The Short Report-July 19, 2023: Closing critical data gaps in cancer care; Thrive Lab's first co-investment phase; Canada's growing tech workforce, and more.
July 19, 2023
GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND POLICY
The Government of Canada has released criteria for critical mineral projects eligible for funding. Qualifying projects must focus on critical mineral processing, manufacturing and recycling; however, mining projects that show "exceptional innovation benefits and strong vertical integration to grow domestic value chains will be considered." Projects have to meet specific criteria and target one or more of the 31 minerals Canada has identified as “critical,” with priority given to the 6 most significant minerals: lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements. ISED
The Canadian beef industry is receiving more than $12 million in funding as part of more than $21.7 million for research, to promote environmental and economic sustainability and resilience in the beef industry. The funding is provided under the new federal Beef and Forage AgriScience Cluster to support its sustainable development. The investment aims to drive growth in the industry through research, innovation, and technology transfer while improving its environmental footprint. The funding will be administered by the Canadian Cattle Association, specifically the Beef Cattle Research Council, and will support 23 projects focused on priorities such as climate change and environment, economic growth and development, and sector resilience. The initiatives include reducing methane emissions, developing more productive forages, and creating technologies to respond to emerging diseases. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
PrairiesCan will contribute $2.5 million in funding to the University of Calgary’s Aerospace Innovation Hub (AIH) via the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative. The hub will unify research groups like the UCalgary Aerospace Network, which has over 30 members from the Schulich School of Engineering and the Faculties of Science and Arts, and will be operated by Innovate Calgary, the university's innovation transfer and business incubator centre. The AIH will operate on the same hub model as UCalgary’s Life Science Innovation Hub, Energy Transition Centre, and Social Innovation Hub, also operated by Innovate Calgary. One area cited as being ready for growth in Calgary is drone research. UCalgary
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is investing $300,000 in a pilot project that will expand the London Economic Development Corporation's (LEDC) collaboration with Volkswagen (VW)’s suppliers in Germany and Spain. The project will connect the supply chains of three of VW’s global battery manufacturing hubs. It is expected that up to 120 companies and organizations will be able to join VW’s global supply chains for battery manufacturing. FedDev Ontario
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is supporting the growth of pharmaceutical company ANVO Laboratories (London, ON), with a $4 million investment to establish a new research, development, and production facility. The facility will focus on manufacturing tablets and capsules for the treatment of gastrointestinal, diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. FedDev Ontario
HEALTH RESEARCH & FUNDING
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer have unveiled the pan-Canadian Cancer Data Strategy, the country's first strategy to address cancer-specific data challenges. Developed in collaboration with various stakeholders, the strategy aims to improve cancer outcomes and equity in cancer care, by enhancing the collection, integration, and use of cancer data. It focuses on three priorities: improving data capture and access efficiency, enhancing linkages to current data, and filling gaps in data collection and availability. Canadian Cancer Society
Heart & Stroke, in collaboration with Brain Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), has launched a new funding opportunity to support research on congenital heart disease (CHD) throughout the lifespan, considering factors such as sex and gender, Indigenous health, and health equity. The Congenital Heart Disease Team Grants will focus on three priority research areas: causes of CHD and early detection, brain health and CHD, and care transitions. The goal is to improve the health and well-being of individuals living with CHD, their families, and caregivers through the creation and mobilization of knowledge. The deadline for registration is September 15, 2023, and eligible applicants will have until November 15, 2023, to submit their full applications. Heart & Stroke
The Public Health Agency of Canada is providing up to $500,000 in funding for the Autism Alliance of Canada to collaborate with the Pacific Autism Family Network and Autism Speaks Canada, outlining the requirements to design, develop, implement, and evaluate a National Autism Network that will support the implementation of a national autism strategy. The network will bring together autism organizations and partners to support key autism priorities, and provide a community forum. The goal is to create a strategy that responds to the diverse needs of Autistic people in Canada, focusing on accessibility, research, training, and acceptance. PHAC
A new autonomous lab is being constructed at the University of Toronto's Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy to enhance the design and optimization of drug formulations. The lab, known as a 'self-driving' lab, is one of six being built at U of T through a $200-million Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant to the Acceleration Consortium that was announced in the Spring. The lab will combine AI, automation, and advanced computing to test various combinations of materials and develop the best formulations, an approach that is expected to significantly reduce the time and cost required to identify new drug formulations. U of T
The Asian Cohort for Alzheimer’s Disease (ACAD) will be conducting a study of Alzheimer’s disease in Asian Americans and Asian Canadians, supported by more than US$40.5 million from the US National Institutes of Health. The study is led by investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with experts from 15 other academic institutions across the US and Canada, including the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. ACAD will collect data on the genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with Asian ancestry. “While Asians are the fastest growing minority in both the US and Canada, they are disproportionately underrepresented in Alzheimer’s disease research,” according to University of Pennsylvania Professor Li-San Wang. Penn Medicine
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Wildfire and ecosystem scientist Dr. Sophie Wilkinson has joined Simon Fraser University (SFU) to establish the Fire and Ecosystems Research Group, addressing the impacts of increasingly volatile fire seasons on communities and ecosystems. As the head of SFU's Fire and Ecosystems Research Lab, Wilkinson and her team will study wildfire behavior, its effects, and the conditions that fuel them, with a specific focus on peatlands. The lab aims to develop ecosystem management strategies to minimize the negative impacts of fire on the environment and society. SFU
VC FUNDING NEWS
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Thrive Lab, which is providing $100 million in equity investments to women-led businesses over the next five years as part of BDC's larger $500-million Thrive Platform, has allocated $35 million for its first phase. First phase investments will target businesses aligned with United Nations Social Development Goals, specifically focusing on food security, reduced inequalities, health and well-being, education, and responsible consumption. BDC
Halifax-based CarbonCure Technologies, which develops carbon dioxide removal technologies for the concrete industry, secured nearly $106 million in a new funding round led by global investment firm Blue Earth Capital. The funding round also included support from existing shareholders, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Taronga Ventures, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund and 2150. New strategic investors include BH3 Growth Equity (BH3) and Samsung Ventures (Corporate VC fund backed by Samsung C&T). CarbonCure
Calgary-based Orennia has raised more than $33 million in Series B financing to expand its energy transition analytics platform. The investment was led by Wellington Management, a large investment management firm, and supported by existing investors such as Quantum Innovation Fund, NGP, Veriten, and Tupper Lake Partners. Orennia
Canada welcomed more than 32,000 tech workers between April 2022 and March 2023, according to a report released by The Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN). Report findings indicate that the most attractive Canadian cities to top tech talent in that time period were Mississauga, followed by Montreal and Waterloo. Among other key findings, Ontario has the largest number of tech workers in Canada, but smaller provinces, like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, are experiencing the most rapid growth. Both provinces reported the largest year-over-year growth in their respective tech workforces, at 16.3 percent. Windsor, Ontario has seen the highest growth in tech workers over the past year (28 percent), followed by Cape Breton, NS and Timmins, Ont. The report says the shift is reflective of broader workforce trends, with largely remote tech workers moving away from major metropolitan areas toward more rural locations. Communitech
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced changes in the senior ranks of the public service, including the following appointments:
- Michael Vandergrift, currently Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations), Privy Council Office, becomes Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, effective July 24, 2023.
- Mollie Johnson, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and concurrently Special Advisor to the Clerk on Decarbonization, becomes Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations), Privy Council Office, effective July 24, 2023.
- Jeffrey Labonté, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Minerals Sector, Natural Resources Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, effective July 24, 2023.
Springboard Atlantic, the Elevate IP-chosen network supporting startups in Atlantic Canada, has hired three regional intellectual property counsellors (IPCs) for its new Atlantic Intellectual Property (IP) Advantage Program. The counsellors — Libby Carew, Shelley Hessian and Dr. Andre Pelletier — join director Niraj Shukla, to deliver the Atlantic IP program across the region. Carew will serve as IPC for Newfoundland and Labrador and is a former senior advisor in business development with Mitacs, where she acted as a connector between industry and academia. Hessian will serve as Nova Scotia's regional IP, and spent 15 years at Invest Nova Scotia (formerly Innovacorp); she was manager of the business incubator, Start-Up Yard, at the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, and was previously manager of programs and business acceleration at Invest Nova Scotia. Pelletier will serve as IP Counsellor for New
Brunswick, having spent his professional life "working in various roles connected to applied chemistry, engineering, and innovation project management. He is a multi-industry professional with experience across a variety of industrial and tech sectors, from operational and R&D roles to strategy development." Atlantic IP Press Release
Skaidra Puodžiūnas has joined the Council of Canadian Innovators as the Ontario Director of Government Affairs, and James McLeod will take on an expanded role within council as the Director of Content and Communications. Puodžiūnas most recently served as a team lead in Ontario’s office of the chief corporate information officer, a hub connecting 4,000 information technology specialists within government. Previously, she served as a senior advisor to the Ontario Digital Service, directly supporting Ontario’s first chief digital and data officer, and Ontario’s first minister responsible for digital government. CCI
Dr. Luc Duchesne has been appointed vice president of government relations for NEO Battery Materials (Vancouver). NEO specializes in low-cost silicon anode materials for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, electronics, and energy storage systems. Duchesne will spearhead the company's Canada Expansion Strategy, securing government grants and non-dilutive funding initiatives. As part of the expansion strategy, NEO will establish R&D facilities in Ontario, to produce its proprietary silicon anode materials locally, as well as to enhance communication, foster faster material evaluation, and strengthen relationships with Canadian and US battery manufacturers and electric vehicle original equipment manufacturers. NEO
The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) has appointed Curtis Wong as its new vice- president, partnerships & development. Wong brings more than 25 years of experience to CFIN and has held various project roles in marketing, including sponsorships and partner development. The network says that in this newly created role, "Wong will further develop regional and national food innovation ecosystems and help CFIN achieve its goal of positioning Canada as a global leader in food and beverage innovation." CFIN