The Short Report: July 10, 2024

Research Money
July 10, 2024


Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced $120-million investment, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, in a $223-million, five-year project led by Montreal-headquartered CMC Microsystems (CMC). This investment will support the creation of a pan-Canadian network bringing together stakeholders from a wide range of fields to support the design, manufacturing and commercialization of semiconductors and the development of state-of-the-art intelligent sensor technology. CMC will support the creation of the Fabrication of Integrated Components for the Internet’s Edge (FABrIC) network, which will operate alongside CMC’s partners located across Canada. FABrIC is an initiative designed to strengthen the Canadian semiconductor and smart sensor industry by creating a talent pool of highly qualified people, encouraging innovation in the semiconductor manufacturing process, and providing Canadian businesses with access to foundries. The initiative will fund projects of up to $10 million each to develop new technologies in hardware fields like semiconductors and micro-electromechanical sensors used for measurement.  Of the $120 million in federal funding, $63 million will go to subsidies for Canadian companies working with CMC, allocated through a third-party governance committee; $37 million will be spent at Canada's existing manufacturing facilities to develop new fabrication processes; and $20 million will go toward tools and training for universities. The funding is conditional on CMC raising $40 million from the provinces to put toward increasing company subsidies. Canada’s semiconductor sector includes more than 500 homegrown and multinational companies conducting research and development on, and manufacturing of, microchips.  ISED

The Government of Ontario announced support for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) approximately $1-billion investment to refurbish eight hydroelectric generating stations in Eastern Ontario. This infrastructure program would secure 1,617 megawatts of clean electricity generation, equivalent to powering 1.6 million homes, helping to meet increasing demand from electrification and fueling the province’s growth. OPG will refurbish 45 units at eight generating stations: the Arnprior, Barrett Chute, Mountain Chute, Stewartville, Chats Falls, Chenaux, Des Joachims, and Otto Holden stations. The work includes major rehabilitation of generating equipment to increase production. Govt. of Ontario

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced more than $39.4 million for 10 projects – through the Canada Coal Transition Initiative and Canada Coal Transition Initiative-Infrastructure Fund  – to support sustainable economic growth in coal-affected communities across Alberta. This funding is supporting the building of new infrastructure to attract new investments, help business grow, and create strong and resilient communities with more well-paying jobs. Examples of projects receiving support include:

  • Parkland County is receiving $17.5 million to upgrade the Wabamun wastewater facility, develop a water feature and redevelop the existing public waterfront park in the Hamlet of Wabamun.
  • The Town of Coronation is receiving $891,000 to renovate and retrofit two buildings into business incubator and accelerator centres that offer business supports and programming to foster commercial growth.
  • Paul First Nation is receiving $850,000 for a transition, training and employment centre for entrepreneurship training and business support.
  • The Village of Forestburg is receiving $313,000 to develop land and underground utilities for the proposed Jeanne Lougheed Historic Park and to the Flagstaff County border to support a proposed joint industrial park. PrairiesCan

The Government of Manitoba launched a $25-million electric vehicle rebate program. The new Manitoba Electric Vehicle Rebate program will offer a $4,000 incentive on new qualifying EV purchases and a $2,500 incentive on  qualifying used EV purchases, including EVs purchased on or after Aug. 1, 2023, and will run until March 2026. To be eligible, vehicles must be purchased or leased from Manitoba dealerships with a maximum manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $70,000 for new vehicles or a maximum $70,000 purchase price for used vehicles, with one rebate per vehicle and per owner. New Tesla vehicles with a maximum MSRP of $70,000 purchased outside of Manitoba between Aug. 1, 2023, and May 2, 2024 also qualify. Both battery EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are eligible for the incentive. Manitoba Hydro also offers Manitobans a financing program to install Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at their homes. Govt. of Manitoba

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced federal investments of more than $21 million for 14 projects to build Alberta’s value-added agricultural sector through commercializing and developing new products, applications, and services. Examples of projects receiving support include:

  • Olds College is receiving more than $3 million to expand its Smart Farm operations into Saskatchewan and purchase new equipment to increase capacity to research agriculture challenges impacting the Prairies, including food security, crop protection, livestock health and environmental sustainability.
  • Pure Life Carbon is receiving over $2 million to upgrade and expand an existing manufacturing facility to increase production of its proprietary soil alternative products used in agricultural applications.
  • Alberta Bio Processing Innovation Centre and Alberta Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator are provincially operated facilities that are receiving a combined $1.125 million to purchase and install new equipment, which will enable more small- and medium-sized businesses to test and commercialize value-added agricultural or food products.
  • Edmonton-based Wyvern is receiving over $450,000 to launch a new proprietary system and network of satellites that significantly reduces the cost of satellite imaging used to increase the adoption of innovative farming solutions that help preserve ecological zones, increase agricultural yields, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use. PrairiesCan

Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Canada announced a $19-million federal investment for critical infrastructure upgrades to Science World – recognized for its geodesic dome – in British Columbia. This funding will insulate and address necessary repairs in the dome to support the re-opening of the theatre. It will also support priority repairs to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems, decking and pilings repairs, and upgrades to the building envelope. Additionally, new accessibility features will help ensure Science World remains a space where people of all abilities can gather, learn, and discover. Science World, a non-profit organization, engages learners across the province in science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math through interactive exhibits and outreach programs. Built originally as a temporary signature site for Expo 86, Science World has long needed infrastructure upgrades to increase its lifespan. Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Canada

The Government of Alberta is investing $15 million over five years in the Natural Gas Innovation Fund Accelerator’s Emissions Testing Centre program to test new methane emissions-reduction technologies, reduce methane emissions and create jobs. The funding will help more Alberta companies test technologies free of charge in both laboratory and live (real-world) settings, attract investors and get technologies to market faster, the government said. Alberta has already reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 percent since 2014. For companies and startups, testing technologies and getting real-world data to move ideas from concept to commercial-ready use is a major barrier. The Emissions Testing Centre program, established in 2021, provides innovators with free, simulated testing space at the University of Calgary and live testing space at Tourmaline and Perpetual Energy’s West Wolf Lake gas processing plant near Edson. More than 70 companies have already tested projects through this program. Thirty-two companies have completed their methane testing and reduction technology trials, and 27 projects are currently underway. Technologies tested to date include: a highly efficient small industrial natural gas engine led by Convrg Innovations and Spartan Controls; a MethaneTrack™ system that helps clients meet emissions reduction goals by accurately detecting, locating and quantifying methane emissions led by 360 Engineering and Environmental Consulting Ltd.; and a valve that uses solar power to lower operational costs and emissions led by Calscan Solutions. Govt. of Alberta

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $11 million in funding for nine energy technology projects – $2.5 million in funding for small modular reactor research and $8.5 million to support innovation in Canada’s clean hydrogen sector. Of this funding, $5 million will be allocated to three projects in Alberta selected through the Energy Innovation Program’s (EIP) Clean Fuels and Industrial Fuel Switching call for proposals, including:

  • $3 million to Aurora Hydrogen advance the use of microwave energy for pyrolysis technology to convert methane to hydrogen and solid carbon with minimal greenhouse gas emissions and no water use.
  • $1 million to Quantiam Technologies for the production of carbon-negative methanol and electricity-based  e-fuels from captured carbon dioxide and green hydrogen.
  • $1 million to Innova Hydrogen Corp. for zero-carbon hydrogen production via catalytic methane pyrolysis.

The remaining four projects, also in Alberta, are funded through the EIP and support the Hydrogen Centre of Excellence, a strategic initiative led by Alberta Innovates. They include:

  • Just over $1.3 million to ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd., in partnership with Qualico, to conduct a feasibility assessment of a pure hydrogen pipeline network to heat new homes in the community of Bremner in Strathcona County, including constructing a pure-hydrogen demonstration home.
  • More than $1.26 million to Innovative Fuel Systems to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles by developing a hydrogen and diesel dual-fuel retrofit system applicable to 90 percent of heavy-duty engines.
  • $508,935 to ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd. to develop the Fort Saskatchewan Operating Centre into the first commercial 100-percent hydrogen-heated building in North America and as a demonstration site for end-user heating technologies that utilize pure and blended hydrogen with natural gas.
  • $415,000 to New Wave Hydrogen accelerate the time of methane thermal cracking for hydrogen production via shock wave heating technology in preparation for successive field pilots.

NRCan introduced the Enabling Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) Program in 2023 to support the development of supply chains for SMR manufacturing and fuel and fund research on SMR waste management solutions to ensure that SMRs, and the waste they generate, can be safely managed, now and into the future. As part of the Enabling SMRs Program:

  • The University of Regina will receive a total of $941,651 over three years to study long-term disposal strategies for intermediate level and non-fuel high level wastes from SMRs within Saskatchewan.
  • The University of Alberta will receive a total of more than $1.6 million over three years for its project on additive manufacturing of next-generation functionally graded materials for use in SMRs. NRCan

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a $9.7-million investment, through the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program, for grid modernization in the Town of Antigonish, N.S.. This major investment will unlock more efficient uses of electricity within the community and allow for increased renewable energy sources such as wind and solar while driving down emissions and supporting sustainable jobs and communities, NRCan said. This funding will help deploy hardware and software systems across Antigonish to create a more efficient and resilient electricity grid system, leading to reduced power outage frequency and duration, increased opportunity for cost-effective electrification, increased renewable integration and, ultimately, to help Antigonish to meet its net-zero aspirations. NRCan

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced an investment of more than $8.5 million for six businesses in Halton, Hamilton and surrounding areas to support the artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, manufacturing, aerospace and life science sectors. The six businesses are:

  • Aethon Aerial Solutions Inc. (Burlington)
  • GL CHEMTEC International Inc. (Oakville)
  • JFE Shoji Power Canada Inc. (Burlington)
  • Merq Automation Inc. (Hamilton)
  • M&G Steel Ltd. (Oakville)
  • n!Biomachines (Burlington)

n!Biomachines, a Burlington-based developer and manufacturer of affordable, user-friendly bioreactor systems, is making the adoption of bioprocesses affordable across various sectors, including food, supplement and personal care. The company is improving productivity and enhancing its production of alternative and more environmentally friendly protein sources for various industries at a commercial scale, with support from a $1.25-million federal investment. GL CHEMTEC International, with support from a $750,000 federal investment, is establishing a Good Manufacturing Practice-certified production space to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients for drug discovery, delivery and development in clinical trials. FedDev Ontario

The Government of Nova Scotia is providing $1.8 million, through the province’s climate change plan, to ENRICH (Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project) to empower community-led action by African Nova Scotia communities in response to climate change. ENRICH will use the funding to:

  • create and run a new African Nova Scotian Climate Justice Ambassadors Program to build skills and knowledge to address climate change impacts in communities.
  • hold climate change preparedness workshops for African Nova Scotian communities.
  • develop climate resilience community plans.
  • hire a project coordinator and project assistant.
  • partner with local organizations to support building climate change resilience in African Nova Scotian communities. Govt. of Nova Scotia

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $1 million-investment, from the Energy Innovation Program’s Clean Fuels and Industrial Fuel Switching initiative, to Burnaby, B.C.-based Ekona Power Inc. Building on the success of a prior program to develop and test Ekona’s xCaliber™ reactor, which was previously supported by NRCan through its Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada Program, this project will support further development of the reactor and expand Ekona’s Burnaby test facility. Ekona’s pyrolysis reactor uses combustion and high-speed gas dynamics to dissociate feedstock methane, converting natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared with other conventional processes used to produce hydrogen. The company’s technology is low-cost, scalable and easy to integrate into existing natural gas gas infrastructure. Ekona’s solution has the potential to produce low-cost clean hydrogen while reducing GHGH emissions by up to 90 percent. More broadly, it could enable cost-effective, ultra-low-carbon hydrogen gas production from natural gas within the need to capture and sequester carbon dioxide. This project will help Ekona build and test its pilot plant, validate performance against commercial targets and explore how this technology can be utilized in B.C. for decarbonizing the natural gas network. NRCan

Canadian Heritage announced a $290,000 investment in seven creative Nova Scotia companies, as part of the first cohort of the Creative Export Canada program’s Export Development Stream. The Export Development Stream supports projects by Canadian businesses and organizations that are entering international markets and expanding their global networks. For example, Maritime Digital Art Design specializes in interactive digital media. It focuses on 3D visualization, multimedia, immersive and interactive media. The Export Development Stream is investing $90,000 to help the company publish two virtual reality games worldwide, created by its subsidiary Parcosm Studio. The company’s plans include international distribution and participation in major gaming conferences to meet with key industry players. The Export Development Stream is also supporting six other Nova Scotia businesses:

  • Atlantic Film Festival Association
  • Atlantic Presenters Association Inc.
  • Brass Door Productions Inc.
  • Craft Alliance
  • Lunenburg Doc Fest Association
  • Moonshot Rights Inc. Canadian Heritage

Polar Knowledge Canada announced $250,000 for five post-doctoral candidates – with fellowships of $50,000 each – to conduct research at Northern colleges and universities in Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The Polar Knowledge Canada Fellowship Program supports projects that work across disciplines and connect multiple knowledge holders and knowledge systems, and that contribute to Northern scientific and Indigenous community priorities. Being in residence at Aurora College, Nunavut Arctic College and Yukon University will also help to build additional expertise and research capacity in Northern Canada. The funded researchers will conduct the work over fiscal year 2024-25 in support of Polar Knowledge Canada’s research areas of:

  • Improving knowledge of dynamic northern terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems in the context of rapid change.
  • Increasing understanding of the connections between northern community wellness and environmental health.
  • Advancing sustainable energy, technology and infrastructure solutions for the unique environmental, social and cultural conditions in the North.

This year’s awardees and host institutions are:

  • Kevin Erratt, Aurora College
  • Carla Johnston, Yukon University
  • Rebecca Lee, Aurora College
  • Jean Holloway, Nunavut Arctic College
  • Tara Howatt, Aurora College. Polar Knowledge Canada

The Canada Foundation for Innovation’s call for proposals for the 2025 Innovation Fund competition is now out. The CFI said it will implement, in collaboration with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a newly approved decision-making framework for Major Research Facilities (MRF). The MRF framework will be rolled out in phases over the coming years and is subject to availability of resources. It aims to enhance federal decision-making on MRF by introducing coordinated capital and operation and maintenance funding and embedding lifecycle and portfolio-based approaches into investment decisions. Such an approach was recommended in last year’s report by the federal governments’ Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System. The framework designates a group of research facilities currently supported through the Major Science Initiatives Fund (MSIF) as MRF. They are the Canadian Light Source, CCGS Amundsen research icebreaker, Ocean Networks Canada , Ocean Tracking Network, Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Laboratory (SNOLAB), and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, In collaboration with ISED, the CFI has been tasked with developing an MRF implementation plan to deliver to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry by April 30, 2025. Over the coming months, the CFI will engage with the MRF and MSIF community and will host virtual meetings to provide more clarity about the MRF framework and plans for implementation, and to gather feedback from the community. Following the Treasury Board's rejection of the CFI’s recent request to reallocate funds to future years, institutions must ensure projects are finalized and implemented promptly. Institutions must submit award finalization documents to the CFI within nine months of the CFI board approving funding for the project. Currently, just over 50 percent of projects meet this deadline, with extensions granted for the remainder. Now, extensions will only be granted on an exceptional basis with strong justification and for a period of no more than two years after the CFI board’s decision. More details are available here. CFI

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and United Kingdom Research and Innovation announced a joint funding call for research proposals aimed at fostering scientific collaborations and knowledge exchange between leading researchers in Canada and the U.K. This initiative supports collaborative research projects to drive advancements in the field of quantum technologies, specifically focusing on quantum communications and quantum sensing. The goal is to address fundamental challenges and explore innovative applications in these areas. Awards of $50,000 to $250,000 per year for two years are available for Canadian academic teams. Projects should have a technology readiness level between 1-3. Potential applications of quantum communications include secure communications via quantum key distribution, developing communication networks connecting quantum devices, and satellite-based quantum communications. Quantum sensing could be used in fields such as communications, mineral exploration, environmental monitoring, imaging, healthcare, and radar detection. Deadline for applications is August 29, 2024 (8 p.m. ET). NSERC

The B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) is launching a July 2024 call for innovation focused on advancing the development, commercialization and adoption of clean energy and climate solutions in British Columbia. CICE will award up to $10 million in non-dilutive investment to innovators aligned with the following priority areas:  

  • Low Carbon Hydrogen– Utilizing solid carbon from methane pyrolysis and using low carbon hydrogen to decarbonize industrial sectors in B.C.  
  • Battery Technologies and Energy Storage– Enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of battery and energy storage systems and decarbonizing industrial and transportation sectors . 
  • Low Carbon Bio and Synthetic Fuels – Scaling second-generation biofuels through the diversification of feedstocks such as agricultural and forest residues.  

Applications for CICE’s call for innovation will be accepted from July 10 to August 1, 2024 (5 p.m. PT). Funding decisions will be made by November 7, 2024. CICE

The Ocean Startup Project has opened applications for the fifth cohort of Lab2Market Oceans program. The program is a unique opportunity for master's and PhD students, postdocs and recent graduates of Canadian universities conducting ocean-related research to gain entrepreneurial skill sets and explore commercial opportunities in the sector. Lab2Markets Oceans/Validate is an eight-week, fulltime program that welcomes virtual participation from eligible students and recent graduates nationwide. Participants will receive $15,000 in funding, providing they are eligible for the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship (BSI) program.  Lab2Market Oceans, part of the Ocean Startup Project, is hosted by Memorial University in collaboration with the University of Victoria and supported by the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, Mitacs, and Springboard Atlantic. The 2024-2025 cohort will kick off in January 2025 and run for eight weeks with the application period ending Tuesday, September 3, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.  Register for one of the information sessions here. Those interested in learning more and applying should visit A program information package is also available at this link.  Canada's Ocean Supercluster


Innovation, Science and Economic Canada (ISED) announced the opening of STEMCELL Technologies’ state-of-the-art biomanufacturing facility, in Burnaby, B.C.. The facility was supported through a $22.5 million investment by the Government of Canada, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, and matched by the Government of British Columbia. This investment contributed to the construction of the new good manufacturing practices (GMP) biomanufacturing facility, where STEMCELL Technologies can now manufacture products at the higher regulatory compliance standard required to support clinical trials for cell therapy, tissue engineering, immunotherapy, gene therapy and regenerative medicine, with the ultimate aim of curing cancer and other serious diseases. STEMCELL Technologies was founded in 1993 by CEO Dr. Allen Eaves. The company has since grown into a global biotechnology enterprise, producing high-quality cell culture media, cell separation technologies, instruments, accessory products, educational resources, and contract assay services that are used by scientists performing cancer, stem cell, immunology, regenerative medicine, and cellular therapy research globally. ISED

The Simpson Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy announced a $1 million donation from BMO to launch a program to change how society perceives and interacts with the food system. The program, “Ag Literacy for Healthier People and Planet,” will help build understanding about the complexities of the agricultural system in a world where the food we eat plays a crucial role in both our health and the health of our planet. The Simpson Centre and its strategic academic partners – 13 universities across Canada, as well as Stanford University in the U.S. – will conduct outreach and research on food systems over a period of approximately five years, to foster a deeper understanding of the food choices we make and inform the design of agricultural policies. Through targeted outreach and research, the Centre will work to promote positive change in food habits and agricultural policies. The program will deliver a variety of written, digital resources to educate the public on controversial issues in the food system like the use of genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and food labels, also surveying consumer knowledge, and actively engaging with citizens. University of Calgary

The BMO Collaboratorium at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford, B.C., has become a fully funded research organization, after a three-year pilot project. The transformation is supported by a $440,000 donation over five years from the Bank of Montréal, which runs the initiative through a partnership with UFV. The funding will help seed partnerships to support community groups – including Indigenous communities – that may not have the budget to support a full student internship. The research organization will be guided by newly appointed research coordinator Leanne Jarrett. Half of the partnerships that have been co-created as a result of the BMO Collaboratorium are with Indigenous communities such as Matsqui First Nation, Sumas First Nation, and Seabird Island First Nation. Through the Collaboratorium, at a cost of $12,000, community partners receive 14 weeks of access to a paid student intern who has completed intensive methodology training and has the skills to design and execute a research plan with measurable timelines and outcomes. UFV

Cégep de Lévis, a publicly funded college in in Lévis, Que., and robotics equipment manufacturer KUKA Robotics Canada have partnered to offer specialized French-language robotics training to Quebec businesses. Companies looking for dedicated training for their KUKA robots will have access to KUKA-accredited trainers through Cégep de Lévis’s continuing education and business services department. KUKA has a training centre in Mississauga, Ont. The partnership will ensure that companies that decide to invest in KUKA robots will have the full support they need to maximize their results, KUKA said. Cégep de Lévis

Calgary-based Hempalta Corp., an agri-tech company focused on harnessing the potential of hemp, announced a new biochar product derived from industrial hemp that provides an opportunity for farmers. The product is made by recycling industrial hemp biomass processed at the company's Calgary production facility or onsite at farmers' fields, The process used is pyrolysis, which heats organic material at high temperatures at extremely low oxygen levels. This method traps carbon and creates a biochar product that can be spread on agricultural fields, boosting soil organic carbon and supporting plant growth while continuing to sequester carbon and helping farmers generate high-value carbon credits. High-quality biochar typically sells for US$200 per ton of carbon dioxide sequestered, Hempalta said. The company’s current products include animal bedding, pet litter, garden mulch, and hurd for hempcrete, a sustainable building material. In May 2024, Hempalta acquired a 50.1-percent controlling interest in Hemp Carbon Standard Inc., a leading carbon removal program for industrial hemp farming. By participating in the Voluntary Carbon Market, industrial hemp farmers can diversify their revenue streams and contribute to climate change mitigation. To date, HCS has signed up 36 farms, more than184 sites, and 5,486 hectares in Canada, the U.S., Ukraine, the U.K., Spain, Portugal, and Australia. The initiative is forecast to result in the removal of approximately 54,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, creating an equal amount of high-integrity, nature-based carbon removal credits which HCS plans to sell through the Voluntary Carbon Market. Hempalta

McMaster University’s nuclear reactor has received a 20-year operational license renewal from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The renewal – the longest in the reactor’s history – will provide greater stability and strengthen the university’s efforts to attract staff and researchers, McMaster said. The McMaster Nuclear Reactor is located at the McMaster University campus in Hamilton, and on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe Nations. The reactor runs at low temperatures and pressure, so it doesn’t experience the same type of degradation that most reactors do, said McMaster engineering professor David Novog.  In making its decision, the CNSC considered written submissions from McMaster University, CNSC staff and 17 intervenors. After reviewing all submissions, the Commission concluded that McMaster University remains qualified to carry on the activities that the renewed license will authorize. The university’s five-megawatt reactor first began operating in 1959 and currently produces half of the world’s supply of iodine 125 (I-125), providing cancer treatments for about 70,000 patients a year. McMaster is one of the world’s leading suppliers of I-125, which can be used in imaging and radiation therapy to  treat a number of conditions, including prostate cancer, uveal melanomas and brain tumours. CNSC, Global News

Hydro-Québec, the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, the Atikamekw of Wemotaci, and the MRC du Domaine-du-Roy announced a partnership to develop wind energy in the Chamouchouane zone in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean. The 5,000-sq-km zone north of Quebec City could accommodate up to 3,000 megawatts of wind capacity representing an investment of approximately $9 billion. The partnership is an important first step in implementing Hydro-Québec’s Wind Energy Development Strategy, announced on May 30. The strategy focuses on these elements:

  • Carrying out large-scale projects to rapidly deploy 10,000 MW of new capacity and reduce costs through economies of scale.
  • The participation of municipalities and First Nations in the projects, as partners from the outset. As shareholders in the projects, they will also be able to generate recurring independent revenues that they can invest according to their priorities.
  • The orderly planning of the entire energy system, in particular with the development of the electricity transmission network.
  • Hydro-Québec's role as shareholder and project manager in the overall planning and development of large-scale projects as well as in subsequent stages. In collaboration with its partners, Hydro-Québec could then use a competitive process to leverage the expertise of wind sector players.

Calls to market will remain the preferred approach for smaller-scale projects. Industry partners will participate in these projects, which are comparable to those carried out over the past 20 years, with an installed capacity of up to 300 to 350 MW. Hydro-Québec

The Government of Nova Scotia released the second module of its offshore wind road map, which outlines the government’s plan to build the solid foundational pieces needed for the offshore wind industry supply chain. This includes planning and developing ports, helping businesses and communities prepare to participate in the industry, and training an essential, varied workforce. The offshore wind market is experiencing rapid growth throughout the world, so building Nova Scotia’s supply chain is necessary to avoid bottlenecks and ensure growth, the government said. The province’s strategy to develop a best-in-class supply chain includes:

  • examining existing marine sector supply chains and emphasizing Nova Scotia’s strengths, assessing gaps and analyzing future needs.
  • ensuring equitable access to opportunities in the industry among First Nations, African Nova Scotian businesses and other underrepresented and underserved groups.
  • preparing infrastructure for future industry needs.
  • ensuring regulatory coordination and efficiency for suppliers.

The third and final module of the offshore wind road map will be released next year and will focus on feedback from the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, fishers, environmental organizations, academia, communities , industry, the research community, ocean users and other interested parties. Module 3 will also consider input gathered through the federal-provincial regional assessment on offshore wind development, which is expected to be completed in early 2025. Engagement will continue after the third module and throughout the life cycle of the offshore wind industry. Govt. of Nova Scotia

The Government of British Columbia announced that for the first time, BC Hydro will provide rebates for the installation of rooftop solar and battery-storage systems, making it easier for people and businesses to generate their own electricity, reduce their energy bills and deliver clean energy back to the electricity grid. The new program supports the province’s new clean-energy strategy released on June 27. The strategy focuses on building an economy powered by clean energy, creating new jobs and opportunities, and keeping electricity affordable. Eligible homeowners can receive BC Hydro rebates totalling as much as $10,000 for installing a qualified solar photovoltaic system and battery-storage system together. BC Hydro will also be rolling out targeted rebates for apartment buildings, schools, community organizations, local governments, small businesses, social-housing providers and Indigenous communities, which could go up to $50,000 to $150,000 based on the individual customer. BC Hydro also is investing more than $700 million over the next three years in energy-efficiency programs – a 60-percent increase from BC Hydro’s last energy-efficiency budget. Govt. of B.C.

The Government of Ontario is testing the application and benefits of digital modelling technology, known as digital twins, to help deliver key infrastructure projects such as hospitals, highways and transit on time and on budget. Digital twins are virtual models of existing and planned assets that, when mapped for construction projects, can be used to help identify and resolve problems before work begins. Using a digital twin for underground utilities, for example, can help reduce the risk of delays and cost overruns on projects. The government has selected the Trillium Health Partners’ Peter Gilgan Mississauga Hospital redevelopment, the Ontario Place rebuild and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension to test the digital modelling technology. These projects were chosen because of their complex utility systems, such as existing and planned electrical, water, gas and wastewater services. Infrastructure Ontario is partnering with local and global organizations, including Toronto Metropolitan University and the U.K.’s Geospatial Commission, to leverage their experience with digital twins. Govt. of Ontario

Fredericton, N.B.-based Picketa Systems, an agri-tech company, announced its expansion to 13 states across the U.S. with is LENS real-time crop-management technology. The LENS system offers real-time plant tissue analysis, allowing agronomists and farmers to make informed decisions when it matters most. Initially designed for potato analysis, the LENS has expanded its capabilities to include tissue analysis of corn, a key crop for U.S. farmers. Despite being a cornerstone crop, only a fraction of top-producing corn farmers regularly test their plants throughout the season. The LENS works by analyzing crop tissues – estimating the nutrient content of 13 key macro and micronutrients – and comparing them with a global database of crop conditions gathered from thousands of plants at different growth stages. The system's reliability has been demonstrated through repeated studies conducted across hundreds of fields on four continents, Picketa said. Picketa Systems

Vancouver-based Metaspectral has partnered with San Francisco-based Armada to bring real-time AI analysis of hyperspectral imagery to remote areas, by leveraging Armada’s physical data processing and connectivity infrastructure capabilities. Armada is collaborating with Starlink to bring high-bandwidth edge computing and satellite internet connectivity to the world’s most remote environments, including oil rigs, mines, and remote combat zones. Hyperspectral images capture much greater detail than traditional cameras, including light from beyond the visible spectrum. This makes it possible to remotely identify the composition, quality, and abundance of materials and gases using imagery alone. Metaspectral’s advanced computer vision capabilities will be integrated into Armada’s Edge AI Marketplace. Its proprietary data compression algorithms enable real-time analysis and transmission from satellite and terrestrial sources without compromising image quality. Metaspectral

The U.K.’s participation in Canada’s CASTOR telescope is moving forward, following a bilateral agreement between the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). CASTOR, Canada’s flagship space telescope, would image the skies at ultraviolet and blue-optical wavelengths. CASTOR would have a spatial resolution similar to the Hubble Space Telescope, but would cover a field of view about 100 times larger. Funds have been approved and are being used for U.K. science definition, detector testing, and development work on data flows and optics. In May, a UKSA delegation visited CSA, Montreal universities and Honeywell Aerospace. An initial coordination meeting between the Canadian and UK science teams was held on June 13. The National Research Council’s (NRC) internal “small teams” proposal to develop the ultraviolet detecting instrument has been approved. This will provide about $2 million over three years to perform technical work at the NRC’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, in collaboration with partners at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory in France, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Colorado, and the University of Calgary, as well as contracted work at the University of Manitoba. An Inuvik Satellite Station Facility optical ground station proposal is in early development by U Manitoba and Natural Resources Canada. The final negotiation of all international partnerships still awaits federal government approval of the mission. Canadian Astronomical Society

In a joint statement, more than 80 organizations worldwide – including Amnesty International, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, and Climate Action Network Canada – said allowing companies and countries to meet climate commitments with carbon credits is likely to slow down a rapid and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production and use, while failing to deliver on climate finance needs, and will reduce pressure to develop mechanisms such as “polluter pays” fees on emission-intensive sectors. “Climate targets must focus primarily on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within companies’ and countries’ own boundaries, including the phasing out of fossil fuel production, transport, sale and use,” the statement says. Using carbon credits – called “carbon offsetting” – doesn’t reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, “it simply moves emission reductions from one place to another.” Offsetting often ends up providing the social license for high-emitting activities to continue while reinforcing past injustices, the statement says. Also, there are significant quality issues with carbon crediting programs, including: emissions reductions would have happened regardless of the carbon markets; difficulty in setting meaningful baselines; potential leakage or rebound effects; non-permanent carbon removal; and social and environmental harms. The organizations call for scientific, ambitious, equitable, robust, credible and transparent rules around carbon accounting and corporate climate target setting. “Voluntary and regulatory frameworks on climate transition planning must exclude offsetting.” Amnesty International

Google’s greenhouse gas emissions totalled 14.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2023, a 48-percent increase over five years, according to the internet search giant’s annual sustainability report. Google’s total energy consumption rose from 12.8 million megawatts (MW) to 25.9 million MW over the same period. Google and rivals like Amazon and Microsoft increasingly require energy-hungry data centres to power their artificial intelligence products and services. Microsoft’s emissions have increased 30 percent since 2020. The International Energy Agency projects that data centre electricity consumption will double from 2022 to 2026. Google, which owns 24 data centres around the world, said in its report that its year-over-year emissions grew 13 percent in 2023 – “primarily due to increases in data center energy consumption and supply chain emissions.” “As we further integrate AI into our products, reducing emissions may be challenging due to increasing energy demands from the greater intensity of AI compute, and the emissions associated with the expected increases in our technical infrastructure investment.” Google said it signed contracts in 2023 to purchase approximately four gigawatts of clean energy generation capacity – more than in any prior year. The company also has signed carbon offsetting deals for approximately 62,500 tonnes of CO2e of carbon removal credits. The company said it aims to “neutralize” its residual emissions with high-quality carbon removal credits by 2030. In an agreement announced this week, Microsoft has arranged to buy 500,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits from 1PointFive, a carbon capture, utilization and company, from 1PointFive’s industrial-scale direct air capture facility currently under construction in Texas. Google


Teachers’ Venture Growth, an investment arm of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and KKR co-led a US$140-million Series E investment round for Japanese-based SmartHR, a cloud-based human resources and labour management software startup. Co-founded in 2015 by Kensuke Naito and Shoji Miyata, SmartHR has been seeing strong demand during the past couple of years for its software-as-a-service platform, which helps enterprises manage and streamline human resources and operations. SmartHR said the new capital will go toward developing new solutions and hiring, as well as growth strategies. TechCrunch

Canadian-founded, New York-based AI startup Clay raised $63 million in Series B funding, in a round led by Meritech Capital and participation from existing investors such as Sequoia Capital, First Round Capital, Box Group, and Boldstart Ventures. Clay offers an AI-powered platform designed to enhance go-to-market strategies for businesses, enabling users to automate and streamline various aspects of the sales process, from lead generation to customer relationship management. Clay was co-founded in 2017 by McGill University graduates Nicolae Rusan and Kareem Amin. Founders Today

Calgary-based Tall Grass Ventures (TGV) announced the close of its inaugural fund with a total  of $32 million. TGV is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on fundamentally advancing agriculture and food on a global scale. TGV’s Fund I leading investors included Manitoba First Fund and Farm Credit Canada, with limited partners including leading grain and livestock producers from Manitoba to British Columbia, livestock feeders, commodity brokers and traders, financial service firms, private equity investors, technology founders, and executives in agricultural machinery, energy, construction and marketing. TGV has so far invested in 11 companies representing various aspects of the agri-food supply chain, from gene editing and biological solutions to software and hardware solutions in specialty crops, plant-tissue sampling, grain grading and beyond. TGV

Toronto-based Argo Digital Gold Ltd. announced a strategic investment partnership with cryptocurrency companies Paxos in New York and WonderFi Technologies Inc. in Toronto. Argo, an online gold dealer, offers a trading platform for users to digitally buy and sell physical gold, as well as other precious metals, and store them physically in secure vaults. Paxos is a leading blockchain and tokenization infrastructure company and the issuer of Pax Gold token. Wonderfi is a leading Canadian operator of regulated crypto platforms. Financial details of the investment weren’t disclosed, although the two crypto firms have taken an equity stake in Argo as part of the deal. Argo plans to use the funding for its upcoming launch and international expansion plans. Argo Digital Gold

Toronto-based pension fund OMERS has entered into an agreement to sell Lifelabs, Canada’s largest medical testing firm, to New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics, a leading provider of diagnostic information services, for approximately $1.35 billion, including net debt. Quest will acquire 100 percent of the equity of LifeLabs, which OMERS has owned since 2007, and expects to fund the acquisition through cash on hand and debt. LifeLabs will retain its brand, Toronto headquarters, and management after the acquisition is closed. LifeLabs has more than 6,500 employees, with 16 laboratories and 382 collection centres in B.C., Ontario and Saskatchewan. Quest will provide LifeLabs with new expertise, innovations and resources to strengthen the services provided by LifeLabs' more than 6,500 employees. This will include improved online appointment scheduling and faster patient service centre processing. Quest also expects to help accelerate LifeLabs' data security enhancements while ensuring Canadian patients' health data remains in Canada. Quest Diagnostics

Montreal-based information technology company CGI announced the acquisition of Calgary-based Celero’s credit union business serving clients across Canada, consisting of master services agreements that span managed services, core banking, digital banking and related IT services. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The strategic acquisition complements and expands CGI's core banking service offerings and digital banking solutions to the Canadian credit union sector. Under the agreement, CGI acquires the managed services business with more than 90 credit unions and creates new partnerships with Credit Union Central of Manitoba, Alberta Central and SaskCentral. As part of the agreement, more than 150 Celero employees will join CGI. CGI

U.S. venture capital funding surged to US$55.6 billion in the second quarter, marking the highest quarterly total in two years, according to PitchBook data. The latest figure shows a 47-percent jump from the US$37.8 billion U.S. startups raised in the first quarter, largely driven by significant investments in artificial intelligence companies, including US$6 billion raised by Elon Musk's xAI and US$1.1 billion raised by CoreWeave. After reaching a record high US$97.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, U.S. VC funding had been steadily declining. It hit a recent low of $35.4 billion in the second quarter of 2023, amid a high interest-rate environment and a sluggish exit market. The recent influx of capital into AI startups has reversed the downward trend, as investors double down on AI foundation model companies as well as applications from code generation to productivity tools. Despite the increase in deal activity, exits remain challenging, the PitchBook data show, as small deals generated about US$23.6 billion in exit value in the second quarter this year, down from US$37.8 billion in the first quarter. Reuters


New federal agencies designed to prevent online harms would cost $200 million

The Government of Canada’s new agencies designed to prevent online harms would cost $201 million in operating costs over five years (2024-2025 to 2028-2029) and have 330 full-time equivalent employees at full capacity, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) said in a report.

The agencies, to be established under the Online Harms Act (Bill C-63, which has been introduced in the House of Commons) and which would advocate in the public interest, are the Digital Safety Commission, Ombudsperson and Office.

The estimated cost, based on preliminary estimates, would be minus any possible administrative monetary penalties, fines and/or regulatory charges collected by the three agencies, the PBO said.

The PBO’s preliminary staffing estimates from Canadian Heritage are based on other Canadian federal regulators and comparable international organizations for digital safety in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

The Digital Safety Ombudsperson will be mandated to support users of social media services and advocate for the public interest in relation to online safety.

The Commission and Ombudsperson will be supported by the Digital Safety Office, with day-to-day operations and staffing decisions being managed by a chief executive officer.

There is also a provision that could allow the Office to charge service providers for the regulatory services provided on a cost-recovery basis as determined by the Governor in Council.

Online services will be forced to remove two categories of content: intimate content communicated without consent, and content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor of sexual abuse.

The Digital Safety Commission may generate revenue for the government through administrative monetary penalties and fines, but the PBO’s report doesn’t attempt to project that amount.

“There is a high degree of uncertainty in the revenues that will be generated since it depends on the willingness of outside enterprises to follow the requirements set out by the Commission and the Online Harms Act,” the PBO said.

Conservative MP Michelle Remper, who requested the PBO analysis and has been a victim of criminal harassment online, wrote that the cost of new bureaucracy created by Bill C-63 would be roughly one-third larger than the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which is responsible for  keeping Canadians safe in the air and on the roads.

The money would be better spent on increasing the RCMP’s resources to fight cybercrime, given that a recent federal Auditor General report estimated almost one-third of positions across the RCMP’s cybercrime investigative teams were vacant, Remper said.

Conservative Leader Pierre Polievre’s office told the National Post a Polievre government would repeal Bill C-63 should it become law. Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer


Federal government enacts digital services tax, raising possibility of retaliation from the U.S.

The Government of Canada has enacted a digital services tax on large foreign tech companies, raising the possibility of regulatory tariffs from the U.S.

The Liberal government proposed the tax in its 2019 election platform. Ottawa later agreed to delay implementing the measure until the end of 2023 in the hope that Canada could reach a deal with other OECD countries on how multinational digital companies should be taxed.

Negotiations on an international deal continued to drag on past that date and the federal government issued an order in council on June 28 to enact the digital services tax (DST), which received royal assent June 20.

Finance Minister Crystia Freeland told reporters that if allies such as the U.K., Spain, Italy and France are able to impose a DST without facing retaliation from the U.S., Canada should be able to as well.

Digital firms that have global annual income of at least $1.1 billion will see annual revenues in Canada over $20 million taxed at a rate of three percent. The first year of the tax includes revenue earned since Jan. 1, 2022.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimated last year that the tax would bring in more than $7 billion over five years. The 2024 budget forecast revenues at $5.9 billion over five years, starting in 2024-25.

Multinational digital companies such as Meta, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon are not based in many of the countries where they conduct business, allowing them to avoid paying certain taxes.

The Liberal government's decision to impose the tax before an international agreement could be reached with other OECD countries has raised concerns about possible negative impacts.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen, who in a statement called the tax "discriminatory," said the United States Trade Representative is open to using all available tools to address unilateral, discriminatory digital services taxes.

As soon as the legislation enabling the tax became law, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada issued a statement strongly objecting to the measure, which they say will raise prices for everyone.

They maintained a digital services tax would disproportionately hit U.S. companies, undermine digital exports to Canada, and violate Canada's obligations under the U.S.-Canada-Mexico free trade agreement and the World Trade Organization.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce told CBC News that "a retroactive discriminatory digital services tax" will harm Canada's relationship with the U.S. and raise the cost of living in Canada, and that the government should reverse its unilateral decision.

Last month, the U.S. Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents big tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Uber, wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden asking his administration to initiate formal dispute settlement procedures under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The group said the move is necessary because a digital services tax could cost American firms up to $2.3 billion annually and result in the loss of thousands of full-time U.S. jobs.

Meanwhile, foreign streaming platforms – including Netflix, Amazon and Spotify – have launched Federal Court challenges over the way Canada’s Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) is being implemented by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, The Globe and Mail reported.

The challenges threaten to delay implementation of the act, which would compel foreign streaming giants to pay about $200 million a year to support Canadian music, TV, film and radio. CBC News


Foreign investment in Canadian critical minerals mining firms allowed only “in the most exceptional of circumstances”

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a “clear signal” about how net benefit reviews under the Investment Canada Act will be conducted when it comes to large Canadian-headquartered firms engaged in critical minerals operations.

Transactions involving foreign capital in Canadian mining companies engaged in significant critical minerals operations “will only be found of net benefit in the most exceptional of circumstances,” Champagne said in a statement.

This high bar is reflective of the strategic importance of Canada’s critical minerals sector and “how important it is that we take decisive action to protect it,” he said.

Canada welcomes foreign investment and recognizes how important it is, particularly for small Canadian firms to advance exploration and site development efforts, Champagne said.

However, the government must balance protecting Canada’s strategic interests while supporting the development of Canada’s resources, he said. Ottawa’s recent update to the Canadian Critical Minerals Policy sets out national security considerations.

Champagne’s statement comes after the federal government forced divestments by Chinese investors in Canadian critical minerals mining firms.

The directive “significantly compresses M&A [merger and acquisition] opportunity and potentially restricts financing options for Canadian miners,” Scotiabank analysts Orest Wowkodaw and Eric Winmill said in a note, Bloomberg News reported. “As a result, we now anticipate most Canadian miners to trade at lower valuation multiples versus global peers.”

In a separate statement, Champagne – who’s the minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act – said he has approved, under strict conditions, a transaction whereby Switzerland-headquartered Glencore plc will acquire Teck Resources Ltd.’s metallurgical coal business, B.C.-based Elk Valley Resources (EVR).

His approval comes after an extensive net benefit review under the Investment Canada Act, and is the result of months of discussions with both Glencore and Teck as well as information from the Government of British Columbia and federal departments including Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Natural Resources Canada.

As part of the review process, Glencore has provided a significant package of legally binding commitments in support of the transaction, include several core commitments to ensure a strong and well-capitalized Canadian operation of EVR. This includes:

  • For a period of no less than 10 years, Glencore will establish and maintain a Canadian head office for EVR in Vancouver, as well as maintain regional offices for EVR in Calgary and Sparwood, BC.
  • For a period of no less than 10 years, Glencore will ensure that the majority of EVR’s board of directors are Canadians.
  • For a period of no less than 10 years, Glencore will ensure that at least 66 percent of all executive and senior management roles at EVR are filled by Canadians.
  • For a period of no less than five years, Glencore will maintain “significant” employment levels at EVR.

Glencore has also made binding undertakings that will ensure commitment to environmental preservation and stewardship of liabilities. This includes:

  • Glencore will be required to maintain its obligations under the bond required by the B.C. government regulator. Notwithstanding these commitments, Glencore will, in addition, maintain responsibility for payment of any environmental obligations under Canadian law beyond those covered by the existing bond through 2050. This obligation would remain in place even in a scenario in which Glencore seeks to sell, demerge or otherwise dispose of EVR, unless the Minister is satisfied that the terms of sale suitably provided for environmental stewardship of the liabilities. In effect, Glencore‘s commitment will result in generational assurance of sound environmental stewardship of the asset, regardless of its future ownership, out to 2050.
  • Glencore commits to an additional $350 million investment in rehabilitation and closure activities over five years.

Glencore has also agreed to maintain Teck’s leading commitments to First Nations. This includes:

  • Glencore will maintain and honour commitments made to First Nations by EVR.
  • Glencore will work in good faith with First Nations to identify and implement opportunities to increase First Nations’ participation in benefits from the activities of EVR, including increased employment and procurement opportunities.

The federal government has also secured a commitment from Teck to reinvest a significant amount of the proceeds of this transaction into its copper growth portfolio, which will position Teck for leadership in the pivotal area of critical minerals. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


Tech sector in Greater Victoria shows impressive growth and economic impact

The technology sector in Greater Victoria, B.C. has experienced substantial growth over the past two decades, according to the annual economic report by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council).

 The report says Greater Victoria’s tech sector has a total economic impact of more than $7.8 billion, a significant 50.8-percent increase since the last study in 2017.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Tech sector revenues: 44.3-percent increase from 2017, from $4.06 billion to $5.87 billion.
  • Number of tech firms: 19.6-percent increase from 980 to 1,172.
  • Job creation: 19.3-percent more net jobs from 16,775 to 20,007.

The report says VIATEC’s strategic goal for Greater Victoria’s tech sector is to reach $10 billion in annual revenues by 2030.

 Among technology firms in Greater Victoria, software engineering & development skills were the most in-demand, followed closely by marketing, sales, and product management skills.

According to the report, Victoria tech companies benefit from the “lifestyle, mild climate, shorter commute times, the presence of post-secondary institutions.”

But the island lifestyle is a double-edged sword: affordable housing for staff, costs of living excluding housing, and limited talent pool were identified as primary challenges.

Barriers to the success of tech firms in Greater Victoria were: access to recruitment for technical staff and senior management; hurdles to accessing finance, limited government support; recruitment for business operations/administrative staff; a reliable supply chain; and access to new markets.

The technology sector in British Columbia overall contributed nearly $21.2 billion to B.C.’s GDP in 2021, or about 14 percent of the total GDP generated by the high-tech sector in Canada, according to the report. B.C. is third, behind Ontario and Quebec, in terms of the sector’s contribution to total GDP.

Total revenues for the technology sector in B.C. stood at $45.3 billion in 2021 – a 16.4-percent increase from 2020 and the highest level on record. In the past five years, the sector has registered an 8.4-percent average annual revenue growth rate.

In terms of total revenue, B.C.’s tech sector was the third-largest in Canada in 2021, behind Ontario ($153 billion) and Quebec ($82.2 billion).

Over the past decade, average annual revenue growth in B.C.’s tech sector (8.5 percent) has significantly outpaced the national average (4.9 percent).

In 2021, firms in B.C.’s technology sector employed 152,870 people – a 13.8-percent increase from 2020.

Between 2017 and 2021, the number of people employed by technology firms in B.C. increased at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent, higher than the 3.5-percent annual average posted for all technology firms in Canada.

Compared with other industries in B.C., firms in the technology sector employ more people than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined.

The number of tech firms in B.C. has increased steadily. In 2021, 394 new technology firms opened their doors, bringing the total number of technology firms with employees to 11,661.

Nearly 94 percent of B.C.’s tech firms operate in the service sector, while high-technology manufacturing firms account for about six percent.

On a regional district level, the Metro Vancouver region had the largest number of technology firms at 7,666 in 2021. Greater Victoria had the second-highest number of firms, with an estimated 1,100.

Data for the economic impact report is gathered via a survey sent to tech companies in the 13 municipalities that make up Greater Victoria. The report also makes use of census data from VIATEC itself and data from BC Stats. VIATEC


China-based inventors filing the most GenAI patents; Canada ranks eighth globally

China-based inventors are filing the highest number of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) patents, far outpacing inventors in the U.S., Republic of Korea, Japan and India that comprise the rest of the top five locations, according to a new report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The top seven countries accounted for 94 percent of GenAI patents filed. Canada ranked eighth, behind Germany.

However, Canada ranked fifth in the number of GenAI scientific publications in the top 10 countries, from 2010 to 2023, and fourth in the number of citations these paper received.

The WIPO Patent Landscape Report on Generative AI documents 54,000 GenAI inventions in the decade through 2023, with more than 25 percent of them emerging in the last year alone.

GenAI allows users to create content including text, images, music and computer code, powering a range of industrial and consumer products including chatbots such as ChatGPT, Google Gemini or Baidu’s ERNIE.

Between 2014 and 2023, more than 38,000 GenAI inventions have come out of China, six times more than second-place U.S. India, which is the fifth-biggest location for GenAI invention, saw the highest average annual growth rate among the top five leaders, at 56 percent.

GenAI is already spreading across industries including the life sciences, manufacturing, transportation, security and telecommunications, the report shows.

Key findings of WIPO’s report include:

  • 54,000 GenAI-related inventions (patent families) were filed and more than 75,000 scientific publications published between 2014 and 2023.
  • The growth is rapid, with the number of GenAI patents increasing eightfold since the 2017 introduction of the deep neural network architecture behind the Large Language Models that have become synonymous with GenAI.
  • In 2023 alone over 25 percent of all GenAI patents globally were published, and over 45 percent of all GenAI scientific papers were published.
  • GenAI patents still currently represent only six percent of all AI patents globally.
  • The top 10 GenAI patent applicants are: Tencent (2,074 inventions); Ping An Insurance (1,564 inventions); Baidu (1,234 inventions); Chinese Academy of Sciences (607); IBM (601), Alibaba Group (571); Samsung Electronics (468); Alphabet (443); ByteDance (418); Microsoft (377).
  • The top five inventor locations are: China (38,210 inventions); U.S. (6,276 inventions); Republic of Korea (4,155 inventions); Japan (3,409); and India (1,350).
  • Image and video data dominate GenAI patents (17,996 inventions), followed by text (13,494 inventions) and speech/music (13,480 inventions). GenAI patents using molecule, gene and protein-based data are growing rapidly (1,494 inventions since 2014) with 78-percent average annual growth over the past five years.
  • GenAI patents span across a diverse range of sectors, including in life sciences (5,346 inventions), document management and publishing (4,976 inventions) and over 2,000 inventions in each of business solutions, industry and manufacturing, transportation, security, and telecommunications.

In the future, GenAI can help design new molecules, expediting drug development, WIPO’s report says. The technology can automate tasks in document management and publishing, be increasingly used in retail assistance systems and customer service chatbots and enable new product design and optimization, including in public transportation systems and autonomous driving.

The report says concerns about the increasing use of GenAI models and tool include:

  • The impact of GenAI on the labour market, including potentially leading to significant job losses in many industries.
  • Potential copyright infringement of GenAI are, text and code, as well as training data.
  • “Deepfakes” (fake images or videos that insert a person’s likeness into another video without their consent) and training biases, including distortion in training datasets and AI “hallucinations” from chatbots that sound convincing but may be wrong.
  • GenAI evolving into a “general AI” with human-like intelligence and even consciousness – a concern much debated even among experts. WIPO

 THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the reappointment of Dr. Mona Nemer, PhD, as Canada’s chief science advisor for a three-year term, effective September 25, 2024. Nemer, a leading medical researcher, has been chief science advisor since 2017. In this role, she will continue to provide scientific advice to the federal government to ensure that public policy takes research into account. "We believe in science and believe that scientists should be able to conduct their research, make discoveries and post questions freely. Over the past seven years, Dr. Nemer has provided valuable advice to me and the Cabinet to ensure that science is an integral part of public policy,” Trudeau said in a statement. Prime Minister’s Office

Dr. Shawna Pandya, a Brandon, Man.-born and Edmonton-raised physician and space scientist, will be flying to space with Virgin Galactic on its new Delta Class of spacecraft as early as 2026. She’ll join American aerospace and technology professional Kellie Gerardi and aeronautical engineer Dr. Norah Pattern of Ireland on the mission. The “same-day” mission (accomplished within the same day) is a partnership between Virgin Galactic and the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, of which Pandya is space medicine director. Pandya earned a degree in neuroscience from the University of Alberta, studying medicine, before taking her masters at the International Space University in France. Since then, she has worked as medical advisor to several space, medical and technology companies. Global News

The Alberta Electric System Operation (AESO) announced that Michael Law, president and CEO, will leave the organization effective August 1, 2024. Law first joined the AESO in 2009 as vice-president, operations and was promoted to president and CEO in 2019. The AESO board announced that Aaron Engen will assume the role of president and CEO of the AESO, effective August 1, 2024, following Law’s departure. Engen has served on the AESO’s board of directors since 2020 and is currently the chair of the power system committee. Law pushed back against the Alberta government’s seven-month moratorium on new renewable energy development, according to internal correspondence obtained by The Narwal via a freedom of information request. AESO

Dr. Titus Olukitibi of the University of Manitoba’s department of medical microbiology is the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Dick Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship ($60,000 for one year) in HIV-AIDS Research, the Government of Manitoba and Research Manitoba announced. Olukitibi’s project, “Bridging HIV and STBBIs Science and Educational Outreach in Winnipeg,” aims to address the rising number of HIV cases in Manitoba. His research will focus on educational outreach to high school students, particularly those from underserved and immigrant communities, to increase knowledge about HIV prevention, transmission and treatment. The project also will investigate the link between solvent use and increased susceptibility to HIV, offering important insights into prevention strategies. Govt. of Manitoba

The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) board of governors appointed Judy Rogers to become the university’s 20th chancellor, effective September 1, 2024. A UBC alumnus, Rogers’ extensive career is marked by significant leadership roles and contributions to public administration, community development and governance. Most recently, she was a member of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s board of directors from December 2017 to July 2023, assuming the position of chair from August 2018. She held the role of city manager of the City of Vancouver from 1999 to 2008, and also served on the board for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Rogers succeeds Steven Point, who steps down after four years as the first Indigenous person to hold the position of UBC chancellor. UBC

Dr. Kate Congreves, PhD, was appointed the new Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). She will lead research supporting the wider-scale adoption of beneficial production and environmental practices necessary for food security. The Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture was established by a $4-million endowment with a donation of $2 million from the Jarislowsky Foundation, $1 million from BMO, and $1 million from the USask Greystone Heritage Trust, to significantly expand research capacity in regenerative agriculture at USask. During the chair’s five-year term, Congreves’ research will inform sustainable nitrogen (N) management for healthy agroecosystems, which will help policymakers interested in developing strategies to better manage nitrogen. Congreves will explore interdisciplinary collaborations with agricultural researchers in other areas of expertise such as water, livestock and health, and with social scientists, economists, and philosophers to develop evidence-based recommendations that will be pertinent to Canada’s progress towards a sustainable future. USask

The Government of Ontario appointed Mark White as the new chair of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). White has extensive expertise in consumer protection, regulation, change management and oversight that will help ensure the OEB is well positioned to support a strong and growing economy, the government said. White previously served as CEO of Ontario’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority, where he worked to transform the province’s legacy financial regulators into a modern and efficient oversight body. Govt. of Ontario

Brigadier-General Christopher Horner assumed command on June 28 of 3 Canadian Space Division (3 CSD) and Joint Force Space Component commander. He succeeds Brigadier-General Mike Adamson, who is transitioning to civilian life.  Horner joined the Canadian Armed Forces as an aerospace controller on June 20, 1998. After graduating from the Royal Military College of Canada and completing his initial training at Canadian Armed Forces School of Aerospace Operations in 2003, he began his career as an air battle manager. 3 Canadian Space Division is responsible for delivering space power effects in support of Canadian Armed Forces operations. 3 CSD

Beginning in the fall of 2025, every first-year University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) medical student will receive a $2,000 scholarship, thanks to a recent $1-million gift from the Rathlyn Foundation. The Rathlyn Foundation Entrance Scholarships for UPEI Medical Students will be funded in perpetuity by the foundation’s gift. The Rathlyn Foundation, founded in 1984 by Dr. Roger Warren and his late wife, Mary Warren, is known for its support of medical education and research, the advancement of veterinary science and education, the support of students at all levels of study, and post-secondary areas of study requiring current medical technology. Since 2008, the Foundation has supported the Chinook Project, scholarships for Atlantic Veterinary College students, and new MRI technology and equipment. Memorial University’s regional campus at UPEI will have 20 seats available for Prince Edward Island residents wishing to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree. UPEI

Northlands College in La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan, has gained full institutional eligibility with both the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The agreement with SSHRC and NSERC will significantly boost Northlands’ research opportunities and capabilities in the areas of social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and Indigenous-focused research, the College said. With 98 percent of Northlands College’s learner population being self-declared Indigenous, there will be prioritized emphasis on research initiatives that address Indigenous issues, culture and knowledge. Northlands College

Dr. Joon Lee, PhD, a digital health researcher and innovator at the University of Calgary’s (UCalgary) Libin Cardiovascular Institute, is developing an artificial intelligence-based clinical decision support tool to help patients with coronary heart disease, which impacts 2.6 million Canadians. The tool will help patients and their doctors make the best decision possible on treatment, based on the individual patient’s unique situation and needs. Treatment options are: medications; percutaneous coronary intervention, which involves opening blocked arteries using a small stent inserted with a catheter; and coronary artery bypass surgery, which diverts the blood flow around the blocked artery. “We have developed and validated artificial intelligence models that can assess a patient’s risk of major adverse cardiovascular events conditioned on the three treatment options,” Lee said. The AI technology, named Revaz AI, will interface with Connect Care, Alberta’s digital health record system, where it will tap into and use de-identified angiography results, demographic data, patient history and other information. Lee co-founded a company, Symbiotic AI, to commercialize the technology. The company recently received nearly $800,000 from the Alberta Innovates AI for Better Health program to support the project for the next three years. In addition to integrating Revaz AI with Connect Care, Lee’s team will research and develop a user experience and interface to be used in the clinic and work on commercialization of the technology. Lee says he expects Revaz AI to be ready for a randomized controlled trial following the three-year grant term. UCalgary


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