Numbers

Number 7 / Volume 34 / July 22, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

Hydrogen technology offers a way past zero-sum thinking between western Canada’s fossil fuel industry and environmentalists.

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Researchers warn of COVID-19’s outsized impact on women in science

Emerging evidence suggests a dramatic decline in research productivity among female researchers globally, especially those early in their careers who are more likely than their peers to have been juggling homeschooling and other parenting duties since the pandemic began. Academic researchers are sounding the alarm—and calling for swift action. 

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Opinion Leader:
Gordon Harling

The global electronics supply chain is shifting. Canada must act to capitalize on this opportunity.

We have everything we need to build our state-of-the-art manufacturing capability and join the world’s most advanced economies. But to become a skilled manufacturing powerhouse, it will take leadership, partnership, and commitment.

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The Short Report - July 8, 2020: A new innovation hub for Toronto, National Bank doubles down on Nest Wealth, and more

The Bank of Canada is partnering with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to launch a BIS Innovation Hub in Toronto; National Bank of Canada’s venture-capital arm NAventures announced it will make an additional minority investment of up to $50-million in Toronto-based robo-advisor Nest Wealth; the federal government will invest $40 million over three years in the Union Training and Innovation Program; and more.

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News Bites

Number 6 / Volume 34 / June 17, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

Brock University chemistry professor Tomas Hudlicky thought he was fighting on behalf of merit-based advancement in research and higher education. In fact, he was fighting against it.

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Opinion Leader:
Ali Ardakani

Why Canada needs a national vaccine strategy

The private sector has little appetite for manufacturing small-volume, niche vaccines for pandemic viruses. That’s why any primary manufacturing facility for vaccines like COVID-19 need to be federally owned and operated.

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Opinion Leader

Opinion: Pandemic preparedness requires a one-health approach that links human and veterinary medicine

Planning needs to begin now for the next disease outbreak, beginning with stronger linkages between human and animal research facilities.

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News Bites

News Briefs

People

Number 5 / Volume 34 / May 20, 2020

Editorial

Expert groups called for a national and holistic approach to pandemic planning in 1993 and again in 2003. With $1-million in seed funding, the current federal government is finally moving to make a long-term research and pandemic strategy a reality.

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Feds invest $887 million to ensure reliable vaccine supply for COVID-19, other pandemics

The federal government’s investment of $887 million make Canada self-sufficient in manufacturing vaccines against COVID-19 and future pandemics, say medical and other experts. Along with Canadian-led vaccine development, Ottawa is investing in a network of small-scale vaccine manufacturing facilities that together will be able to produce enough vaccine for Canada’s population during pandemics.

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News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, May 6, 2020: AbCellera receives $175.6M for COVID-19 therapies; Canada contributes $850 million to global pandemic response; new “super angel” fund launches; and more

Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics will receive up to $175.6 million from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund to fast-track antibody therapies against COVID-19. The funding will also go to build a first-of-its-kind antibody manufacturing facility over the next four years to help Canada respond to future pandemics. AbCellera has partnered with global biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to rapidly manufacture and distribute a treatment. The investment is part of $192 million in SIF COVID-19 funding announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau March 23. The largess of public money has raised concerns from a few researchers on Twitter, with some questioning the lack of a peer-review selection process and whether the funding is repayable. “Is this a grant or an actual investment? Does the Crown now own part of the company? It should, given the circumstance and cost,” writes Dr. Jim Woodgett, director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. – AbCellera

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other global leaders to launch the Coronavirus Global Response – an online pledging marathon running throughout May that aims to raise USD$8 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to combat COVID-19. Funds may also be used to strengthen health systems. Canada has so far committed $850 million, including for: R&D of medical countermeasures, accelerated vaccine development (e.g., Coalition for the Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial, and genome sequencing. – GoC

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium has begun working with the newly formed Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to share knowledge, lessons learned and protocols as both countries sequence and analyze the spread and evolution of the SARs-CoV-2 virus and how it affects patients. Prof. Sharon Peacock from Public Health England said the UK’s experience in this area “will help CanCOGeN rapidly develop its capacity”. – Genome Canada

The new COVID-19 Immunity Task Force is moving quickly. In its first weekly meeting, members agreed on an accelerated process that, by mid-May, will enable the scale-up of existing fieldwork on immunity. The group began setting an agenda for new immunity analyses to meet the needs of Canadian decision-makers and the general public. For example, the task force will be supporting rapid implementation of population surveys, geographies, and occupational groups, in collaboration with biobanks, blood banks, public health agencies, hospitals, others. The task force has also agreed to plan and support a program of rapid-cycle research to address questions about how immunity to the novel coronavirus develops, how strong it is and how long it lasts. – Task Force

A consortium of super angels and venture capitalists from the Toronto-Waterloo region has created an investment fund to support early stage companies. In addition to funding, the ArchAngel Network of Funds will provide access to expertise and global partner networks. The network will focus initially on supporting entrepreneurs creating solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, before expanding to smart manufacturing, green technology and health sciences. The fund is looking to raise about $10 million and the first investments are expected to be awarded within weeks. – ArchAngel Network of Funds

The founders of the newly established Innovation Economy Council (IEC) —MaRS, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Communitech, DMZ, Invest Ottawa and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine — have published the group’s first white paper: The post-viral pivot: How Canada’s tech startups can drive the recovery from COVID-19. Authored by former Globe and Mail columnist Barrie McKenna, the report examines how Canada’s startups are best positioned to lead Canada’s post-COVID-19 recovery, and the consequences if they are not adequately supported. – MaRS

Canada’s intellectual property marketplace – ExploreIP – has begun highlighting technologies that interested companies can license and commercialize in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched August 2019, ExploreIP is a free online searchable database of over 3,250 inventions held by government, academia or other public sector institutions. For more information, contact ExploreIP@canada.ca.

Canada Revenue Agency is expediting claims to its Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program to help cash-strapped companies weather the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. CRA posted a notice May 1 stating that, “Most refundable claims will be processed as soon as possible with minimal burden on the claimants, injecting funding into businesses that need it now to help manage the adverse financial implications of the pandemic. Claims accepted at this time may be subject to review/audit at a future date to ensure eligibility.” – CRA

The Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition has awarded over $1.5 million to 40 research teams focused on COVID-19 related projects. Projects include clinical sciences, delivery sciences, health systems improvement and social sciences. A few projects include COVID-19’s impact on infant feeding, burnout of front-line health care workers, dementia patients, and leveraging artificial intelligence to provide direction on how to deploy tests, vaccines or other interventions. – NS Health

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) Research Center has extended its COLCORONA COVID-19 clinical trial to a third Canadian province. As of April 30, Ontarians who test positive for COVID-19, but are not hospitalized, may be eligible for this contactless at-home study which is investigating whether this anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the rate of hospitalization of individuals recently diagnosed with COVID-19. There are now numerous sites across Canada, the US and Spain taking part in the trial, which is expected to expand to other provinces soon. – MHI

Vancouver-based Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (formerly Breathtec Biomedical) has received the go-ahead from Health Canada to proceed with a Phase 2b/3 trials multinational clinical trial for Ifenprodil (NP-12) as a potential coronavirus therapy. Ifenprodil is a generic neurological drug developed by Sanofi in the 1970s that Algernon is hoping to repurpose as a possible treatment to reduce the number of COVID-19 patients from progressing to mechanical ventilation with intubation and death. – GlobeNewswire

In other news…

Provincial and federal investments of $4.5 million will help Edmonton-based TerraVerdae Bioworks Inc. develop new product development capacity for biodegradable industrial plastics used in agricultural, forestry, food packaging, adhesives and personal care markets. TerraVerdae’s polymer technology (polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA) uses renewable carbon feedstock such as municipal and forestry waste or agricultural residues. Funding was provided by Alberta Innovates, Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, Industrial Research Assistance Program and other investors. – TerraVerdae

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Clean Energy Canada, the Clean Resource Innovation Network and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada have created an alliance to promote Canadian geothermal development and to create jobs in the struggling oil and gas sector. One technology being promoted is Eavor-Loop™, developed by Calgary-based Eavor Technologies. A successful demonstration project last year, supported by Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta, showed that the technology can be scaled up quickly and financed with little production risk. – Eavor

Ucore Rare Metals Inc., a junior exploration and technology company based in Bedford, NS, is acquiring Toronto-based Innovation Metals Corp. for $5.8 million. Innovation Metals has developed a technology (RapidSXTM) that lowers the capital and operating costs for separating critical metals, including rare earth elements, lithium, nickel and cobalt. As part of the deal, Ucore will also invest $2.8 million to further develop RapidSXTM as well as UCore’s M3 (Mine to Metal to Market) Plan of Action. – Ucore

THE GRAPEVINE

New members have been named to the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. The current list now includes: Co-chairs, Dr. Catherine Hankins, (Professor of Public and Population Health at McGill University) and Dr. David Naylor, (former president, University of Toronto); executive director, Dr. Tim Evans (director of the School of Population and Global Health, McGill University); ex-officio members, Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer); Dr. Mona Nemer (Canada’s chief science advisor), and Dr. Stephen Lucas (DM Health); leadership group members, Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Indigenous engagement lead (scientific director, Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health), Dr. Vivek Goel (VP research and innovation, University of Toronto), Dr. Scott Halperin (professor, Canadian Immunization Research Network), Dr. Charu Kaushic (scientific director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity), Dr. James Kellner (consultant in pediatric infectious diseases and professor, University of Calgary), Dr. Susan Kirkland (professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University), Dr. Gary Kobinger (director, Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Laval University, Dr. Mel Krajden (Medical director, BCCDC Public Health Laboratory), Dr. Richard Massé (special advisor, Government of Quebec), Dr. Allison McGeer (professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto), Dr. Deborah Money (clinician scientist, Women’s Health Research Institute), Dr. Gina Ogilvie (professor, School of Population Health, University of British Columbia), Kevin Orrell (DM, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness), Dr. Jutta Preiksaitis (professor emeritus, Infectious Diseases, University of Alberta), Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh (lead, infection prevention and control unit, CHU Sainte-Justine), Dr. James Talbot (adjunct professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta), and Dr. Paul van Caeseele (medical director, Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Manitoba Health). – COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

Darren Lawless left Humber College this week to join McMaster University as the assistant VP, research innovation partnerships. Lawless joined Humber in 2015 as dean of research, after several earlier positions as a senior R&D executive, and as Sheridan College’s first dean of research and innovation. At Humber he played a key role in the development of the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation.

Dr. Erasmus Okine has been appointed interim provost and VP (academic) at the University of Lethbridge. Okline joined the university in 2015 as VP (research), during which time he grew the number of research partnerships by about 60%. Okine, a native of Ghana, completed a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science at the University of Ghana before coming to Alberta to complete a PhD at the University of Alberta. – University of Lethbridge

Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEO of Innovation Metals Corp. of Toronto, will become the chief technology officer of Ucore Rare Metals, Bedford, NS. Ucore is acquiring Innovation Metals, which has developed a technology (RapidSXTM) that lowers the capital and operating costs for separating critical metals. Ucore

Amber Lannon has been appointed university librarian at Carleton University after serving on an interim basis since January. She joined Carleton in July 2016 as associate university librarian (Academic Services), responsible for research support, research collections and other services. Previously, she held several positions at McGill University, including head librarian in the humanities and social sciences branch and acting associate dean of user services. – Carleton

The Short Report, April 28, 2020: Alarming drop in donations for health charities; Health Canada approves COVID-19 clinical trial; and more

Health charities are seeing an “alarming” drop in donations, which they warn will compromise the health of Canadians living with chronic disease. HealthPartners, a collaboration of 16 Canadian charities, released the findings in its report, The Impact of COVID-19 on our Most Vulnerable Canadians. In response to declining donations, the report says health charities have laid off staff, in some cases 30-45%, and postponed or cancelled clinical research and trials. The Canadian Cancer Society, for example, is estimating losses of $100 million this year. HealthPartners has written to prime minister Justin Trudeau asking for financial assistance. – HealthPartners

Vancouver-based SaNOtize Research and Development Corp. has received Health Canada approval to begin a multi-centre Phase II trial for front-line antiviral prevention and early treatment for use against COVID-19. Lab tests conducted by Utah-based Institute for Antiviral Research found that SaNOtize’s patented Nitric Oxide Releasing Solution (NORSTM) is over 99.9% effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The results were produced within two minutes. The goal is to produce ready-to-use, inexpensive and rapidly-scalable applications delivered through gargle solutions, nasal spray and nasal lavage. – SaNOtize

The University of Toronto will support 31 research projects through the new $8.4-million Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. The projects were chosen based on their potential to have a positive impact on individuals, communities and public health systems within a timeframe of a year or less. They were selected from among 338 applicants via a fast-tracked, peer-reviewed competition. Less than 30 days elapsed between the creation of the fund and the winning projects being announced. – U of T

Stem Cell Network (SCN) is providing $675,000 for three COVID-19 research projects, which will be matched by more than $778,000 in partner funding. The projects, which include one clinical trial and two research projects led by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and The Hospital for Sick Children, are part of SCN’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Initiative that was launched April 1. The additional funding for SCN was announced April 23 as part of the federal government’s $1.1-billion investment in a national medical and research strategy to fight COVID-19. The projects will begin by mid-May. – SCN

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has launched a new funding stream as part of its Council’s College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19. Colleges and polytechnics can receive up to $75,000 for one year, and must address topics of immediate relevance to the COVID-19 outbreak. Projects can assist industry (e.g. prototyping, enhanced production processes, data analytics) or community challenges (e.g. impact of social isolation on vulnerable populations, addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19). – NSERC

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition (CBRC) are urging Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to continue farmer-funded wheat and barley research activities at AAFC’s western Canadian research stations in 2020. “We are facing an unprecedented situation with respect to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of researchers and other staff is our top priority,” said CWRC chair Jason Lenz. “The universities and private plant breeders have found safe options to conduct their research. We’re confident AAFC can also create a plan to continue critical research and provide clarity to western Canadian farmers.” – Yorkton This Week

A new report from the Public Policy Forum, titled New North Star II, details how Canadian policymakers can navigate a new course in industrial strategy, one that builds both on its past innovation strengths and current economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Building off of last year’s seminal report on the rise of the Intangibles Economy, PPF’s newest contribution to Canada’s economic conversation proposes an industrial plan to “rebuild Canada” post COVID-19. A plan that should be starting not in two years, but in a few months,” says Sean Speers, one of the report’s authors. – Public Policy Forum

The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa has launched an online survey to examine the psychological, social, and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic at various stages of the outbreak. University of Ottawa researcher Dr. Rebecca Robillard is leading the study in collaboration with scientists with hospitals and universities in Ontario and Quebec. – The Royal

Montreal-based BrainBox AI has raised $12 million to further deploy its artificial intelligence technology for buildings across North America and abroad. BrainBox AI’s solution, which combines deep learning, cloud-based computing and autonomous decision making, enables the HVAC system in a building to operate autonomously, in real-time, generating up to a 25% reduction in total energy costs, a 20-40% reduction in carbon footprint and a 60% increase in occupant comfort. The financing round was led by Desjardins Capital. – BrainBox AI

United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Ltd. (UFA) and Zone Startups Calgary (ZSC) have partnered to support early-stage agriculture technology companies with technical and commercial validation. ZSC will identify tech companies that can address UFA and its customer’s innovation challenges, as well as provide agricultural technology companies with access to market, commercialization programming, and support. – GlobeNewsWire

THE GRAPEVINE

The federal government has established a new COVID-19 Immunity Task Force to provide decision-makers with the data they need to understand the impact of the disease on vulnerable populations, while also leveraging new and existing lab capacity for research. The task force will operate under the direction of a leadership group tasked with establishing priorities and overseeing the coordination of a series of serological surveys (blood tests) to detect the presence of virus-specific antibodies. The task force will be supported by an external secretariat, led Dr. Tim Evans, director of the School of Population and Global Health at McGill University. The leadership group includes: Dr. David Naylor, co-chair (former president, University of Toronto); Dr. Catherine Hankins, co-chair (Professor of Public and Population Health at McGill University); Dr. Tim Evans; Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer); and Dr. Mona Nemer (Canada’s chief science advisor). – GoC

Dr. Lesley Rigg will take over as VP (Research) at Western University on August 1. The five-year term also includes her appointment as professor of geography. Rigg is currently dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary. Previously she served in progressively senior roles at Northern Illinois University, including VP (Research). – Western News

University of Toronto doctoral candidate Tej Heer has joined the not-for-profit Evidence for Democracy as a senior research associate. Heer is currently finishing his PhD in physical and environmental sciences at the U of T’s Scarborough campus. His duties include updating E4D’s 2017 Oversight at Risk report on science capacity and integrity in the BC government, evaluating transparency in the development of federal government policies, and studying potential policy and regulatory solutions to minimize the harm of misinformation on our democracy. – E4D

Dr. Michael Rudnicki, scientific director and CEO of the Stem Cell Network, has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society national academy of sciences in the UK. Rudnicki was one of 10 foreign members elected this year. – Stem Cell Network

 

People

The Short Report – May 20, 2020: Last network renewals for sunsetting NCE program; New accelerator targets healthy living; Canadian health research at “elevated risk” for hacking; and more

The Networks of Centres of Excellence has awarded $80.7 million in funding to five networks – the last cohorts to be renewed as the NCE program begins winding down over the next few years. Three-year renewals were granted to: Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life (AGE-WELL) ($22 million); Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment (BioCanRx) ($15 million); Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada (CANet) ($15.7 million); Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet) ($16.3 million); and Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) ($11.7 million). The NCE program will be gradually transferred to the New Frontiers in Research Fund. – NCE

Following a successful pilot, Sustainable Development Technology Canada is expanding its SDTC Seed Fund, which partners with accelerators across the country to fund early stage startups in the environmental technology space. There will be four funding rounds per year, with up to 100 companies each receiving up to $100,000. Companies can later apply for additional funding from SDTC as they mature and scale. – SDTC

Innovative projects led by Indigenous women and gender-diverse individuals will be eligible to receive up to $250,000 as part of a new program launched by the Indigenous Innovative Initiative. The Advancing Indigenous Gender Equality through Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship will fund projects from all sectors and industries that promote gender equality in Indigenous communities. In addition to funding, recipients will also receive capacity building supports and access to key business networks. – Newswire

University Health Network spin-off Northern Biologics has been acquired by German-based Boehringer Ingelheim, the world’s largest private pharmaceutical company. Northern Biologics developed a portfolio of antibody-based therapeutics for oncology and fibrosis. The Toronto-based company was founded in 2014 based on intellectual property developed by scientists at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University of Toronto. – Northern Biologics

The Toronto-based LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact is launching a new accelerator to scale initiatives that will help Canadians move more, sit less, eat better and stop smoking. Called Healthy Futures, the centre will provide $10 million in funding and pro bono support to 11 social ventures. Funders include the Public Health Agency of Canada and the private sector. The deadline for applications is June 19, 2020. – Newswire

An Alberta-led project is seeking to detect powerful neutrinos off the coast of British Columbia. The project, a collaboration between Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria, University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University and the Technical University of Munich, has applied to the Canada Foundation for Innovation for funding to deploy a neutrino telescope off the coast of Vancouver Island in 2023. The Pacific Ocean Neutrino Explorer (P-ONE) would be the largest particle detector in North America and would search for light caused by the collision of neutrinos with other particles in the water. – Cybera

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force, an independent working group created to develop a framework to implement a hydrogen economy in the region, was officially launched May 19. Organized by The Transition Accelerator in partnership with the region’s mayors, the Task Force will produce a public report in July detailing the approach and steps needed to advance a zero-emission fuel economy in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The Task Force will complement work the Government of Canada is leading, with private sector stakeholders, and governments, to develop a hydrogen strategy for Canada. – The Transition Accelerator

Humber College has received $1.8 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to support social innovation and design-driven analytics. The funding includes five grants from NSERC’s College and Community Social Innovation Fund intended to support college research projects in partnership with local community organizations. It also received an Innovation Enhancement grant to help Canadian colleges increase their capacity to work with local companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. Humber will use the IE grant to establish the Institute for Design-Driven Analytics. – NSERC

Edmonton-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Social Asset Management (SAM) has raised $3.6 million to advance a technology that predicts patterns and crises before they become unmanageable. SAM uses AI to analyze open data sources from around the world to identify the earliest signals of emerging risks and potentially threatening situations. The funding round was led by Adventure Capital. – SAM

 

COVID-19 NEWS

COVID-19 research underway in Canada is at an “elevated risk” for hacking, say Canada’s spy agencies. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) issued a rare joint statement warning state-backed actors have shifted focus during the pandemic and that Canadian intellectual property is “a valuable target”.  A similar alert was issued by the CSE’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) March 20: “Sophisticated threat actors may attempt to steal the intellectual property (IP) of organizations engaged in research and development related to COVID-19, or sensitive data related to Canada’s response to COVID-19.” The Cyber Centre also released its Top 10 IT Security Actions that organizations can take to minimize the risk of a cyber-attack. – Cyber Centre and CTV News

Canada’s agriculture sector will receive a $100-million boost with the launch of the Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund, launched by the federal government through Farm Credit Canada to help offset losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Established in partnership with Calgary-based venture capital firm Forage Capital Inc., the fund will provide up to $10 million to companies involved in primary production, agri-tech, manufacturing, packaging and distribution. – GoC

The Innovation Economy Council (IEC) has released its first white paper, examining how Canada’s startups are best positioned to lead Canada’s post-COVID-19 recovery and the consequences if they are not adequately supported. The report warns that the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 risks the flow of financing early-stage companies that are essential to developing products and services that will help established industries do things smarter, faster and cheaper. The IEC recommends the federal and provincial governments collaborate to implement stimulus measures that will build the physical and digital infrastructure for Canada’s future economy, and incentivize technology adoption across industries. Policies, it added, should also focus on enhancing the resilience of domestic supply chains and promote collaboration between Canadian firms. The IEC, formed by MaRS, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Communitech, DMZ, Invest Ottawa and Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, is a coalition of industry leaders advocating on behalf of start-up ventures. – OCE

The Government of Ontario is working with Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), Canada’s first industry-led hub for med-tech start-ups, to provide non-medical manufacturing companies free support as they retool to provide essential supplies and equipment to health care facilities during COVID-19. Companies that have received funding through the $50-million Ontario Together Fund, or a purchase order with the province, can access MIX members’ medical advisory services, including assistance navigating regulatory hurdles and increasing efficiencies. – Government of Ontario

Medicago, Quebec City, has moved closer to human clinical trials of a promising therapy against COVID-19 after its plant-based vaccine candidate induced a positive antibody response 10 days after a single dose in mice. “Once results from a second ‘boost’ dose are available, Medicago will submit a clinical trial application to Health Canada and an investigational new drug submission with the FDA in the United States to allow for the initiation of human clinical trials this summer,” Nathalie Landry, executive VP Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago, said in a release. Medicago estimates its current facilities in Quebec and North Carolina could produce up to 20 million and 100 million annual doses, respectively, increasing to more than one billion doses per year once its new factory opens in Quebec in 2023. – Medicago

A clinical trial has begun in London, ON of a modified firefighter’s mask that could significantly reduce aerosolization – the production of airborne respiratory droplets that may contain viruses or bacteria – when treating patients with COVID-19. Led by Lawson Health Research Institute, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), University Health Network and General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, the trial will assess the efficacy of the new device which, unlike invasive ventilators, helps patients breath through a mask that is customized from a firefighter’s mask using 3D printing. – LHSC

A multi-country clinical trial led by Canadian researchers is testing whether the blood thinner heparin can help improve survival for COVID-19 patients. Clinician-scientists from the University of Manitoba and the University Health Network will recruit up to 3,000 people with COVID-19 who are in intensive care, as part of a randomized clinical trial to run at 30 sites in Canada, the US, Mexico and Brazil, with other countries expected to come onboard. The trial received funding from a COVID-19 Fast Grant from the Thistledown Foundation, and an Innovation Award from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Innovation Committee. – University of Manitoba

Fourteen new artificial intelligence (AI) research projects will be launched to address the COVID-19 outbreak through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s (CIFAR) AI and COVID-19 Catalyst Grants initiative. Each project will last three months to one year and will focus on machine learning applications to identify potential treatments, to support public health measures such as social distancing and to better understand the viral transmission of COVID-19. – CIFAR

A new report commissioned by Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer warns that governments need to address the technical, social, legal and ethical issues that may arise from deploying novel technologies in response to COVID-19. The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Society, Technology and Ethics in a Pandemic (STEP), established by CIFAR, stressed that public trust must be a key consideration when deploying new technologies like contact-tracing apps and antibody tests that could result in “immunity certificates” being issued. The report offers policymakers a framework of guiding principles and implementation advice. – CIFAR

The Southern Ontario Networks for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) has pivoted its operations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by building a supply of essential equipment, products and therapeutics for Canadians. For example, SONAMI member Niagara College is producing 37,000 face shields, which were designed by the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. – Niagara College

An independent group of finance, policy and sustainability leaders has struck a new task force that will spend the next eight weeks developing recommendations on how governments can help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon and resilient economy. The Task Force for a Resilient Recovery will assess a variety of potential recovery investments, including The Resilient Recovery Framework developed by the Smart Prosperity Institute. The task force members include: Elizabeth Beale, former president/CEO, Atlantic Provinces Economic Council; Barbara Zvan, former chief risk and strategy officer, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan; Don Forgeron, president/CEO, Insurance Board of Canada; Bruce Lourie, president, Ivey Foundation; Gerald Butts, senior advisor, Eurasia Group; Helen Mountford, VP Climate & Economics, World Resources Institute; James Meadowcroft, Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration and Department of Political Science, Carleton University; JP Gladu, former president/CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business; Merran Smith, executive director, Clean Energy Canada; Michael Horgan, senior advisor, Bennett Jones; Mitchell Davidson, executive director, Strategy Corp Institute of Public Policy and Economy; Mira Oreck, executive director, The Houssain Foundation; Richard Florizone, president/CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development; and Stewart Elgie, founder and chair, Smart Prosperity Institute. – Recovery Task Force

A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute explores the potential scope and scale of the Bio Revolution, a new wave of innovation that combines breakthroughs and declining costs in biological sciences with advances in computing, artificial intelligence, and automation. Some 400 use cases are cataloged and analyzed in a variety of sectors, including human health, agriculture and food, consumer products and services and materials and energy production. Many cases have been already deployed to aid in the response to COVID-19, allowing for faster identification of the virus, more effective diagnostics and health tech tools, and new bioengineered treatments. The report’s authors will present their findings at a May 21 webinar. – McKinsey

 

THE GRAPEVINE

Karimah Es Sabar has been appointed board chair of the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet), a Network of Centres of Excellence. Es Sabar is currently CEO and Partner at Quark Venture LP. Previously, she held several leadership positions at the Centre for Drug Research and Development, including president and CEO. In 2018, she chaired Canada’s Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table. Frank Gleeson will remain on the board as past chair. – GlycoNet

Toronto artificial intelligence company, Internet of Things (ITT) Inc., has appointed a new management team. Darryl Smith, current chief technology officer of ITT, will take on the role of CTO of AI Labs Inc., the product development arm of ITT. Electronics engineer Malcolm Rook has been named chief innovation officer of AI Labs. Robert Klein, a 20-plus year operations and technology, telecom, and consumer packaged goods industry executive, has been named ITT Inc.’s chief operating officer and Thomas Park becomes VP, government relations and regulatory affairs at ITT. – ITT

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) and the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) have announced the head of the new multi-technology association that will provide a unified voice for solar energy, wind energy, and energy storage in Canada. Effective July 1, the members of CanSIA and CanWEA will unite within the Canadian Renewable Energy Association under the leadership of Robert Hornung, the long-standing president of CanWEA. From his base in Ottawa, Hornung will focus on stakeholder advocacy and public engagement. – Newswire 

Fred Deys, associate dean in Niagara College’s School of Technology, died May 9 at his home in Hamilton. Prior to joining Niagara College in 2017, he worked as a computer science professor at Mohawk College before becoming a director in human resources. – Niagara College

Dr. Fred Boyd, a former physicist and engineer at Atomic Energy of Canada, died May 10 at the age of 93. Boyd worked on the world’s first Cobalt 60 radiation therapy machines, before joining General Electric to help design Canada’s first Candu-type nuclear power plant. While at Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, he co-authored the first Canadian reactor safety requirements. Following his retirement in 1989, he became a private consultant where he continued to contribute to the development of Canadian nuclear policies. He was also publisher of the Bulletin of the Canadian Nuclear Society and a member of the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE). – Ottawa Citizen

 

The Short Report, May 13, 2020: Public trust in science rising; new COVID-19 advisory councils created; OneEleven ceases operations; and more

COVID-19 NEWS

Canadians’ trust in doctors, scientists and the government has increased since the cornovirus pandemic began, finds public opinion polls from January and repeated on May 1 and May 2. Conducted by Proof Strategies CanTrust Index of Ottawa, the survey found that 76% of Canadians trusted doctors and 70% trusted scientists. The follow up online survey of 1,000 people saw trust in doctors jump to 87%, compared to 82% for scientists. Trust in government also increased from 33% in January to 40% in May, while trust in the media plummeted to 33% in May compared to 44% in January. – RCInet and Proof Strategies

New federal advisory councils created

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains announced the creation of an Industry Strategy Council May 8 to assess the scope and depth of COVID-19’s impact across various sectors and to provide economic policy advice to relevant federal ministers. The council will be chaired by Monique Leroux, a veteran of Canadian finance whose recent experience includes president/CEO of Desjardin Group and chair of Investissement Québec. Members of the Council will be announced in the near future and will complement the structure and focus of the Economic Strategy Tables. – GoC

Another advisory group – the COVID-19 Supply Council – was announced May 3 by Public Services and Procurement minister Anita Anand. The group advise on the procurement of critical goods and services, and on building agile supply chains for critical medical supplies. Anand will chair the new council, which will be made up of 17 public and private sector members, including Digital Technology Supercluster CEO Sue Paish and Canadian Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Perrin Beatty. A full list of members can be found here. – GoC

Superclusters respond to crisis

Health Canada has approved the first artificial intelligence tool for radiology in the fight against COVID-19. The XrAI  (pronounced “X-ray”) machine learning tool, developed by Vancouver-based IQBit and its partners, acts as a “co-pilot” for clinicians to increase accuracy in identifying lung abnormalities associated with diseases such as COVID-19 infection, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and lung cancer. IQBit received funding from the Digital Technology Supercluster to accelerate the clinical deployment of XrAI. – IQBit

Montreal-based CargoM and the Montreal Port Authority have received $500,000 from the Scale AI supercluster to develop a tool for rapid distribution of essential cargo such as medical equipment and food supplies. Developed in collaboration with Montreal startup Ivado Labs, the tool optimizes the identification and prioritization of critical cargo arriving by container. The project is among the more than 120 projects that applied to Scale AI in just three weeks. – CargoM

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) has issued a call for proposals for its new Accelerated Ocean Solutions Program. The program will invest up to $35 million in short-term, small-scale projects that will help stimulate the economy during the current economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Project themes include: remote operations; digital/automated technologies; and environmental technologies. – OSC

The latest in Canadian COVID-19 research

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has teamed with CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to advance bioprocessing and clinical development in Canada of a potential vaccine against COVID-19. CanSinoBIO has applied to Health Canada for permission to conduct a clinical trial of Ad5-nCoV, a vaccine candidate developed using proprietary HEK293 cell lines from the NRC. The NRC recently received federal funding to expand the capacity of its Human Health Therapeutics lab in Montreal to accelerate clinical trials and the eventual production of a vaccine and treatments. The trials would be conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology. – GoC

The NRC’s HEK293 cell lines are also being used in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) to accelerate the development and production of a candidate COVID-19 antigen. Animal studies at VIDO-InterVac will help to determine the antigen’s effectiveness. The NRC will also explore the use of its HEK293 cells to develop a process to scale up production of the vaccine antigen for future pre-clinical and clinical studies. – GoC

VIDO-InterVac is also working with a Saskatoon medical cannabis firm to develop a plant-based vaccine for the coronavirus. A potential antigen for a COVID-19 vaccine identified by VIDO-InterVac will be isolated by ZYUS Life Sciences Inc. in its plant expression system. By mid-summer, ZYUS plans to have extracted enough specific protein for VIDO-InterVac to determine its effectiveness in animal models. – VIDO-InterVac

Two Lethbridge, AB companies, Pathway RX Inc. and Swysch Inc., and scientists at the University of Lethbridge have found that certain medical cannabis extracts show promise as an additional treatment for COVID-19. The study’s data suggests that some sativa cultivars can help reduce the severity and complications of COVID-19. A scientific paper on the findings is awaiting peer review and the team is planning further research as well as clinical trials. University of Lethbridge and Newswire

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have become the first in the world to treat a patient with COVID-19 using a modified dialysis device. In a clinical trial of up to 40 critically ill patients at London Health Sciences Centre, a modified version of a standard dialyzer will gently remove a patient’s blood, then modify white blood cells before returning them to the body to fight hyperinflammation caused by Covid-19. “The ultimate goal is to improve patient survival and lessen their dependency on oxygen and ventilation,” said lead researcher Dr. Chris McIntyre. – LHRI

An engineering team at the University of Toronto is manufacturing coronavirus proteins in hopes of accelerating COVID-19 research around the world. The 25 viral SARS-Cov-2 proteins are being made at the newly launched Toronto Open Access COVID-19 Protein Manufacturing Centre, which received support from the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. Led Dr. Aled Edwards, director of the Structural Genomics Consortium, the centre will rapidly produce and distribute large quantities of the proteins at no cost. Milligram batches of viral proteins currently on the market for research sell for up to $10,000. “If you’re an academic researcher, or a small company in Canada or anywhere in the world, this is cost-prohibitive,” said lead researcher Dr. Peter Stogios. – U of T

The Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition is investing $1.5 million in 40 projects that will inform health system decisions, facilitate vaccine development, identify novel treatments, develop devices and influence social response to the pandemic. – Dalhousie University

An Edmonton-based aerospace company has pivoted quickly to develop a COVID-19 ventilator from non-medical parts. Space Engine Systems is using parts from the space, aerospace, oil, gas and automotive sectors to manufacture the ventilator. Potential partners in the US and UK are seeking medical approval for the devices and talks with regulatory authorities in Canada are proceeding. – SpaceQ

COVID-19 Research Resources

To ensure better coordination and to avoid unnecessarily duplication of research, the British Columbia Academic Health Science Network and its three operational units (BC SUPPORT Unit, Clinical Trials BC and Research Ethics BC) have created the COVID-19 Research Inventory of current COVID-19-related research projects underway in the province, including clinical trials. – BC AHSN

McMaster Health Forum and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute have launched the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END) portal to help decision-makers and researchers find evidence related to COVID-19. The network’s activities span the full range of COVID-19 issues, from infection prevention and control, to mental health and family violence, education, employment, financial protection, food safety and security, government services, housing, public safety and justice, recreation and transportation. – The Ottawa Hospital

IN OTHER NEWS

Google-backed Sidewalk Labs has abandoned its ambitious plans to turn Toronto’s industrial waterfront into a sensor-laden smart city. Led by Google subsidiary Alphabet and Waterfront Toronto, the $1.3-billion Quayside project had come under fierce criticism from privacy advocates. In a Globe and Mail op-ed published two years ago, Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Blackberry maker Research in Motion, called the project a “colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues”. Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff blamed the abrupt decision on the COVID-19 pandemic, saying in a May 7 statement that: “As unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed.” – Medium

The financial crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another victim – OneEleven. The Toronto-based business incubator, which is backed by OMERS Ventures, the Ontario Centres of Excellence and Ryerson University, said it is permanently ceasing operations. In a statement, OneEleven said: “As the particulars of a post-COVID world remain uncertain to all of us, there is also no doubt that a safe return to office environments will require changes to the way we work, and in particular the required de-densification of physical space will fundamentally threaten our business model.” – OneEleven and OCE

Two veteran investors have raised $7 million for a new venture firm, RiSC Capital. Scott Pelton, former general partner of Round 13 Capital, and Colin Webster, formerly of Hero Ventures, are aiming to raise $20 million for the fund, which is investing in early-stage Canadian tech companies. RiSC Capital’s first closure was led by Scott Lake, co-founder and former CEO of Shopfiy. – BetaKit

Genome Alberta is awarding $1.1 million to five projects under its Enabling Bioinformatics Solutions funding competition. Applicants were asked to submit proposals that would support the development of bioinformatic and computational approaches to help end users in the agriculture and human health sectors overcome limitations in understanding, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from genomic data being collected. Other funders in the competition include Genome Canada, the Government of Alberta and Alberta Innovates. – Genome Alberta

The BC Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative (MERC) has established a two-year plan to advance research on methane emissions from oil and gas activity. The research plan, a joint initiative of industry, government, the regulator and non-profits, will lead to recommendations on the design and implementation of key research deliverables necessary to meet methane reduction goals and to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of B.C.’s methane regulations. – Pembina Institute

Olds College has become the only post-secondary institution in the world to deploy the fully autonomous DOT Power Platform as a teaching and research tool on the college’s Smart Farm in Olds, AB. The equipment is part of a three-year Smart Farm research project to understand the benefits and challenges of autonomous agricultural equipment. The project will also measure the economic and environmental footprint of autonomous agricultural equipment. The college received of $1.9 million for the project from Western Economic Diversification Canada and private partners. – Olds College

Mind Medicine Inc. (MindMed), Toronto, has entered into a clinical trial agreement with Maastricht University in the Netherlands to undertake a Phase 2a clinical trial for lysergic acid diethylamide (“LSD”) in adult patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. MindMed previously established a microdosing division to develop a portfolio of clinical trials studying the use of sub-perceptual amounts of psychedelic substances for medical purposes. Clinical trials are scheduled to take place in the Netherlands by the end of the year. – Newswire

The University of Windsor and BlackBerry Limited, Waterloo, ON, have partnered to develop and deliver a cybersecurity curriculum for the university’s Graduate Master’s Program in Applied Computing. The curriculum, called BlackBerry Bootcamp, will be taught as part of a required Network Security course, and will cover a range of cybersecurity topics, including digital identity protection and privacy, software engineering, the latest techniques of cybercriminals, and advanced threat detection technologies. It will be delivered over 10 weeks as a remote earning program starting on May 18. – Newswire

THE GRAPEVINE

Dr. Jim Stanford is establishing a new office of the Centre for Future Work: a think tank to study how work is changing in the modern economy. The Canadian office, located in Vancouver, expands his work in Australia, where he founded the Centre for Future Work in 2016. Until 2016, Stanford was economist and policy director for Unifor (and formerly for the Canadian Auto Workers). He is also the Harold Innis Industry Professor of Economics at McMaster University. The centre’s Canadian office is being established in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. – Newswire

Robert Roscow will become chief science officer at NewLeaf Brands Inc., a cannabidiol (CBD) lifestyle firm based in Vancouver. Roscow previously served as director of research at Ebbu, a multi-platform cannabinoid research and technology firm based in Colorado. Prior to Ebbu’s $429-million acquisition by Canopy Growth, Smiths Falls, ON, his day-to-day operations included running the world’s first cannabis genomics editing lab and improving cannabinoid yields. Following Canopy’s acquisition of Ebbu, Roscow has focused on the medical mushroom space, co-founding Mydecine Group, which is in the process of being sold to NewLeaf. – Newswire

UQAM has appointed Christian Edem Kokou Agbobli as vice-rector for Research, Creation and Dissemination, effective July 13. Agbobli has been a professor in the Department of Social and Public Communication since 2006. From 2013 to 2014, he served as vice-dean for research and creation at the Faculty of Communication. He has also held the UNESCO Chair in communication and technologies for development since 2018. He succeeds Catherine Mounier who will continue her activities as a professor and researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences. – Uqam

Dr. Bernhard Mayer, head of the University of Calgary’s Department of Geoscience, has been appointed interim dean, Faculty of Science, effective June 1, 2020, a position he will hold until June 30, 2021. An internationally known isotope geochemist, Mayer was named department head of geoscience in 2016. He previously served as assistant scientific director of Carbon Management Canada Inc. (2009-2013). – University of Calgary

Number 4 / Volume 34 / April 23, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

Volatility in the oil market is shifting the financial calculus for institutional investors, for whom renewable projects are starting to look more and more like the safer bet.

Read More

Opinion Leader:
Margaret Dalziel

Migration and innovation are inextricably linked. We still need them both.

The migration and innovation that emerges from the devastation of the coronavirus may allow us to address social and environmental goals that have thus far seemed elusive.

Read More

Survey: Canadian universities are increasingly cutting fossil fuels from their investment portfolios

A growing number of Canadian universities, including some of the country’s largest, are significantly reducing the industrial carbon in their investment portfolios, a R$ survey shows. Less than a handful of universities are divesting specifically from fossil fuel holdings, but many schools also are using a “responsible investing” approach which considers environmental, social and governance factors.

Read More

Canada Pension Plan must divest from fossil fuels, new report argues

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages the CPP’s $420-billion portfolio, should immediately divest from all fossil fuel holdings in response to the climate emergency and to reduce financial risk for current and future CPP recipients, says the lead author of a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, April 22, 2020: Ottawa extends graduate research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships; McGill prepares to decarbonize its investment pool; and more

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced $9 billion in financial aid for post-secondary students, who will be eligible for up to $1750 a month from May through August, to compensate for the lack of summer jobs. Students can also earn money from the federal government for volunteering. Trudeau also raised the maximum weekly amount that can be provided through the Canada student loans program in 2020-2021 to $350 from $210; added more than $75 million in additional supports for Indigenous post-secondary students; and released another $291 million to extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships and supplement existing federal research grants. “The funding announced today addresses Canadian research trainees’ economic hardships due to pandemic-related closures and pressures and will help maintain our ability to compete for, train, and retain highly skilled talent,” Minister Navdeep Bains said in a statement. – CBC

McGill University’s Board of Governors received recommendations from the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) for a plan to accelerate the decarbonization of the McGill Investment Pool (MIP). The actions include removing investments from highly carbon-intensive companies, strengthening investment in clean technologies, and increasing the number of fund managers who practice socially responsible investing (SRI). – McGill

The Royal Society of Canada‘s Task Force on COVID-19 has published the first two articles in a series on the broad societal challenges facing Canadians as a result of the pandemic. The first, by RSC’s past president Chad Gaffield, discusses the challenges of relying on virtual capacity in order to support physical distancing measures; the second, by Don Redelmeier and Jonathan Zipursky, looks at public perceptions of risk during COVID-19 based on an analysis of polling data from Ipsos. – RSC

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster announced the first investments in projects submitted to its COVID-19 Program. The supercluster is investing $60 million in solutions to health and safety problems created by COVID-19. Of the 300 submissions received, four projects have been selected for the first round of funding: a cloud-based network for secure data-sharing developed by Toronto’s DNAstack; a tool for forecasting emerging pandemics by Finger Food Advanced Technology Group; an e-grocery management system by Food-X Technologies; and a generative artificial intelligence application to identify approved medications that can be repurposed for COVID-19 treatment, developed by Variational AI and adMare BioInnovations. – Newswire

The Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) launched a survey of Canadian graduate students to understand how they are being affected by COVID-19, covering their experiences related to working from home, health and wellness, teaching and course requirements, research, and funding. The survey is intended to ensure the availability of evidence for efforts to support graduate students.- TSPN

The Toronto-based investor relations software company Q4 Inc raised $25 million in debt financing from CIBC Innovation Banking to grow its team, improve its platform, and pursue “inorganic growth opportunities.” – BetaKit

The federal government is tightening its foreign investment rules and more carefully examining direct investments — especially by state-owned companies or investors with ties to foreign governments — in Canadian companies involved with public health or critical supply chains during COVID-19. “As we look at challenges around supply chains for essential medical supplies and personal protective equipment, as we strengthen our own domestic industry and production, we wouldn’t want a foreign investor to be able to take that production that is being made for Canadians in this moment of crisis and send it overseas,” Trudeau said during a news conference. – The Globe and Mail

Pharmacologist Dr. Lauren Kelly (PhD), physician Dr. Ramy Saleh and colleagues launched Covidtrials.ca, a Canadian patient portal that matches those seeking to participate in a research project with physicians and investigators working on trials. – Think Research

Ontario launched a COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund with $20 million to support medical research and develop tools and resources to combat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The investment is part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. Ontario researchers are encouraged to submit proposals through the new Ontario Together website.

The non-profit organization Techlink Innovation Exchange waived subscription fees for any company that signs onto its intellectual property network in 2020. Techlink provides qualification, introduction and matching services to holders of IP, in order to ease the “deadly bottleneck in the manufacture of critical COVID-19 equipment.” Techlink also promotes cross discipline exchanges to help companies in various sub-sectors get to know each other. – Canadian Lawyer Magazine

THE GRAPEVINE

Macky Tall was promoted to head of private equity and infrastructure at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Tall was a lead architect of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in the greater Montreal area. Tall is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ Infra, a CDPQ subsidiary whose mandate is to plan, execute and operate public infrastructure projects. Prior to joining CDPQ in 2004, Tall held senior management positions with companies in the energy and finance sectors, namely Hydro-Québec, MEG International, Novergaz and Probyn & Company. – Journal de Montreal, CDPQ

Jane Rowe will take the new role of Vice-Chair, Investments at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. Rowe, who joined Ontario Teachers’ as head of private equity in 2010, will provide advice and counsel on the US portfolio. Under her leadership, net assets managed by the Equities team have grown from $11 billion to $47 billion. – OTPP

Michael Zych has been appointed independent director of Flow Capital, which provides minimally dilutive capital to emerging growth businesses. Zych is an active advisor and angel investor to the Canadian start-up ecosystem. Previously, he served as Global Head of Fixed Income, Global Banking, and Markets for Scotiabank. – MarketWatch

The Short Report, April 15, 2020: Regulators move fast to approve AI-powered x-rays for COVID-19; American lawmakers look askance at Huawei PPE donations; and more

The Fonds de recherche du Québec – santé (FRQS), the Quebec government’s health sciences research arm, will provide $2 million to help create the Centre de Recherche en Biologie Structurale (CRBS) at McGill University. The centre aims to advance understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms of disease, which could help address medical challenges like targeting treatments to specific patients, fighting antibiotic resistance and treating neurological conditions linked to aging. CRBS brings together 38 McGill researchers based in nine different departments: biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, anatomy and cell biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, parasitology and biology. – McGill

Regulators have approved the use of AI-powered x-ray software developed by 1QB Information Technologies Inc (1QBit) in Vancouver to identify patients with respiratory complications. The xrAI chest radiology tool received swift approval from Health Canada following expedited clinical trials in Saskatchewan. The software was accelerated because of its applicability in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. – BIV

Canadian and EU officials continued collaboration and mutual assistance to address the consular, public health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. A joint statement by Canada’s Francois-Philippe Champagne and the EU’s Josep Borrell Fontelles promised increased research and innovation funding for vaccines, therapies and diagnostics. Among other things, Ottawa and Brussels will support initiatives on data sharing for all COVID-19-related funded research at the global level. – Radio Canada International

Newsweek reported that donations of PPE and medical equipment by Huawei Technologies Co to Canada is raising concern among U.S. lawmakers. Huawei has reportedly shipped more than a million masks, 50,000 gloves and 30,000 goggles to Canada during the pandemic, and plans to send five million more masks. “This Administration’s retreat from multilateralism has been a boon for Chinese soft power,” said Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D). – Newsweek

The flexible packaging company ProAmpac signed a five-year alliance with Polytechnique Montréal to fund the university’s Sustainable, Safe and Smart Polymer Flexible Packaging program in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The agreement extends their 10-year collaboration and includes a $1-million Alliance Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), in addition to funds from the PRIMA Quebec Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Hub. – Calgary Herald

In a new paper published by the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Ann Fitz-Gerald sets out some potential policy implications of COVID-19 for Canada in five thematic areas: economy, energy and innovation; new ways of working and social change; stability, security and multilateral actors; migration, mobility and food security; and the importance of evidence-based policy. – Balsillie School

Engineering and medical researchers at McMaster University are assisting the auto parts manufacturer Woodbridge Foam Corporation to design, test, and certify a made-in-Canada high-filtration mask to supply health-care workers during the COVID-19 crisis. – McMaster

NSUS Group, the marketing arm of online poker brand GGPoker, has donated $100,000 to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation’s UHN Emergency COVID-19 Fund to facilitate clinical trials and support frontline staff. The donation was raised in partnership with GGPoker players; NSUS matched $50,000 in contributions by online players. – Gaming News Room

After the COVID-19 crisis delayed nearly $200 million in Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits for tech companies, those backlogged funds are now starting to flow. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is reportedly looking to expedite the processing of claims. – BetaKit

Ontario auto parts manufacturer Autoliv retooled its facility in just three days to shift from making airbags for carmakers to producing gowns for front line hospital workers fighting COVID-19, following an urgent request from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. – BNN Bloomberg

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has launched the College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19, to “leverage the expertise and infrastructure in these post-secondary institutions to rapidly mobilize support and expertise related to the COVID-19 outbreak.” – NSERC

A collaborative province-wide study between the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and the Government of Alberta will look at the drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as an early intervention for people who test positive for COVID-19. – University of Calgary

THE GRAPEVINE

Phillip Stephan has been appointed new vice president of business and client development at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario. Stephan previously held management roles at the Saskatchewan Research Council for almost a decade. Vineland is an independent, not-for-profit organization that seeks to enhance Canadian growers’ commercial success through innovation. “One of Vineland’s hallmarks is that we work closely with the industry to develop solutions addressing the sector’s challenges and Phillip will play a key role to help us strengthen and expand our efforts in this area,” said Vineland president and CEO Ian Potter in a statement. – Food in Canada

People

The Short Report, April 8, 2020: Mitacs steps up to help SMEs working on COVID-19 solutions; StatCan partners on ambitious business conditions survey; and more

Mitacs has launched a limited-time initiative to help SMEs working on COVID-19 solutions secure government funding, access research resources, and hire post-secondary interns. The non-profit’s 80 business development experts positioned across Canada will help SMEs complete funding applications and connect with researchers. College interns are also available to help with activities like coding, prototyping, monitoring cell cultures, managing data, and creating visual presentations of modelling. – InsightaaS

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded $5 million to the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to lead a national network of Indigenous research centres. Called the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR), the new $100.8-million, 16-year national program is the largest-ever single investment in Indigenous health research in Canadian history. It will be led by Dr. Carrie Bourassa, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. The national coordinating centre based at USaskwill work collaboratively with NEIHR centres in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, and Canada’s circumpolar region. – USask

Three prominent philanthropic foundations in Montreal have together donated $4 million to a COVID-19 Emergency Fund for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The gifts from The Hewitt Foundation, the late Elspeth McConnell, and the Trottier Family Foundation will fund new research projects, provide essential resources to isolated patients, and support hospital staff. – Yahoo Finance

University of Dalhousie professors Dr. Boris Worm and Dr. Heike Lotze contributed to an international research project which found that it’s possible to reverse the damage done to marine life within 30 years, while still preserving global fisheries, tourism and climate regulation. But achieving this feat will require sustained effort and financial support of roughly $10 billion to $20 billion per year — a strategic investment, says Worm: “Every dollar is well invested because it builds ocean resilience and abundance. We have the evidence that this works.” – Dalhousie

A new article published by the Washington, DC-based think tank the Brookings Institution suggests that the current “coronavirus-related recession is likely to bring about a spike in labor-replacing automation.” Robots’ infiltration of the workforce happens in bursts, the authors say, especially in the wake of economic shocks. – Brookings

Thornhill Medical, a Toronto-based creator of portable ventilator technology, has partnered with the auto parts manufacturer Linamar to fulfill a federal contract to manufacture 500 mobile compact ventilator systems, to be delivered as soon as early April. Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz says the company is working day and night to start producing the ventilators at its at its facility in Guelph, Ontario. Altogether, four companies will produce 30,000 made-in-Canada ventilators for the federal government, including StarFish MedicalCAE Inc, and Ventilators for Canadians. – Yahoo Finance, Tri-City News

The Toronto-based virtual privacy network (VPN) company Tailscale raised $3m in seed funding and launched a product to help remote teams securely access services quickly using an existing identity provider like GSuite or Office365. – BetaKit

The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has delivered over 1 million masks, 50,000 pairs of gloves and 30,000 goggles to Canada and continues to send more. In total, the company plans to donate six million masks to Canada. The gifts come as Huawei continues to seek federal approval to install 5G technology on Canada’s mobile networks, as well as the release of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on fraud charges. IT World Canada, Globe and Mail

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada are partnering to create one of the largest business intelligence surveys in Canadian history. The Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC) will examine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, how businesses are adapting, and challenges they face now and in the recovery to come. The new survey will be in the field this week and may be repeated in the coming weeks. “The results of this survey will provide the crucial insights needed right now to navigate the way forward for Canadian businesses and governments in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anil Arora in a statement. – Markets Insider

The Compute Canada Federation (CCF) will provide advanced research computing (ARC) support for COVID-19 focused research, such as providing access to cloud resources, high-performance clusters, and storage, as well as consulting in high-performance computing (HPC), data management, data analysis, machine learning, and visualization. – ACENET

Some tech sector companies in Alberta say that Premier Jason Kenney’s singular focus on the oilpatch is prompting them to consider leaving the province, the CBC reports. While the Alberta government spends billions on Keystone XL, it has cut funding to organizations like Alberta Innovates and eliminated tax credits for innovative companies. – CBC

The multinational mining corporation Vale has launched a challenge worth US$1-million to propel innovative COVID-19 solutions into the marketplace. The challenge is open in Canada and Brazil with each selected solution eligible to receive up to US$200,000. – Canadian Mining Journal

R$

The Short Report, April 1, 2020: EU will integrate COVID-19 stimulus with green transition; researchers team up to share resources and materials in fight against COVID-19; and more

The European Union will adapt its economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic in support of the continent-wide Green Deal adopted in December. Europe wants to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a growth strategy that will “transform its economy and society to put it on a
more sustainable path.” In a new statement, EU’s leaders signalled the COVID-19 response will require “a coordinated exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan, and unprecedented investment.” Without offering details, the forthcoming stimulus measures will match up with the green transition and digital transformation. – The Energy Mix

A group of Canadian volunteer researchers, students, activists and web developers led by Guillaume Bourque of McGill University and Tara Moriarty of the University of Toronto have joined together to create COVID-19 Resources Canada, a website to facilitate the sharing of resources, capacity and materials in the fight against COVID-19. The group aims to “support front-line healthcare workers;
expand capacities of public health and research labs; and serve as a source of expertise on COVID-19.” The initiatives include a database for finding and sharing reagents used by clinicians and researchers; a compilation of all active Canadian research into COVID-19; a platform for sharing experimental results and protocols; and a collection of links to publications, among others. – COVID-19 Resources Canada

Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna International has developed an “ozone sanitizing device” called the Puro that it claims can kill coronavirus. The device was first tested in 2012 and proven to kill MRSA bacteria; the company is now looking for a partner to help test and validate that the device also eliminates COVID-19. – The Drive

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) joined a $2.25-billion investment round in Google‘s autonomous driving tech company Waymo. This is the largest investment by the Crown corporation in the autonomous vehicle space to date. Also joining the round was Magna International, which partnered with Waymo last year “to open the world’s first factory fully devoted to manufacturing self-driving cars.” – Electric Autonomy

A new index of comparative data on academic freedom saw the University of Toronto rank 18th globally. The second-highest ranking Canadian university was the University of British Columbia at 34th and then McGill University at 42nd. – Inside Higher Ed

Canadian post-secondary institutions like the University of Waterloo, the University of Guelph, Conestoga College, and Algonquin College are donating supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators to local hospitals, as well as hospital beds, stretchers, mattresses and other equipment. – Academica

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is creating a $4-billion envelope to address the specific liquidity needs of Québec companies temporarily impacted by COVID-19, whether or not in CDPQ’s portfolio. Eligible companies must have been profitable before the COVID-19 crisis, have a promising growth outlook in their sector and require a minimum of $5-million of financial aid. – Globe and Mail

Montreal fintech-focused VC firm Luge Capital has assembled a collection of financial and community resources in support of the Canadian entrepreneurial system during COVID-19, encompassing government programs and startup community initiatives. – Medium

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is providing up to $15 million through its NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grants, to support collaborations between academic researchers and the public and not-for-profit sectors, and industry to address pandemic-related research and technical challenges. Support for up to $50,000 for one-year projects is being made available immediately. – NSERC

THE GRAPEVINE

Vianne Timmons finished her last day as president of the University of Regina on March 31 and is now beginning her role as president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University in her home province of Newfoundland. Timmons led U of R through eleven straight years of enrolment growth, which she attributes in part to her commitment to diversity. She created the Inspiring Leaders Forum, a conference focused on women leadership. Current provost and vice-president Thomas Chase will serve as interim president until the executive search to fill the role is completed. – Regina Leader-Post

Dr. Guy Rouleau received the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for “researchers who have had a sustained career of research excellence in the health sciences at an international level and have shown leadership and achievement above those of their peers.” Rouleau is the director of The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) at McGill University, as well as the McGill University Health Centre. He has made critical discoveries in the field of genetics and neurological disease and has helped identify more than 30 genetic risk factors, novel mutation types and their effect on human health. – McGill

Gary Mar was named president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation. He previously was president and CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada and was a Progressive Conservative MLA representing Calgary from 1993 to 2007. He was also the minister for international trade and Alberta’s representative in Asia and Washington, D.C. “Mar’s national and international experience will serve the Canada West Foundation in its mission to advocate for policy that is good for the West and good for Canada,” Ray Crossley, chair of the foundation’s board of directors, said in a statement. – Calgary Herald

Number 3 / Volume 34 / March 25, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

Even as we suffer the immense consequences of the pandemic, the fight against COVID-19 has at least inspired a surge in public acceptance and support for science. But there’s a dangerous flipside to this enthusiasm, embodied in the wild promises of President Trump. We need clarity and collaboration more than ever.

Read More

Eddyfi in Quebec expands global reach with back-to-back acquisitions

Eddyfi has acquired two overseas companies that expand the Quebec City-based tech firm’s capability and reach in the fest-growing global market for non-destructive technologies and services. More than $600 million in private equity and debt financing was raised to complete the acquisitions and pursue other strategic opportunities.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, March 25, 2020: Tech CEOs implore Ottawa to protect their industry, the NGEN supercluster commits $50M to scaling up production of supplies to fight COVID-19, and more

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched a new COVID-19 funding opportunity for operating grants called the “COVID-19 Clinical Epidemiology Research Rapid Response.” The application deadline is this Friday, March 27, and successful applicants will be notified of the decision on April 1. The competition description emphasizes the viruses “many unknown epidemiological parameters, particularly with respect to the Canadian context,” and states that research is needed to “mobilize existing Canadian surveillance networks for timely, detailed, and systematic collection and analysis of epidemiological and laboratory data.” Such data-gathering will “inform Canada’s public health emergency response to COVID-19.” – CIHR

More than 200 tech CEOs have banded together to appeal to the federal government to do more to protect the sector from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tech industry drives 17 percent of the nation’s GDP and employs 11 percent of the population, they write in an open letter to ministers Bill Morneau, Navdeep Bains and Mary Ng, and “many promising new ventures that are tackling everything from climate change to cancer treatment may be forced to close their doors” due to the disruption. They offer a detailed list of proposals, including pre-payment of funding for approved projects and suspension of all employee income tax for six months. – MaRS

Apart from the $52.6 million for extramural research at universities, including $25 million from the $275 million for research included in Trudeau’s billion-dollar COVID-19 stimulus plan, the prime minister announced the details of the remaining funding for research. Biotech firms Abcellera and Medicago will share $192 million from the new Strategic Innovation Fund COVID-19 stream; the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) will receive $11 million “to strengthen its existing expertise in coronavirus research and to help develop a vaccine for COVID-19”; the National Research Council of Canada will receive $15 million to upgrade its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montreal for developing, testing and scaling-up vaccine candidates; and the government will use Toronto-based digital health firm BlueDot‘s global early warning technology for infectious diseases to support modelling and monitoring of COVID-19’s spread over time. – Prime Minister’s Office

The Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGEN) supercluster will invest $50 million to support companies that are rapidly responding to the need for essential equipment, products, and therapeutics in the fight against COVID-19. Projects will be selected for funding according to critical needs identified by the Government of Canada and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for both patients and health care workers. – NGEN

Canadian scientists have started a petition to Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in Canada. Started by Tara Moriarty, a professor in the faculty of dentistry at the University of Toronto, the petition states that a critical barrier to increased testing is the shortage of trained personnel, as well as problems with shortages of key equipment and supplies. While Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory is working to ensure additional testing capacity, “highly skilled scientists outside this system are prohibited from lending assistance.” Among other things, the petition asks the federal government to “allow for a temporary relaxation of regulations such that established research or industry labs can perform COVID-19 testing under the full supervision and control of public testing labs, with all required quality assurance and privacy protection measures.” – Change.org

Also at the University of Toronto, the Pathogen Intravital Imaging Laboratory, or Moriarty Lab, is signing up volunteer Canadian scientists who possess the skills to support COVID-19 testing in public health labs. – Twitter

CIFAR announced it is taking immediate action in the global response to COVID-19 by 1) working with governments to provide advice on AI applications for COVID-19-related R&D; 2) launching funding for collaborative research projects on AI and COVID-19 through its Catalyst Grants; and 3) convening interdisciplinary groups of experts who can work together on relevant research collaborations. – CIFAR

Ottawa is offering a six-month loan holiday on federal student loan payments. Enrollment in the program is automatic. The National Student Loan Service Centre said the pause on payments and interest accumulation takes effect Mar. 30 and will last until Sept. 30, the CBC has reported. Employment minister Carla Qualtrough said the repayment break could be extended if necessary. – CBC

THE GRAPEVINE

Pari Johnston joined Genome Canada as Vice-President, Policy and Public Affairs on March 23. In the role, Johnston will provide expertise and leadership to shape and support the strategic direction of Genome Canada and work to raise awareness of the organization among stakeholders. “Now more than ever, we need science-based solutions to the major health, social and economic issues facing Canadians and the world,” she said in the announcement. Johnston held senior leadership positions at Universities Canada for twenty years, including as Vice-President, Policy and Public Affairs. – Genome Canada

Dr. William A. Ghali was appointed vice-president of research at the University of Calgary for a five-year term on March 1. Ghali is the scientific director of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at UCalgary and a physician in the Cumming School of Medicine. Ghali’s research has focused on evaluating and improving health system performance for better patient outcomes and improved efficiency, for which he has been awarded millions in grant funding from various agencies. He has published more than 420 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is a fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada, as well as co-director of the University of Calgary World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Disease Classifications and Health Information. – UCalgary

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The Short Report, March 4, 2019: Kirsty Duncan moves for a standing committee on science and research; Alberta cuts post-secondary education funding; Canadian miners make an action plan

Kirsty Duncan, the federal government’s Deputy House Leader and former minister of science, introduced a private members’ notice of motion in Parliament to create a new 10-member House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research. Ducan tweeted: “Should it pass, Canada’s research community will have a permanent place to raise their issues in Ottawa.” Duncan’s motion calls on the House to recognize that science and research are of critical importance to all Canadians; recognize that science and research are more important than ever; and affirm its commitment to science, research and evidence-informed decision-making. The new committee’s mandate would include reviewing and reporting on all matters relating to science and research, including any reports of the government’s Chief Science Advisor. There already is an existing Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology whose mandate includes studying and reporting on scientific research and development. – Kirsty Duncan

Ottawa announced a new collaborative project supported by Canada’s Protein Industries Supercluster aimed at helping organic growers and processers turn waste byproducts from the pulse processing industry into plant fertilizer. The project will take Vancouver-based Lucent BioSciences’ proprietary technology for “micronutrient fertilizers” to the manufacturing stage with partners AGT Food and Ingredients, headquartered in Regina, and 4D Labs, a research facility at Simon Fraser University. The total investment is up to $3 million, including up to $1.3 million from the federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative and $1.7 million from industry and academia. In a separate announcement, Protein Industries Canada and an industry consortium are together investing $9.25 million in a first-of-its kind project to help improve on-farm logistics and food traceability, while reducing input costs and environmental impacts, through an integrated data platform. – Protein Industries Canada

The Government of Alberta’s 2020 budget cut funding for universities and colleges by 6.3 %. Total operating expenses for the Advanced Education department went from $5.5 billion to $5.1 billion. In 2018-19, post-secondary schools funded 43% of operating expenses and government funded 58%. By 2022-23, 48% will come from post-secondary institutions and 52% from government funding. Jobs cuts that began in 2019-20 with 300 positions eliminated across the province’s post-secondary institutions will continue, with another 398 job cuts estimated for 2020-21. Last year’s budget saw provincial grants to both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary cut by 6.9%. The cuts, which averaged 5.1% across 26 institutions in Alberta, totalled $117.6 million in 2019. – Edmonton Journal

The Government of Ontario is increasing funding by $1.8 million to Indigenous-governed institutes in the province, to help them provide high-quality education that responds to community and local labour market needs. Ontario supports nine Indigenous institutes with operating funding to provide postsecondary education and training for more than 1,200 Indigenous learners. – Government of Ontario

The first “action plan” under the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP) aims to bolster the competitiveness of Canada’s mining sector and includes specific measures to establish Canada as “the leading mining nation in the 21st century,” says Seamus O’Regan, federal Minister of Natural Resources. Action Plan 2020 was introduced at the 2020 Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention in Toronto. Canada’s ministers responsible for mining agreed to pan-Canadian initiatives under each of six strategic directions identified in the CMMP. – CISION

The Ontario government’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) awarded Cementation Canada Inc. $88,355 to further develop a patented system that uses a pump-driven pipeline loop to transport ore and waste rock from underground mines to the surface. Called  “Injection Hoisting,” the technology provides an alternative to trucking or traditional hoisting ore and waste rock to the surface. It’s designed to reduce a mine’s operating and ventilation costs as well as greenhouse gases associated with trucking. – Bay Today

Colleges and Institutes Canada and not-for-profit Mitacs signed an agreement to create up to 1,000 work-integrated learning Mitacs research internships for students from CICan member institutions across Canada over the next five years. The partnership, which includes research supported by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, leverages both the extensive footprint and the longstanding relationships colleges and institutes have with community partners and local industry across the country, including rural and northern communities. Since Mitacs first launched a pilot project with college and institute students last year, 53 internships have begun from 18 institutions in nine provinces. – Colleges and Institutes Canada

The Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program awarded TerraSense Analytics in Kelowna, B.C. a $977,439 contract that will fund the next phase of the company’s “Multimodal Surveillance & Tracking” (MIST) product, an advanced airborne surveillance system that uses artificial intelligence. Designed with input from airborne sensor operators in the Canadian Armed Forces and around the world, MIST uses deep learning to improve operator situational awareness and enable analysts on the ground to search and recall precise moments from thousands of hours of footage in an instant. TerraSense Analytics’ team will spend the year working with engineering researcher Zheng Liu at the University of British Columbia and Erik Blasch of the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to develop and test a working prototype of MIST, using real aircraft, onboard sensors and targets. – CISION

The total number of research and development personnel in Canada remained essentially unchanged in 2017 compared with the previous year, according to Statistics Canada. There were 235,350 full-time equivalents, a marginal decline of 100 FTEs compared with 2016. However, there was a larger decline in the business enterprise sector, which was offset by growth in the higher education, federal government and private non-profit sectors. While the business enterprise sector experienced a decline in R&D personnel for the second consecutive year (down 1.6% to 144,570 FTEs), the federal government sector had its first year-over-year growth (6.8% to 12,610 FTEs) since 2009. The increase was the result of more R&D researchers across several departments and agencies, including Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Department of National Defence. The largest growth in R&D personnel in 2017 came from higher education, which increased by 1,140 FTEs to 74,350 FTEs. –The Daily, Statistics Canada

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded seven contracts worth a total of $4.36 million to five companies and one university to advance concepts for nano- and micro-sized rovers, as well as autonomous science instruments, as first steps toward landing and conducting Canadian science on the Moon’s surface. Companies receiving contracts: ABB (Quebec); Bubble Technology Industries Inc. (Ontario); Canadensys Aerospace Corporation (Ontario); Magellan Aerospace (Manitoba); and Mission Control Space Services Inc. (Ontario). Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space) will receive $690,123 to develop an Integrated Vision System that will be used to identify the geology of the lunar surface and for rover navigation. Western Space is collaborating with MDA Vision Systems and Sensors to develop the technology. CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program has earmarked $150 million over five years to help Canadian SMEs develop new technologies that could be used and tested in lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface. – Canadian Space Agency

Innovative Solutions Canada awarded a contract to INDENTOS in Toronto to test the company’s mobile security platform with Health Canada for patient digital access, with testing to be done at North York General Hospital. Currently, patients across Canada aren’t able to access digital data or leverage mobile health applications, partly due to lack of consent and security infrastructure to support compliance. INDENTOS says its technical solution enables patient authorization and consent, with data encryption that supports a connected and scalable digital health program to hospitals. The contract will enable INDENTOS to evaluate its platform for national scale and ensure it addresses the digital access needs for Canadian healthcare. – CISION

 Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), based in Sarnia-Lambton, ON, opened a new regional office in Brockville, ON. BIC, with a recent $15-million contribution from the Federal Economic Development Agency in Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), has developed the Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Network. The network will continue to support the growth of the Hybrid Chemistry Cluster in Sarnia-Lambton and enable the launch of a new Sustainable Chemistry Cluster in Eastern Ontario’s St. Lawrence Corridor region centred around Brockville and Maitland. – Canadian Biomass

Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, affirmed the government’s commitment to developing small nuclear reactor (SMR) technology. His comments came after meetings with officials and nuclear industry leaders at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference. In December 2019, Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed an agreement to collaborate on developing and deploying SMRs. Rickford said Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power will continue working with SaskPower and NB Power to develop a feasibility report and business case for SMR development and deployment in three provinces. The work will include identifying viable technologies for near-term and longer-term SMR deployment and providing full market analysis for these technologies. Nuclear energy provides more than 60% of Ontario’s power. – NetNewsLedger

Montréal-based nventive, a mobile and web app development studio, acquired Cortex, a digital innovation studio in Québec City, to create one of Canada’s leading independent innovation companies, with nearly 200 employees, and campuses in Montréal and Québec City. nventive provides support and guidance to enterprises in their digital transformation, with more than 1,000 cloud integration, mobile and web applications. – CISION

Networking and telecommunications company Ericsson and Carleton University announced a new multi-year partnership to advance research and industry-ready expertise in 5G wireless networks. The Ericsson-Carleton University Partnership for Research and Leadership in Wireless Networks will fund research projects, graduate student internships, an Ericsson fellowship program, and experiential learning opportunities for computer science and engineering students. The partnership also will establish a new centre of excellence and associated laboratories for 5G wireless networks research in Carleton’s new ARISE building. – Carleton University

CQDM, a biopharma-based research consortium based in Montreal, and the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet) formed a strategic partnership to identify and co-finance biopharmaceutical research projects in glycoscience across Canada. The partnership aims to support development of novel technologies in drug discovery, accelerate scientific talents across Canada, and advance Canada’s position as an international leader in healthcare innovation. CQDM includes several leading pharmaceutical companies, the Quebec government’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, and the federally supported Business Led-Networks of Centres of Excellence program. – EurekAlert

GRAPEVINE

Sid Paquette, former senior Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Systems (OMERS) venture-capital investor, joined Royal Bank of Canada to lead a new technology and innovation banking group. RBC declined to share specifics on the strategy for Paquette’s group or amount of capital he’ll oversee. The group “will focus on a more holistic approach to supporting our clients by complementing our financing offerings with industry-tailored business advice and solutions that go behind traditional banking to support their broader growth aspirations,” said Greg Rice, RBC’s executive vice-president, business and financial services. Paquette, a managing partner and founding team member of OMERS Ventures in 2011, left OMERS on Dec. 31, 2019 — one of a string of recent personnel changes within OMERS’ private capital investing operations, including last month’s exit of global private equity head Mark Redman. – The Globe and Mail

Alison M. Macfarlane will become the new director of University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs in the Faculty of Arts, for a five-year term starting July 1, 2020. She comes to UBC from George Washington University, where she’s professor of science policy and international affairs, director of the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy, and director of the International Science and Technology Policy Master’s program at the U.S. university’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Macfarlane takes over as director of UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs from acting director Maxwell Cameron, a professor of political science. – University of British Columbia

The Government of Canada has launched an open selection process to fill the position of president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The current president is Ted Hewitt, who was appointed in March 2015. SSHRC’s president is the chief executive officer, reports to Parliament through the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and works closely with the SSHRC Governing Council. The president also plays an important role as a member of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee, and builds and maintains effective collaborations with university, college, industrial, and government partners. Online applications, to the Governor in Council and ministerial appointments webpage, are encouraged by March 22, 2020. – Government of Canada

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The Short Report, February 26, 2020: Transatlantic AI projects; multiplying ocean startups; scaling in the Big Apple

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, British High Commissioner to Canada, announced 10 winning projects in the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence Initiative, a $13.6-million program jointly funded by Canada’s three major research funding agencies and four research councils in UK Research and Innovation, the UK’s national R&D agency. Canada is contributing $5 million and the UK £5 million over three years to bring together interdisciplinary university teams from both countries to advance AI for several health care applications, to counter hate speech online, reduce bias in job hiring, and for self-driving vehicles. Canadian universities in the winning projects include McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba and Simon Fraser University. – Science Business

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster launched the $6.8-million Ocean Startup Project, aimed at increasing the number of quality, ocean-focused startup companies in Atlantic Canada. The project will engage entrepreneurs; identify academic prospects with high commercialization potential; develop solutions with global market potential; attract female-led, Indigenous-led and international startups; and award grants to companies. The project brings together six of Atlantic Canada’s leading incubators, accelerators and support organizations: Genesis, Creative Destruction Lab, Innovacorp, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, PEI BioAlliance, and Springboard Atlantic. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster provided $3.9 million for the project, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency $535,000, and up to $2.4 million from the Atlantic provincial governments and the six project partners. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Concordia University’s District 3 (D3) innovation hub and New York-based Ellis Accelerator have partnered on a new D3 “Global X” program, NYC District, to help Canadian startups in the Big Apple. D3 startups can scale their global business through access to office space, market testing labs, mentorship, funding, housing, training and referrals to trade commissioner services in Manhattan’s business district. Gisleine Silverira, former head of international partnerships for D3, is now in New York to help 15 D3 startups shortlisted for the NYC District program. D3’s Global X initiative has a goal of securing 30 foreign partners in 20 different markets to support more than 100 Canadian startups in expanding globally. University of Concordia

Innovation Solutions Canada is inviting Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to propose innovations that address two government challenges, both involving digitized documents. Successful applicants may receive up to $150,000 to develop a proof of feasibility and, if accepted into Phase 2, SMEs could receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. “Our government is using its purchasing power to help small businesses innovate and become more competitive,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. ISED

ENCQOR 5G (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) has signed memorandums of understanding with six telecom providers in Canada. They are Bell, Cogeco, Ecotel (Ambra Solutions), Rogers, Telus and Vidéotron. Under the agreements, ENCQOR 5G will work with small and medium-sized enterprises in Quebec and Ontario to develop innovative solutions using the 5G pre-commercial test platform offered by ENCQOR 5G. The ENCQOR 5G initiative is funded by the governments of Canada, Quebec and Ontario, along with industry players Ericsson, Ciena, Thales, CGI and IBM. ENCQOR 5G

Centennial College in Toronto is collaborating with construction services company EllisDon, and design firms DIALOG and Smoke Architecture, to construct the first zero-carbon emissions, mass timber higher-education building in Canada. The $105-million, 150,000-sq-ft expansion project, to form a new gateway structure at Centennial’s Progress Campus, will embody the college’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and sustainable design when it opens in 2023. The design, based on the concept of “two-eyed seeing” (viewing the world through the lenses of Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge), brings the cultures together in both form and function. Centennial College

Innovative Solutions Canada has awarded a $435,000 contract to Leonovus Inc., an Ottawa-based software provider, to help deliver data storage infrastructure though multi-cloud computing. The contract, involving Justice Canada and the Department of National Defence, includes rigorous testing of Leonovus “Vault” software, a secure multi-cloud data controller that manages data storage on-premises and across multiple public clouds. Also to be tested is Leonovus’s new “Smart Filer” technology, which facilitates the automatic transfer of file data to Leonovus Vault. Leonovus Inc.

Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation (CARIB) in London, ON, has signed an agreement with Guelph-based Bioenterprise, Canada’s leading agri-tech commercialization accelerator, to support Canadian startups and SMEs to drive economic growth. Bioenterprise will help connect innovative companies from across the country to the technology and resources offered through Fanshawe’s CARIB laboratories. Agri-food is the fastest-growing subset of London’s manufacturing sector, with more than 7,000 people employed by over 90 companies, including Dr. Oetker, Natra, Original Cakerie, McCormick and Labatt. Fanshawe College

Lauak Canada will establish an advanced technology aeronautics centre of excellence at the company’s Mirabel factory in Quebec, with financial support from the federal government. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced $3 million, through Canada Economic Development’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program, as a repayable contribution to Lauak Canada. Lauak Canada specializes in manufacturing tubes to transport fuel, water, air and liquids feeding various airplane systems. The company plans to expand its factory, acquire Industry 4.0 digital equipment, and equip a research office responsible for developing innovative products and processes. Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced a federal investment of $560,000 over three years in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) to develop the Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative. The new initiative will provide an online national platform for Canadian farmers and processors to proactively meet the growing demand for proof of sustainability from customers. With the support, the CFA will create a single window for data on the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food supply chain. The initiative also will serve as a hub to benchmark and track the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food industry compared with international standards. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

GRAPEVINE

Andrew McCormack, Payments Canada’s chief information officer, will lead a new fintech unit for the world’s central banks. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) named McCormack as the head, for a three-year term starting in April, of its new innovation hub in Singapore. At Payments Canada, McCormack was responsible for the country’s core payments systems and its technology strategy. The BIS is setting up similar units in Hong Kong and Switzerland to enable collaboration among central banks on innovation. Investment Executive

Penny Wise has been appointed the president of 3M Canada. Wise, who holds an MBA from York University, brings more than 20 years of international experience at 3M, including senior leadership roles in business, commercialization, brand and corporate marketing. In her most recent role based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Wise led 3M’s largest business as global marketing director of the Safety and Industrial Group. She succeeds former 3M president Lars Hanseid, who has taken on a new role as 3M’s vice-president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa corporate affairs and governance. 3M Canada

Alex S. Wilner, assistant professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, is leading a new research program focused on how artificial intelligence might be applied as a deterrent to military adversaries. His research is funded through the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. AI “could improve the certainty and severity of a coercive message” designed to affect the behavior of an adversary, Wilner says. Carleton University News

Kari Harvey is the new chief executive officer of Innovation Saskatchewan. Harvey has more than 25 years in the public service, including senior leadership roles in the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Intergovernmental Affairs. Most recently, she was the acting CEO and chief operating officer of Innovation Saskatchewan. Innovation Saskatchewan

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People

The Short Report, March 18, 2020: Canadian researchers take first steps to a COVID-19 vaccine, University of Alberta announces drastic cuts, and more

Canadian innovation hubs are closing their doors and instituting work-from-home policies to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Invest Ottawa, MaRS Discovery District, Communitech, and OneEleven in Ontario have imposed restrictions, along with Volta in Atlantic Canada. Many, like Montreal’s Founder Institute and Startup Edmonton, are moving their programming online, offering webinars and virtual meetups to replace their public events. – BetaKit

Alberta Health Services has developed an online self-assessment tool to help people check their symptoms for signs of COVID-19. After going live on March 13, the tool has already been used over a million times. Alberta is sharing the code with other provinces who want to make their own versions, including Yukon, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Ontario, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces; British Columbia and Saskatchewan have already followed suit. – Globe and Mail

A team of researchers in Toronto has isolated and grown copies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolating the virus is an essential step in developing treatments, vaccines and tests for the virus. “We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” said Dr. Samira Mubareka in a statement. “While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.” The team is made up of scientists from Sunnybrook Hospital, McMaster University and the University of Toronto. – CTV News, Toronto.com

Father and daughter researchers Alyson Kelvin (39) and David Kelvin (65), from Halifax, are both working on solutions to COVID-19.  A virologist working at Dalhousie University, Alyson has been seconded to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre in Saskatoon to test vaccines in lab animals, while David, a Dalhousie professor, is working on a portable test kit to identify the severity of the illness for people who test positive for the virus. Alyson says that the pursuit of infectious disease solutions is a family passion. – National Observer

The University of Alberta eliminated 400 positions and could cut another 600 in the coming year, due to government funding reductions. “Over the last four months we have received a reduction in government funding in the order of $110 million,” university president David Turpin said at a news conference. “We are restructuring programs, we are focusing on administrative savings, we are changing our academic programming — last year alone we cancelled 30 programs and there will be more coming.”  The cuts are part of a 20 percent reduction in funding for Alberta’s 26 postsecondary institutions over the next three years. – CBC

California higher-ed tech company Raftr is offering its messaging and notifications platform free to colleges and universities, to ease disruption and dislocation as a result of COVID-19 concerns. The service enables immediate communication between universities and their students, faculty, and staff. The company is making the service available free of charge until July 1, 2020. – Financial Post

The University of Toronto and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) are partnering to create an entrepreneurship program to strengthen ties between the innovation ecosystems in Canada and India. A key component of U of T’s new Entrepreneurship Centre in Mumbai, the program will offer exchange opportunities for new entrepreneurs, support research collaborations and develop a two-way innovation talent pipeline. – U of T

The Government of Québec will give $15 million in funding over five years to the Institute national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) to support scientific research collaboration between five schools in the Université du Québec network, in Chicoutimi, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rimouski, Outaouais and Trois-Rivières. The funding will focus on research in strategic sectors, including advanced materials, health, and cybersecurity. – UQuebec

Ben Spigel from the University of Edinburgh Business School and Tara Vinodrai from the University of Toronto have published a research paper on the ‘recycling’ of people, capital, and ideas in Waterloo after the decline of Blackberry in 2008. The authors found that “alumni of this firm engaged in very little high-growth entrepreneurship, instead entering the ecosystem as technology employees at high-growth scale-up firms.” – Taylor & Francis Online

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has released a new Call for Proposals for Assessments by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), in order to identify up to four assessment topics that the CCA will tackle, starting in April 2021. The deadline for government departments to send their assessment topic ideas to ISED is March 30. – CCA

GRAPEVINE

Mary Wells has been named the University of Waterloo’s next Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. Currently serving as Dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Guelph, Wells is an accomplished materials engineer and recognized both for her strategic leadership and her work in attracting, engaging and retaining women in the engineering industry. Wells previously spent ten years as a faculty member in the University of Waterloo’s mechanical and mechatronics engineering department, where she chaired the Women in Engineering committee for many years. She was Chair of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering from 2013 to 2018. – U Waterloo

The Short Report, March 11, 2020: Anonymizing research applications mitigates gender bias; Superclusters spend a fraction of their budget; Athena Pathways aims to train 500 women in AI

Three maritime research projects led by researchers at the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) have received more than $3 million in funding through a joint international funding initiative between the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) in France and the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ). The projects address issues related to sustainable ocean transport, the effects of shipping on aquatic life, and climate change adaptation. – UQAR

New research by Stefanie K. Johnson and Jessica F. Kirk indicates that anonymizing can mitigate gender bias in the review of scientific research applications. The authors found that “when indications of candidates’ gender (such as their first name) were removed from applications for time on the Hubble Space Telescope, women were selected at a higher rate than when their gender was obvious.” – HBR

Staples Canada launched a concept store in Ottawa on March 7 that includes coworking space called Staples Studio and an “enhanced services space known as Solutionshop.” Staples Studio is intended to serve Ottawa’s entrepreneurial community with amenities like a collaborative workspaces and a podcast studio. – Benzinga

The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) only spent two thirds of its $3.3-billion budget in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, including money earmarked for programs such as Connect to Innovate and the Superclusters Initiative, according to ISI’s annual results report. For example, of its $244-million budget, the Superclusters Initiative only spent $5.6-million. The unspent money could be reprofiled for future years, but critics say the delays indicate larger problems with the innovation agenda’s design. – The Globe and Mail

Vancouver healthtech company WELL Health Technologies Corp. has launched VirtualClinic+, a telehealth services platform available to Canadians and free to people in B.C. The company has ramped up the program in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. An estimated 4.8 million Canadians are currently without a family doctor. – WELL Health

Innovation minister Navdeep Bains told CBC that Canada “won’t get bullied” by other jurisdictions in making a decision about Huawei and 5G networks, and will instead make its own “independent decisions based on [its] own analysis.” Bains made the statement just days before top 5G advisor to the Trump administration Robert Blair met with officials from Public Safety, National Defence, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, among others, to discuss America’s security concerns over Huawei. – Mobile Syrup

Ottawa-based AI company Mindbridge acquired the UK accountancy tech firm Brevis Limited. Mindbridge offers risk detection for the financial services space, using a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect anomalous patterns, unintentional errors, and intentional misstatements. The company raised $29.6 million last year, of which $14.5 million came from the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to support a $140.8 million project to create a data analysis tool. In August, Mindbridge hired former chief information officer to the federal government Alex Benay as its chief client officer, though Benay left shortly after to go to KPMG as its partner of digital and government solutions. Mindbridge says the Brevis acquisition will help grow its customer base in the UK and Europe, and includes Brevis founders and principals, Stuart Cobbe, Sam Zalin-Miller, and Daniel O’Sullivan. – BetaKit

Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng participated in a kick-off event for York University’s ELLA (Entrepreneurial Leadership & Learning Alliance), an accelerator program supporting 54 women entrepreneurs from York Region and the Greater Toronto Area. The federal government is providing $1.8 million in funding for ELLA, led by Innovation York. Shopify has signed on as the premier partner in support of the program. – YorkU

Athena Pathways is partnering with the Digital Technology Supercluster, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Northeastern University to train 500 BC women in AI in 18 months. Led by the Artificial Intelligence Network of BC (AInBC), the project aims to increase BC’s pool of scientific and technical expertise and make it more inclusive, while delivering real value in the form of trained interns, workers and executives to businesses. – BCIT

The McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) is expanding to include TorStar’s 258,000-square-foot Spectator Building to make space for what it calls a Life Sciences Megahub. “We’re realizing the true social and economic value of our research and helping to grow the region’s life sciences cluster. Our researchers are spinning out companies, creating jobs, and attracting investment and industry to the Park,” said Karen Mossman, McMaster‘s acting vice-president of research. The completed park will employ 5,000 people and span 2.5 million square feet of space. The redeveloped Spectator property won’t target startup companies but rather mid-market, high-growth companies with 40 to 100 employees. – McMaster, The Spec

Patriot One Technologies has received a contract from Innovative Solutions Canada to provide its PATSCAN Multi-Sensor Covert Threat Detection Platform to Correctional Service Canada (CSC), deploying in March 2020 at an undisclosed location. – Newswire

Ontario has awarded $3.57 million to the University of Waterloo to support 29 research projects. Wilfrid Laurier University also received $247,000 for four projects. The funding is part of the province’s plan to invest $38 million into 183 research projects across the province through the Ontario Research Fund. – The Record

Ottawa startup GBatteries announced it will receive up to $3 million through the Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada program, an initiative backed by Natural Resources Canada, BDC and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund that aims to advance clean energy innovation in Canada. GBatteries uses artificial intelligence to optimize the charge rate of electric vehicles. Nine other winners were announced on February 12, including Intelligent City Inc. from Vancouver, which builds energy-efficient family housing, and BIOME from Toronto, which improves wind energy production at existing wind farms. – Ottawa Business Journal

Genome BC launched its 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, which builds on the downward trend of cost and time to read DNA, the development of portable sequencers. Anticipating profound uptake and application of genome sequencing technology, the organization is looking forward to a rapidly expanding field of business and research that includes interdisciplinary approaches involving artificial intelligence, computational biology, blockchain and other emerging disruptive technologies. Genome BC will continue to leverage provincial investment with co-funding from partners to “drive the acceleration of research and translation into new products, services and systems.” – Genome BC

THE GRAPEVINE

Matthew Mendelsohn is joining Ryerson University as a visiting professor, after four years heading up a “results and delivery” unit in the Privy Council Office. In his role as deputy secretary to the Cabinet, Mendelsohn was tasked with instilling a “deliverology” approach — popularized by Michael Barber in the UK — to helping the Liberal party fulfill its commitments. Mendelsohn’s Impact and Innovation Unit created Impact Canada, designed to “accelerate the adoption of innovative funding approaches,” and which is currently developing over $700 million in outcomes-based funding initiatives. Mendelsohn served as deputy minister in the Ontario government from 2004 to 2009, and directed the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto from 2009 to 2016. – The Province

Number 2 / Volume 34 / February 19, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee’s new Indigenous research strategy strives to follow a path of respect, representation, and recognition of Indigenous leadership. Industry would be wise to follow.

Read More

Opinion Leader:
Alexandre Navarre

As the landscape of Canadian R&D changes, universities must address new challenges

Currents of change are altering the fabric of Canadian R&D. The time has come for universities to reassess their roles and address new challenges.

Read More

Forest industry emerging as a leader in Canada's innovation economy

Canada’s forest industry is tapping innovation with the aim of growing the nation’s GDP while slashing carbon emissions. Federal government funding and policy support for the innovation drive has been strong, say industry executives and innovation leaders. But more effort is needed to improve procurement programs and regulations, especially for biochemicals and biomaterials.

Read More

New federal strategy aims to ensure Indigenous governance of research

Canada’s Tri-Council of major government funding agencies and Indigenous partners across the country have co-developed a new Indigenous research strategic plan. The plan, which proposes a new interdisciplinary research and research screening model, represents a significant new approach by the federal government and a contribution to reconciliation. With implementation starting this spring, the strategy aims to ensure Indigenous peoples lead and control any research involving them.

Read More

News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, January 28, 2020: Late-stage growth investing; AI for the steel supply chain; quantum computing with lasers

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Innovation minister Navdeep Bains and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga announced a joint investment to establish the new global Intelligence and Cyber Centre in Vancouver, B.C. MasterCard is investing $510 million, of which  $420 million is eligible under the Strategic Innovation Fund, while Ottawa is investing $49 million to support the project, which aligns with the Government of Canada’s National Cyber Security Strategy and will create 270 jobs by 2029. Mastercard will qualify for federal and provincial R&D tax credits. The Centre will focus on creating technologies and standards to protect personal and financial information shared over the internet on connected devices and to enable businesses and organizations to better integrate cybersecurity technologies. – Canada.ca, The Globe and Mail

Round13 Capital announced two new funds that will bring the value of capital that the firm manages to over $325 million. The first of these, Round13 Fund II, has so far closed approximately $125 million, and shares the same strategy as Round13’s original Founder’s Fund: to support Canadian tech companies that are ready to scale their sales and marketing activities. The second, called Round13 Growth, is a late-stage growth equity fund that will be led by Sanjiv Samant, technology advisor and financier who’s worked for National Bank, Canaccord, RBC, and CIBC. Round13 Growth has so far closed $100 million. – BetaKit, Yahoo! Finance

American investor and philanthropist George Soros has created a $1-billion global network called the Open Society University Network (OSUN) with the stated aim “to integrate teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide.” The network will consist of “deep, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration,” and sharing a “commitment to advance open society and address fundamental global challenges,” according to Bard College, a primary OSUN partner alongside the Central European University.  – Inside Higher Ed, Bard College

Canadian companies Peer Ledger (Halifax) and Mavennet (Toronto) will receive $150,000 each from Innovative Solutions Canada to develop a proof of concept for a digital tracing system enabled by blockchain and artificial intelligence for the steel supply chain. The funding will support research and development activities to build a prototype specific to the steel supply chain. If selected to continue to the program’s next stage, one of the two companies could receive up to $1 million over two years to refine its prototype. – Canada.ca

Canadian quantum hardware and technology company Xanadu has received $4.4 million from  Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to further develop its photonic quantum computers and make them available over the cloud. Photonic technology, which uses laser light to carry information through optical chips, is inherently more power-efficient than electronics. Xanadu is working to make quantum computers that can perform calculations at room temperature, thereby eliminating the need for power-hungry cooling systems required by most other types of quantum computers. – Newswire

In its Annual Head Office Survey for 2018, Statistics Canada revealed that the number of head offices in Canada increased by 0.3% to 2,737, thanks in part to the cannabis sector, which compensated for closures in other sectors. – StatCan

Innovative Solutions Canada announced five new challenges in two separate announcements: Low-cost sensor system for patient monitoringNanocomposite fabrics production systemAI software for photonics semiconductor fabricationSurveying objects across an air-water interface; and, Secure and confidential rule matching.

THE GRAPEVINE

Seymour Schulich increased his investment in the Schulich Leader Scholarships to $200 million, doubling the number of annual awards from 50 to 100. Offering the largest payout of any undergraduate scholarship program in Canada, half of the awards will go to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in engineering and the other half will go to students pursuing a STEM degree at one of 20 Canadian partner universities. – The Globe and Mail, Newswire

OCAD University named Ana Serrano as its new president and vice-chancellor. Serrano is coming from her post as chief digital officer at the Canadian Film Centre. She founded the CFC Media Lab and launched IDEABOOST, a digital media and entertainment accelerator, along with founding partners Shaw Media, Corus Entertainment and Google. – The Globe and Mail

The Short Report, February 12, 2020: Canada takes a step toward joining Horizon Europe; NSERC funding for basic research takes a dive; Google pursues rapid Canadian expansion

Microsoft is partnering with Invest Ottawa and the Bayview Yards business accelerator to offer technical and business resources to entrepreneurs. Called Microsoft for Startups, the program gives innovative Ottawa companies access to its cloud services, enterprise sales team and partner ecosystem. – Ottawa Matters

Canada Infrastructure Bank CEO Pierre Lavallée signalled the bank is considering an investment in the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project to bring hydroelectricity and broadband internet from Manitoba to Nunavut. The 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line and fibre-optic link would cost an estimated $1.6 billion to construct. The bank has signed an MOU to provide advice to proponents of the project, including the Kivalliq Inuit Association and its business arm, Sakku Investments Corp., as well as Anbaric Development Partners, which includes Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. – The Globe and Mail

The online wholesale marketplace Faire opened its first official headquarters in Canada at a 14,000 square-foot office space in Kitchener, Ontario. 75 employees currently work there, most of them engineers; co-founder and CTO Marcelo Cortes wants to double that number within a year. The Faire platform allows independent retailers to find new products from niche creators, enabling more than 70,000 retailers in the US and Canada to buy products from 9,000 makers in over 60 countries. – BetaKit

Quebec City-based pipeline testing firm Eddyfi Technologies has raised over $600 million in order to acquire the Irish company NDT Global, which provides ultrasonic pipeline inline inspection (ILI) and data analysis. Together, they form a test & measurement (T&M) technology group focused on non-destructive testing (NDT), called Eddyfi/NDT. Eddyfi will now have more than 1,000 employees working in 20 global offices and serving customers in 110 countries. The acquisition was supported through a strategic partnership with the private equity firm Novacap and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), who invested $163 million and  $107 million respectively. The new equity investment is combined with new debt financing provided by a banking syndicate led by National Bank of Canada and additional debt from Investissement Quebec. – Canadian Manufacturing

McMaster University has become a founding member of the Digital Credentials Consortium, a 12-member group of international universities — led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — working to design an infrastructure to distribute, issue, store, display and verify academic credentials digitally. – McMaster

Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins made a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in which she argued that, given that low interest rates leave little room for central banks to stimulate the economy through cuts, boosting Canada’s competitiveness and productivity will require investing in digital infrastructure, improving the tax and regulatory environment, and getting government and business to cooperate on education spending. – CTV News, Bank of Canada

Saugeen Ojibway Nation in Ontario are partnering with the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) to develop new isotope infrastructure on their territory. The agreement will leverage a project to produce Lutetium-177 for treating prostate cancer. Production will start in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals. – NetNewsLedger

The Government of Canada has made $50 million available to researchers who want to work with the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, as part of the international stream of the New Frontiers in Research Fund that was launched in 2018. This round of funding is part of an exploratory process that could lead to Canada formally joining the EU’s proposed €94.1 billion research project Horizon Europe. – Science Business

The Ontario Research Fund announced a total of $37.4 million in investments in 183 research projects at 23 institutions. Most of the funding is being spent through the fund’s Small Infrastructure program, which is supporting 176 projects with an investment of $31,336,101. Other programs are College-Industry Innovation ($1 million), Genomic Applications Partnership Program ($1,014,058), and Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition ($4,036,205). – Ontario News 

The Groupe de recherche en environnement et biotechnologie (GREB) at Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup has received $4.9 million from NSERC and local public and private partners, as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Québec to fund water treatment research. – Cégep RDL

The Government of Canada is looking for a successor to the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), three Earth observation satellites that launched on June 12, 2019. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) posted a request for proposal to industry for further innovation to meet Canada’s increasing needs for Earth observation data. – Canadian Space Agency

NSERC funding for basic research is declining relative to applied research. The authors of a recent investigation found that “before 2007-08, research programs devoted exclusively to basic research made up over half (52 percent) of total annual funding from NSERC. Fast forward to 2015-16 and this tally stood at just 40 percent.” – University Affairs

Google is moving into larger offices in Toronto and Montreal, and doubling the size of their R&D headquarters in Kitchener, as well as setting up a start-up accelerator in the city. The moves are part of a plan for the company to triple its presence in Canada, despite the passing of federal legislation in 2019 that will see higher taxes for foreign companies. Google could also have a hard time with Canada’s new digital charter, which would require the company to be more transparent about how it uses personal data. – The Grit Daily

THE GRAPEVINE

Parimal Nathwani will succeed Dr. Raphael Hofstein as president and CEO of Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (formerly MaRS Innovation). Currently serving as vice president, Nathwani has been with the organization since 2009 and specializes in the life sciences industry. He oversaw the creation and implementation of the LAB150 collaboration with the German contract research organization Evotec SE for drug discovery, and led venture creation and growth activities resulting in multiple TIAP portfolio companies that have raised third-party capital. – TIAP

Dr. Christopher Sands has been appointed the new director of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’s Canada Institute, in Washington, D.C. Sands comes to the Wilson Center from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he led the Center for Canadian Studies. Sands has worked in Washington think tanks since 1993, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a specialist on Canadian affairs, as well as the Smart Border North Congressional Working Group and the Hudson Institute. He is a member of the board of directors for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), serves on the executive committee of the Canada – United States Law Institute (CUSLI), and on the research advisory board for the Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI) in Ottawa.- Wilson Center

People

Short Report, February 5, 2020: Most Canadian boards still don't include women; merit-based grants offer big economic returns; McMaster researchers establish a new form of computing

A StatCan study of Canadian corporations in 2016/17 found that most of their boards didn’t include women: over 60% had no women members. The number of women on boards is growing, but very slowly, say experts. – BNN Bloomberg

The University of British Columbia became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to join the Center for Open Science’s online platform, Open Science Framework Institutions (OSFI). The research management tool will help UBC researchers better embrace collaboration and mitigate the reproducibility crisis that is plaguing scientific research, according to Mathew Vis-Dunbar, who led the adoption of OSFI. – UBC

Global funding for neglected disease R&D grew for three consecutive years, reaching a record high of more than US$4.05 billion in 2018. Increases from both the public and private sectors drove a 7.9% rise in total global funding compared to the previous year. – Stat News

The Electronic Recycling Association, the Canadian Cloud Council, and Highrise have partnered to create the ERA Digital Foundation, a Calgary-based not-for-profit that seeks to “re-architect the digital economy for the greater good of all of humanity.” – ERA Digital Foundation

Ottawa cleantech company Thermal Energy International has reported a 51 percent increase in year-over-year revenue, achieving a net profit of $385,000 in the three-month period ended Nov. 30, 2019, after a loss of $112,000 in the same quarter last year. The improved performance stems in part from increased demand for its heat recovery products in Europe. – Ottawa Business Journal 

StatCan reported that Canada’s gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD) reached $35.7 billion in 2017, up 2.0% from the previous year, thanks in part to increasing R&D expenditures in higher ed, which advanced 3.8% to $14.3 billion. The business enterprise and higher education sectors accounted for more than 92% of R&D performance that year. Ontario and Quebec accounted for 70.1% of total R&D expenditures based on funding from all sectors. While Ontario saw a decline in R&D expenditures, Quebec saw a 10.3% rise, reaching $9.7 billion in expenditures. – The Daily

A collaboration between researchers from McMaster and Harvard universities has led to the creation of a platform that enables light beams to communicate with one another through solid matter, a discovery that could lead to a new form of computing. – EurekAlert

A new joint study from the University of British Columbia, Queen’s, Princeton and Yale found that merit-based grants are a government’s best bet for providing effective student aid for long-term economic growth. “We found that a $1000 increase in grants per year for every student, which corresponds to roughly a 50 per cent increase on average, would lead to a long-run gain in GDP of close to one per cent,” said study co-author Giovanni Gallipoli, an associate professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. “This is a comparatively large return on investment.” – UBC News

The Ottawa-based tech company Fully Managed has obtained $25 million in new financing to expand its senior care technology into markets in the US over the next two years. The funds come from Dallas-based Comerica and BDC Capital. – Ottawa Business Journal

Report: Since the U.S. struck a partial trade agreement with Japan in October 2019, the trade advantage that Canada gained through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has narrowed. In a new report from the Canada West Foundation, authors Sharon Zhengyang Sun and Carlo Dade identify overlooked opportunities for Canadian exporters in small sectors, where growth can be accelerated. – Canada West Foundation

Toronto-region tech hub ventureLAB announced the first cohort of companies in its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), along with $8 million in resources and mentorship from founding partners like AMD and Synopsys. Announced in June of 2019, HCI is Canada’s first silicon incubator, focused on helping companies in Southern Ontario develop hardware solutions, by giving them access to expensive tools, lab space, investment and industry expertise. – Canadian Manufacturing

This spring, the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is launching a Western Canada Regional Headquarters in Calgary, expanding its investor education programming in Atlantic Canada, and collaborating on new programs with the regional angel groups and innovation hubs in its network. NACO says its activities will unlock $821 million in Alberta and $6.9 billion in angel capital across the country. – Financial Post

THE GRAPEVINE

Charles Émond has been selected by the Quebec government to replace Michael Sabia as president and CEO of Caisse de dépôt et placement. Émond is stepping up from his role as senior vice-president for private investments and strategic planning in Quebec. He previously spent 18 years at Scotiabank. Sabia is transitioning to become head of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. – CBC

Peter Nicholson has joined the new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices as board chair. Climate Choices is an independent national research body that aims to chart transition pathways to a low-carbon economy. Nicholson was the founding president of the Council of Canadian Academies and has served in multiple executive roles in the public and private sector throughout his long and respected career. “Climate change has handed us a problem of immense complexity and scale, and there are no easy fixes…. Making choices that are cost-effective, fair and position Canada to thrive in the future is an incredible challenge, as well as an opportunity,” Nicholson said in a statement. – Climate Choices

Mark Ruddock, CEO of small business lender BFS Capital, joined the Board of Directors for the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA), where he will work on initiatives to benefit consumers and small businesses, including open banking, risk-based pricing and responsible lending. – Financial Post

Veronica Farmer joined the University of Ottawa as Director, Partnerships and Commercialization, to spearhead their uOttawa-Kanata North strategic initiative. Farmer will pursue a three-pronged strategy on behalf of the university to promote access to talent, training and solutions in the Kanata North community. Her company TrueCourse Communications has supported marketing and business development efforts for many companies in Kanata North and Ottawa. – R$

Nicola Urbani has been appointed Director of Innovation Support Services for the Office of the Vice-President Research at the University of Ottawa. A management and investment professional, Urbani was the Director of Investments at CIC Capital Ventures and before that held the position of Vice-President of Commercialization for the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He has also served as a Business Advisor at the National Research Council in the area of medical devices and therapeutics, and as Director of Strategic Projects and Commercialization at Génome Québec. – R$

R$

 

The Short Report, February 19, 2020: A new chemistry cluster in Ontario; Boris Johnson's brother joins ApplyBoard; selling our AI lunch

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) received $15 million from FedDev Ontario “to promote new sustainable innovations and bring business support to Eastern Ontario in Canada.” Along with partners the St. Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission and St. Lawrence College, BIC will establish the Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Network (OBIN), a hybrid chemistry cluster in Brockville, Ontario. The network aims to help sustainable chemistry and cleantech companies to improve their ability to commercialize products. 150 businesses and organisations are expected to receive assistance through the project, creating as many as 700 jobs. – Biofuels News

As giant companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Huawei spend tens or hundreds of millions on research hubs in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, observers worry that intellectual property is being swallowed up. IP lawyer Jim Hinton estimates that a majority of Canadian AI patents end up belonging to foreign companies: “We’re selling our lunch. What we need to be doing is getting money out of our ideas ourselves, instead of seeing foreign talent scoop it all up. Otherwise we’ll never have a Canadian champion.” – Science Business

Ontario’s Expert Panel on Intellectual Property has published its report on IP in Ontario’s innovation ecosystem. Created by the provincial government in spring 2019, the Expert Panel was mandated to develop an action plan for the development of a provincial IP framework that would exploit the benefits of Ontario’s investments in R&D and maximize the role of innovation intermediaries. Ontario shares the same challenges as Canada generally, where GDP per capita has fallen by 3% since 2010, even as the US has experienced a 35% increase over the same period. Canada also underperforms in job quality. Meanwhile, the pace of the intangible economy is accelerating. “Successful companies now principally compete on staking positions in value chains of intangibles rather than by only lowering costs in production supply chains,” the authors observe. The panel recommends adopting a “Made-in-Ontario” approach that focuses on “education, IP generation and licensing/transfer, developing receptors for publicly-funded research and addressing regional differences related to language and access to expertise.” – Ontario

Quebec City-based H2O Innovation acquired the U.K. chemical company Genesys for $28 million. Founded in 2000, the publicly-traded company specializes in membrane filtration technology, and saw 13.5% revenue growth over the same period of the previous fiscal year, with revenue of $33.3 million. “H2O is benefiting from sector tailwinds and is well-positioned to take advantage of the increased water infrastructure spending over the coming years,” says Haywood Capital Markets analyst Daniel Rosenberg. – Cantech Letter

The Montreal-based transportation and logistics company TFI International raised US$200 million at its initial public offering of 6,000,000 common shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), at a price of US$33.35 per share. TFI indicated that it expects to use the net proceeds to increase its available credit “for working capital and general corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions.” – Axios Pro Rata, TFI International

Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC)  is creating a research cluster comprised of seven institutes, dedicated to researching “zero emissions buses.” CUTRIC and its members are contributing $4.2 million over three years, along with $551,000 through the Mitacs Accelerate and Elevate programs, to fund CUTRIC’s National Academic Committee on Zero-Emissions Buses (NAC-ZEB). “This research will move Canada closer to achieving the goal of electrifying 5,000 buses across the country, as set by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities,” said Josipa Petrunic, executive director and CEO of CUTRIC, in a press release. – Newswire

Concordia University launched the Centre for Innovation in Construction and Infrastructure Engineering and Management (CICIEM), led by engineering professor Osama Moselhi. “We want to be an agent of change that helps transfer the traditional construction industry into the digital age,” Moselhi said. The centre will research Industry 4.0 strategies like “digital twinning,” IoT, automation and robotics, and virtual and augmented reality to improve building inspection and maintenance. The CICIEM is working with an advisory board comprised of executives from Hydro-Québec, Canam Group, Hatch and SNC-Lavalin. – Concordia

THE GRAPEVINE

Jo Johnson, the younger brother of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joined ApplyBoard as chairman of its advisory board. ApplyBoard is a recruitment platform for international students seeking to study in Canada, primarily, though the company is swiftly adding other countries to its roster. Johnson led the reintroduction of two-year work visas for international students studying in the U.K. The former MP  made headlines in September when he stepped down from parliament and quit his brother’s Cabinet over “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest.” Since then, Johnson has served as non-executive chairman at the online education company Tes Global. – CTV News

Charles Plant has left the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre, where he was a senior fellow since 2013, “in order to follow [his] own advice and become more entrepreneurial.” He will continue to conduct research and provide corporate development for scaling technology companies through the Narwhal Project. Plant was co-founder and CEO of the telecommunications software firm Synamics from 1987 to 2002, after which he taught at the Schulich School of Business and served as Managing Director – CFO at the MaRS Discovery District. – R$

Number 1 / Volume 34 / January 22, 2020

Editorial:
Mark Mann

The downing of Flight 752 revealed — in the most devastating manner possible — a fundamental and poorly acknowledged truth about Canadian society: we would be a far, far less innovative and prosperous country without international students and immigrants.

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Remembering the passengers on Flight 752

The tragic plane crash on January 8th of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, resulted in the loss of all 176 passengers on board. Among these were more than 85 students, researchers, academic faculty, and medical and engineering practitioners living and working in Canada. We mourn this enormous loss of talent, aspirations, and potential for the scientific community.

Read More

Trudeau's tree-planting plan could hurt more than it helps

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to plant two billion trees to help reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions is more complex than it sounds. The effort will need to be carefully planned and executed to ensure the trees not only survive but don’t become a future wildfire hazard, forest experts say.

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Opinion Leader:
Jasmine Gill

Opinion: Canada’s small cities and rural communities need more immigrants. Colleges and universities can help.

International students provide immense benefits to Canadian schools and the communities that host them, especially when they remain past graduation. Most students choose higher-ed institutions in larger cities, but colleges and universities in smaller, rural and remote centres can do more to draw and retain foreign talent.

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News Bites

News Briefs

The Short Report, January 22, 2020: Ontario scholarship for Flight 752 victims; automation threat in Manitoba; superclusters unveil new projects

The government of Ontario has created a scholarship fund to honour the 57 Canadians who died on Flight 752. The new fund will disburse scholarships of $10,000 to 57 students, one in memory of each victim. “Many of the victims were students and professors with bright futures, studying and teaching at Ontario universities and colleges, and contributing to the advancement of research in many life-changing fields. We will honour their memories through these scholarships to recognize their incredible contributions to our communities,” said Premier Doug Ford. – Ontario.ca

A new report called Horizon Manitoba says the province needs more work placement programs for students. Produced by Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions, in partnership with the Business Council of Manitoba, the report warns that the province’s future job market is vulnerable to disruption and automation and that failure to adapt may have serious economic and social consequences. – CBC

Rogers Communications rolled out its 5G network in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. The technology provides a pathway for greater deployment of autonomous vehicles and smart city applications. Rogers partnered with supplier Ericsson to build the networks. – Ottawa Business Journal

A Toronto employment survey focused on the city’s technology sector found that access to highly skilled labour is a dominant issue. The report suggests shifting the discussion from what attracts
establishments to locate where they do, to what attracts the labour force to locate where they do. – Toronto

The publicly-traded company Ackroo has moved its headquarters from Ottawa to Hamilton, due to the tight labour market in the nation’s capital. Seventy per cent of respondents to the 2019 Ottawa Business Growth Survey said attracting and retaining skilled workers is one of the top five issues facing their companies. Ackroo received a $500,000 loan from the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) to make the move. – Ottawa Business Journal

Montreal-based artificial intelligence startup Element AI will lead a human rights impact assessment of the proposed Sidewalk Labs smart city development in Toronto. The $200,000 contract also includes human rights experts with ITN Solicitors, the Thinking Forward Network and Fair/Square Research. The company also partnered with Amnesty International in 2018 to use AI to study online abuse. – Financial Post

With a $9.5-million investment from the Protein Industries Canada supercluster, Merit Functional Foods will open a canola and pea protein-processing facility near Winnipeg in 2020. According to Merit, it will be the world’s first commercial-scale canola protein-producing facility. – Protein Industries Canada

Kraken Robotics finalized the contract for its three-year, $18.8-million OceanVision™ project with the Ocean Supercluster and industry partners, focused on the development of new marine technologies and products to enable an underwater robotics data acquisition and data analytics as a service business. With the new funding, Kraken and its partners deploy sensors and unmanned underwater platforms to provide high-resolution seafloor imaging and mapping over more than 5,000 square kilometres around Atlantic Canada. – Kraken

Innovation minister Navdeep Bains announced six new technology projects approved by the Digital Technology Supercluster. The projects will involve 34 partner organizations, including 14 SMEs. The minister also launched a set of eight capacity-building projects from the supercluster that will promote skills development, diversity and inclusion in the technology sector and will help attract students to careers in digital technology. – BetaKit

The Scale AI Supercluster announced 10 new projects worth a total of $74.7 million. The projects bring together 60 partner organizations seeking to modernize processes and enhance productivity with AI. – Canada.ca

The city of Brampton and Ryerson University have signed an agreement to establish a new Ryerson Innovation Zone. The Ryerson-led Brampton Innovation Zone focuses on developing scalable businesses and building and supporting high-potential entrepreneurial teams. – Brampton

The Manitoba government has signalled that it wants to join Alberta and Ontario in implementing performance-based funding requirements for colleges and universities. In a mandate letter sent to post-secondary institutions, Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler said that “post-secondary institutions will work together, in partnership with the province, to further define student successes and continue to build data capacity to enable measurement of outcomes over time.” The idea for performance-based funding was first mentioned briefly in the government’s throne speech last November. – Ottawa Citizen

The Short Report, January 8, 2020: Forward with 5G in central Canada; Ottawa buys a laser; a faster path to accessible AI

Rogers Communications and the University of Waterloo are partnering to build the first 5G network in central Canada, for research into 5G-related engineering, network design, applied mathematics and artificial intelligence. The partnership is part of a broader $20-million program by Rogers to invest in Canadian 5G research and development. The company has already collaborated with the University of British Columbia to establish a 5G network in B.C., where researchers are looking at whether 5G can be used for earthquake detection. – Financial Post

Kraken Robotic Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newfoundland-based marine technology company Kraken Robotics, has been awarded a federal contract valued at $524,720 for its SeaVision® 3D laser scanner, a technology that had been pre-qualified under the Canadian government’s Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP). Kraken will deliver the scanner to its testing partner, Parks Canada – Underwater Archaeology Team (UAT), later this year, for testing and evaluation at archaeologically significant sites. Kraken was previously involved in Parks Canada’s discovery of the HMS Erebus during the Franklin Expedition in Summer 2014. – Kraken Robotics

LG Electronics and Element AI have signed an MOU to collaborate on research and development projects to “operationalise AI” in enterprise and make the technology more accessible for users. The companies revealed a roadmap for future AI development, titled Levels of AIX: AI’s Future and the Human Experience, which focuses on creating a framework for AI to develop responsibly yet quickly. – Verdict

Brandon University doubled the number of majors with co-operative education programs,  making it Manitoba’s largest selection of experiential learning options. – Brandon University

Through its partnership with global cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) will host the first Check Point Secure Academy in Canada. The Manitoba government has pledged to support MITT’s plan to create a Cyber Security Technical Centre of Excellence by 2022. – MITT

A joint venture of Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. has won a contract worth US$427-million to supply 160 train cars for the world’s longest high-speed rail network in China. Bombardier Sifang Transportation Ltd. (BST) is the only Sino-foreign entity to win a new Chinese standard high-speed train bid. – CBC, Bombardier

Federal experts don’t believe that automation will eliminate large swaths of Canadian jobs, according to reporting by the Canadian Press. Officials were told in a briefing that 11 per cent of jobs in Canada could be automated over the next 15 to 20 years, and a further 29 per cent are “likely to change significantly,” as opposed to the doomsday scenario where upwards of half of all jobs are lost to AI and robots. – CBC

Maxar Technologies announced that it will sell its subsidiary MDA to the Toronto-based private investment firm Northern Private Capital (NPC), including financial backing from Jim Balsillie. The deal, worth CAD$1 billion, will make MDA a standalone company encompassing all of the Canadian business elements of Maxar, with 1,900 employees and an estimated $370 million in revenues. Originally a Canadian company, MDA built the robotic Canadarm for the U.S. Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. MDA will bring its corporate headquarters back to Canada. NPC expects the deal to close in 2020, pending regulatory approvals. – Space News, Canadian Manufacturing

The latest edition of the World Economic League Table put Canada as the world’s 10th-largest economy. After years of slipping down the chart, the U.K.-based Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts that Canada’s economy will rise to the ninth-largest in the world by 2024 and No. 8 by 2029. – CTV News

Canada’s automotive supply sector is planning to launch the first all-Canadian zero-emissions concept car. Starting with a design contest this summer, suppliers will bid in the fall to build a virtual concept by next year, and the final vehicle will be released by 2022. The effort — dubbed Project Arrow — is intended to demonstrate “that the Canadian supply chain is as advanced as any in the world,” says Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association. – Financial Post

THE GRAPEVINE

Mitacs announced the appointment of John Hepburn as its new Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director. Hepburn will leave his current position as Vice-President of Research and Partnerships at CIFAR and assume the role at Mitacs on February 18. Previously, Hepburn held leadership positions overseeing research at the University of British Columbia, including Vice-President, Research and International; Dean of the Faculty of Science; and Head of the Department of Chemistry. Hepburn succeeds Alejandro Adem, now the president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dr. John Spencer MacDonald, an icon in Canada’s aerospace sector, passed away on December 26, 2019. One of the three original founders of the aerospace company MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA) in 1969, he served as the company’s president and CEO until 1982 and then chairman until 1988. As well as teaching engineering at MIT and UBC, he was a fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) and a founding fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE). Based on his observation in RADARSAT imagery of shrinking Arctic sea-ice due to climate change, he co-founded the solar energy company Day 4 Energy in 2001 and remained as CEO until 2014. “Dr. MacDonald was teacher to hundreds, mentor to many, and friend on all seven continents of the earth.” – Memorial

People

The Short Report, January 15, 2019: Alternate data at Statistics Canada; bootstrapping medtech; better-tasting plant products

As response rates decline for conventional surveys, Statistics Canada is looking to start incorporating more alternate sources of data, such as satellite imagery, cell phones, credit data and transactional data. “Alternate sources of data are increasing exponentially, and we have the techniques and the mechanisms to convert them to public good with high-quality statistics,” chief statistician Anil Arora told the Empire Club of Canada in Toronto. – Financial Post

Canada’s first industry-led hub for medtech startups, Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), was launched in Kitchener. Spearheaded by Intellijoint Surgical CEO Armen Bakirtzia, MIX doesn’t take equity in participating companies. The hub seeks to help Canadian medtech entrepreneurs retain ownership, grow locally and go to market globally, through mentorship and strategic guidance. MIX provides assistance navigating costs associated with legal / IP requirements, manufacturing prototypes and products, and testing for compliance and medical trials. – Intellijoint Surgical

The Protein Industries Canada supercluster is launching a new initiative to commercialize new highly soluble, highly functional pea and canola protein isolates, which can eliminate grittiness and improve the flavour profiles of plant-based products. Merit Functional Foods, Pitura Seeds, Winning Combination and the Manitoba Food Centre are collaborating to use patented technology from Burcon NutraScience to produce the new protein isolates. The project is expected to increase the demand for and value of Canadian pea and canola crops. – ISED

The Canadian scientific and academic communities are severely hit by the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. Among the 176 victims were 85 students, researchers, academic faculty, and medical and engineering practitioners living and working in Canada. The Canadian Science Policy Centre has compiled their names and affiliations “to remember these incredible people whose lives ended far too soon.” – CSPC

As part of the federal government’s cloud-first strategyStatistics Canada will move its information holdings to the digital cloud. The agency anticipates that the move will raise questions about data sovereignty and the security of sensitive data, according to internal agency notes disclosed through the Access to Information Act. Former chief statistician of Canada Wayne Smith calls the move an unnecessary risk and says the agency should operate its own data centres offline. – CTV News

Microsoft Canada will increase the capacity of its Canadian-based cloud computing infrastructure by 1300 per cent, with the addition of Azure Availability Zones in its Azure Canada Central region in Southern Ontario. Microsoft says that its Availability Zones give users high availability for their most demanding applications and services, and protection from potential hardware and software failures by providing three or more unique physical locations within an Azure region. – Microsoft Canada

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies will receive up to $100,000 in cost-share funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to design and launch a pilot project called the Commercial Deal Accelerator, which will connect innovative agri-food and agri-tech entrepreneurs with corporate investors to create commercialization activity. – Food in Canada

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) announced the second round of the WIN Interdisciplinary Research Funding Program (WIN-IRFP), which will seed “high risk–high reward” research that leads to big impacts in the areas of climate change, reduction of global waste, and biodiversity loss. The WIN-IRFP has a total envelope of around $500,000 and provides awards of up to $250,000. – UWaterloo

Vancouver travel startup ToursByLocals took its first outside capital with a minority investment of $33 million by Austin, Tex.-based Tritium Partners. The deal values the 186-person company, which connects travelers with 4,100-plus guides in 1,000 locations, at more than $100-million. – The Globe and Mail

THE GRAPEVINE

Tenured McGill professor Gregory Mikkelson has resigned over the university’s refusal to sell off its stocks and investments in fossil fuel companies. 8.7 per cent of McGill’s $1.7-billion investment pool is in the energy sector, according to a report by the school’s board of governors, which determined that divesting from fossil fuels would pose a financial risk and that other investment options would be too limited. – CBC

In a Q&A, Canada’s Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell spoke about his plans to rein in anti-competitive practices and behaviours in order to create trust in the digital economy. “Canada does not place sufficient importance on competition and we need to change that for the benefit of Canadians and our economy, to make it more productive.” – Financial Post