure of Canada to maintain a presence in the global race to map the human genome is bewildering.

Canada's effort was never large -- $4.5 million a year through the CGAT program (see lead story) as part of an effort that consumes $460 million annually. But it maintained a place at the table for Canadian scientists and afforded invaluable access to the Human Genome Project's findings.

Yet CGAT's five-year funding term was not renewed, much to the consternation of scientists working in the field. Swept aside by government cost-cutting and an ill-considered focus on S&T's medium-and short-term benefits, a modest-yet-critical program was allowed to die. Ignorance rather than malice is the most likely culprit here. Many believe that, with the exception of the Medical Research Council, CGAT was viewed as little more than a confusing acronym for esoteric research.

That's about to change with the emergence of the Gene Sequence Centre in Vancouver and a high-powered, MRC-funded task force mandated to get genome research in Canada back on track. Both efforts deserve support if we wish to fully exploit the immense potential the future of biotechnology holds.


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FEATURE REPORTS...

  NEW SEQUENCING CENTRE AND BLUE CHIP TASK FORCE RAISE PROSPECTS OF REVIVED NATIONAL GENOME RESEARCH EFFORT
  ERICSSON RESEARCH CANADA LAUNCHES
FIRST BASIC RESEARCH UNIT
  NEW SURVEY OF BIOTECHNOLOGY FUNDING SHOWS SUBSTANTIAL INCREASES IN THE HEALTH AND SERVICES SECTORS
  FINANCE DEPARTMENT'S DELAY OF NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR COMPUTER SOFTWARE FAILS TO SATISFY SECTOR OR FUND PROMOTERS
  CANADA FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION
APPOINTS DIRECTORS SLATE
  NEUROVIR PLANS NEXT LEVEL OF
FINANCING TO ACCOMMODATE RAPID GROWTH
  PRIVATE PLACEMENT AND FEDERAL TPC
INVESTMENT FUEL METHYLGENE GROWTH

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RESEARCH BRIEFS

  • New $30-million BMCC fund aimed at traditional sectors
  • Forest Renewal BC launches innovation development funds
  • Simon Fraser study questions value of int'l joint ventures
  • ARC to develop solid oxide fuel cells for Global Thermoelectric
  • UMDI injects $250,000 into male erectile dysfunction technology
  • Magnolla to build magnesium plant using asbestos tailings
  • CANARIE & ITAC to promote Canadian-Asian interaction
  • Univ of Ottawa unveils new technology degrees
  • Telexis Corp closes $8.7 million private placement
  • TPC doles out funds for Crystalline Manufacturing


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New $30-million BMCC fund aimed at traditional sectors Bank of Montreal Capital Corp is introducing a $30-million early-stage venture capital fund aimed at the traditional sectors of the economy. Under the Early Stage Capital program (ESC), qualifying firms demonstrating above-average growth and operating margins may receive an initial investment of up to $500,000 to help with growth and expansion. Those firms are then eligible for follow-on investments of up to $2 million. ESC is similar to BMCC's Technology Investment Program, as part of a $200-million equity financing commitment to small business. ESC funds may be used for contract financing, capital equipment financing, technology transfer, market development, strategic acquisition and geographic expansion....


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Forest Renewal BC launches innovation development funds Forest Renewal BC has launched an innovation development program to help forestry firms develop products and methods to increase competitiveness in the sector. Seeded with $7 million this year, the program offers support in the form of business research partnerships or business mentoring, and a development fund offering repayable loans. The partnership support aspect of the program will be delivered by the BC Advanced Systems Institute. The program will pay up to 75% to a maximum of $75,000 for business research partnerships, and 75% up to a ceiling of $37,500 for business mentoring. The development fund will pay up to 75% of a research project's cost to a maximum of $500,000....


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Simon Fraser study questions value of int'l joint ventures A Simon Fraser Univ study suggests international joint ventures typically fail to create significant shareholder value. The study, conducted by business professor Hemant Merchant, analyzed hundreds of firms involved in international partnerships and found that less than 15% achieved a significant degree of positive performance....


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ARC to develop solid oxide fuel cells for Global Thermoelectric The Alberta Research Council (ARC) has won a $450,000, one-year contract to help commercialize technology acquired by Calgary's Global Thermoelectric Inc, a manufacturer of thermoelectric generators. ARC will develop ceramic cells required to turn the solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) into a viable product, strengthening ARC's advanced materials processing capabilities which may lead to other industry applications. SOFCs -- which draw their fuel source by tapping directly into natural gas lines -- can reach power efficiencies of 50%, are compact in size and offer lower costs per watt. They are considered ideal for remote applications....

In other news, ARC has teamed with PRECARN Associates Inc to support the adoption of intelligent systems technologies by small- and medium-sized firms. The agreement makes $2 million available to qualifying firms to conduct R&D projects jointly selected, supported and managed by ARC and PRECARN. The program is intended to leverage firms' R&D projects, and offer those firms PRECARN membership at a reduced cost. The agreement aims to assist business and increase PRECARN's reach into Alberta, while ARC benefits from expanded capability and access to new projects, funds and partners.

FMI: Larson Brodner, ARC's VP marketing, at (403)450-5214....


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UMDI injects $250,000 into male erectile dysfunction technology University Medical Discoveries Inc (UMDI) has invested $250,000 in Vaxis Therapeutics Corp, a Queen's Univ-based start-up firm developing products to combat male erectile dysfunction (MED). The funding will assist Vaxis in business and product development. Vaxis will screen novel compounds for efficacy in its proprietary MED models. It also plans to develop an oral therapy to prevent MED. UMDI is a subsidiary of Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, a labour-sponsored fund associated with the Medical Research Council....


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Magnolla to build magnesium plant using asbestos tailings Noranda Inc subsidiary Magnolla Metallurgy Inc will operate its parent's $720-million magnesium plant in Asbestos PQ, utilizing a novel production process developed over 10 years at the Noranda Technology Centre, Point Claire PQ. Magnola was created in 1995 by Noranda, SNC-Lavalin Inc, Aisin Seki Co Ltd and Socit generale de financement du Qubec, to commercialize magnesium production using asbestos tailings (R$, April 26/95). It is estimated that asbestos tailings beside the plant provide Magnolla with a 300-year supply of raw materials. A successful pilot plant led to the decision to take the technology full scale, with the new facility capable of producing 58,000 tonnes annually, or 18% of global magnesium consumption. The metal is considered ideal for producing lightweight automotive parts....


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CANARIE & ITAC to promote Canadian-Asian interaction The Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE) and the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) have banded together to promote interaction between Canadian firms and their counterparts in Asia-Pacific nations. The collaboration is designed to expand to include other industry-support organizations, government departments and individual companies. Links to the newly formed Pacific-Area Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (PANARIE) (R$, September 24/97) are also anticipated....


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Univ of Ottawa unveils new technology degrees The Univ of Ottawa has developed two undergraduate programs within its Faculty of Engineering, to be launched in September, 1998. The BA in software engineering is a Canadian first and will be offered by the School of Information Technology and Engineering. The program can be taken in co-op and regular streams and will have a strong entrepreneurial bent. The BSc in computing technology is being offered in conjunction with a bachelor's degree in civil, chemical or mechanical engineering degree. The double-degree program is also being offered on a regular stream or co-op basis....


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Telexis Corp closes $8.7 million private placement Telexis Corp, a Newbridge Networks Corp affiliate and developer of network video products and systems, has completed a $8.7-million private placement. Funds will be used to expand the Ottawa-based firm's R&D efforts, and development of sales and marketing infrastructure. The private placement was provided by a syndicate including: Royal Bank Capital Corp, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, Capital Communications CDPQ and Newbridge and Telexis management....


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TPC doles out funds for Crystalline Manufacturing Crystalline Manufacturing Ltd (CML) has received a $2.5 million investment from Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) for a project to develop diamond-based electronics packaging systems for civilian and military use. The small, Calgary-based company uses chemical vapour deposition (CVD) manufactured diamonds to produce components that double the output of radio frequency devices and double the lives of communications satellites. CML is a wholly owned subsidiary of Phoenix AZ-based Crystalline Materials Corp, a producer of CVD manufactured diamond....


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PERSONALITIES

François Cordeau has been appointed VP and GM of Mitel Corp's semiconductor division. Cordeau has been with the Mitel Semiconductor for 13 years serving in a variety of R&D positions including operations manager at the firm's Bromont manufacturing facility. Most recently, he was managing director of Mitel Semiconductor AB (formerly ABB Hafo AB, R$, March 27/96) which Mitel acquired last year. Under Cordeau, the semiconductor division plans to strengthen its markets in the telecommunications and medical sectors, while overseeing expansion into asynchronous transfer mode, digital signal processing and custom ASIC technologies....

Pierre Racine has been appointed senior development manager for the transmission and distribution group of Rolls-Royce plc, as part of its recently adopted matrix management system for worldwide operations. Racine, president of Rolls-Royce subsidiary Ferranti-Packard Transformers Ltd (FPT), will develop a global strategy for a complete range of transformers and coordinate product development, procurement and manufacturing best practices. He has been president of FPT since 1995, but worked with the company from 1973 to 1987 in several senior positions, both at its St Catharines and Vancouver facilities. Racine will take strategic and policy direction from the firm's transmission and distribution group, and report operationally to the president of Rolls-Royce North America....

Brian Barry has been appointed president of Ericsson Communications Inc, the Canadian subsidiary of LM Ericsson and wholly owned by Ericsson Holding International BV. Barry has spent the last 15 years with Ericsson in its English and Irish operations, most recently as managing director of the communications and special networks division of Ericsson Ltd, UK. Barry replaces Bernt Hoegberg, who is returning to Sweden to head up the Ericsson Radio Access division after serving five years in Canada....


RE$EARCH MONEY -- November 26, 1997
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