Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada , 1Password, 500 Women Scientists, Alberta Innovates, Alliance Métal Québec’s Réseau de commercialisation numériqu, Aluminium Valley Society , Aplantex, Armilla AI, Avanti Communications , BioTalent Canada, Bounce Health Innovation , Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences, Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association , Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, City of Peterborough, Coalition Avenir Québec government , Concordia University, Cornell University, Council of Canadian Innovators, Department of National Defence, Eavor Technologies Inc., Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, GAL Aviation Inc. , Global Advantage Consulting Group, Golden Ventures, Google, Government of Canada, Government of Newfoundland, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, HEC Montreal, Helika, Helius, High Q, Information and Communications Technology Council, Institute national de la recherche scientifique, Intuitive Machines, Kajima Corporation , Kolide, Konan Technology Inc., Laserax, , Linux Foundation, LockBit, McGill University, McGill University Desautels Faculty of Management , McMaster University, MDA Ltd., Moderna Canada , Mothers in Science, Multidisciplinary Institute for Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience , Natural Resources Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Nergica College Centre for Technology Transfer, Ontario Centre of Innovation, PASQAL, Polytechnique Montreal, Queen’s University, Queen’s University Smith School of Business , Simon Fraser University, Statistics Canada, techNL, Techstars, Techstars Toronto, Telesat, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Tribe Network, U. S. Department of Justice, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Guelph, University of New Brunswick, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo, Upskill Canada, Volta, Western University, Western University Ivey Business School , Women and Gender Equality Canada, and Zūm Rails


"greening" federal operations, Accelerate Black Tech program, advancing field of reinforcement learning, advancing health tech innovations, aeronautical and aerospace products, AI in risk assurance, AI in small businesses finding capital to borrow, AI performance in reviewing legal contracts, anti-drone technology, barriers related to motherhood driving women out of STEMM fields, Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub , building a cyber-resilient society, building crypto applications, call for criminalization of "deepfakes", Canada Digital Adoption Program, Canada's venture capital and private equity investment in 2023, Changing the Narrative – Unleashing the Full Potential of Women-owned Enterprises, City of Peterborough’s Home Energy Efficiency Program, Concordia University, McGill university lawsuits against Quebec government, cryptographic security challenges, CSA's Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program, data analytics and game management, Deep Space Food Challenge, device management and security, digital marketing strategy for businesses, expansion of Nergica College Centre for Technology Transfer, federal Bill C-63 Online Harms Act, federal Greening Government Fund, Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2024, France-Canada International Research Network on Clean Hydrogen, geothermal technology, Green Municipal Fund, growing food in space, improvements recommended for SR&ED program, including small businesses in Statistics Canada surveys, innovation in quantum computing, laser welding technology, link between Canada's productivity decline and largest companies, low-Earth satellite services, non-opioid treatment for chronic pain, Odysseus lander on Moon, Ontario government funding for post-secondary institutions, payments gateway software, plan for Newfoundland's healthtech and biotech sectors, plant replicators to produce high-value molecules, quantum technology for military applications, ransomware gangs, safe production and used nuclear fuel storage for small modular reactors, southern Ontario's quantum sector, Techstars Toronto accelerator's future, test sites for zero emission and autonomous vehicles, Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2023, and training for biomanufacturing workers

The Short Report: February 28, 2024

Research Money
February 28, 2024


The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces Innovation for Defence Excellent and Security (IDEas) program awarded a total of $18 million to four universities for six new research clusters to advance quantum research. The clusters, called micro-nets, will work with their partners over the next four years to develop, integrate and demonstrate quantum technologies that can transform current defence and security capabilities. (Image at right  shows artist's concept of an atom chip in a quantum sensor: By NASA/JPL-Caltech). Recipients are University of Waterloo, University of New Brunswick, University of Toronto, and Polytechnique Montréal. The IDEaS program is looking to develop several research micro-nets focusing on defence and security applications, specifically: quantum sensing and sensors (including for positioning, navigation and timing), quantum communications, and quantum computing, simulations and algorithms. IDEaS

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced an investment of more than $17.2 million to help 12 innovative companies in southern Ontario’s quantum sector to advance and commercialize their quantum products and solutions for domestic and global markets. This investment, through the Regional Quantum Initiative, is an important step in advancing the federal government’s National Quantum Strategy, FedDev Ontario said. As part of the investment, Waterloo-based High Q is receiving up to $3.75-million to support product enhancements to launch their technology into the biopharmaceutical market. High Q is a women-led, innovative life sciences technology company that uses quantum-enabled systems to solve complex problems in protein dynamics, including shortening the timeline to discover new drugs. Southern Ontario is one of four regional hubs of Canadian expertise in the field of quantum technologies, with strengths in quantum computing, materials, sensors and imaging, communications and cyber security. FedDev Ontario

Alberta Innovates is providing $12.4 million under two programs to advance health innovations. Ten applicants to the AICE-Concepts program will share nearly $6.3 million in funding. Recipients include researchers and innovators at the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and in the private sector. Projects include: wearable sensors to detect stroke in hospitalized patients; automatic detection of upper limb injury from ultrasound images; neurostimulation device for personalized brain disorders treatment; and machine-learning diagnostics for predicting  infectious disease outcomes. Another Alberta Innovates program, LevMax-Health, is providing 10 awards totalling more than $6.1 million to researchers and innovators at UCalgary and U of A. Projects include: augmented reality and screen-based decision-support system for cardio-pulmonary arrest; an improved computer model of healthy and impaired visual processing; novel mortality risk prediction tools to inform shared decision-making for people with kidney disease; an intelligent robotic system for post-stroke assessment and rehabilitation; and faster brain MRI for newborns. Alberta Innovates

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced an $8-million investment for the Ontario Centre of Innovation to establish two live-environment piloting sites to support the development and commercialization of new transportation technologies in southern Ontario. The investment, through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, will establish one location in Toronto focusing on urban transportation and another site in Windsor/Sarnia focused on cross-border and multi-modal scenarios. These world-class, live-testing sites will act as a launch pad for more than 40 SMEs as they pilot and commercialize over 40 new technologies, predominantly within the zero emission vehicles (ZEV), and connected and autonomous (CAV) vehicle areas. The technology pilot zones aim to fill a gap in Canada’s market for ZEV and CAV commercialization, and also break down the high barriers to entry and facilitate technology piloting in real-world environments, including highways, cross-border sites and urban transportation settings. FedDev Ontario

The Government of Quebec awarded $10.7 million to the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles to expand the Nergica College Centre for Technology Transfer. Nergica is investing $1.2 million. With this new facility, expected to cost just over $11.9 million, the Gaspé-based organization will be able to increase the number of applied renewable energy research projects and welcome more students. The building will include research facilities, workshops, collaborative spaces and offices. The new research centre will meet the highest criteria in terms of energy efficiency and will be one of the first “net-positive” energy buildings in Quebec. It will produce more electricity annually than it consumes, thanks to solar panels and strategic choices related to its design and the materials used. Government of Quebec 

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced an investment of $8.6 million (a $2.87-million grant and a $5.75-million loan) to launch the City of Peterborough’s Home Energy Efficiency Program. The investment is through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund. In 2019, the City of Peterborough declared a climate emergency and updated its goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Home retrofits are essential to achieve these goals, as 23 per cent of emissions in the city come from the 34,660 residential dwellings. The City of Peterborough Home Energy Efficiency Program offers homeowners and renters two loan choices: one tied to the property via a local improvement charge and the other an unsecured loan provided directly from a partnering financial institution. These loans, capped at $125,000 or 10 per cent of the current property value, can be used to finance home energy efficiency improvements that lower emissions, reduce energy costs and enhance comfort, using measures like upgrading windows, doors, air sealing and insulation, and installing low-emission heating such as heat pumps and alternative energy sources like solar panels. The program aims to help approximately 600 households retrofit their homes, achieving total GHG emissions reductions of 825 tonnes of CO2 per year and saving more than 28,000 gigajoules of energy. NRCan

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat announced two new Greening Government Fund projects and updated a third project aimed at “greening” federal operations in the Quebec region.  Combined, the three projects represent almost $2 million in funding for projects that will move the federal government closer to its goal of net-zero operations by 2050. The first new project, to begin this spring, will see the Canadian Space Agency do a life cycle assessment on one of its space projects to gather relevant data on the environmental impacts of space project contracts. This will include identifying opportunities to reduce embodied carbon and developing solutions for decarbonizing space-related R&D contracts. The second new project, led by Natural Resources Canada and National Defence, will directly address barriers to the adoption of lower-carbon heating options in the northern heating market, such as sizing, installation, seasonal performance and maintenance for buildings north of 60°. Funding will help facility owners and managers better understand system design and costs for these heating systems and increase uptake of ground source heat pumps and sea water heat pumps in the North. The third project, led by Natural Resources Canada, began in 2020 and has optimized the use of electric heating at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters. This project contributed to a 33-per-cent reduction in total GHG emissions and natural gas consumption from real property operations since 2021–22. The results of this project, combined with the effects of retrofits and a cleaner electric grid, enabled the CSA to reduce GHG emissions from its real property portfolio by 56 per cent since 2005–06. Treasury Board Secretariat

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced that the governments of Canada and Quebec are granting more than $1.6 million in financial support to the Aluminium Valley Society to develop and implement a digital marketing strategy among 95 businesses. Twenty of these businesses will be mentored through the full digital marketing process, while the other 75 will gain in visibility by joining Alliance Métal Québec’s Réseau de commercialisation numérique. The federal government is providing a non-repayable contribution of $459,254 under CED’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program. The Quebec government is granting a total of nearly $1.15 million. CED

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced a repayable contribution of $1 million for Quebec City-based Laserax, to facilitate the company’s efforts to commercialize new laser welding equipment that will make it possible to produce electric vehicle batteries more quickly. Laserax, founded in 2010 and led by two graduates of Université Laval’s Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, is an exporting tech SME specializing in the design, manufacture and commercialization of systems using lasers, a green technology, in industrial applications. Laserax has developed a new patented laser welder for the manufacture of EV battery modules. This project aims to commercialize this product and strengthen the company’s capacity for innovation. CED

The Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program has selected 15 participants to showcase their latest innovations at the Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Sandbox (CUAS) 2024 Sandbox in Suffield, Alberta from May 27 to June 21 this year. The aim of CUAS technology is to detect and/or defeat micro and mini uncrewed aerial systems, or drones, with systems that can be integrated into the broader military command and control system. Selected innovators include seven Canadian companies, three from the U.S., two from Australia, and one each from the U.K., Israel and U.S./Israel.

As with previous CUAS Sandboxes, the selected innovators will get:

  • Up to five days of their free, personal full-time use of DND’s fully equipped CUAS test range including targets.
  • On-site one-on-one continual interaction with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the U.S. Government - Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, end-users, and science experts.
  • Iterative testing and demonstration to improve their technology.
  • Feedback from the CAF to customize and adjust their test plan on the fly

IDEaS will award Sandbox prizes, with $1 million for first place, $500,000 for second place and $250,000 for third place. IDEaS

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced a repayable contribution of $976,918 for GAL Aviation Inc. to enable the business to expand by acquiring the equipment and tools needed to manufacture aeronautical and aerospace products. Founded in 2011, GAL is an aerospace business based in Vaudreuil-Dorion that specializes in high-quality aircraft interior refurbishments for commercial and business aircraft, in particular baggage compartments, galleys and lavatory areas. As part of its operations, GAL is involved in the engineering, design, certification, manufacture and installation of its products. CED’s assistance will enable the company to finalize the engineering of aeronautical products, proceed with their certification by regulatory organizations, and acquire the equipment and tools needed for their manufacture. CED’s contribution will also make it possible for GAL to market its products internationally. CED

Women and Gender Equality Canada announced $960,000 for the Information and Communications Technology Council in Toronto to create a more inclusive and digital economy. The funding will support the project Changing the Narrative – Unleashing the Full Potential of Women-owned Enterprises, which aims to foster innovation, enhance workforce diversity and tackle systemic barriers experienced by women entrepreneurs, with a focus on Black and official language minority communities. Supporting equal opportunities for women in the workplace could add $150 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product by 2026, the federal government said. Women and Gender Equality Canada

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) issued a request for proposals for its Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) Science Instruments. NASA will deliver Canadian science instruments, or the scientific payload, to the surface of the Moon through a commercial lunar payload services provider. Closing date for the RFP is March 25, 2024. LEAP has a total budget of $150 million over five years to support technology development, in-space demonstration and science missions in lunar orbit, on the Moon's surface, and beyond. The program has a focus on artificial intelligence, robotics and health initiatives. CSA


 Three Canadian universities made it into the top 100 in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2023. They are University of Toronto (#21), University of British Columbia (tied for #36), and McGill University (tied for #47). The other Canadian universities to appear in the ranking, in the #126 to #150 category, were University of Alberta, Université de Montréal and  University of Waterloo, and, in the #176 to #200 category, McMaster University. The top three universities, in order, were Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University. The ranking is developed from surveys of senior published academics who are invited to name up to15 universities they believe are the best in their field. Times Higher Education

Four Canadian universities made it into the top 100 in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2024. They are Queen’s University Smith School of Business (#62), University of Toronto Rotman School of Management (#70), McGill University Desautels Faculty of Management (#83), and Western University Ivey Business School (#90). The Wharton School at the University of Philadelphia was ranked #1 for the 11th time since the first ranking published in 1999, followed by Columbia Business School (#2) In New York, and Italy-based SDA Bocconi School of Management (#3). The ranking evaluates the top 100 business schools in the world based on factors such as alumni network, carbon footprint, faculty statistics, and diversity attributes. Financial Times

The University of Calgary has partnered with France-based PASQAL (which has an office in Sherbrooke, Quebec), a global leader in neutral atoms quantum computing, to advance quantum innovation. Quantum City, UCalgary’s quantum innovation hub, and PASQAL are poised to establish an experimental data centre, providing a robust platform for cutting-edge research and development initiatives and promoting bilateral exchanges between France, Quebec, and Alberta’s quantum ecosystems. A suite of educational programs, workshops and industry exposure opportunities will be curated to equip students and researchers with the skills and insights necessary to thrive in the next quantum era. PASQAL’s contributions include funding research programs and aiding faculty recruitment, and leveraging its global network to attract top-tier quantum talent to Alberta. UCalgary will provide access to its Quantum City qHub and qLab facilities, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration and quantum technology commercialization. University of Calgary

The University of Waterloo has joined the San Francisco-based Linux Foundation’s newly created Post-Quantum Cryptography Alliance (PQCA), which unites public and private technology leaders to address cryptographic security challenges posed by quantum computing. The PQCA will focus on producing high-assurance software implementations of standardized algorithms, while supporting the continued development and standardization of new post-quantum algorithms. PQCA members include: Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Google, IBM, IntellectEU, Keyfactor, Kudelski IoT, NVIDIA, QuSecure, SandboxAQ, and the University of Waterloo. The UWaterloo-founded Open Quantum Safe Project now has a permanent home as a project with the PQCA, the university said. The PQCA expands on the ethos that motivates the Open Quantum Safe project, which was established in 2014 by two Waterloo professors: Dr. Douglas Stebila and Dr. Michele Mosca, both professors of Combinatorics and Optimization at UWaterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing. The Open Quantum Safe project, which has grown to include more than 40 contributors around the world as well as several private and public sponsors, supports open-source development and prototyping of quantum-resistant cryptography. PQCA, UWaterloo

 Université de Montréal  (UdeM) entered into a strategic partnership with Konan Technology Inc., an artificial intelligence company based in Seoul, South Korea, to advance the field of reinforcement learning. The collaboration, led at UdeM by computer-science professor Irina Rish and postdoctoral researcher Connor Brennan, will focus on the development of a distributed reinforcement learning library that leverages the power of supercomputer clusters. This innovative library will empower researchers to train AI models on a much larger scale than previously possible, unlocking new possibilities for AI research and development, the partners say. Konan has developed an in-house version of MUESLI, a state-of-the-art, model-free reinforcement learning library optimized for environments that require exploration. UdeM provides its expertise on reinforcement learning and on developing large-scale AI foundation models on supercomputer clusters used to scale AI models on massive datasets, accelerating the development and validation of reinforcement learning algorithms. The partnership is expected to yield significant advancements in reinforcement learning technology, with potential breakthroughs in areas such as autonomous driving, robotics, and healthcare. Université de Montréal

The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) partnered with France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique to establish a new France-Canada International Research Network on Clean Hydrogen. The aim of the network is to deepen connections between French and Canadian researchers to improve low-carbon hydrogen production technologies. The initiative will focus on a variety of technologies, such as those pertaining to water electrolysis technologies, solar energy for artificial photosynthesis, and hydrogen generation. The multidisciplinary Hydrogen Research Institute of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières was established in 1994. The Institute’s goal is to contribute to the development of hydrogen technologies through research activities related to the storage, production and safe use of hydrogen. As part of UQTR’s coordinating role in the network, the university will also collaborate with the Institute national de la recherche scientifique, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University. Academia Group

The Government of Canada is prematurely cancelling most of its $4-billion Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) to help small businesses upgrade their digital technology, with the funding left largely unspent, according to news reports. CDAP, which was first announced in the 2021 budget, was touted as a centrepiece of the government’s efforts to help businesses emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program opened for applications in early 2022 and featured a suite of different funding options, including: $2,400 microgrants for website creation; $15,000 grants to hire digital consultants to create business plans; and interest-free loans of up to $100,000 to support technology upgrades. It was budgeted to run for four years. But the program saw low uptake in the early going, as some entrepreneurs and business groups said it was confusing and complicated to navigate. As of February 20, the government said more than 20,000 microgrants and more than 21,000 business-plan grants had been handed out over two years, representing a total of $274 million in support. Nearly 5,000 businesses received a total of $280 million in loans from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). However, that was far below target: the government had budgeted $1.4 billion for grants and advisory services, and $2.6 billion in loans, with the aim of helping 160,000 businesses. Ottawa has now closed applications for the “Boost Your Business Technology” grant component (up to $15,000 to develop a digital adoption plan and up to $100,000 for a BDC loan to implement the plan). The Boost Your Business Technology grant “is fully subscribed and is not accepting new applications at this time,” according to CDAP’s website. Only those businesses that have already been through the grant phase are still eligible for a loan from BDC. However, the microgrant program ($2,400 for website creation) called the “Grow Your Business Online Grant” will continue. The Globe and Mail

Toronto-based password management firm 1Password acquired Kolide, a Boston-based device management and security company. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Adding Kolide’s contextual access management and device health capabilities to the 1Password security suite will help businesses of all sizes close gaps in their security posture, 1Password said. Forty-seven per cent of companies allow unmanaged devices to access company resources, according to a Kolide report. Businesses need to ensure they trust the right device attempting to access company applications, 1Password said. Kolide’s technology prevents unknown or unsecure devices from accessing applications and enables the user to restore the device to a trusted state, without the involvement of IT or security teams. 1Password

London, U.K.-based Avanti Communications signed an agreement with Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat to test and develop low-Earth orbit (LEO) services as part of its global strategy to deliver customized, multi-orbit satellites to customers at scale. Avanti plans to incorporate Telesat’s Lightspeed™ services into its network to provide affordable, high quality broadband connectivity worldwide. Telesat’s innovative global network is comprised of 198 state-of-the-art LEO satellites that are seamlessly integrated with on-ground networks. The collaboration will be optimized to serve the critical connectivity requirements of Avanti’s enterprise and government customers once the Telesat Lightspeed satellite constellation is operational in 2027. Telesat

Halifax-based Tribe Network, an entrepreneurship and innovation hub, has partnered with the Volta accelerator in Halifax to launch a new residency program, “Accelerate Black Tech,” for Black tech founders and entrepreneurs. The partnership combines Tribe’s educational framework with Volta’s tailored coaching. The vision is to provide a robust ecosystem where education and mentorship intersect, offering Black tech founders in Canada a comprehensive platform for growth. In a separate initiative, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced that the federally supported Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub is developing a new ecosystem mapping tool that will provide data and insight to help ensure Black entrepreneurs have the support they need to start up and scale up in their business. The mapping tool – expected to be fully operational early next year – also will encourage partnerships between businesses and connect them to mentoring and support services. Rechie Valdez, minister of Small Business, noted that Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, launched in 2021, has with its $160-million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund approved almost $50 million in loans to Black-owned businesses. The program’s $100-million National Ecosystem Fund, through its 43 Black non-profit delivery organizations, has helped almost 9,000 Black entrepreneurs get mentorship, business training and financial advice so they can grow their businesses. Tribe, ISED

The future of the Techstars Toronto accelerator looks uncertain after global early-stage technology startup accelerator and investor Techstars announced it is shutting down its Boulder and Seattle accelerators, after recently shuttering its Austin-based program. Techstars plans to close some of its accelerators and move its corporate headquarters from Boulder, Colorado to New York City, as part of a renewed focus on some of the world’s largest tech ecosystems, such as San Francisco, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. CEO Maëlle Gavet said Techstars will keep running accelerator programs in 30 other locations in addition to its core cities in 2024, but she didn’t disclose which locations would be impacted. While Techstars Toronto is not shutting down imminently in the wake of these changes, it has paused its accelerator programming for the time being, and its long-term future in the city remains to be determined, BetaKit reported. Gavet told TechCrunch that the “franchise model” Techstars first used doesn’t work anymore. Techstars, which has a portfolio of more than 4,000 companies, doesn’t need to be physically present in a city to be involved in its ecosystem, she said. Techstars did about 700 pre-seed investments last year, and this year should be making about 800 investments, growing both inside and outside of the U.S., Gavet said. BetaKit, TechCrunch

Charlottetown, P.E.I.-headquartered Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) signed a memorandum of understanding with Moderna Canada to support biomanufacturing training for employees at Moderna’s new vaccine manufacturing facility in Laval, Quebec. The MOU establishes a collaboration to support Moderna Canada employees with customized Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) training for biopharmaceutical manufacturing. CASTL also has partnered with BioTalent Canada to deliver innovative training as part of CASTL’s new program, Elevate. The CASTL Elevate program, funded by Upskill Canada (powered by Palette Skills) and the Government of Canada, is part of the first wave of national partnership programs taking an industry-informed approach to supporting workers in Canada’s fast-growing biomanufacturing sector. Participants will engage in self-directed learning opportunities that include BioTalent Canada’s Essential and Technical Skills Fundamentals, self-directed courses from the CASTL Online Academy, and participate in one week of hands-on training in one of CASTL’s GMP-like biomanufacturing training facilities led by a team of industry-experienced trainers. CASTL

The Government of Newfoundland and two technology sector industry groups, techNL and the affiliated Bounce Health Innovation, aim to develop a unified plan for the province’s healthtech and biotech sectors. In a request for proposals, techNL said it is seeking a consulting firm to conduct an economic impact analysis and asset mapping, study the entrepreneurial ecosystem to identify gaps and opportunities, as well as identify investment attraction opportunities. The Newfoundland Department of Industry, Energy and Technology, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services are both backing the project. Bounce Health Innovation includes members from the fields of both life sciences and IT, including techNL and the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship. One motivating factor behind the project may be a pair of reports issued during the last decade by the provincial government and management consulting giant McKinsey & Company, that warned startups in the region were counterproductively siloed by sector with communications tending not to flow between industries. Entrevestor

Canadian AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio is among more than 1,000 international tech experts and others who’ve signed an open letter calling for the criminalization of “deepfakes” – misleading AI-generated content designed to be mistaken for the real thing. Other Canadian signatories include: METAVRSE founder Alan Smithson; Gillian Hadfield (University of Toronto Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society at the University of Toronto); Wyatt Tessari L’Allié (founder and executive director, AI Governance and Safety Canada); Sharon Polsky (president, Privacy & Access Council of Canada); and Benoit Julien (director of INVEST-AI). Deepfakes often involve sexual imagery, fraud or political disinformation, and “are a growing threat to society,” the letter says. The signatories said new laws should:

  • Fully criminalize deepfake child pornography, even when only fictional children are depicted.
  • Establish criminal penalties for anyone who knowingly creates or knowingly facilitates the spread of harmful deepfakes.
  • Require software developers and distributors to prevent their audio and visual products from creating harmful deepfakes, and to be held liable if their preventive measures are too easily circumvented.

An international group of law enforcement partners said it disrupted ransomware gang LockBit’s operations, seizing the infrastructure of one of the most prolific ransomware gangs in recent history. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) working in conjunction with U.K. authorities and other international law enforcement agencies including the RCMP in Canada, unsealed indictments against two Russian nationals, Artur Sungatov and Ivan Kondratyev, charging them with deploying LockBit against numerous companies around the U.S. and other targets overseas. The FBI and U.K. National Crime Agency, working with multiple partners, also seized numerous public-facing websites and servers used by Lockbit. Authorities obtained decryption keys that will allow hundreds of targeted organizations and others to regain their stolen data. LockBit has targeted more than 2,000 ransomware victims, ranging from large enterprises to small local businesses, collecting more than $120 million in ransom payments, according to the DOJ. In Canada, LockBit was responsible for 22 per cent of all attributed ransomware attacks by 2022, according to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. One of the gang’s victims last year was bookseller Indigo. LockBit was considered the most dominant threat group in 2023, commanding 25 per cent of the ransomware market, according to SecureWorks. Cybersecurity Dive

AI-generated Large Language Models (LLMs) far outperformed people in reviewing legal contracts in a study by New Zealand researchers published by arXiv, an open-access archive at Cornell University. The study looked at whether LLMs can outperform human legal contract reviewers – junior lawyers and legal process outsourcers – in accuracy, speed and cost-efficiency during contract review. In speed, LLMs complete reviews in seconds, eclipsing the hours required by their human counterparts. Cost-wise, LLMs operate at a fraction of the price, offering a 99.97 per cent reduction in cost compared with tradition legal contract review methods. LLMs show comparable, if not superior, performance in determining legal issues when compared with junior lawyers and legal process outsourcers. “However, a LLM’s ability to locate issues within contracts, particularly when a standard is not present, is model-dependent and may not consistently outperform human practitioners, highlighting the importance of selecting the right model for the legal task,” the study said. “These results are not just statistics – they signal a seismic shift in legal practice. LLMs stand poised to disrupt the legal industry, enhancing accessibility and efficiency of legal services,” the researchers said. “Our research asserts that the era of LLM dominance in legal contract review is upon us, challenging the status quo and calling for a reimagined future of legal workflows.” arXiv

Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lunar lander made it to the surface of the Moon, but Ottawa-based MDA Ltd.’s lunar landing laser sensor – built at the company’s U.K. facilities and a critical component for a successful descent and landing – could not be used. The cause was an electrical lock that prevents the laser from firing inadvertently during testing as a safety procedure. Intuitive Machines flight director Tim Crain said his company hadn’t deactivated the lock before launch and that there was no way to do so remotely. Flight controllers had to rapidly rewrite software for the landing sequence, substituting MDA's laser range finder with a NASA-built experimental lidar system that happened to be onboard Odysseus as a technical demonstration. The substitution worked and Odysseus made a soft landing, but the spacecraft tipped over upon landing. Houston-based Intuitive Machines, which is leading the IM-1 mission, said Odysseus apparently is lying on its side on a lunar rock. The spacecraft is still getting the sunlight needed to power the lander and is transmitting data, as engineers try to make the most of the spacecraft’s limited lifespan and communications capability. Initial data indications suggested that a telescope built by Bolton, Ontario Canadensys Aerospace Corporation for the International Lunar Observatory Association, a research group based in Hawaii, is fixed near the top of the 4.3-metre-tall lander and is not directed skyward as planned. The Globe and Mail


Toronto-based Golden Ventures secured about $139 million for its fifth venture capital fund focused on seed-stage startups across North America. Golden Fund V’s investors include returning limited partners BDC Capital, ECMC Group, Foundry, HarbourVest Partners, Kensington Capital Partners, Northleaf Capital Partners, RBC, Teralys Capital, University of Chicago, and Vintage Investment Partners, as well as new backer Deloitte Ventures. Golden Ventures, a sector-agnostic VC firm, plans to make 30 core investments in startups across Canada and the U.S. through its Fund V, which it will begin its investments later this year. Golden will focus on leading or co-leading rounds across the seed spectrum, such as with companies in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver, with initial cheques of $500,000 to $3 million. BetaKit

Toronto-based Helius, a developer platform that helps crypto applications build on the Solana Web3 infrastructure platform, raised $12.8-million in a Series A financing round. The round was led by Foundation Capital, with participation from Reciprocal Ventures, 6th Man Ventures, Chapter One, Propel, Balaji Srinivasan, Anatoly Yakovenko, Raj Gokal, and Kyle Samani, among other Solana ecosystem founders. Helius offers a full suite of powerful tools that allows developers to quickly and easily build applications on Solana that are cheap, fast and scalable. Helius said it will use its Series A funding to hire low-level systems and backend engineers. Helius

Toronto-based Helika, a data analytics, marketing and game management platform, raised $10.8 million in Series A funding led by blockchain venture fund Pantera Capital with participation from Sparkle Ventures, Diagram Ventures, Sfermion, and individual investors including Spencer Tucker, Damon Gura and Marc Alloul. Helika said the funding will accelerate the launch of the company’s AI-powered Game Management products to help studios to drive profitable user acquisition, retention, engagement and ultimately higher profits for both traditional and web3 games. Helika

 Montreal-based fintech startup Zūm Rails, which offers an all-in-one payments gateway platform, raised $10.5 million in a Series A funding round. The round was led by Arthur Ventures, a Minneapolis-based growth equity firm that specializes in B2B software. Zūm Rails integrates open banking and instant payments into a single gateway that powers the entire transaction journey. In addition to scaling its U.S. growth, Zūm Rails will use the funding to further expand its payments offerings, including the introduction of new Banking-as-a-Service features for merchants. Zūm Rails

Montreal-based Aplantex, a supplier of high-value molecules to the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and agri-food industries, raised $3.3 million in second-round financing. Aplantex’s industrial platform uses photosynthetic plant replicators to produce a variety of molecules with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-aging properties. Plant replicators have proven their ability to produce bioactive molecules in a more environmentally responsible way than agriculture, conventional biotechnology platforms, or the conventional chemical industry, Aplantex said. Aplantex

Vancouver-based fintech raised $1 million in seed financing for its AI-driven software that helps small businesses find capital to borrow. Previous investors Weave and Sprout led the round, which included several new investors. Built on AI and machine learning algorithms,’s intelligent loan platform streamlines the lending process, making it faster, more accessible and transparent, using data analytics to suggest lenders, loan types and the likelihood of success with each. said it will use the new financing to expand its reach to businesses in Canada and the U.S.

Toronto-based Armilla AI raised $6 million in seed funding to scale risk-assurance products for AI and de-risk AI adoption for businesses. The all-equity round was led by Mistral Venture Partners with participation from MS&AD Ventures, SixThirty Ventures, Morgan Creek Digital and Y Combinator and insurance providers Greenlight Re and Chaucer. ArmillaAI said the funding will enable the expansion of Armilla Guaranteed™, a quality assessment and performance guarantee for AI products.  The company is expanding its leadership team with the hire of Jerry Gupta.  Gupta, previously a senior vice-president at Swiss Re where he spearheaded insurance policies for emerging tech products, including cybersecurity, played a pivotal role in shaping the functionality of Armilla’s AI product warranty. Armilla AI

Calgary-based geothermal technology company Eavor Technologies Inc. announced an agreement with Kajima Corporation of Japan to receive a direct investment by Kajima into Eavor. The investment enables the growth and deployment of Eavor’s technology in various market sectors, Eavor said. It  also represents the third major investment in the company by a Japanese entity. Eavor’s closed-loop Eavor-Loop™ technology utilizes heat from the natural geothermal gradient of the Earth, as opposed to tapping natural hot springs, which are commonly seen in geothermal activity areas in Japan. Eavor received $90 million from the Canada Growth Fund – the Fund’s first investment – in November 2023. Eavor

The Multidisciplinary Institute for Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience (IMC2), created by Polytechnique Montréal in collaboration with HEC Montréal and Université de Montréal, received a $1.3-million donation from Google. The investment will be disbursed over two years to support IMC2 researchers as they pursue projects that contribute to building a cyber-resilient society. The projects financed by this grant include:

  • The setting up and investigation of the operational aspects of a service of trained volunteer cybercitizens to assist the public in the event of a cybersecurity incident, along with the development of a software solution to assess citizens’ security posture and exposure to the internet.
  • Development and implementation of a secure inter-university data-sharing platform to advance collaborative cybersecurity research.
  • An exploratory study of the alignment between cybersecurity and sustainable development.
  • Support and development of the cybersecurity entrepreneurial program run by Propolys, Polytechnique Montréal’s incubator for technology entrepreneurs. HEC Montréal

Canada’s VC investment in 2023 declined from 2022

Cumulative Canadian venture capital investment in 2023 amounted to $6.9 billion across 660 deals, with the fourth quarter alone attracting nearly $1.4 billion over 142 deals, according to a report by the Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association (CVCA). The year saw a return to pre-pandemic momentum despite a year-over-year slowdown caused largely by rising interest rates and economic uncertainties, the association said. Despite this momentum, total VC investment in 2023 declined from $10 billion across 706 deals in 2022.

Early-stage (series A and B) investments continued to decline, aligning with pre-pandemic levels with $3.1 billion from 183 deals. Pre-seed investments hit a record with 128 deals totalling $135 million, and seed investments maintained momentum with $834 million across 244 deals. These early investments, encompassing pre-seed to early stage, accounted for 84 per cent of all activity. Later-stage investments saw a drop, with a 47-per-cent decrease to $2.3 billion across 52 deals.

Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia maintained their positions as the top provinces for VC investments in 2023, representing 86 per cent of the total investments completed in 2023. After a record investment in 2022, Alberta had another strong year with $707 million invested across 86 deals in 2023. Nova Scotia had a record year with $161 million invested across 20 deals.

Following slow exit activity in 2022, exit activity picked up in 2023 with 41 exits, leading to a total exit value of $8 billion in 2023. Merger and acquisition activities accounted for the majority (90 per cent) of the exits with 37, and yielding $7.7 billion. 

Canada’s private equity market over the past year experienced a total investment of $9.7 billion across 625 deals, according to CVCA’s report. That’s down from $10 billion in 890 deals in 2022. Small to medium-sized enterprises continued to dominate as the number one recipient of private equity investment, with 84 per cent of disclosed deals valued below $25 million, “a direct correlation to the vital role of private equity in supporting Canada’ s SMEs,” CVCA said. The average deal size in 2023 dipped to a low of $15.5 million, a five-per-cent decrease from 2022, highlighting the predominance of smaller deals in the market. 

Canadian technology companies, especially within the information and communications technology sector, attracted significant interest, securing $3.5 billion across 130 deals. This underscores the sector’s growing maturity and significance in the market, resonating with global technology trends and a strategic focus on high-growth potential areas, the CVCA said. The cleantech sector also saw remarkable growth, with investments reaching $1.2 billion across 28 deals, outperforming the combined investments of previous two years.

Quebec led in both deal flow and investment, accounting for 55 per cent of total deals and 41 per cent of the investment volume, while Ontario secured 43 per cent of the total investment from just over a quarter of the deals. 

The exit environment in 2023 featured 68 exits totalling $581 million, including one private equity-backed initial public offering, with Toronto-based Lithium Royalty Corporation’s public offering. Mergers and acquisitions remained the preferred exit strategy, representing 72 per cent of exits and 57 per cent of the total exit value, with secondary buyouts accounting for 26 per cent of exits and 18 per cent of the total exit value. CVCA


Federal government introduces its proposed online harms legislation

The Government of Canada tabled its long-awaited Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act. The proposed legislation would hold online platforms, including livestreaming and adult content services, accountable for the design choices made that lead to the dissemination and amplification of harmful content on their platforms, and ensure that platforms are employing mitigation strategies that reduce a user’s exposure to harmful content. “The Bill would create stronger online protection for children and better safeguard everyone in Canada from online hate and other types of harmful content,” the government said.

Bill C-63 would do this by:

  • Creating and implementing a new legislative and regulatory framework through a new Online Harms Act. This framework would mandate online platforms, including livestreaming and user-uploaded adult-content services, such as Facebook, Twitch and Pornhub, to adopt measures that reduce the risk of harm in seven specific categories of harmful content. The Online Harms Act would also require services to remove content (1) that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor, and (2) is intimate content posted without consent. Non-compliance could lead to strict penalties: a maximum of six per cent of a company's annual global revenue, or $10 million whichever is greater.
  • Requiring, through the Online Harms Act, that services provide clear and accessible ways to flag harmful content and block users, implement safety measures tailored for children and implement other measures to reduce exposure to seven categories of harmful content, including: content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor; intimate content communicated without consent; violent extremist and terrorist content; content that incites violence; content that foments hatred; content used to bully a child; and content that induces a child to harm themselves.
  • Creating stronger laws to help protect all people in Canada from hatred, on and offline, by creating a definition of “hatred” in the Criminal Code, increasing penalties for existing hate propaganda offences, creating a standalone hate crime offence and creating an additional set of remedies for online hate speech in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • Enhancing the Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service with several measures to better protect young people. The measures include creating a new regulatory authority to permit centralizing mandatory reporting of child pornography offences through a designated law enforcement body, which would provide an annual report to the Ministers of Public Safety and Justice.
  • Establishing a new five-member Digital Safety Commission to oversee and enforce the Online Harms Act’s regulatory obligations, including through audits, issuing compliance orders, and penalizing services that fail to comply. The Commission also would collect, triage and administer user complaints and reports, and set new standards for online safety including performing research work with stakeholders and developing educational resources. In addition, the Act would establish a new Digital Safety Ombudsperson, appointed on a five-year term, to act as a resource and advocate for the public interest with respect to systemic issues related to online safety – including gathering information from users, conducting consultations with users and victims, directing users to proper resources such as law enforcement and help lines. The ombudsperson also would develop advice, publish public reports and advocate to the Digital Safety Commission, the government and online platforms calling attention to frequent, severe or system issues from a user perspective.

“The Government will always uphold Canadians’ constitutional right to freedom of expression, which is essential in a healthy democracy. There is also an urgent need for better safeguards for social media users, particularly children,” Ottawa said.

In introducing Bill C-63, the government said the changes are being made following extensive consultations by the federal government since 2021, including public consultations, an Expert Advisory Group on Online Safety, a Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Expression focused on online safety, and 22 online and virtual roundtables across Canada, as well as consultations held in 2020 by the Minister of Justice, when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

Meanwhile, in 2022 almost all (99 per cent) young Canadians aged 15 to 24 used the internet and 91 per cent used social networking sites, according to Statistics Canada data released the day after the government tabled Bill-63. Seventy-one-per cent of young Canadians reported seeing online hate content in the previous 12 months, StatsCan said. “This is well above the national average (49 per cent).”

One in eight young people saw online content daily that could incite hate or violence, with 12.6 per cent seeing such content daily, 37 per cent seeing it once a month to a few times a month, and 21.7 per cent seeing this content once a year to a few times a year, StatsCan said. While young people with a disability are less likely to use the internet, they are almost three times more likely (29 per cent) to see online content that could incite hate or violence than young people without disabilities (11 per cent).

More than one-third (36 per cent) of victims of cyber-related hate crimes were under the age of 25, according to police-reported data collected between 2018 and 2022. As for young persons suspected or accused of a cyber-related hate crime, 31 per cent are boys aged 12 to 17, while just five per cent are girls aged 12 to 17.

Young people aged 15 to 24 are also more likely than the overall population to be exposed to intimate images or videos online, according to StatsCan. For example, 12 per cent of young people were exposed to such images once a month to a few times a month, compared with seven per cent for the total population.  Govt. of Canada, Statistics Canada


Several improvements needed to SR&ED program, Council of Canadian Innovators says

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit program is the single largest science and innovation policy lever in the federal government’s toolkit. With an expected annual outlay of nearly $4 billion in 2024, the program is 10 times larger than any other science and innovation policy tool.

Ottawa, in its review of the SR&ED program, should maintain the refundable SR&ED rate at 35 per cent for small businesses, “recognizing their need for capital and typical lack of substantial revenue,” the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) says in a policy brief submitted to Ottawa. But for larger, more revenue-secure companies, there should be a reduction in the SR&ED non-refundable rate, to be offset by a new patent box or innovation box regime, the CCI says. “This tool should be designed to incentivize the commercialization of IP in Canada separately from the SR&ED incentive.” This approach shifts the emphasis of public support of R&D for large firms from inputs to outcomes. It would encourage the generation of new revenues tied to R&D and provides a vehicle to reward companies that choose to retain their IP in the country, the CCI says. Since Canada’s home market is relatively small, a patent box regime would also encourage firms to export, the organization says. A patent box taxes business income earned from intellectual property at a rate below the corporate tax rate, aiming to encourage R&D.

The CCI, which represents more than 150 of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies, also recommends that the government should allow for SR&ED claims to include the preparation and examination phase of generating patents, and consider other forms of IP creation (such as proprietary data sets) as eligible for R&D tax credits. The U.S. R&D tax credit allows for the inclusion of IP filing and related expenses, the CCI notes. Some CCI members have been awarded patents by the U.S. Patent Office for new innovations that resulted from their R&D work, while being unable to benefit from SR&ED here in Canada.

The SR&ED must be broadened to explicitly include more activities and expenditures related to continuous improvement of a technological solution, the CCI says. “Currently, ambiguity surrounding eligibility criteria provides the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with such a high degree of administrative discretion that applicants cannot reasonably predict whether their investments in R&D related improvement activities will qualify for SR&ED benefits.” In many cases, the CRA has denied SR&ED claims because the technology in question wasn’t wholly understood by CRA’s reviewer, “which reflects a persistent knowledge gap with the CRA and a detachment from the business aspects of innovation in the data-driven economy,” the CCI says.

The CCI also urges that the SR&ED program “adapt its outdated thresholds to be more inclusive and supportive for Canadian companies that are building momentum and scaling.” Currently, companies are entitled to access the enhanced SR&ED credit rate on their first $3 million of eligible expenditures dependent on their taxable capital remaining under $10 million. The $3-million limit is progressively reduced as companies reach $10 million in taxable capital to full phase-out at $50 million. “The program therefore falls short on supporting the scaling companies that are poised to deliver the greatest returns from SR&ED in the forms of jobs, wealth creation, and market capture by exporting products and services abroad through a critical growth stage,” the CCI says. The expenditure thresholds haven’t been changed since 2008 nor kept pace with the overall technology market, the organization says. The CCI recommends the government should adjust SR&ED thresholds for inflation – which means the $50 million threshold set in 2008 should be more than $70 million today.

The CCI also recommends that the government develop more comprehensive evaluation metrics to ensure the SR&ED program effectively contributes to innovation outcomes in Canada. Ottawa needs to make data on SR&ED uptake and net benefits more transparent to Canadians and allow for periodic refinement based on evidence to optimally target the credit to maximize long-term growth, the CCI says. This includes tracking the production, ownership and net commercial benefit of intangible assets derived from publicly funded R&D.

Also, the SR&ED compliance process should keep pace with the rapid development cycles of scaling companies, the CCI says. “Compliance overhead and varying interpretations of eligible activities have led to a burdensome application process, compelling companies to allocate substantial resources to securing R&D claims.” To navigate the process, companies often use SR&ED consultants, with a significant portion of the tax credit – sometimes up to 30 per cent – being diverted toward consultant services. The CCI recommends the government focus on streamlining the SR&ED application process and refining administration. A first step should be developing a new user interface that allows for past SR&ED recipients to easily repeat applications, the CCI says. Exploring a real-time system, where projects are approved in advance and then tracked as the credit is released in incremental disbursements, would also be welcome.

To complement administrative streamlining, the CRA should dedicate resources to further support the education and understanding of CRA auditors of advanced technology as it operates in the commercial space, the CCI says. “The development of internal auditing capacity within auditing teams will ensure projects are evaluated with a deeper understanding of how the technological solution functions and evolves.”

The CCI’s brief was authored by Laurent Carbonneau, director of policy and Abu Kamat, director of strategic initiatives. CCI


Canada’s productivity decline linked to lower rates of innovation and fixed capital investment at country’s largest companies

Research shows that investment in fixed capital and increases in capital intensity have been the most important contributors to the growth in labour productivity in Canada since 1980. But business investment in fixed capital has been weak in Canada since the mid-2000s (around the time of the 2007-08 financial crisis) and is also much lower than in other advanced countries, according to a study by Statistics Canada.

StatsCan’s databases show that business investment in Canada experienced high growth from 1990 to 2006. After 2006, the “investment intensity” – the ratio of investment to net capital stock and investment per worker – declined over time, with a large decrease after 2014 and the collapse of oil and gas prices. As a result of this investment slowdown, growth in labour productivity declined in Canada during this period, says the study, “Investment Slowdown in Canada After the Mid-2000s: The Role of Competition and Intangibles,” by Wulong Gu of Stats Canada’s analytical studies branch.

StatsCan found that investment per worker declined by $628.80 from 2006 to 2021 in Canadian firms, representing a 20-per-cent decline from an investment of $3,573 per worker in 2006. Large and medium-sized firms accounted for 90 per cent of the overall decline in investment per worker from 2006 to 2021.

In Canada, labour productivity growth was relatively high in the 1990s and early 2000s. This can be traced to the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1989 and the spread of information and communications technologies after the mid-1990s, StatsCan’s study says. However, annual labour productivity growth in the business sector declined from 1.7 per cent in the period from 1990 to 2006, to 0.9 per cent in the period from 2006 to 2021. Along with this decline in labour productivity growth was a decline in capital investment intensity.

The decline in investment per worker after 2006 was greater among large and medium-sized firms and among foreign-controlled firms, compared with small firms and domestic controlled firms.

The weakness in capital investment after 2006 coincided with a change in the mix of investment toward investment in intangible assets, and the shift toward intangibles was more pronounced among large and foreign-controlled firms, StatsCan’s study notes. Specifically, it says, the productivity slowdown after 2000 was attributable to (1) slower rates of innovation at Canada’s top firms; (2) a decline in the rate of innovation diffusion from Canada’s top firms to other firms; and (3) a decline in resource reallocation among firms (i.e. slower creative destruction and business dynamism). “But much of the slowdown in productivity growth was caused by the slower rates of innovation at the top firms.”

The 2006 to 2021 period of weak capital investment was also one of digital transformation and increase in the role of intangible assets, such as intellectual property, data and brand equity, in many advanced countries. Studies show that the intangibles have increased their importance over time. Investment in intangibles is often as important as investment in tangible assets for growth in labour productivity in the U.S., StatsCan’s study says.

For Canada, one study found that investment in intangibles assets rose much faster than investment in tangible assets in the business sector for Canada. The share of intangible assets in total fixed assets in the balance sheets of Canadian firms increased from 6.3 per cent to 17.3 per cent from 2000 to 2021.

Large and medium-sized firms increased their share of intangibles in total assets more than small firms, StatsCan’s study says. “That is, the relatively large decline in investment per worker in large and medium-sized firms coincided with this greater shift toward intangibles in these firms compared with small firms.” Foreign-controlled firms increased their share of intangibles more than domestic-controlled firms; at the same time, the decline in investment per worker was relatively larger in foreign-controlled firms than the decline in domestic-controlled firms.

After 2006, an increase in industry concentration and a decline in entry rates of new firms also had a negative effect on investment in fixed capital assets, and this effect was relatively larger among small firms, StatsCan’s study says. In other words, a decline in competition reduces investment, while competition promotes investment among firms, especially among small firms. Several studies have shown that declining competition and the increasing importance of intangibles are related to weak investment in fixed tangible assets during this period, the study says.

Study author Wulong Gu says his study found that the slowdown in Canada in fixed capital investment after the mid-2000s is partly explained by declining competition and a shift toward intangibles that are not yet captured in the investment estimates. Future analysis should focus on the sources of Canada’s lower investment, compared with other countries, and examine whether the difference in competition and the pace of the shift toward intangible knowledge capital between Canada and other advanced countries contributed to this investment gap in Canada, Gu said. Statistics Canada


Statistics Canada survey of innovation and business strategy fails to include small business

A Statistics Canada survey of Innovation and Business Strategy failed to include small businesses, which represent 86.3 per cent of all businesses in Canada, says David Watters, founder and strategic advisor at Ottawa-based Global Advantage Consulting Group. Research Money reported on the survey results in the Short Report section of the February 21 Innovation This Week issue.

The survey, done every three years, collects information on the strategic decisions, innovation activities, operational tactics and global value chain activities of businesses within 14 sectors in Canada. StatsCan said it didn’t include small businesses – with one to 19 employees and revenues of less than $250,000 – in the survey in order “to reduce response burden on small business,” Watters pointed out in an email to Research Money.

According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) latest data on Small Business Statistics for 2023, there are 1,216,550 businesses in Canada and 1,049,545 (or 86.3 per cent) have between 1 and 19 employees, Watters said. “So this is an 86-per-cent hole in the survey. With a hole so big, it does not leave much of a doughnut.”

Canada’s small business sector employs 5.7 million Canadians, or 47 per cent of all Canadians in the private sector and more Canadians than either medium or large businesses, ISED’s data shows. The small business sector contributes 35 per cent of the GDP of Canada’s private sector and includes 65 per cent of all Canadian firms that export (more than 31,000 firms). More than 30 per cent of the large firms export, whereas only three per cent of the small firms export, the data shows. However the small business sector has recently created more jobs in Canada’s private sector than either medium or large businesses, according to the data.

What is the validity of a business survey on innovation that does not even consider, in any dimension, the activity of 86.3 per cent of all businesses in Canada? Watters asked “Are the views of over 1 million Canadian businesses not important?”

“The StatsCan approach is like saying, ‘Even though I lost my keys this evening somewhere in my front yard, I’ll only look for them under the nearest streetlight, because I can see better there!’” he said.

“If we are trying to understand the composition and performance of Canada’s private sector, the contribution of the small business sector is clearly an important component, and should not be dismissed indifferently. It needs to be examined seriously, as we all consider how to improve the productivity performance of Canada’s private sector.”

As the owner for 20 years of a small business with fewer than 20 employees, Watters said he conducted research and innovation activity regularly, and received support from the Scientific Research & Experimental Development tax credit program, and could have contributed significantly to this survey – “if I had been asked.”

 StatsCanand ISED need to get together and develop a methodology to go beyond the 13.7 per cent of businesses they do sample, to include the 86.3 per cent of businesses they do not sample, Watters said. R$


Ontario government providing $1.3 billion to post-secondary institutions, but extending tuition freeze for another three years

The Government of Ontario introduced a suite of measures to stabilize the province’s colleges and universities, including nearly $1.3 billion over three years in new funding. However, the government said it will extend the tuition fee freeze for domestic in-province students at publicly assisted colleges and universities for at least three more years, “to keep costs down for Ontario students and parents.” Post-secondary institutions will have the flexibility to increase tuition fees for domestic out-of-province students by no more than five per cent in 2024-25.

The $1.3 billion in new funding includes:

  • $903 million over three years through the new Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund starting in 2024-25, including $203 million in funding for top-ups for institutions with greater financial need.
  • $167.4 million over three years in additional funding for capital repairs and equipment.
  • $10 million in additional one-time funding through the Small, Northern and Rural Grant for colleges and Northern Ontario Grant for Universities in 2024-25. This funding will support financially vulnerable institutions while the government works with them on efficiency initiatives.
  • $15 million over three years beginning in 2024-25 through the Efficiency and Accountability Fund to support third-party reviews that will identify actions institutions can take to drive long-term cost savings and positive outcomes for students and communities. These reviews will target structural issues as well as operational policies in order to improve sustainability and student experiences.
  • $100 million in 2023-24 to support STEM program costs at publicly assisted colleges and universities with enrolments above currently funded levels.
  • $65.4 million to support research and innovation, including $47.4 million for the infrastructure refresh of Ontario’s Advanced Research Computing systems and $18 million for their ongoing operations and maintenance.
  • $23 million to enhance mental health supports, including $8 million for the Postsecondary Mental Health Action Plan over the three years.

As many as 10 Ontario universities are projecting deficits this year. The provincial government’s expert panel on post-secondary finances recommended last November a 10-per-cent increase in each school’s per-student operating grant, followed by inflation-index raises of at least two per cent in subsequent years. It would have required about $2.5 billion in spending to meet the panel’s recommendations, according to a story in The Globe and Mail.

The government said it is also introducing measures to better integrate enforcement efforts across ministries to strengthen oversight of career colleges and will ensure timely responses to concerns and complaints by improving data management, documentation processes and the efficacy of compliance investigations. As recommended by the province’s expert panel on post-secondary finances, the government will be working with colleges and universities to establish certain core competencies for board members, including financial literacy and risk management.

The government said it is introducing the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024 that would, if passed, authorize the Minister to issue directives requiring colleges and universities to provide information about ancillary fees and other students costs, including costs for textbooks or other learning materials. This could include ensuring that fees are published by institutions in a consistent manner.

In order to provide additional transparency as it relates to tuition, the province will also engage with colleges and universities to create tuition fee transparency to help students and their families better understand how tuition fees are used.

The Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024 would also, if passed, require colleges and universities to have policies in place relating to mental health and wellness supports and services, including policies to combat racism and hate that include but aren’t  limited to antisemitism and Islamophobia.

To help more students find jobs, the government intends to allow colleges to offer applied Masters degrees in areas of study that will help students graduate with in-demand skills, expertise and credentials, and will help meet labour market needs in specialized fields such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and animation. The province will also launch a career portal to help students understand labour market needs and make informed decisions on postsecondary education. Govt. of Ontario


Concordia University and McGill University launch lawsuits against Quebec government

Concordia University and McGill University, both in Montreal, launched separate lawsuits against the Coalition Avenir Québec government over tuition hikes for out-of-province students. Both English-speaking schools have seen a significant drop in applicants.

Reducing the number of students coming from the rest of Canada and abroad limits diversity, said Graham Carr, president and vice-chancellor of Concordia University. Concordia is currently seeing a 27-per-cent decline in applicants from the rest of Canada and a 12-per-cent decline in the number of students coming from abroad, he said. Last December, McGill University announced it was seeing a 20-per-cent drop in out-of-province applicants.

Concordia’s application for judicial review, filed in Quebec Superior Court, asks the court to quash the tuition hikes, arguing that its purpose is to weaken English-language universities and is based on “stereotypes and false assumptions about the English-speaking community of Quebec.”

In a news release, a McGill spokesperson said the university is asking the court to suspend the application of the tuition increases temporarily, while it considers the case. McGill and Concordia’s lawsuits both argue that the government's measures constitute discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also argue the tuition hikes were unreasonable and were adopted following an inadequate consultation process.

Concordia, which was already facing a large deficit, has previously said the tuition changes could have dire financial consequences, costing the university up to $62 million per year. McGill has warned the tuition changes could cost it up to $94 million annually and lead to 700 job cuts.

McGill president Deep Saini noted the Quebec government’s own advisory committee on accessibility – comprised of representatives of French-language universities and CEGEPs and a senior higher education ministry bureaucrat – recently said the tuition revamp “risks compromising access to quality education and depriving Quebec society of potential talent.”

The lawsuits come after the Coalition Avenir Québec government announced last October that it intended to nearly double tuition fees from about $9,000 to $17,000 for undergraduate students and non-research graduate students from other provinces. The government later rolled back the tuition for Canadian out-of-province students to $12,000, but it added a requirement that 80 per cent of them learn conversational French during their studies. The Quebec government is also clawing back about $5,000 from every international student who studies in Quebec. Previously, this money stayed at the university where the international student studied.

Daniel Justras, the rector of Université de Montréal, told La Presse that the Legault government’s decision to target university students from other provinces has “harmed” Montreal. Students from the rest of Canada aren’t making Montreal less French, and the decision to target Concordia and McGill won’t help French universities much, said Jutras, a former dean of McGill University’s law school.  Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has said the tuition increase “directly attacks Montreal.” CBC, The Gazette


Barriers related to motherhood driving women out of STEMM fields

Research by France-based Mothers in Science (MiS) and partners has found that more than one-third of women globally leave fulltime STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) employment after having or adopting a child, according to report by MiS. In the United States, nearly half of new mothers leave fulltime STEMM employment within a few years of becoming a parent. Women are three times more likely than men to say they have been offered fewer professional opportunities since becoming a parent. In 2022, parents in Canada paid $7,790 per year for the main full-time child care arrangement for their 0- to 5-year-old child, while the average researcher salary in Canada is between $42,000 to $78,000, according to Glassdoor.

Thus, systemic barriers related to motherhood – collectively known as the “maternal wall” –provide a critical mechanism driving the so-called leaky STEMM pipeline and ultimately contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEMM leadership positions, MiS’s report said. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these inequities and reversed decades of progress to close the gender gap in STEMM, with potential long-term adverse effects on the careers of female scientists, especially early career researchers with family responsibilities, the report said.

“The STEMM sector must increase efforts to retain mothers and other caregivers, and funding agencies play a crucial role in this process, as access to research funding is fundamental for scientific production and career advancement,” MiS said.

Growing evidence shows that women have lower success rates in research funding due to gender bias, highlighting the urgent need for action. Research by MiS has identified multiple structural barriers to the career advancement of mothers studying or working in the STEMM sector, including:

  • alarming levels of maternity bias and discrimination
  • workplace exclusion and fewer professional opportunities
  • widespread parental leave stigma
  • lack of support and professional isolation.

Closing the gender gap in research funding is essential to retain women in the academic career pipeline, and therefore to promote research excellence and scientific progress, MiS said. Funding agencies must implement policies to eliminate unconscious bias in the evaluation process and to ensure an equitable distribution of research funding resources.

In an open letter by MiS and Boulder, Colorado-based 500 Women Scientists, the groups call:

  • for universal, high-quality, safe daycare and childcare support. This can be accomplished at the company, institution, state or country level.
  • on our institutions to re-write their promotion and merit processes with transparent guidelines on how they support parents in science, especially mothers. We ask them to examine the research on gender neutral policies and to develop more specific policies that help mothers, and mothers of colour in particular, to thrive.
  • on our funding agencies to develop gender and race equity policies that support all applications and enhance research quality.
  • on our scientific societies to provide on-site conference daycare, lactation rooms, virtual meetings and enhanced support for single mothers and mothers of colour.
  • on our publishers to elevate publications by mothers, especially mothers of colour, by removing their open-access fees, fast-tracking their submissions, and inviting them to publish.
  • on research team leaders to establish a supportive and flexible work environment, to adjust productivity goals, and to ensure scientist mothers aren’t excluded from career advancement opportunities. Mothers in Science

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

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