Numbers

Number 5 / Volume 33 / May 22, 2019

Editorial

Details are emerging on cuts to Ontario R&D – and the news isn’t good.

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Opinion Leader:
Joy Johnson

Are we in danger of building another patriarchal system with the emergence of precision medicine?

The emergence of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) and its integration with health science, we are seeing incredible innovation on the horizon, but will we all benefit from the dawn of precision medicine or only a privileged few?

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News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report - May 22, 2019: Discovery Grants, IP Expert Panel, Cannabis and UFC

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has awarded an unprecedented $588 million in grants to more than 4,850 researchers, exceeding the record $558 million awarded last October to nearly 4,300 recipients. (R$, October 31, 2018) Today’s announcement includes: $426 million in Discovery Grants for more than 2,295 researchers; $6.2 million in Discovery Launch Supplements for 499 early-career researchers; and, $83 million in Scholarship and Fellowships to support nearly 1,700 graduate students and fellows. The funding stems from the historic $4 billion for research committed in Budget 2018. – NSERC

The Ontario government is launching an expert panel and online consultation on intellectual property with the goal of maximizing commercial opportunities for academia in its work with incubators, accelerators and regional innovation centres. The panel’s report, due in December, will also include an action plan for a provincial IP framework. The panel members are: Jim Balsillie, co-founder of the Council of Canadian Innovators; Dr. Shiri Breznitz, associate professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Myra Tawfik, EPICentre professor of Intellectual Property Commercialization and Strategy, University of Windsor; Dr. Dan Herman, VP of Strategy and Partnerships, Myant Inc.; and Natalie Raffoul, managing partner, Brion Raffoul Intellectual Property Law. – Ontario Government

After more than 18 years, the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity ceased operations May 16 following a decision by the Ontario government to cut all its funding, which amounted to just under $1 million annually. Prior to closing, the institute published a final Prosperity scorecard for Ontario, rating the province on 10 indicators. Their website will remain archived until 2021. The recent Ontario budget also cut funding to the Mowat Centre. – IC&P

Innovation minister Navdeep Bains today launched Canada’s new Digital Charter, as well as an action plan for implementing the Charter’s 10 principles: universal access; safety and security; control and consent; transparency, portability and interoperability; open and modern digital government; a level playing field; data and digital for good; strong democracy; free from hate and violent extremism; and, strong enforcement and real accountability. – GoC

Invest Ottawa has launched the $11-million Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Test Facilities, which will allow innovators and companies to tackle issues such as CAV operations in inclement weather, safety and security, interoperability, data collection and analytics, and connectivity. – Invest Ottawa

The University of Toronto’s Medicine by Design is awarding $1.2 million to nine research teams to advance regenerative medicine research and translation, using tools such as synthetic biology and mathematical modeling. – U of T

Aurora Cannabis Inc., Edmonton, has inked an exclusive, multi-year, multi-million collaboration with mixed martial arts organization UFC to advance clinical research on the relationship between hemp derived Cannabidiol (CBD) products and athlete wellness and recovery. The research will be conducted at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas and led by Dr. Jason Dyck, a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Alberta. – Newswire

University of Calgary spin off Parvus Therapeutics has signed a licence agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to further develop and commercialize a precision nanomedicine treatment for autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune liver diseases. – Parvus

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions has made several recent investments: $500,000 to Reflex Photonics to acquire specialized equipment for making of electronic optics and photonic products; $2.6 million (includes Quebec funding) to Carrefour Québec International to help Quebec companies grow markets outside the province; $500,000 to Laboratoire M2, Sherbrooke to tap new markets for its non-toxic and biodegradable disinfectant product for cows and cattle; $500,000 to electronics firm Gentec Inc. to complete an expansion and modernize its operations; and, $100,000 to Laval Smart Mobility Incubator and Accelerator (CIAMIL) to acquire cloud computing infrastructure. – GoC

The Mining Association of Canada is receiving $325,000 from Natural Resources Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Program towards a $650,000 project to develop best practices and guidance for the mining sector on climate change risks and adaptation measures. – GoC

A Vancouver-based precision oncology company, Cancer Treatment Options and Management Inc., is launching a new bioltech company, Liquid Biopsy Labs that uses a simple blood test to check for cancer cells in the body. Its patent-pending technology claims to produce tests that are 99% accurate, and show signs of cancers months, even years, before a tumor would be visible with traditional imaging tools. – Newswire

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is demonstrating the effectiveness of carbon-injected concrete using a process developed by Halifax-based CarbonCure Technologies Inc. Carbon dioxide captured by Hawaii Gas and distributed by Matheson Gas is mixed into the concrete using CarbonCure Technology where it is converted to a mineral and permanently embedded within the concrete. – CarbonCure

The Grapevine

Dr. Jane Rylett, a neuroscientist and expert in Alzheimer research, will take over as scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Aging effective August 1. Rylett is currently associate dean in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, and a scientist in the Molecular Medicine Research Laboratories at Robarts Research Institute. – GoC

University of Canberra president Dr. Deep Saini has been appointed president of Dalhousie University, effective January 1, 2020. Saini earned his PhD in plant physiology from the University of Adelaide in Australia and has worked at four different U15 universities in Canada, including VP at the University of Toronto. – Dalhousie

Dr. Nicolas Bélanger, a professor in TÉLUQ University’s Department of Science and Technology, will become the scientific director of the Réseau Reboisement Ligniculture Québec (2RLQ), a new research network focused on intensive forest production. The network will have an annual budget of $110,000, with funding from the Quebec government and partners. – UQuebec

The Short Report - May 15, 2019: Early career awards, cannabis R&D, AI

Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan has announced the first 157 early career researchers to share $38 million under the recently launched New Frontiers in Research Fund. Each recipient will receive up to $250,000 over the next two years to support international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and high-risk research. – Newswire

Vancouver-based Centre for Drug Research and Development has brokered a collaborative agreement with TRIUMF and its commercialization arm – TRIUMF Innovations – to develop novel radiopharmaceuticals for personalized cancer treatments. Watch for the full article next week. – CDRD

Quebec’s largest pharmaceutical employer, Pharmascience Inc., is launching Royalmount Laboratories – a new Montreal division specializing in contract research services for local and international companies, with a focus on cannabis testing for third parties. – Newswire

Cannabis Growth Opportunity Corp. is turning Vaudreuil-Dorion’s former Hoffmann-La Roche Complex into an incubation centre for startups. The massive 180,000 sq. ft. C3 Cannabis Innovation Centre – which is affiliated with McGill University’s Center for Cannabis Research – will provide cannabis growers, producers, processors and researchers with access to R&D, early production and capital, while reducing commercialization costs and accelerating time to market. – Newswire

Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics Inc. has brought aboard the Vaccine Research Centre (Bethesda, MD) and Ichor Medical Systems (San Diego, CA) to participate in a USD$30-million U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project to develop field-ready countermeasures against viral outbreaks within 60 days. – AbCellera

After three years of R&D, Resolve Digital Health is seeking a medical device licence from Health Canada for two more of its “smart” cannabis vaporizers. The Toronto company is seeking similar regulatory approvals in the European Union, Australia, Israel and Central and South America. – Resolve

Alberta’s cannabis sector has united to create the Alberta Cannabis Council, representing cannabis producers, retailers, clinics and industry affiliates, including public agencies, the scientific research community, industry affiliates and post-secondary institutions. The not-for-profit’s inaugural executive director is Michelle Russell, formerly head of business development at cannabis consulting company 420 Advisory Management. – Newswire

New Brunswick Power has received $1-million from Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Innovation Program to launch a one-year research and demonstration project testing the feasibility of conservation voltage reduction in helping consumers conserve more energy and increase renewable energy use. – Newswire

A team of lawyers and scientists at Element AI Inc. in Montreal have developed an “easy-to-use” online Data Licensing Tool to foster transparency and clarity in the use of datasets for machine learning applications. The global artificial intelligence research and legal communities are also invited to improve and adopt Element AI’s recently released Montreal Data License paper – a proposed framework designed to bring legal clarity to individuals and companies that make data available to third parties for use-cases in the field of artificial intelligence. – Newswire

Google is providing a $500,000 grant to the Actua youth outreach network to develop AI curriculum for Canadian high-school students as part of its new Codemakers program. – Newswire

CIFAR is providing $300,000 in funding and in-kind support to expand the CIFAR-OSMO AI for Good Summer Lab, which will provide up to 30 undergraduate women from across Canada with training and networking opportunities in artificial intelligence. – CIFAR

The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation has launched its $2.5-million Spark program which will provide front-line care workers with up to $50,000 to translate grassroots ideas into early stage innovations in the field of aging and brain health. – Newswire

The federal government has unveiled a new pilot program, Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada, a charter and $5.3 million in grants to help universities and colleges address systemic barriers, particularly those experienced by members of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups. The letter of intent deadline for the pilot is June 3. – GoC

The governments of Quebec and Canada have awarded $1.3 million to the Pôle d’excellence de l’industrie des systèmes électroniques du Québec (ISEQ) – a centre of excellence that supports the development of the province’s electronics systems industry. The funding will allow ISEQ to create a regional office that supports electronic system companies in the Mauricie region. – GoC

Nicoya, a Kitchener ON-based nanotech company, is receiving $2.57 million from FedDev Ontario to develop and market a new version of its world-first desktop surface plasmon resonance instrument (SPR), marketed as a more accurate, portable, and cost-effective method for collecting data for R&D. – GoC

Nancy White has been appointed CEO of Inagene Diagnostics Inc., a Toronto startup that has launched its first product – a genetic test for pain treatments and dependency risk. The company’s former CEO, life sciences executive Peter Brenders, becomes strategic advisor to the chair. – Inagene

Montreal-based IRICoR (Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research) has added three new directors to its board: Annie Gauthier, partner at the law firm BCF; Bettina Hamelin, president and CEO of Ontario Genomics; and Bernard Lachapelle, president of The JBL Group Inc. – IRICoR

Nanomedicine pioneer Mauro Ferrari takes over January 1 as the new president of the European Research Council, after early 40 years working as a researcher in the U.S. Ferrari will be responsible for overseeing the rollout of Horizon Europe, described as “the most ambitious EU research and innovation programme ever”. – European Commission

People

The Short Report – May 8, 2019: Cannabis R&D, fuel cell demo, accelerator funding

With the goal becoming a mainstream healthcare company, Smiths Falls, ON-based Canopy Growth Corp. has spun off a new division – Spectrum Therapeutics – to oversee the company’s commercial medical and clinical research operations including Spectrum Cannabis, Canopy Health Innovations, and recently acquired Germany-based C3Cannabinoid Compound Company, which develops cannabinoid-based medical therapies. – Canopy Growth

Toronto-based FSD Pharma and Solarvest of Vancouver are investing an initial $1 million over two years in a collaborative R&D project to develop a proof of concept that algae can express pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids – a process that could significantly reduce production times. The two companies have also created a joint scientific review committee. – Newswire

Ballard Power Systems, Vancouver, is supplying its next-generation fuel cell modules for a $15-million project that will test hydrogen’s ability to fuel Alberta’s heavy duty trucking industry. The three-year Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration project builds on more than a year’s worth of research, data analysis and scenario modelling done by the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research Initiative. – Ballard

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has announced $44 million for 75 projects at 24 universities under the outgoing Strategic Partnership Grants program (to be consolidated under the new Alliance Grants program. See article). A full list of projects can be found here. – NSERC

The first call for proposals has been launched for the Incubators and Accelerators Driven by Excellence, a new federal initiative that will award $12 million over four years to Quebec business incubators and accelerators. – Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions 

Ericsson says it will create more than 30 new jobs for data scientists, engineers, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning architects, and software developers this year at its new Global AI Accelerator innovation hub in Montreal. The company also has GAIA hubs in the U.S., Sweden and India. – Ericsson

Concordia University’s District 3 innovation hub has partnered with Fonds de recherché du Québec to launch the province-wide Quebec Scientific Entrepreneurship (QcSE) program. The goal is to see 10% of Quebec PhD and postdoctoral researchers involved in translating their research into start-ups. – Concordia

The BC Institute of Technology officially opened its Summit Centre May 1 to support students in starting, growing and scaling their own ventures. – BCIT

Canadian companies are continuing to rely heavily on foreign capital, particularly from the U.S. According to the Canadian Venture Capital Report, released by CPE Media Analytics, the majority of $1.28 billion in venture capital raised in Canada in Q1 2019 came from U.S. investors (53%), with Canadian investors contributing 19%. – Newswire

The Government of Canada is investing $2.6 million to design, create and implement a gender equity research hub to support applied research in sport. A two-day forum will be held at the end of May to determine the parameters of the new research hub. – GoC, Minister Duncan’s remarks

The University of Ottawa is establishing a satellite office in the region’s tech hub – Kanata North – focusing on areas such as telecom, data analytics, machine learning and autonomous vehicle systems. U of O is also partnering with Kanata North firms and the National Research Council in a consortium looking into optical satellite communications challenges of the future. – Kanata North

A University of Guelph research project to turn co-products from ethanol production into new products has been awarded $1 million over five years from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and three industry partners, IGPC Ethanol, Competitive Green Technologies and Greenfield Global. – U of G

Other federal funding announcements:  96 recipients will share $9 million in grants under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s PromoScience program (NSERC); $2.4 million to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews, NB to study how spill response measures (e.g., dispersant chemicals) affect fish and other aquatic species (GoC);

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research has launched the AICan Bulletin, a new bi-monthly newsletter about artificial intelligence in Canada, produced in collaboration with Amii, Mila and the Vector Institute. – CIFAR

PEOPLE

2019 NSERC Prize Winners: $1 million Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering – Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a University of Toronto geologist who discovered the oldest water on earth; $250,000 John C. Polanyi Award – Dr. Douglas Stephan (University of Toronto); Brockhouse Canada team award – Drs. Pascale Champagne, Michael Cunningham, Philip Jessop and Warren Mabee (Queen’s); Synergy Awards – Dr. Paul Charette (Sherbrooke), Luc Landry (Cégep de La Pocatière), Dr. Amar Mohanty (Guelph) and Dr. Roberto Morandotti (INRS); E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships: Drs. Lin Cai (Victoria), Maud Ferrari (Saskatchewan), Erin Johnson (Dalhousie), Paul McNicholas (McMaster), Dwight Seferos (Toronto) and Hongbo Zeng (Alberta); and the NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize – Dr. Anna Golubeva (Waterloo). – NSERC

Université Laval professor of animal sciences Dr. Janice Bailey began a new job in May as the scientific director of Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies. – FRQNT

McGill University academic-clinician Dr. Sarah Prichard has been named acting VP (Research) at Western University for a one-year term, effective July 1. A search for a permanent research leader will take place shortly after Western President-elect Alan Shepard begins his term in July. – WesternU

Dr. Gina Conte has been appointed director of genetics at Toronto-based TruTrace Technologies Inc., previously named BLOCKStrain Technology, which has developed the first integrated blockchain platform to register and track intellectual property in the cannabis industry. – Newswire

Dr. Charles Pollack, who recently left the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp, which he founded at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, takes over as chair of the scientific advisory board at Toronto-based FSD Pharma Inc., where he will provide advice on cannabinoid therapeutic programs. – Newswire

The Short Report – May 1, 2019: Licensing income, new Teachers fund, federal investments

Details are beginning to emerge on cuts to R&D in the April 11 Ontario budget: $1 million for the Mowat Centre (closing), the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity (closing) and the province’s Health System Research Fund (clawed back). R$ will investigate these and other cuts further. – Mowat Centre

Canada and Japan have signed two agreements to strengthen investment and research ties. One between Invest in Canada and the Japan External Trade Organization will make it easier for Canadian and Japanese companies to partner, and another between the National Research Council of Canada and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International of Japan will support R&D in fields like robotics and telecommunications. – PMO

The Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation has approved $4.28 million in new funding for seven industry-led projects in life sciences, artificial intelligence, clean tech, cybersecurity, and information and communications technologies. – CIIRDF

Environment and Climate Change Canada is joining international partners in funding new research by the World Economic Forum that, in its first phase, will examine the economic value of nature associated with biodiversity, the climate, and society, and “high-ambition solutions” based on evidence. GoC 

Canada’s academic institutions generated just $75 million from licensing income in 2017, with the University of Saskatchewan leading the pack ($18.5 million), while the number of inventor disclosures hit 1,882 – an 11% increase over 2016, reversing a three-year downward trend (AUTM).

Canada’s largest private funder of vision research, Fighting Blindness Canada, is calling for a national vision health strategy – including increased research funding for clinical trials – to avert an emerging vision health care crisis that could see the number of people living with blindness double by 2031. – Newswire

Innovation, Science and Economic Development has launched a series of initiatives to foster a more inclusive intellectual property system for Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions, including an IP grants program and a new Indigenous Peoples and IP webpage. – GoC

The federal government is one of several partners investing in the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Canadian Data platform, a seven-year, $81.35-million initiative that provides a single portal through which researchers will be able to request access to a multitude of administrative, clinical, and social data from various sources across the country. – CIHR

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has launched the Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP), which will focus on late-stage venture capital and growth equity investments in companies that use technology (e.g., computing, materials science, robotics and medicine) to disrupt incumbents and create new sectors. – OTPP

BMO has launched a Technology & Innovation Banking Group to provide advice and funding to help scale high-growth companies, from startup to post exit or IPO. – BMO

Vancouver-based medical diagnostics company LightIntegra Technology Inc. has raised about $7.1 million in a Series A financing, led by Genome BC and Boardwalk Ventures Inc., to commercialize a first-of-its kind test to quickly analyze blood quality for transfusions. – BusinessWire

The Saskatchewan Research Council and Saskatoon-based research company Kanata Earth Genetics Inc. have partnered to provide analytical testing and genomic services to licensed cannabis producers across Canada. – Newswire

Recent federal funding announcements: $1.9 million for the World Trade Centre Montréal to expand its Trade Accelerator Program to communities across Quebec (GoC); $15.3 million for 15 projects through the Substance Use and Addictions Program, the Harm Reduction Fund and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (GoC); over $1.6 million to the University of Lethbridge to enhance its Terrestrial Eco-system Remote Sensing program and to help the local Piikani First Nation meld traditional teaching with new technological innovations in community-based environmental monitoring (GoC); $11.2 million to the Bioproducts Cluster, led by Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, to develop new applications for farm crops and residues (GoC); $2 million for the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s new Centre for Grid Innovation to help companies develop and test innovative power generation technologies (NAIT); $6.7 million to Eavor Technologies Inc., Calgary, to develop a demonstration facility for a closed-loop geothermal system (Newswire); and nearly $3.5 million for two projects at the University of Winnipeg – machine learning for digital agriculture, and a precision agriculture platform (UWinnipeg).

PEOPLE ITEMS

Dr. Douglas Muzyka, the former president for DuPont’s operations in Canada, Mexico and China, replaces Tom Jenkins as the new chair of the National Research Council’s governing council. – GoC

The National Angel Capital Organization has appointed Claudio Rojas, formerly managing direct at Hurt Capital Inc., as its CEO. Rojas replaces Yuri Navarro who moves over to Montreal-based Panache Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in seed stage startup investments. – NACO

Olivia Steedman has been tagged to lead the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan new investment vehicle, the Teachers’ Innovation Platform. Steedman was previously the senior leader of OTPP’s infrastructure and natural resources group. – OTPP

Andre Salvi, who recently led strategy partnerships with fintech companies for BMO, will head the bank’s new Technology & Innovation Banking Group.  The group also includes managing directors Devon Dayton and Deirdre Bergin. – BMO

Lionel Pellizzari is the new senior director, development and innovation, at Développement international Desjardins in Quebec City where he will coordinate activities related to digital and technological solutions. – DID

The Quebec government has appointed former PricewaterhouseCoopers executive Guy LeBlanc as president and CEO of Investissement Québec and a member of the agency’s board of directors. He replaced Pierre Gabriel Côté effective April 23. – Investissement Québec

The Manitoba government has appointing seven new members to the board of Research Manitoba: Tracey Maconachie (chair), Dr. Rashid Ahmed, Doreen Bilodeau, Dr. Hani El-Gabalawy, Luis Escobar, Earl Gardiner and Andrea Legary. Dr. Digvir Jayas and Christopher Johnson were reappointed to the board. (Gov-MB)

The federal government has appointed several researchers, as well as physicians and patient advocates, to the new Scientific Advisory Committee on Health Products for Women. The researchers include: Dr. Lorraine Greaves (chair) (UBC), Dr. Cara Tannenbaum (UdeM), Dr. Ashley Waddington (Queen’s), Dr. David Urbach (U of T), Dr. Sherif Eltonsy (U of M), Dr. Sharon Batt (Dalhousie) and Dr. Louise Pilote (McGill). – GoC

Dr. Kim McGrail, professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health, will lead the new Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data platform which will make it easier for researchers to access and analyze health research data.

After almost three years as ArcticNet executive director, Leah Braithwaite has returned to Environment and Climate Change Canada to resume her federal public service career. Dr. Mickael Lemay will take on her duties as acting manager of the network.

York University deputy provost Dr. Rui Wang takes over as interim VP of research and innovation at the institution effective May 1, replacing Robert Haché who will become Laurentian University’s next president and vice-chancellor. – YorkU

Dr. Marcelin Joanis, an expert in public economics and professor at Polytechnique Montréal, has been appointed VP for research at the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations in Montreal. – CIRANO

Queen’s University researcher Dr. James Reynolds becomes chief science officer at Kids Brain Health, after serving as acting CSO for the past year. One of his first priorities will be crafting a successful Cycle III proposal to the Networks of Centres of Excellence program. – Kids Brain Health

Health Sciences North and the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury ON have appointed Dr. Greg Ross as VP, academic and research impact, effective May 1. – Health Sciences North

The University of Toronto has selected Dr. Christopher Yip for a five-year term as dean of Applied Science & Engineering effective July 1. Yip currently serves as U of T’s associate VP, international partnerships. – U of T

Dr. George Belliveau, who specializes in research-based theatre and performed research, takes over July 1 as department head, Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. – UBC

Number 4 / Volume 33 / April 24, 2019

Editorial:
Mark Mann

As the discourse around scaleups intensifies, the way we use the term is growing more ambiguous. What do we really mean when we talk about scaleups?

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Opinion Leader:
Peter Stokes

Renewed funding for nanoelectronics research in Europe sends a message. Is Canada listening?

For researchers and organizations in Canada’s micro-nano R&D space, recent renewed funding to the nanoelectronics research community in Europe sends an important signal about working together to advance research and innovation in this vital sector.

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Opinion Leader:
Tina Gruosso, Farah Qaiser, Molly Sung and Marie Franquin

Budget 2019 promises support for the next generation of scientists, but Ottawa must go farther still

Support for trainees outlined in the 2019 budget signal’s ongoing commitment from the federal government to train today’s youth for the jobs of tomorrow. However, this is simply one step forward on a long and winding road to better support science and the next generation of scientists in Canada.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report – April 24, 2019: ArcticNet, e-DNA, autonomous greenhouse

ArcticNet‘s funding was renewed for $32.5 million over five years, enabling it to evolve beyond the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program and become a permanent pan-Canadian research centre. During this funding period, ArcticNet’s research will focus on the sustainable development of the “Blue Economy” (shipping, fisheries, tourism, and mining), and growing postsecondary research and training capacity through its North-by-North initiative. – NationTalk

The University of Alberta’s Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) also scooped up some final NCE funding, as that program is gradually transferred to the New Frontiers in Research Fund. $18.3 million over the next five years will go to supporting the development of a comprehensive mountains observations program at CMN, as well as a new training program for mountain researchers and a knowledge mobilization program to support evidence-based decision making based on multiple ways of knowing. – Folio

Three research networks led by the University of British Columbia — NanoMedicines Innovation Network (NMIN), RESEAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation, and Composites Research Network Knowledge Mobilization Centre (CRN-KM) — will receive a combined $21.7 million in federal funding through the NCE: $18.5 million for NMIN, and $1.6 million for each of the others. – UBC

The Centre d’entrepreneuriat et d’essaimage de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (CEE-UQAC) is receiving $4 million from Développement économique Canada pour les régions du Québec (DEC) to create a bio-product processing centre called the Centre de transformation et de valorisation de bioproduits (CTVB). – Université du Québec

Malaysia’s national oil company PETRONAS has joined CMC Research Institute’s carbon storage research group, part of the institute’s Field Research Station (FRS) program, ahead of deploying carbon capture and storage at its offshore operations. – CMC Research Institutes

The University of Manitoba Centre for Oil and Gas Research and Development (COGRAD) will receive $1.1 million from ISED to establish an environmental DNA (e-DNA) laboratory for non-invasive biodiversity monitoring. – Newswire

PROFILE: Journalist John Lorinc offers a close study of Jim Balsillie‘s battle against Sidewalk Labs and the “anti-global-tech-giant narrative” he’s spinning. – Maclean’s

The Toronto Trade Accelerator Program (TAP Toronto) has won a $6.7 million federal investment to help 1,000 Ontario SMEs improve their export game. – BetaKit

McMaster University received $37.5 million through the federal Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund for the now-completed redevelopment of its Arthur Bourns Building, replete with improved science and engineering research facilities and a 45,000 square-foot addition. – McMaster Daily News

Capilano University in British Columbia will receive nearly $2 million from ISED for its new Indigenous Digital Accelerator Centre, a dedicated space for Indigenous entrepreneurs, where they will receive mentoring and advice from members of Indigenext, an Indigenous business accelerator. – Newswire

ISED will invest $3 million in Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc. for an autonomous AI platform for pest management and yield prediction, designed to increase the crop yield of greenhouse growers. – Newswire

The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) has named Angela Mondou its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Mondou has held senior leadership roles at Nortel Networks and Blackberry, served as president of the charity Canada Company, and created the public-private sector leadership forums “Strategic Knowledge Exchange.” – ITAC

Three University of Toronto researchers were named among the 50 new fellows of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of sciences: earth scientist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, molecular geneticist Benjamin Blencowe and biomedical engineer Molly Shoichet. – University of Toronto

The Short Report - March 27, 2019: ThunderFish, Friesen Prize, godfathers of AI

Dr. Ian Potter will take over as CEO at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, a not-for-profit in the Niagara Region dedicated to horticultural science. Potter previously held executive positions at the National Research Council, Alberta Innovates, and the Alberta Research Council. – Canada.com

McGill University professor Dr. Bartha Knoppers has been awarded the 2019 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for her work on the ethics of biomedical research in human genetics and genomics. – McGill

David Dexter will be the new director of Sheridan College’s Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT), which supports technology innovation within Ontario’s screen industries. – Twitter

Kraken Robotic Systems Inc. will receive $1 million from the federal government through the Build in Canada Innovation Program for its ThunderFish 300 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), to be delivered to Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) for testing later this year. – The Telegram

The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) has opened its new Carrefour d’entrepreneuriat et d’innovation Desjardins (CEI-Desjardins), which will include a laboratory for research on entrepreneurship and SMEs. – Université du Québec

Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yann LeCun — the “Godfathers of AI” — are sharing the $1-million 2018 A.M. Turing Award. Hinton is associated with University of Toronto and serves as chief science advisor at the Vector Institute; Bengio is associated with Université de Montréal and is the founder and scientific director of Mila (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms); Lecun did his postdoctoral research with Hinton at the University of Toronto and now holds the position of Chief Artificial Intelligence Scientist at Facebook AI Research. – The Verge

The Short Report - April 10, 2019: Seafood tech, forest research, clean transport

CIFAR added 17 new members to its AI Chairs program, bringing the number from 29 to 46. A third announcement later this year will bring the total to around 60. CIFAR also announced four new additions to its portfolio of interdisciplinary research programs. – BetaKit

The Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia are jointly investing more than $1.2 million in 11 regional organizations through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, for the implementation of new technologies and equipment in the fish and seafood sector. – Newswire

Natural Resources Canada announced $22.7 million for FPInnovations, the forest sector research institute headquartered in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. The funding will support new forest-based products to go to market ($20.4 million), as well as protecting market access and improving environmental performance ($2.3 million). – Newsire

Transport Canada announced a second call for proposals under the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development program, offering $1.5 million over three years for the development of clean technologies to improve the environmental performance of Canada’s transportation system. – Newswire

ISED released a report on its consultations with the co-operative business sector, concluding that co-operatives represent great potential for the Canadian economy because they are innovative and growth-oriented – What We Heard: Motion-100 Consultations

A new federal investment of $6 million under Canadian Agricultural Partnership will support the pork industry in three areas: $3.8 million through AgriAssurance for food safety, traceability and animal care; $1.2 million through AgriMarketing for expanding markets; and $1.1 million through AgriScience for increased production. – Newswire

The Public Policy Forum released a new report on Canada’s competitiveness by Sean Speer and Robert Asselin, in which they raise concerns about the loss of intellectual property to foreign companies and argue for more protection and support for Canadian-based technologies. – BNN Bloomberg

A new report by the law firm McCarthy Tétrault argues that legal service providers in Canada should do more to adapt to the opportunities and risks of digitization. – Canadian Lawyer

The world’s largest pipeline for liquified CO2 is being built in Alberta. The 240-kilometre, $470-million pipeline will collect captured carbon from a fertilizer plant and the new Sturgeon Refinery near Edmonton, sequestering up to 1.8 megatonnes of C02 annually. – JWN

Environment and Climate Change Canada announced that the Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration has won a bid to create an independent, policy-oriented, not-for-profit national institute focused on clean growth and climate change, which will be eligible to receive up to $20 million over five years. – Newswire

Red Deer College and Alberta-based electricity distribution provider FortisAlberta formalized a partnership agreement at the college’s new Alternative Energy Lab to collaborate on various sustainability initiatives. – Red Deer College

People

The Short Report - April 17, 2019: Indigenous innovation, Ontario budget, scaling network

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) announced more than $1 million over four years for a new Social Purpose Institute (SPI), launched by United Way of the Lower Mainland. The initiative aims to promote economic growth and social purpose in British Columbia.  – Newswire

The governments of Canada and Quebec are investing $8.4 million in Uniboard Canada Inc. to enable the fibreboard manufacturer to develop a system that will recover heat and redirect it to the fibre drying system. – Newswire

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will invest $4.4 million in Saltworks Technologies Inc. to support development of a wastewater disposal technology for the oil and gas industry, called Airbreather. – Newswire

Three innovation hubs in Ontario are joining forces to implement a business scaling network along the Waterloo–Toronto–Ottawa corridor, called the Scale-Up Platform. Communitech, MaRS Discovery District and Invest Ottawa will share a $52.4 million investment from FedDev Ontario to support 30 companies in southern Ontario to achieve revenue objectives of $100 million or more by 2024. – Newswire

The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) announced some of the first projects to be funded through its $700 million allocation from Budget 2018: Applanix Corporation ($2 million), for navigation of autonomous vehicles; Opus One Solutions ($1.6 million), for distributed energy integration; and Hibar Systems Limited ($2 million), for lithium-ion battery manufacturing. – Newswire

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) has awarded $4 million through its Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program to the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi’s Centre d’entrepreneuriat et d’essaimage (CEE-UQAC) to develop a new bioproducts processing and conversion centre (CTVB) in Saguenay. – Newswire

Minister of Small Business Mary Ng announced up to $2.5 million for SheEO — an organization that invests in women-led ventures — through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund. – Newswire

Two projects in Western Canada will receive a combined $2.7 million investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to increase trade in the technology sector: $2.6 million to the Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba (ICTAM) for its Tech West Canada initiative, and $100,000 to virtual reality animation company Flipside XR through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. – Newswire

Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, launched the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative to improve housing conditions in Indigenous communities by funding Indigenous-led projects to build effective and culturally-inspired living spaces. – Net NewsLedger

Canadian Heritage announced 20 projects that will share $7.8 million in funding through the new Creative Export Canada program. – Newswire

In its 2019-2020 budget, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government allocated $782 million to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, representing a 20 percent budget cut. The budget includes the creation of a dedicated talent stream to attract high-skilled workers to Ontario’s tech sector, as well as plans to continue consultations on its first-ever data strategy. – BetaKit

Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced $80 million to establish eight new Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC), along with new requirements for the tri-agency initiative to address a lack of equity, diversity and inclusion. – Newswire

The Short Report - April 3, 2019: Future skills, Lightspeed POS, cannabis research

Concordia University has launched the Future Skill Innovation Network, or FUSION, linking five other universities — Simon Fraser, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Carleton and Memorial — to promote student skills development for the globalized economy. The project is funded with a $2.5-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, which also announced five other pilot projects to test solutions to skills development challenges. – Concordia

CIBC Innovation Banking announced the closing of US$55-million debt facility with Lightspeed POS Inc, the Montreal point-of-sale software company that grossed CAN$276 million and achieved a unicorn-level, $1.4-billion valuation when shares surged after its IPO on March 8. – Cision

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) named John Brogly its acting chief executive, following the departure of founding chief executive Dan Wicklum in February. Brogly has worked in leadership at COSIA since the organization launched in 2012. – JWN

The University of Alberta received a $1-million grant for Alzheimer’s research from the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories and the University Hospital Foundation. – CBC

The University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals will launch the Toronto Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Consortium (TC3), a partnership focused on the health effects of cannabis, at the Cannabis Innovation Summit on April 4. – U of T

McGill University will replace its Centre for Medical Education with the new Institute of Health Sciences Education, which will provide graduate programs in health sciences education. – McGill

Agorize, an international platform for hackathons and open innovation challenges, raised $20 million in series B funding to accelerate its development in Canada. – Cision

Number 3 / Volume 33 / March 20, 2019

Opinion Leader:
Joe Irvine

University technology transfer has evolved, but more industry engagement will create better opportunities for commercialization

The most important change to the field of technology transfer has been the adoption of a strategic institutional approach at post-secondary institutions to external relations and economic development.

Read More

Innovation Conversations: Q&A with Minister Mary Ng

Small Business and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng has announced the successful recipients of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, a novel investment stream that provides $20 million directly to women whose businesses show strong potential to grow.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

Creative Destruction Lab adds new location at University of Oxford

Alberta invests $100M in innovative clean tech projects

Ottawa invests $100M in steel and aluminum SMEs across the country

$49M SIF investment aids construction of $3.5B plastics facility in Alberta

Cisco invests $15M to expand operations in Western Canada

American steel company EVRAZ North America receives $40-million SIF investment

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster launches first cohort of industry-led projects

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster announced its first cohort of industry-led projects, with $40 million of co-investment over three years: $15 million from the Vancouver-based supercluster and more than $25 million from industry, research and academic partners. The seven projects will develop and apply digital technologies such as quantum computing and data analytics in the natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors. Applications include strengthening the early detection and treatment of skin cancers, improving the prediction of manufacturing failures and analyzing the economic and environmental impacts of resource projects. Each project team brings together a consortium of partners that includes industry adopters, technology leaders, startups, SMEs, digital innovators and research organizations. Companies involved include TELUS Health, LlamaZOO Interactive, D-Wave and Microsoft. Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, says the projects will propel Canada forward as a digital innovation leader, drive increased economic growth and create jobs.

$37.5M SIF investment brings BioVectra expansion project to $144.6M

Saskatchewan confronts talent shortage as tech sector sees 100% growth

Canada launches $2B, 24-year space strategy with new Canadarm for NASA-led moon base project

FedDev Ontario receives $1B from ISED to fuel economic growth

Export Development Canada commits $32M in financing to cleantech firm Ecolomondo

Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu announces $3.14M to support women in trade apprenticeships

Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu has announced $3.14 million from Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) for a new apprenticeship project called An Innovative Model to Enhance Entry, Advancement, and Employment Outcomes of Women Apprentices. Supporting CBTU’s Women in Trades Program, the 42-month project offers career services, employment assistance and networking opportunities for up to 750 women apprentices, including approximately 100 Indigenous women. The program aims to help each participant complete their training and obtain Red Seal certification, which allows them to work anywhere in Canada. The project is funded under the Innovation in Apprenticeship Training stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program, which receives $25 million annually from the federal government to support union‑based apprenticeship training, innovation and partnerships.

$1.2M investment supports biomass research at Saint Mary’s University

People

Canada Mining Innovation Council announces new chair of its board of directors

Number 2 / Volume 33 / February 20, 2019

Editorial:
Mark Mann

To thrive, Canada’s many tech-cluster and supercluster initiatives need to focus on liveability and other social issues in the areas where they operate.

Read More

Opinion Leader:
J. Adam Holbrook and Carol Muñoz Nieves

Vancouver’s digital supercluster needs policies that protect its human capital

Digital industries in Canada operate in ways that are often at odds with other economic activities, owing to a fundamental difference: in the digital sector, the main input is human capital and the main output is intellectual property, whereas for most other Canadian industries the inputs are resources and the outputs are processed raw materials, manufactured goods and conventional services.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

New University of Lethbridge hub for innovation and discovery nearly complete

Federal government launches new agency to address digital shifts in job market

The federal government has committed $225 million over four years for a new Future Skills Centre at Ryerson University, plus $75 million annually in subsequent years. The job training agency will be operated by the university alongside the Conference Board of Canada and Blueprint ADE, and will focus on preparing Canadians for changes to the job market as a result of digitization and disruptive technology. The arms-length agency will fund skills-development projects across Canada and partner with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous governments and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. In the same announcement, the government named 15 members of its Future Skills Council, which will advise the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour on national and regional issues related to emerging in-demand skills and workforce trends. The Council will be co-chaired by Valerie Walker, Executive Director of the Business/ Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) and Dr. Thierry Karsenti, Director of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE).

Alberta commits $100M to grow province’s AI sector

ISED launches competition for $30M pilot program to provide IP advice to Canadian SMEs

New biomass research cluster seeks enhance production of clean bioenergy in Canada

New federal program will invest $50M to support competitiveness in Canada’s agricultural sector

Alberta invests $70M in 11 industrial projects to reduce emissions

The Alberta government is investing $70.2 million in 11 private sector industrial projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs. The funding, from the province’s Climate Leadership Plan, is being provided through Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Industrial Efficiency Challenge, an open call last year to large final emitter industrial facilities in multiple sectors: oil and gas, chemicals and fertilizers, cement and concrete, forestry and agriculture, electricity, and manufacturing. Funding will be distributed on a milestone-by-milestone basis, based on progress reports.

The 11 projects — all first-of-kind demonstrations and deployments — are worth a combined value of $267 million. They include using low-carbon fuels to make cement; recovering heat from a refinery to generate electricity; digital optimization in oil sands production; recovering flue gas energy in a kraft pulp mill; and using a natural gas turbine with battery storage. The projects are expected to reduce GHG emissions by more than 5.2 million tonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent) by 2030.

University of Calgary innovation hub receives $8.5M from city’s investment fund

Canadian genomics researchers win $56M in funding from government and businesses

Defence awards contracts worth $46.2M to bolster surveillance in the North

Ottawa invests $6M in Mississauga-based cleantech firm Imtex Membranes

B.C. agriculture projects receive $2.9M from federal-provincial innovation program

Natural Resources Canada announces $4.2 million for renewable energy projects in the North

Quebec AI institute Mila opens giant new facility in Montreal

The Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence (Mila) officially opened its new premises in Montreal, with more than 200 partners and other members of the Quebec artificial intelligence ecosystem in attendance. Mila is tasked with implementing the Quebec government’s Strategy for the Development of Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem. The AI institute will receive $80 million over five years from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, as well as $44 million from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) as one of the three lead partners in the development and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Mila was created as a collaboration between the Université de Montréal and McGill University, with support from HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal. The new 90,000-sq-ft location, situated in Montreal’s Mile-Ex neighbourhood, will house more than 375 Mila members and 125 researchers and experts from partner companies and institutions. The facility also includes corporate labs, start-up spaces, and a technology transfer centre, which will help startups, SMEs and industrial research projects include AI in their innovations. Mila aims to facilitate the conversion of AI research to economic development by concentrating all phases of the innovation process, from student projects through to established companies.

Other important companies in the Montreal AI ecosystem are located in the same building complex, a former textile factory that’s now home to Element AI, Thales, RBC’s Borealis AI, Facebook’s AI lab, and SCALE.AI—the AI supercluster focused on next-gen supply chains—among others.

“Here in Montreal we started research on AI and it has given us a bit of headway, but the rest of the world isn’t waiting. They’re pressing on the gas and investing billions and billions of dollars,” Yoshua Bengio, Mila’s founder and scientific director, told the assembled crowd. “It’s important to think about what we have here and how we build Mila so we can compete in this global environment.”

READ MORE: CIFAR unveils first cohort of AI chairs at Pan-Canadian AI Strategy annual meeting

ISED announces major investments in Siemens and Nokia under the Strategic Innovation Fund

Ottawa invests $15.3M in Alberta advanced solar project

People

Laurentian University names new president and vice-chancellor

NSERC announces new vice president of research grants and scholarships

SCALE.AI names former Yellow Pages Canada head Julien Billot as CEO

The Montreal-based artificial intelligence supercluster SCALE.AI has appointed Julien Billot as its CEO. Billot has extensive experience conducting digital transformations in the telecommunications and media industries, at Orange and Lagardere Active in France, and at Yellow Pages Group, where he served as Media Group CEO for PagesJaunes (2009-2013) and then president and CEO of Yellow Pages Canada (2014-2017). In June 2018, Billot was named CEO of Montreal’s NextAi incubator and Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) accelerator programs, which are associated with the university business school HEC Montréal. He will retain that position as he enters his new role at SCALE.AI: “We see a real coherence between SCALE, NextAi and CDL,” Billot told RE$EARCH MONEY. The startups from NextAi will share space with SCALE.AI at 6650 St Urbain St. in Montreal, the converted textile factory in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood that also houses the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence (Mila), ElementAI, Thales and other important companies and organizations from the city’s AI ecosystem. Billot graduated from Ecole Polytechnique of Paris and Telecom Paris Tech, and he also holds a post-graduate degree in economics from Paris Dauphine University. SCALE.AI is focused on improving the ability of Canadian businesses to develop, access and adopt AI-powered supply chains. With this appointment, all five superclusters now have a CEO.

READ MOREQuebec AI institute Mila opens giant new facility in Montreal (Jan 28, 2019)

Blackberry names Bryan Palma new president and COO

Number 1 / Volume 33 / January 23, 2019

Editorial:
Mark Mann

In the innovation community, we often talk about how government and industry can better facilitate the commercialization of research, but not every innovation finds its most natural and ideal expression as a product.

Read More

Opinion Leader:
Tim Draimin

Wicked ecological and social challenges force us to rethink innovation policy

Canada should adopt a mission-oriented approach to innovation in order to tackle the major societal challenges.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

Twenty-nine Alberta clean tech projects awarded $20.5M

New $1.62M collaboration in Nova Scotia will advance light-manipulation research

Defence finalizes 160 contracts for its Competitive Projects innovation program

Feds, industry invest $67.7M  to support field crop science

Queen's University launches Rose Innovation Hub at newly built Mitchell Hall

The Schulich School of Business opens $50-million research and commercialization facility

The Schulich School of Business at York University opened a new building for interdisciplinary research and commercialization. The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will host four Centres of Excellence in management education: the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business, the Schulich Centre for Global Enterprise, and the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure, as well as the newly created Centre of Excellence in Business Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, which incorporates the Deloitte Cognitive Analytics and Visualization Lab. The $50-million, 67,000-square-foot building received $15 million from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, created in Budget 2016 and offering $2 billion over three years to update and modernize aging post-secondary infrastructure. The McEwen building also employs environmentally responsible designs, including a glass solar chimney that provides passive natural ventilation to the whole building.

Dalhousie University opens new innovation 'sandbox'

New partnership streamlines funding for emission-reducing innovations

Bains and Duncan seek applicants for new science and innovation advisory council

Alberta Innovates invests $2 million to explore non-combustion uses for bitumen

New innovation centre launched in downtown Calgary

People

OMERS Ventures hires veteran investor Michael Yang to open Silicon Valley office

Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association appoints new CEO