The Short Report - October 11, 2023

Danielle Burns
October 11, 2023


The Government of Canada invested $49 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to create the Conscience Open Science Drug Discovery Network. This collaborative pan-Canadian network will address gaps in the development of potential drugs and therapeutics, particularly in areas of traditional market failures such as antivirals for pandemic preparedness, medicines for antimicrobial resistance and medicines for rare and pediatric diseases. Conscience, a non-profit, is advancing an open-science model where researchers, industry partners and other stakeholders collaborate by distributing and sharing results. Artificial intelligence is used to expedite drug development, accelerating research by reducing duplication of efforts, improving timeframes in selecting viable candidates for clinical trials. Conscience is expected to work with 27 key partners representing non-profits, academia and industry, including Canadian AI organizations and the pharmaceutical industry. The network expects to advance new AI-based drug discovery algorithms, support leading data resources to train effective AI, and seed startups and drug discovery companies focusing on antiviral, antibacterial, rare or pediatric disease drugs. The investment will support more than 100 projects, the creation of 10 new businesses, and will generate $150 million in private investment, according to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. ISED

The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec announced the first calls for projects under the new programme Innovation bioalimentaire (Bio-Food Innovation Program) 2023–2028, with a budget allocation of $157.5 million. This program is designed to provide financial support to universities, research establishments, college technology transfer centres, business and producer groups, as well as commercial fishing and aquaculture companies and aquatic product processors. The funding comes from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, with Ottawa contributing 60 per cent and the Quebec government 40 per cent. In addition, the Quebec government also has budgeted $5 million for the commercial fisheries and aquaculture sector. The new program will stimulate research and innovation in Quebec's bio-food sector across the innovation chain, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. AAFC

The federally funded Quebec-based Scale AI global innovation cluster announced nine AI projects totalling $21 million in investment to support hospitals pioneering the development of AI solutions and accelerate deployment of AI to improve operations, logistics and resource allocation. Scale AI is providing $13.3 million, with the remaining funding coming from industry partners. Scale AI also announced five other AI projects, totalling more than $20 million in investment, aimed at strengthening supply chains with AI-powered technologies across key economic sectors. These projects are led by ALDO Group, EllisDon, ATS, Visual Defence, and Cléo. Scale AI is providing $7.6 million, with the remaining funding coming from industry partners. Scale AI

The Government of Quebec provided a $6 million grant for Executive Education HEC Montréal’s startup accelerators Next AI and Creative Destruction Lab-Montréal, which support the incubation and success of tech businesses specializing in artificial intelligence. CDL-Montréal is a seed-stage program for businesses with high potential for growth. It is focused on data science, with three cohorts per year dedicated to AI, supply chain-related AI and blockchain-related AI. Next AI identifies talented idea or early-stage teams with ambitious solutions and leverages Canada’s leadership position in AI to provide them with the mentorship, education and network to disrupt industries. HEC Montréal

The Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan are together providing $5 million to the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre in Saskatoon. The funding, delivered through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, will support the Food Centre's work to enable the continued growth of value-added revenue and agri-food exports in the province over the next five years. Established in 1997, the non-profit Food Centre has supported the development and processing of more than 1,000 new products, consulted with over 500 companies, and assisted in product commercialization related to almost all new agri-food start-ups in the province. Govt. of Saskatchewan


The 2023-24 call for concepts for the New Horizons for Seniors Program was launched, accepting proposals until November 15, 2023, at 4 p.m. Atlantic Time. Funding supports multi-year projects that aim to enhance the social inclusion of seniors through innovative and collaborative approaches. Organizations can receive up to $5 million  for projects that address various objectives, including building organizational capacity to address barriers to social inclusion for vulnerable seniors, providing access to information and services, supporting action research to understand effective approaches for senior social inclusion, engaging senior volunteers, and tackling systemic barriers contributing to social isolation among vulnerable seniors. Govt. of Canada  


U.S.-based Rockwell Automation Inc., which provides industrial automation and digital transformation, announced it acquired (the price was not disclosed, but could exceed US$550 million) Kitchener-based Clearpath Robotics Inc., which develops autonomous robotics for industrial applications. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are considered the next frontier in industrial automation and transformation, with the AMRs manufacturing market expected to grow about 30 per cent to $6.2 billion by 2027. Rockwell Automation said Clearpath’s OTTO Motors Division offers AMRs and fleet management and navigation software, which increase throughput and reduce costs by ensuring components and subassemblies are in place when needed and by transporting finished goods to a truck or warehouse upon completion. Clearpath was founded in 2009 by four University of Waterloo mechatronics engineering graduates. Rockwell Automation

CQDM, Quebec’s Biopharmaceutical Research Consortium, announced a new collaboration-broadcast-communication partnership with Montréal InVivo, the brand name for the life sciences and health technologies cluster of the Montreal metropolitan area. The new partnership will allow greater reach to facilitate biopharma innovation in the Quebec ecosystem and beyond, CQDM says. Montréal InVivo comprises more than 600 organizations, including over 150 research centres, 80 subsidiaries of world-class companies and more than 40,000 people employed in the sector. The cluster includes four universities and ranks first in Canada for the number of research centres. Support for the cluster comes from the Quebec government, the Metropolitan Community of Montreal, Canada Economic Development for Quebec regions, and private and institutional investors. CDQM

Maritime Launch Services Inc. in Halifax unveiled its suborbital launch program scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2024. The program, called Dedicated Altitude Research and Testing (DART), is designed to offer flight opportunities to researchers across a wide range of mission capabilities, from building and testing new concepts, high speed tracking, conducting research, and testing payloads intended for future orbital missions, as well as upper atmospheric monitoring and sampling. During this first commercial suborbital launch campaign, Maritime Launch’s Spaceport Nova Scotia team will manage all logistics, payload integration and mission execution, in carrying experiments totalling up to 15 kilograms across two separate launch configurations. The DART program is available to a variety of clients including industry, academia and government agencies, as well as research and educational institutions and technology innovators in North America and internationally. Maritime Launch said it has already received commitments from payload clients including Nova Scotia-based GALAXIA Mission Systems, which designs and develops computationally rich computers and reliable electronics for space missions. Maritime Launch Services

NASA has selected Montreal-based GHGSat as one of seven companies to provide commercial data in support of the U.S. space agency’s science research. The Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program will acquire Earth observation data and related services from commercial sources for NASA. The seven companies each will receive a five-year contract, with an option to extend services an additional six months. The maximum potential value is cumulatively US$476 million among all contractors selected, NASA said. Except for GHGSat, the other six companies are all based in the U.S. NASA

Research from the University of British Columbia shows diabetes drugs such as Ozempic being used by millions of people for weight loss may come with a higher risk of severe gastrointestinal problems. The research found that medications known as GLP-1 agonists – which includes brands like Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus and Saxenda – are associated with an increased risk of serious medical conditions including stomach paralysis, pancreatitis and bowel obstruction. While previous studies highlighted some of these risks in patients with diabetes, this is the first large, population-level study to examine adverse gastrointestinal events in non-diabetic patients using the drugs specifically for weight loss. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. UBC

The Government of Canada announced its participation in the Global Coalition on Telecommunications (GCOT), joining the U.K., U.S., Australia, Japan and other countries in this initiative. The aim of GCOT is to enhance the security, resilience and innovation of telecommunications networks on a global scale. Through a joint statement of intent, GCOT partners commit to increasing cooperation and coordination in telecom, fostering international consensus on telecom policy, enabling dialogue between stakeholders, and promoting innovation. Canada's involvement in GCOT builds upon its Telecommunications Reliability Agenda and its endorsement of initiatives like the Prague Proposals on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity and the U.K.'s Open RAN Principles in 2022. Govt. of Canada

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada, and Ebba Busch, Minister for Energy, Business and Industry and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, issued a joint statement highlighting their commitment to strengthening economic resiliency and creating new market opportunities for Canadian and Swedish businesses. The ministers emphasized their intent to leverage strategic assets such as critical minerals, clean energy and talent to lead in the green and digital future, foster economic growth, generate well-paying jobs, and achieve ambitious climate goals. They recognized the importance of collaboration in promoting innovation, research, cleaner technologies including small modular reactors, and their supply chains. They also  reaffirmed their dedication to collaborating with other like-minded states to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative technologies for a net-zero future. Govt. of Canada

Students from the University of Waterloo's startup incubator, Velocity, recently concluded a two-week hackathon called Innovation Challenge: Imagining the Future of Finance, in collaboration with the Bank of Montreal (BMO), Unity, and Rogers Communications. This challenge aimed to explore the potential of virtual reality (VR) and high-speed wireless technology in enhancing the future of finance. Participants, including 54 students from various faculties, formed 12 teams to create dynamic VR solutions promoting healthy financial habits like budgeting, saving and investing. The winning teams, VOffice, Finquest and Fintopia, devised innovative solutions ranging from virtual office spaces to gamified financial literacy training; the teams will receive support from BMO, Rogers, and Unity. The program highlighted the role of technology in closing the financial literacy gap and involved mentorship from industry experts to develop practical solutions incorporating VR and 5G technology.  University of Waterloo


Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management raised US$12 billion for its largest-ever private equity fund. Brookfield has committed $3.5 billion of its own money to the BCP VI investment fund, with the remainder coming from investors including pension plans, sovereign wealth funds and family offices. Brookfield, which has already deployed about US$4 billion from its new fund, sees more opportunity to do deals in sectors including technology and health care. Bloomberg

Toronto-based Cardata, which provides tax-compliant mileage reimbursement software to global organizations, raised $100 million in a round of growth investment led by Wavecrest Growth Partners, with participation from MassMutual Ventures. Founded in 1999, Cardata provides a suite of reimbursement software, compliance programs and business intelligence tools for companies whose employees drive their personal cars for work. Cardata

 Clearco, a Toronto-based fintech firm, secured $60 million in equity financing from existing investors and a new asset-backed financing facility. The  Series D round was led by longtime Clearco investors Inovia Capital and Founders Circle Capital. Clearco uses AI and proprietary machine learning-based technology to underwrite businesses and help customers fund inventory and marketing invoices. The company said it has funded more than 10,000 e-commerce businesses to date, advancing over $2.5 billion to help facilitate growth. Clearco

Montreal-based startup Green Graphite Technologies closed a $2-million seed funding round co-led by BDC Capital’s Climate Tech Fund and the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, with participation from a private investor. Green Graphite is commercializing a process to transform natural flake graphite and recycled graphite into lithium-ion battery grade graphite for electric vehicles. Calgary emissions-management company Arolytics raised $3.5 million in seed financing, as BDC Capital’s first investment from its $150 million Sustainability Venture Fund. Arolytics provides methane software and data analytics solutions for the oil and natural gas sector. BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC, Canada’s federally funded investment bank for entrepreneurs. GreenGraphite Technologies, Arolytics

Quebec City-based software startup Gaiia closed a $13-million seed funding round, with investors that included YCombinator, Kima Ventures, and Oxio alumni. Gaiia, which specializes in “network-agnostic” connectivity operating systems, was spun out of internet services provider Oxio. Oxio sold its telecom business in March to Cogeco Connexion for $100 million but retained Gaiia. Gaiia

Lemurian Labs, a Toronto-based startup, raised $9 million in seed funding to solve several problems associated with artificial intelligence, including making the technology affordable and environmentally sustainable. Oval Park Capital led the round with participation from Good Growth Capital, Raptor Group and Alumni Ventures among others. Additional investments came from Untapped Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Silicon Catalyst Angels, Blue Lake Capital, Futureland Ventures, AI Operators Fund, and Tola Capital. BetaKit


The Coalition for Canadian Research, consisting of organizations representing various sectors of Canada's research community, gathered on Parliament Hill to call on the federal government to increase funding for Canadian research. After two years without new funding and stagnant support levels for researchers, the coalition emphasized the need for a significant investment in research funding to secure highly-qualified talent, attract investment and foster innovation. Canada's low research spending compared with peer countries like the U.S.  Germany, and Japan is a concern, the coalition said. The group is proposing an increase in the base budgets of federal research granting agencies and funding for graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships to renew the research ecosystem's health, retain talent and support early-career researchers and academics. Universities Canada

Enbridge Inc. and other energy industry groups are urging the federal government to launch an Indigenous loan guarantee program, to promote reconciliation and help fund the energy transition. Greg Ebel, head of North America’s largest natural gas distributor, said Indigenous communities across Canada want to improve their standard of living by investing in major projects, but are constrained by a lack of capital. In a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade, he said federal loan guarantees – similar to guarantees the Alberta government already offers through the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp., a Crown corporation – would pave the way for Indigenous participation in pipelines and numerous other national projects, including mining of critical minerals and electricity transmission networks. Globe and Mail

Statistics Canada reported that in-house spending by businesses on energy-related R&D reached $2.4 billion in 2021, an increase of 35.5 per cent from 2020 and the highest level of spending since 2014. As a proportion of overall in-house R&D spending, energy-related R&D accounted for 8.6 per cent of the $27.3 billion spent by businesses in Canada in 2021, up from 7.3 per cent in 2020.  Following a decrease in 2020, outsourced energy-related R&D spending rose by 50.8 per cent in 2021 to $288 million. This amount accounted for five per cent of the $5.8 billion that businesses spent overall on outsourced R&D in 2021. Government funding provided to businesses for energy-related R&D spending rose by  $186 million (+34.8 per cent) in 2021. In total, government funding accounted for 7.9 per cent of total in-house energy-related R&D spending. Overall, government funding in clean energy technologies increased by $48 million (+41.4 per cent). StatsCan

The federal government has accepted the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste, developed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and associated partners. In June, following the release  the modernized Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning for Canada, the NWMO submitted the strategy for ministerial review and consideration. It outlines an integrated, national plan for the long-term management of all of Canada’s radioactive waste. The strategy’s two fundamental recommendations for the overall approach to radioactive waste management are:  

  • Intermediate-level waste and non-fuel high-level waste are to be disposed of in a deep geological repository with implementation by the NWMO.  
  • Low-level waste is to be disposed of in multiple near-surface disposal facilities with implementation by waste generators and waste owners. 

Some scientists and civil society groups criticized the Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning for not prohibiting reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, which they said would increase the risk of proliferation and using nuclear materials to build bombs. Civil society groups and some Indigenous communities are also opposed to disposing of low-level waste on the surface near waterways. Govt. of Canada

See also:  Debate intensifies over using reprocessed spent nuclear fuel in small modular reactors

Taking a close look at the benefits and risks of small modular reactors


Murray Thomson, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Toronto, is one of four international researchers leading the university’s new Global Hydrogen Production Technologies Centre. The centre will advance net-zero hydrogen production technologies to make them more energy-efficient and affordable by reaching US$1 per kilogram for produced hydrogen. Researchers will also explore the social and environmental changes needed to build a global hydrogen economy. The Canadian component of the project will receive $3.6 million over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to support student training and mobility. U of T

Jordan Eleniak, a Métis and second-year engineering study at the University of Alberta, has developed a device that provides early-warning detection of toxins-producing blue-green algae blooms, which are becoming increasingly common on Alberta lakes. During the I-STEAM Pathways internship program, Eleniak developed a microbial fuel cell that quickly recognizes voltage fluctuations caused by the toxins, sending data to biologists over the internet. The technology is cheap and easy to produce, with materials fabricated by a 3D printer. I-STEAM Pathways is a cross-disciplinary program enabling First Nations, Métis and Inuit students to engage in hands-on research in a variety of environmental fields including science, environmental engineering, environmental law and policy. UAlberta

Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo is the recipient of Research In Canada’s 2023 Individual Leadership in Advocacy Award. Campbell-Yeo is a certified neonatal nurse practitioner, a professor of nursing and pediatrics, psychology and neuroscience at Dalhousie University, and a clinician scientist at the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia. Research Canada’s 2023 Organization Leadership in Advocacy Award went to the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, a charitable, non-profit organization at the University of Waterloo that enhances the quality of life and care for older adults through research, education and practice. Research Canada

A multidisciplinary study between the University of British Columbia’s school of nursing and the University of Alberta Health Law Institute found that people who use alternative healthcare therapies tend to be wealthier, like novelty and taking risks, and are more likely to distrust conventional medicine. The study involved a survey of 1,492 Canadians ages 16 and over and is the first to explore risk-associated alternative health care use in Canada.  More than 40 per cent of Canadians have used at least one risk-associated alternative health-care treatment in the past 12 months, according to the study. Physical manipulative therapies such as cervical chiropractic manipulation, and potentially toxic herbal and nutritional supplement use, were the most common. UBC

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) unveiled new interactive online platform aimed at raising awareness about cybersecurity. UQÀM teachers employees, and students can use the interactive platform to engage in short courses providing information on how to become a smart user in today’s digital world, including by learning how to identify cybersecurity threats, traps and best practices. UQÀM

Simon Fraser University Image Tech Lab acquired new technology to help advance brain research and improve knowledge of brain disease and injury. The newly installed TRIUX™ neo, from Finland-based neuroscience technology company MEGIN, provides researchers with access to state-of-the-art magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology, enabling them to do adult and pediatric scans with advanced capabilities. The new MEG is also being used with the lab’s high field 3T whole body MRI, which together provide easy access to multi-modal imaging. The lab is the first of its kind in western Canada to house both technologies. SFU

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine is creating a Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness, which it says will be the first of its kind in Canada. The new Indigenous-led department will provide a welcoming space for Indigenous health researchers, learners and faculty, to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and systems into medical education and scholarship., mentorship, and networking. USask

The University of Calgary celebrated the 10th year in space for its CASSIOPE (Cascade, Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer) satellite The original plan for the mission was for the CASSIOPE satellite to orbit for 18 months. Despite several of the instruments degrading over the years, scientists found a way to repurpose the satellite so it collects data on low-Earth orbit space debris – information wanted by companies and organizations around the world. UCalgary

Dalhousie University established a new University Research Chair program to attract top talent. Designed to allow faculties to make globally competitive offers, the program launched with four new chairs in the Faculties of Health, Medicine, Computer Science and Agriculture. The program, which includes substantial support from the faculties, comprises two categories: emerging scholars and established scholars. Dalhousie University

The hamlet of Sanikiluaq in Nunavut will get a one-megawatt wind generation demonstration project coupled with 800 kilowatts of battery energy storage. The facility, Nunavut’s first community-led, Inuit-owned renewable energy project, will produce more than four gigawatt-hours per year of clean electricity. It is expected to offset more than 50 per cent of the community’s diesel fuel usage for electricity. The Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation (QBDC) received $6.5M from Natural Resources Canada to support the project. QBDC


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