Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada , Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada , University of Saskatchewan , Alberta Children’s Hospital, Alta ML, Aramis Biotechnologies, Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Aviva, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute , Bluebird Bio Inc., BlueDot, Brain Canada, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Life, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Canadensys Aerospace, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Food Innovation Network, Canadian Space Agency, Cégep de Trois-Rivières, CGI, CIFAR, Cologix, ContactMonkey, CRISPER Therapeutics, Crush Dynamics, CSA Group, Dalhousie University, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of National Defence, Digital Governance Council, Dynorotor Inc., Ecovatec Solutions , Environment and Climate Change Canada, Evidence for Democracy, Extropic, FinChat, Global Affairs Canada, Global Institute for Energy, Mines and Society , Global Institute for Food Security, Global Institute for Water Security, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Green Wave, Hawk’s Agro, HEALWELL AI Inc. , IBM, Information and Communications Technology Council, Infrastructure Canada,, KOHO Financial Inc. , Lambton College, Marine Thinking Inc., McGill University, McGuire Aero Propulsion Solutions, Medicago, Microsoft, Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corporation, National Bureau of Economic Research, National Research Council of Canada, NATO, Natural Resources Canada, nesto, Niagara College, Nuvei Corporation , Olds College, Ontario Aerospace Council, Pentavere Research Group Inc., Performance Equity Management, Phantom Photonics, Ping DSP, Pingboard, Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, Protein Industries Canada, Protexxa, Purdys Chocolatier , Re$earch Infosource Inc., Resemble AI, Resource Works , Sagard Holdings Inc., Saskatchewan Polytechnic, SCALE AI, Shellback Expeditions, Social Leverage, Statistics Canada, Telesat, Telesat Government Solutions, Texavie, Three Farmers , Transport Canada, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Transportation , U.S. Food and Drug Administration, UCalgary Cumming School of Medicine, Ukko Agro, United Arab Emirates, Université de Montréal, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Exeter, University of Guelph, University of Pittsburgh , University of Regina, University of South Florida, University of Toronto, Updata Partners, VanWyn, VERSES AI Inc., Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. , Weizmann Canada, Weizmann Institute of Science, Wild+Pine , Workleap , and World Health Organization


"Salty Science" crew rowing across the Atlantic , 10th anniversary of CFI's Research Facilities Navigator, agreement on Medicago's funding and assests, AI to address problems of Canada's lentil growers, AI-powered health care, AI-powered tool for researching publicly traded companies, alternative asset management, Atlantic Canada's Propel virtual accelerator, Bamfield Marine Science Centre, Bangabandhu-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Agriculture Technology Centre , Canada's space regulatory framework, Canada's top five research universities and colleges , Canada’s Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Responsible Development and Management of Advanced Generative AI Systems, cancer immunotherapy research and treatment development, CIFAR's Research Council, collaboration remotely by teams of scientists, COP28, CRISPR gene-editing technology to treat sickle cell disease, Critical Minerals Traceability Project , data centres in Canada, decarbonizing cement and concrete sector, digital mortgage services, digital payments technology, direct air capture technology, diversity in startup founding teams, Energy Futures Initiative campaign , federal framework to cap oil and gas industry emissions, federal GHG emissions-reduction targets, first recipients of Strategic Science Fund, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, Global Institute for Energy, Mines and Society (GIEMS), hardware for generative AI, impact of publicly funded research on businesses' R&D, improving email communication, Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office , innovation in the energy and mining sectors, innovative banking services, interference in Canadian environmental researchers' work , microcertificates programs, NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for North America, navigating digitally connected workforce, new treatments for sickle cell disease, next-generation intelligent software systems, NRCan’s Critical Minerals Centre of Excellence , OWN.CANCER campaign, Pacific Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) Innovation Centre, Progress Report on the 2023 Emissions Reduction Plan, R&D spending by Canada's higher education sector, raising funding for ocean conservation, reducing emissions from the rail sector, regulatory and legislative frameworks for digital technology, research on the brain and brain disorders, restoring degraded and marginal land, Roadmap for the Decarbonization of Canada's Oil and Gas Sector, Roadmap to Net-Zero Carbon Concrete by 2050, satellite communications equipment, StoneWoods Forest Carbon project, sustainability in digital technologies , traceability projects for critical mineral supply chains, UBC's Bradshaw Research Institute for Minerals and Mining , UCalgary's Veterinary Learning Commons building , upcycling wine derivatives and agricultural waste, using AI to analyze insect populations to measure biodiversity, utility-scale quantum processors, and World's Toughest Row - Atlantic 2023

The Short Report: December 13, 2023

Research Money
December 13, 2023


Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced the first 24 independent, non-profit science and research organizations that will receive funding from the new Strategic Science Fund (SSF). Recipients were selected through a new competitive, merit-based and transparent process, informed by the advice of an independent expert review panel. The recipients are conducting internationally competitive, cutting-edge research on topics like health care and quantum computing, and translating that research and knowledge into action in important areas that will improve the health, economic and social well-being of Canadians now and in the future, ISED said in a news release. The release didn’t disclose the amount of funding each organization received or the total amount of funding being provided in this first round of SSF funding. 

“Individual amounts allocated to each organization will be made public on the Strategic Science Fund webpage in due time,” ISED media relations officer Andréa Daigle said in an email to Research Money. Eighteen members of an independent expert review panel, chaired by Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, PhD (photo at right), president emerita at the University of Calgary, did the final evaluation of the 34 full applications received. Members of this review panel will be identified on the SSF website “in the coming weeks,” Daigle said. Prior to the review panel’s assessment, she said, the full applications also went through an external review process in which they were evaluated by about 200 external subject matter experts using the following criteria:

  • Strategic value aligned with core federal responsibilities and priorities
  • Added value to federal science, technology and innovation investments
  • Science, technology and innovation capacity, sound governance and operational efficiency
  • Demonstrable impact
  • Presence at the national level
  • Criticality of federal funding.

The full applications also were examined by five committees on the themes of: equity, diversity and inclusion; finance; governance; intellectual property; and security, Daigle said. As for unsuccessful applicants, they “are encouraged to explore potential partnerships with SSF Award recipients where relevant. Unsuccessful applicants have also been contacted by ISED on next steps.” The SSF is expected to launch competitions every five years, with the next competition scheduled in 2026. ISED, R$

Genome Canada announced more than $41 million in federal government and private funding to support eight new genomics research projects, funded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). GAPP supports research and development projects that address real-world opportunities and challenges by translating genomics innovations into tangible applications, solutions and products. These public-private partnerships will generate solutions for:

  • Health: by delivering life-saving precision health for cancer patients and those with rare genetic diseases, improving diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options, and driving public health innovation for surveillance of respiratory viruses.
  • Resilient agriculture: by improving and increasing livestock and eco-friendly crop production in Canada.
  • Sustainable fisheries: by expanding high-protein shellfish production to address food insecurity. Genome Canada 

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced that the federal government reached an agreement to retain COVID-19 vaccine developer Medicago’s strategic research and development assets in Canada and recover partial payment from a federal investment in Medicago. The company’s Japanese parent company, Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corporation, ceased operations of Medicago in February this year. Under the federal agreement, Mitsubishi will repay $40 million of the up to $173 million contributed by the Strategic Innovation Fund to Medicago to build a vaccine production facility in Quebec City. Also, key Medicago research and development assets, intellectual property and equipment will be transferred to Aramis Biotechnologies. Aramis is a new Canadian company, based in Quebec City, under the leadership of former Medicago employees. Medicago’s process for synthesizing vaccine ingredients in nicotiana plants produced a COVID-19 vaccine that worked, but not as well as competitors’ products. The World Health Organization rejected the vaccine due to Medicago’s then-affiliation with tobacco company Philip Morris. Medicago ran into production problems and never delivered its product to the federal government which had pre-purchased doses early in the pandemic – resulting in a $150-million write-off. ISED

Infrastructure Canada is providing more than $4.9 million to retrofit and upgrade the IISAAK Learning Lodge at the Pacific Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) Innovation Centre’s Clayoquot Campus in Tofino, B.C.. Four private companies – RJC Engineers, AME Mechanical, Number TEN Architectural Group, and AES Engineering Ltd. – are supporting the project. The Campus serves Indigenous Nations and governments in establishing and governing IPCAs in the Pacific Region by coordinating knowledge-sharing programs and activities, curriculum, research and events. By renovating this key piece of social infrastructure, the federal government said, the Clayoquot Campus can continue to support the weaving of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems for the restoration and conservation of cultural and biological diversity. Infrastructure Canada

A research and training initiative launched by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) of the Ministry of Agriculture in Bangladesh  received a $56.2-million commitment from the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The funding, to be invested over five years, will support the establishment of the Bangabandhu-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Agriculture Technology Centre (BP-ATC) as a centre of excellence at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Gazipur, Bangladesh. The commitment to the BP-ATC will fund the development of research infrastructure and help GIFS, BARC, and other partners to purchase equipment, train more than 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and lead research to enhance wheat, rice, lentils, canola and other crops. Approximately $9.8 million will support research and training occurring within Saskatchewan through activities at GIFS and other partners, including the Global Institute for Water Security, USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, and National Research Council of Canada. Global Institute for Food Security

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced a $2.9-million investment to Atlantic Canada’s virtual accelerator, Propel, which helps entrepreneurs in the region build capacity to take their businesses to the next level. The non-repayable contribution will allow Propel to continue delivering its virtual accelerator program until 2026, providing entrepreneurs and startups located throughout Atlantic Canada with access to networking support, expertise, coaching, skills development and other resources. ACOA

The Prairies-based Protein Industries Canada global innovation cluster has committed $1.2 million (under its AI funding stream as part of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy) to a $2.6-million project aimed at addressing some of the biggest issues faced by Canada’s lentil growers. Project partners, which include Ukko Agro, Hawk’s Agro, and Three Farmers are contributing the remaining funding. The partners will work together to build out an in-field platform to predict and control anthracnose and Ascochyta blight, the main diseases of lentil crops. The partners will utilize and build on ag-tech firm’s Ukko Agro’s ForeSite platform to develop and commercialize their AI technology. By utilizing AI, the partners will be able to help farmers and agronomists make improved crop management decisions. This can lower input costs, improve disease management and preserve yield potential, all of which help secure Canada’s supply chain for ingredient processors and food manufacturers. Protein Industries Canada

Natural Resources Canada is providing a $1-million investment over two years to the University of British Columbia’s Bradshaw Research Institute for Minerals and Mining to support the development and increased offering of its Executive Microcertificate in Economic Leadership for Mining program. The program will boost professional careers by teaching organizational leadership skills while addressing key challenges faced by mining and exploration companies worldwide. Funding will provide 300 scholarships targeting individuals who require financial support to access the program, making it more inclusive and accessible to a wider audience. NRCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a call for proposals for grants that support the Critical Minerals Traceability Project (CMTP) as part of the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy. With up to $675,000 available over three years, the CMTP will provide funding to private-sector, commercial-stage pilot traceability projects for critical mineral supply chains. NRCan’s Critical Minerals Centre of Excellence is accepting applications for these grants from Canadian companies with a specialization in traceability technologies. The grant will fund up to $100,000 per project per year for up to three years. Applications can now be submitted by email ( NRCan


Canada’s top five research universities in 2023, based on sponsored research income in fiscal year 2022, stayed consistent with the rankings for 2022, according to Re$earch Infosource Inc.’s annual rankings. For universities, the University of Toronto took first place with more than $1.34 billion in research income, followed by the University of British Columbia ($737.2 million), McGill University ($687.4 million), Université de Montréal ($682.4 million), and the University of Alberta ($597.4 million). For colleges, the top five research colleges were Niagara College (just over $32 million), Cégep de Trois-Rivières ($26.2 million), Lambton College (about $16.1 million), Olds College ($13.5 million), and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (nearly $12.8 million). Although U of T ranked No. 1, total sponsored research income was down 8.2 per cent in fiscal year 2022 compared with the previous year, while U of A’s research income rose 7.8 per cent year-to year. Four of the top five colleges saw increases in sponsored research income for fiscal year 2022 compared with the previous year, including Niagara College (76.8 per cent), Cégep de Trois-Rivières (32.1 per cent), Lambton College (13.1 per cent), and Olds College (78.8 per cent). BCIT saw a 3.9-per-cent decline in research income year-to-year. Re$earch Infosource

The Riddell family in Calgary contributed $25 million to the OWN.CANCER campaign to support new cancer immunotherapy research and treatment development, through the creation of the Riddell Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and Alberta Children’s Hospital. Work supported by the funding will help to reduce the burden of cancer in children, adolescents, and adults and improve survival through the rapid development and implementation of safe and effective precision cell and immune therapies for cancer, UCalgary said. Immunotherapy involves boosting a patient’s own immune system to recognize and attack their cancer cells. These precision cellular therapies will be tested and used on treatment-resistant solid tumours –making the Riddell Centre one of the first centres in Canada to trial this approach. UCalgary

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced that eight more organizations, including Canada’s global innovation cluster Scale AI in Quebec, have signed on to the federal government’s Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Responsible Development and Management of Advanced Generative AI Systems. New signatories include:

  • AltaML
  • BlueDot
  • CGI
  • ai
  • IBM
  • Protexxa
  • Resemble AI
  • Scale AI

The code identifies measures that organizations are encouraged to apply to their operations when they’re developing and managing advanced generative AI systems. In addition, Canada continues to engage in domestic and international discussions supporting the creation of common standards and safeguards for generative AI systems. ISED

IBM unveiled its “IBC Quantum Heron,” the first in a new series of utility-scale quantum processors with an architecture engineered over the past four years that IBM said delivers the highest performance metrics and lowest error rates of any IBM Quantum processor to date. IBM also unveiled “IBM Quantum System Two,” the company’s first modular quantum computer – now operating in New York – and cornerstone of IBM’s quantum-centric supercomputing architecture. The company said IBM Quantum systems can now serve as a scientific tool to explore utility-scale classes of problems in chemistry, physics, and materials, beyond brute force classical simulation of quantum mechanics. IBM

Saskatchewan Polytechnic, University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework for collaboration on a new Saskatchewan-based institution called the Global Institute for Energy, Mines and Society (GIEMS). The purpose of the agreement is to provide the Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions with a practical and effective way to collaborate on research and innovation in the mining and energy sectors. GIEMS aims to better meet industry needs by having state-of-the-art R&D in place. The new institute also will provide training and experiential learning to help build the provincial workforce in the areas of skilled trades, engineers and scientists. Govt. of Saskatchewan

Denver-based Cologix, a network-neutral interconnection data centre company, acquired two Cyxtera data centres in Canada and expanded two other data centres Cologix already owns. Cologix said it completed the acquisition of data centres in Vancouver and Montreal, and expanded two of its facilities in Toronto and Montreal. In Vancouver, the acquired and renamed VAN5 offers 11,000 sq ft and 1.2 megawatts of power. In Montreal, the newly acquired MTL12 offers 8,500 sq ft and 1.6 MW. Cologix said it now has a Canadian portfolio of 22 data centres totaling more than 1.05 million sq ft and 94 MW. Cologix

Montreal-based Sagard Holdings Inc., an alternative asset management firm and a subsidiary of Power Corp. of Canada, announced an agreement to buy a stake in Connecticut-based private equity firm Performance Equity Management. Sagard has more than US$15 in assets under management, while Performance Equity Management has more than US$8.9 billion in assets under management. The deal, expected to close during the first quarter of 2024 pending regulatory approvals, paves the way for Sagard to acquire Performance Equity Management outright in five years. The size of Sagard’s stake and the purchase price weren’t disclosed. Sagard

Montreal-based digital management platform company Workleap acquired U.S.-based human resources software company Pingboard, following a $125 million investment in Workleap from the CDPQ Quebec public pension fund. Workleap is a long-term partner for businesses navigating the challenging world of a digitally connected workforce. The acquisition of Pingboard adds new capabilities to the company’s family of software products and expands Workleap’s employee footprint in the U.S. Workleap

Toronto-based HEALWELL AI Inc. acquired a majority ownership position for $15 million, in a stock and cash deal, in Pentavere Research Group Inc., an AI-powered health-tech company in Toronto that focuses on identifying eligible patients for approved medications and treatments. HEALWELL said the acquisition adds new high-margin technology revenue, access to multiple new key pharmaceutical company and life sciences customers, new products, partnerships with major hospital networks in Canada and the U.S., as well as an experienced and sophisticated AI engineering team. HEALWELL AI

Telesat Government Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ottawa-headquartered satellite operator Telesat, announced it was awarded the Phase 2 contract of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program. The goal of Space-BACN is to create a reconfigurable, multi-protocol inter-satellite optical communications terminal that is low in size, weight, power, and cost, easy to integrate, and able to connect heterogeneous constellations that operate on different optical inter-satellite link specifications that otherwise would not be able to communicate. More simply, the goal is to eliminate stovepipes and “connect space,” which will in turn help enable the U.S. Department of Defense joint all-domain command and control initiative. This new award is a follow-on to the Phase 1 contract awarded to Telesat Government Solutions in August 2022 for work on Space-BACN Technical Area 3. Phase 2 includes a 20-month period of performance to continue evolving the schema for cross-constellation communications developed in Phase 1, to function in more challenging and dynamic scenarios. Telesat Government Solutions

The Department of National Defence announced that seven Canadian companies, out of 44 selected, were chosen to advance in the first NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) competitive challenges, focusing on energy resilience, secure information sharing, and sensing and surveillance. Canadian companies submitted the second-highest number of submissions with 211, just behind the U.S. with 215. The seven companies and their area of focus are:

These companies will receive funding and entry into phase one of the NATO DIANA accelerator “boot camps,” where they’ll develop or adapt their technology for the needs of the Alliance. Bill Blair, minister of National Defence, also confirmed that the interim location for the DIANA North American regional office will open by summer 2024 in Halifax. As Blair announced at this year’s Halifax International Security Forum, this office will be supported by Canada’s initial investment of $26.6 million over six years. National Defence

Montreal-based fintech company Nuvei Corporation announced it has partnered with Microsoft to deliver leading payment experiences to customers of Microsoft’s products, solutions and services across many of its key markets. Microsoft will start using Nuvei’s customizable and agile payments technology in the Middle East and the Africa region, while benefiting from Nuvei’s deep knowledge of local markets to optimize its payments for recurring billing and individual transactions across both its Office and Xbox product ranges. Nuvei

Edmonton-based Wild+Pine partnered with U.K.-based Aviva, a property and casualty insurance group, in a $6.2-million project to restore degraded and marginal land back to a forested landscape, rebuild habitats and remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. Wild + Pine develops verified carbon removal assets through afforestation to achieve corporate climate goals by restoring landscapes and improving the biodiversity in the region. Aviva’s contribution to the Wild + Pine project, called StoneWoods Forest Carbon, will cover 520 hectares of land in Alberta. Current projections estimate the project will sequester nearly 275,000 tonnes of carbon over 60 years while supporting regional biodiversity, including enhancing valuable habitat for many local species including moose, elk, whitetail and mule deer, black bears and great grey owls. This is Aviva’s first partnership in Canada, as part of a £100 million program of nature-based projects to help address climate change. Aviva Canada

Winnipeg-headquartered Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc. and a member of the Power Corporation of Canada group of companies, announced a partnership with nesto, a Montreal-based digital mortgage company. As part of this partnership, the companies reached an agreement to transfer the servicing and support of Canada Life’s existing portfolio of residential mortgages to nesto. This follows Canada Life’s decision in 2022 to withdraw from the residential mortgage market. Canada Life

Brain Canada, Weizmann Canada and the Weizmann Institute of Science announced a partnership to leverage strengths and foster international collaboration between researchers in Canada and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The Brain Canada & Weizmann Institute of Science Team Grants program has an overall pilot funding envelope of $1.5 million to support up to three team grants of $500,000 each over two years. The grants will support hypothesis-driven research to advance understanding of the brain and brain disorders, and may span the range of basic, translational and clinical approaches. This program encourages open science through the free and open sharing of scientific information. Brain Canada

Transport Canada, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Energy have together created a Rail Decarbonization Task Force to develop a common vision to reduce emissions from the rail sector. The partners intend to:

  • establish a joint research agenda to test the safe integration of emerging technologies, including hydrogen-powered and battery-electric locomotives
  • coordinate strategies to accelerate the rail sector’s safe transition from diesel-powered locomotives to zero-emission technologies to ensure a net-zero rail sector by no later than 2050
  • collaborate on the development of a U.S.-Canada rail sector net-zero climate model by 2025.

The new task force builds on the two countries’ efforts to address the impact of transportation on climate, as recognized in the 2021 Joint Statement by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada on the Nexus between Transportation and Climate Change, while also supporting their joint commitment to achieve a zero-emission vehicle future as outlined in the Roadmap for a Renewed Canada-U.S. Partnership. Transport Canada

The Government of Canada and the United Arab Emirates government launched, at COP28 in Dubai, the Cement & Concrete Breakthrough initiative. Co-led by Canada and the UAE, the initiative will enable countries to share best practices on a range of policies and other measures to decarbonize the cement and concrete sector, to realize net-zero solutions by 2050. The initiative will engage a variety of partners at the global level, providing an opportunity for Canada to drive the adoption of low-carbon cement products and solutions that build on the global recognition of Canada’s Roadmap to Net-Zero Carbon Concrete by 2050. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

In an historic decision, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two milestone treatments for sickle cell disease, including one utilizing CRISPR gene-editing technology. The treatments, Casgevy, made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and CRISPR Therapeutics, and Lyfgenia, made by Bluebird Bio Inc., represent the first cell-based gene therapies for the treatment of sickle cell disease in patients 12 years and older. Casgevy is the first FDA-approved treatment to utilize the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology, signaling an innovative advancement in the field of gene therapy. Sickle cell disease, a rare but life-threatening mutation in hemoglobin (a protein found in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to the body’s tissues), is a group of inherited blood disorders affecting approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. It is most common in African Americans and, while less prevalent, also affects Hispanic Americans. Whether or not either treatment becomes widely used remains an open question. Vertex set the price of Casgevy at US$2.2 million compared with US$3.1 million for Bluebird’s Lyfgenia. The therapies are also not easy to receive. Patients must spend weeks, even months, in the hospital before and after the therapy is administered. And some of the preparatory steps can cause serious side effects, including severe infections, nausea, painful mouth sores and infertility. FDA, STAT


Toronto-based fintech company KOHO Financial Inc. announced it raised an additional $86 million in a series D extension. New and existing KOHO investors provided the capital, including Drive Capital, Eldridge Industries, HOOPP, Portage, Round13, BDC, and TTV. KOHO offers a full-service spending and savings account with no hidden fees that gives cash back on every purchase, and an integrated app that helps users spend smart and save more. KOHO partners with a variety of banks and federally regulated financial institutions to deliver its products. KOHO Financial

Toronto-based ContactMonkey, which offers a platform to help companies improve email communication, raised $55 million in Series A funding from Washington, D.C.-based Updata Partners. ContactMoney, which said it has grown 330 per cent in the past three years, offers a platform to seamlessly integrate with users’ preferred email client, including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail as well as SMS, Microsoft Teams, and Human Resource Information Systems such as Workday, ADP, SAP and more. This versatility empowers communicators to reach every corner of their organization, ensuring that essential company announcements, life-saving alerts and critical updates are delivered promptly to all employees. ContactMonkey plans to use the investment from Updata to double its 80-person team and expand in Canada, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. ContactMonkey

Canadian-led, California-based AI company Extropic closed $14.1 million in seed funding to build “physics-based computing” hardware for generative artificial intelligence. The seed round was led by Kindred Ventures, with support from Buckley Ventures, HOF Capital, Julian Capital, Marque VC, OSS Capital, Valor Equity Partners, and Weekend Fund. Extropic – previously known as Qyber – is reportedly working on a chip designed to run large language models in a system capable of scaling generative AI. Extropic was founded in 2022 by Guillaume Verdon, a Canadian who studied mathematics, physics, and quantum information at McGill University, the University of Waterloo, and Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute. Extropic’s leadership includes fellow University of Waterloo grads CTO Trevor McCourt and principal architect Christopher Chamberland, formerly of Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, and Microsoft. BetaKit

Crush Dynamics, a Summerland, B.C.-based agri-tech company, was awarded nearly $2 million by the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) through its Food Challenge Program. CFIN is supporting Crush Dynamics’ project to develop and test an ingredient that will enhance food quality and reduce sugar and sodium content in food products while diverting emissions from landfills. Crush Dynamics is working with project partners Purdys Chocolatier and Ecovatec Solutions to leverage the fermentation of upcycled wine derivatives and agricultural waste to produce a proprietary, high-performance, polyphenol-rich food ingredient at scale. Techcouver

Toronto-based FinChat, which offers an AI-powered tool for researching publicly traded companies, secured US$1.5 million in seed funding from U.S. fintech investor Social Leverage. Three executives at Stratosphere, a fintech startup in Toronto, launched FinChat in April 2023, and the platform quickly exploded in popularity. FinChat also sells an application programming interface for trading platforms and investment firms seeking to spin up an AI chat experience for their customers or employees on their existing platforms. FinChat and Stratosphere have now merged into a single product under the FinChat name. BetaKit

REPORTS & POLICIES            

The Government of Canada announced at the UN COP28 climate summit a draft regulatory framework to cap greenhouse gas emissions from Canada’s oil and gas industry. The proposed Regulatory Framework for an Oil and Gas Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap would cap 2030 emissions at 35 per cent to 38 per cent below 2019 levels, while providing compliance flexibilities to emit up to a level about 20 per cent to 23 per cent below 2019 levels. Facilities will be able to buy a limited amount of carbon offset credits or contribute to a decarbonization fund, which would hold them accountable for a limited volume of emissions above the GHG pollution cap. These compliance flexibility options will help reduce emissions – offsets will result in reductions in other sectors – and proceeds from the decarbonization fund will be reinvested to support emissions reductions within the oil and gas sector, the government said. Ottawa also released a Roadmap for the Decarbonization of Canada's Oil and Gas Sector. Canada’s oil and gas sector accounted for 28 per cent of national emissions in 2021, making it the largest contributor to Canada’s emissions, followed by the transportation sector at 22 per cent, according to the most recent National Inventory Report. Canada’s overall climate target calls for reductions, by 2030, of 40 per cent to 45 per cent below 2005 levels. The Calgary-based Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said the federal emissions cap is unnecessary and called it “effectively a cap on production” that could lead to higher energy prices for Canadians. However, the federal government estimates that oil and gas companies will be able to increase production by 12 per cent and still meet the emission targets. The Government of Alberta said in a statement: “With their pronouncement singling out the oil and gas sector alone for punitive federal treatment, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his eco-extremist Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault are risking hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in Alberta’s and Canada’s economies and core social programs.” The UCP government said it “will develop a constitutional shield in response to this and other recent attacks on our province.” Environment and Climate Change Canada, Govt. of Alberta

Canada is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, according to the federal government’s first Progress Report on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. In the 20 months since the release of the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan in March 2022, the government said it has been implementing more than 140 climate measures and working with partners, including provinces, territories, and national Indigenous organizations, “to turn ideas into concrete and effective action. Job creation continues to grow as emissions decline.” In 2015, Canada was trending to exceed 2005 GHG emissions levels by nine per cent by 2030, but since then, many sectors of the economy have made real and measurable progress to lower their emissions, “helping Canada successfully bend the emissions curve and putting us on track to beat the previous target of 30 per cent reductions below 2005 levels,” the government said. With the full implementation of the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, – which includes $9.1 billion in news investments –  Canada is now projected to surpass Canada’s interim objective of 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2026, Ottawa said. Between previously announced measures and additional actions to be explored that are included in the progress report, Canada remains firmly on track to meet our ambitious but achievable 2030 target, the government said. Ottawa's progress report contrasts with a report in November by Jerry DeMarco, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which said that Canada’s current emissions are significantly higher than they were in 1990 and the government is not on track to meet the 2030 GHG emissions-reduction target. Environment and Climate Change Canada

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are on track to reach a record high by the end of 2023, according to this year’s Global Carbon Budget Report, backed by research led by the U.K.’s University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute. Worldwide, fossil fuel emissions are projected to reach 36.8 billion tonnes in 2023, a 1.1-per-cent increase from 2022 levels, the report said. Europe’s emissions dropped around seven per cent from last year, while the U.S. saw a three-per-cent reduction. But overall, coal, oil, and natural gas emissions are all still on the rise, and nations including India and China are still seeing emissions growth. Together, those two nations currently account for nearly 40 per cent of global fossil fuel emissions, although Western nations including the U.S. are still the greatest historical emitters. Total emissions from fossil fuels were millions of times higher than carbon removals this year, the report noted. Direct air capture and other technological approaches collected and stored only around 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2023. The researchers estimated there’s about 275 billion tonnes of CO2 left to emit before we exceed 1.5 °C of average global warming. At this rate, the world is on track to exceed that budget within about seven years, around the end of the decade. MIT Technology Review

Current regulatory and legislative frameworks are not keeping pace with the evolving challenges of digital technology, according to a report by the Ottawa-based Digital Governance Council, which sets technology governance standards, produced in collaboration with the CSA Public Policy Centre at the CSA Group, a Toronto-based non-profit standards development organization. The regulatory model for digital technologies should start with core principles and an operating framework to guide decisions, the report said. “The model should include a thorough and ongoing approach to risk-assessment, an array of policy and regulatory instruments fit to specific tasks, and up-to-date skills and competencies for policymakers and regulators.” Some potential measures include:

  • Embracing proactive, people-centric approaches
  • Investing in the public sector
  • Leveraging complementary tools like standards. 

In a separate report, the Digital Governance Council in collaboration with the Information and Communications Technology Council, an Ottawa-based not-for-profit research and policy organization for digital technologies, said there is a critical need to prioritize sustainability in the development, use and disposal of digital technologies. Key takeaways from the report are:

  • Building awareness about information and communications technologies’ environmental impacts
  • Capacity-building programs for organizational skills development, knowledge and processes
  • Initiatives to increase supply chain transparency, including data and reporting standards, data and reporting requirements, and government-sponsored research and data
  • Expanding the use of environmental sustainability criteria in procurement and funding agreements.

The report highlights actionable steps stakeholders can take to advance sustainable ICT in Canada and invites leaders from the digital economy to sign the Sustainable IT Pledge. Digital Governance Council

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) released a report on what it heard from Canadians about Canada’s space regulatory framework. A total of 49 written submissions were received from stakeholders, including industry, academia, associations and think tanks, and the general public. The CSA said four key themes emerged from the consultation process:

  1. The need to modernize: Nearly all participants agreed that a modern regulatory framework for space is needed in order for Canada to take advantage of current and future opportunities in space, and provide certainty for industry and increased confidence for investors while enhancing Canada's international competitiveness.
  2. Where to focus: Participants indicated that a modern regulatory framework should be both comprehensive and flexible to accommodate current and future space activities. They said goals should include: supporting industry and encouraging innovation; aligning with international partners; prioritizing sustainability; mitigating risks; striking the right balance on security; and streamlining administrative processes.
  3. Feedback on the regulatory framework as it relates to specific space activities: Participants weighed in with specific feedback in the areas of in-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing launch; remote sensing; satellite constellations; space resource utilization; regulation of wireless spectrum used in communications; and a small subset of other issues.
  4. Feedback received on other space policy and program issues: Participants advocated for a national space policy and national space governance body. (Canada’s space industry called for a national space council and a national strategy in federal Budget 2023). Other ideas put forward for consideration included: specific suggestions for support of industry; space traffic management; diversity and inclusion; and inspiring the next generation of space professionals.

The written submissions will inform the review currently underway of Canada’s regulatory framework for space-related activities as set out in Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada. CSA

The higher education sector in Canada spent $16.6 billion on research and development in 2021/2022, an increase of 4.5 per cent from the previous year, according to a report by Statistics Canada. This marked the 12th consecutive annual increase in R&D spending by the sector. In 2021/2022, both the natural sciences and engineering field of research and the social sciences, humanities and arts field reached their highest level of R&D spending. Spending in the natural sciences and engineering field rose 5.3 per cent to $12.5 billion, while spending in the social sciences, humanities and arts field increased 2.1 per cent to $4.1 billion. Higher education R&D is funded through multiple channels, including institutional or internal resources, and external sources such as government grants, partnerships with businesses or foreign entities, and non-profit organizations. In 2021/2022, the growth in R&D expenditures was driven mainly by funding from the higher education sector itself (up $459 million to $8.4 billion), followed by funding from the private non-profit sector (up $227 million to $1.7 billion). Offsetting this growth was a decrease in funding by the federal government, which declined $129 million, or 1.1 per cent, to $4 billion. This represents the first decrease in federal funding since 2014/2015. The largest increases in R&D spending in 2021/2022 were in Quebec (up $354 million to $4.4 billion), followed by British Columbia (up $133 million to $1.9 billion) and Ontario (up $120 million to $6.6 billion). Proportionally, Ontario (39.8 per cent) and Quebec (26.7 per cent) accounted for most of the R&D expenditures in 2021/2022. StatsCan

Training by universities of highly qualified personnel helps foster innovation in established firms in the U.S., but publicly funded R&D and invention at universities reduces corporate R&D by these companies, according to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research based in Massachusetts. The report looked at the relationships between corporate R&D and three components of public science: knowledge, human capital, and invention. Established firms’ human capital (i.e. highly qualified personnel) trained by universities helps foster innovation in firms and increases firms’ patents and profits, the researchers said. However, public invention – including competition from startups spun off of university research – reduces corporate R&D, they said. An increase in relevant university patents of one standard deviation reduces corporate patents by about 51 per cent, they found. “We find that an increase in public invention reduces the firm’s profits, suggesting that, on balance, public inventions compete with corporate inventions more than they serve as inputs into corporate innovation.” Moreover, abstract public knowledge per se – publications in scientific journals – has little effect on the various components of corporate R&D, the researchers found. “Our findings question the belief that public science represents a non-rival public good that feeds into corporate R&D through knowledge spillovers.” National Bureau of Economic Research

Technology startups with more culturally diverse founding teams are more likely to go public with an initial public offering or be acquired by another company than founding teams with less diversity, according to a study by researchers in Canada and Israel, published in Sage Journals. “We demonstrate that diverse founding teams are significantly more likely than non-diverse teams to exit via financial harvest,” the researchers said. The researchers considered factors like team size, the countries where founders were born, prior business experience, gender, prior experience abroad, prior startup experience, level of education, R&D investment, whether the CEO was a founder or not, the location of the venture and firm size. The team also looked whether there was at least one immigrant founder, the percentage of immigrant founding team members and a diversity index. The researchers studied 582 cases where Israeli tech startups were sold. They found that 65 of them had team members who were immigrants, while 517 did not. “Our results strongly support the idea that having immigrants on the founding team substantially increases the chances of an exit strategy with an IPO or acquisition,”  study lead author Ramy Elitzur, professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said in an article published by The Conversation. “This is notable, as it highlights the importance of diversity in founding teams for early investors in order to maximize the return on their investments.” The study suggests that founders with IPO and acquisition strategies should make sure to collaborate with founders who come from different national cultures, Elitzur said. Also, policymakers should consider the diversity within founding teams when making decisions about loans and grant programs for startups, and also direct resources toward incubators and accelerators that focus on startups with diverse founding members, he said. The Conversation

Teams of scientists that collaborate remotely are less likely to generate disruptive ideas, according to an international study led by the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal Nature. The research team analyzed 20 million research articles and 4 million patent applications from across the globe over the past half-century. The team documented the rise of remote collaboration across cities, underlining the growing interconnectedness of scientists and inventors globally. The researchers said their study showed “that across all fields, periods and team sizes, researchers in these remote teams are consistently less likely to make breakthrough discoveries relative to their on-site counterparts.” The researchers created a dataset that enabled them to explore the division of labour in knowledge production within teams and across space. They found that among distributed team members, collaboration centres on late-stage, technical tasks, including data analysis, involving more codified knowledge. Team members collaborating remotely are less likely to join forces in conceptual tasks – such as conceiving new ideas and designing research – when knowledge is tacit, the researchers said. “We conclude that despite striking improvements in digital technology in recent years, remote teams are less likely to integrate the knowledge of their members to produce new, disruptive ideas.” University of Pittsburgh

Interference that Canadian environmental researchers experience in their work is prevalent and ongoing, according to two studies by researchers at Dalhousie University’s Westwood Lab, published in the journal FACETS. Evidence for Democracy, a non-governmental organization that has been following the issue for more than a decade, was a partner on the research project. Interference in science includes muzzling, undue modification to work, the publishing of partial or misleading reports, reduced funding, or refusal to allocate sufficient resources for scientific pursuits, social pressure, harassment or threats, and suppression of scientific information. Manjulika E. Robertson, a research associate at the Westwood Lab, was lead researcher of one of the studies, which surveyed 741 environmental researchers from across Canada in any sector. She found that 92 per cent of researchers have experienced some form of interference in their work. Robertson’s study reports on the perceived prevalence, source, and effects of interference and considers whether these perceptions differ by region, career stage, research area, and affiliation. The second study, led by graduate student Samantha M. Chu as part of her undergraduate honour’s research, focused on the relationship between social identity (gender, disability status, 2SLGBTQI+ status, and race) and reported experiences of interference. Chu’s study found that researchers from marginalized groups are bearing the brunt of this interference. Approximately half (46 per cent) of environmental researchers reported having been restricted from speaking to the media. Early career researchers and marginalized researchers (particularly women, respondents with a disability, and minority racialized groups) experienced greater interference than established career researchers or researchers from majority identity groups.  “While there has been progress made in safeguarding scientific integrity in the federal government, these two studies illustrate that a persistent and broader effort is needed to ensure that environmental scientists can conduct and speak about their work without interference,” said Sarah Laframboise, executive director at Evidence for Democracy.  “Interference in science, left unchecked, leads to the erosion of democratic processes and ineffective environmental and conservation policies,” said Dr. Alana Westwood, PhD, assistant professor at Dalhousie University’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies and principal investigator on both studies. Evidence for Democracy

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt has joined CIFAR’s Research Council. Schmidt is the outgoing vice-chancellor and president of the Australian National University. He is also a world-renowned scientist, winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with peers Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. CIFAR’s Research Council consists  of eminent scholars from a wide range of disciplines, and is responsible for advising CIFAR’s president and CEO on the formulation, development and establishment of high-quality advanced research programs that address the most important questions facing science and humanity. CIFAR

Diedrah Kelly was appointed the inaugural executive director of Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office (IPAAO) in Manila, Philippines. Kelly has 20 years of experience with Global Affairs Canada and recently was Canada’s consul general in Mumbai, and prior to that served as Canada’s Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The IPAAO, a joint initiative between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, is part of an ongoing commitment to bolster ties, advance technical cooperation, assist Canadian exporters in finding new business opportunities, and help position Canada as a preferred supplier in the region. Establishment of the IPAAO is a key component of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Bernadette Jordan, a former federal minister (Liberal government) of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, was appointed Canada’s consul general in Boston, replacing Rodger Cuzner. Jordan was raised on the South Shore of Nova Scotia in a small fishing community. In 2015, she ran for and won the federal riding of South Shore-St. Margarets by the largest margin ever in the riding and became the first woman to hold the seat. After leaving politics in 2021, Jordan went back to her fund development roots, accepting a position as the national director of philanthropy with Shelter Movers, a volunteer-powered charity providing free moving and storage services to people, primarily women and children, leaving abuse. Global Affairs Canada

Gilles Leclerc, a former director general of space exploration at the Canadian Space Agency, joined Toronto-based space systems company Canadensys Aerospace as director of government and international affairs. In addition to his role at the CSA, Leclerc previously served for three years as the Space Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Paris, where he fostered collaborations and partnerships between Canada and European space organizations. At Canadensys Aerospace, Leclerc will leverage his extensive experience to enhance the company’s activities both nationally and internationally, Canadensys Aerospace

Natasha Gagnon was named the new CEO of the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), succeeding the late Moira Harvey. Gagnon, who joined that OAC in February 2016 and rose to vice-president, had been serving as interim CEO since Harvey’s death in March 2023.  Prior to joining the OAC, Gagnon held key positions in the public sector as a trade officer with UK Trade & Investment at the British Consulate-General in Montreal, and positions in the private sector both in Canada and France within the investor relations, wellness and advertising sectors. OAC

Former B.C. environment minister and former attorney general Barry Penner will serve as chair of a new, high-profile campaign, the Energy Futures Initiative, focused on energy policy in B.C., not-for-profit advocacy organization Resource Works announced. Penner introduced B.C.’s first-ever climate action strategy 15 years ago. Amid ongoing questions surrounding B.C.’s ability to meet ambitious government targets, the Energy Futures Initiative will provide accurate and relevant information surrounding the state of energy in the province highlighting both the opportunities and the challenges that can emerge from different types of government policy. Resource Works

Former Microsoft product leader Peter Provost joined Vancouver-based VERSES AI Inc., a cognitive computer company specializing in next-generation intelligent software systems, as vice-president of product, developer platforms. Provost will lead the strategic development and enhancement of Genius™, VERSES’ intelligence-as-a-service platform, leveraging his experience in product engineering, leadership and deep understanding of the developer community. Provost has more than 18 years of experience at Microsoft, where he held key roles in engineering, product management and leadership. VERSES AI

Four marine scientists representing three academic generations are rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to raise US$500,000 for ocean conservation. The all-woman “Salty Science” crew includes: Lauren Shea, a Master’s student in University of British Colmbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries; Dr. Isabelle Côté, PhD, professor of marine biology at Simon Fraser University; Côté’s former PhD student Dr. Chantale Bégin, PhD, now a professor at the University of South Florida; and Noelle Helder, Shea’s friend from undergraduate studies in Florida now working for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Salty Science crew is taking part in the World’s Toughest Row - Atlantic 2023, a race where teams row, without stopping and without support, from San Sebastian de La Gomera in The Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. They’ll set out on December 12, weather dependent, and the voyage can take anywhere from 40 to 55 days depending on factors such as weather, the crew’s physical state and more. The crew will take more than 1.5 million oar strokes in two-person shifts, sleeping two hours before taking the oars again for two hours, and spending 24 hours a day on the 28-foot rowboat. That means eating, sleeping and rowing in all weather – and they’ve got a bucket onboard for bathroom breaks. The team will raise the money for ocean conservation through three organizations: GreenWave, focused on sustainable seafood production; Shellback Expeditions, which supports marine research, conservation and education in the eastern Caribbean; and the Bamfield Marine Science Centre on Canada’s West Coast, which will use the funding raised to create a scholarship for students of underrepresented minorities to help train the next generation of marine conservationists. Follow Salty Science during the race via this tracking app and click “Add Race” and type “World’s Toughest Row – Atlantic 2023”, or via their Instagram account. Find out more on their website. UBC

A University of Guelph research team has designed a much faster way to measure the increases and declines in biodiversity within an environment by analyzing bulk insect samples using digital photography and artificial intelligence. Insect populations can reveal a lot about the health of an ecosystem and the state of its biodiversity. Unlike the traditional method of counting bulk samples by hand and classifying each bug using a microscope, the new approach, known as BugShot, captures a high-resolution photograph of a sample and uses deep learning computer vision AI to rapidly identify each insect in samples that can exceed 1,000 bugs. The researchers estimate the new approach could shorten the process from roughly a year it takes using traditional methods to an hour or two using BugShot. The aim of the research is to find a better way to assess biodiversity gain from habitat restoration in the agri-food sector. Published recently in Methods of Ecology and Evolution, the research team’s study demonstrates how AI can perform the taxa classification of bugs and how to scale up the process for use in the lab. University of Guelph

The University of Calgary has started construction on its new Veterinary Learning Commons building on the university’s rural Spy Hill campus. Supported by $68.5 million in provincial capital funding, the new facility – aimed at addressing the shortage of veterinarians – will provide flexible active classrooms and student gathering areas and wellness spaces, while doubling the annual number of veterinary medicine training seats from 50 to 100 when it opens in the 2025/26 academic year. The province also is providing $1.2 million in capital funding for renovations and lab equipment. The funding will expand the Diagnostic Services Unit, which offers fee-for-service diagnostic services for the veterinary community and researchers, including in-house necropsies, histopathology, cytology and bacteriology. UCalgary

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) marked the 10th anniversary of its Research Facilities Navigator on December 4. When CFI launched this searchable online directory in 2013, it was the first national, open access tool of its kind. The Navigator offers the capability to search and connect with research expertise and state-of-the-art equipment at facilities based in universities, colleges, hospitals and government departments across Canada. Featuring 850 facilities at work in traditional, new and emerging fields and industries, it is also the most comprehensive resource of its kind in Canada. Twenty-eight sectors are represented in the Navigator, from aerospace and ocean industries to advanced manufacturing and life sciences. One hundred and twenty-eight colleges, universities, hospitals, non-profit organizations and federal government departments and agencies are featured in the Navigator, which attracted more than 60,000 visits during the last fiscal year. CFI





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