Organizations:
Canada Research Coordinating Committee , Competition Tribunal , Accelerate, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII), Axelys, B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy, Blue Sky Hemp Ventures Ltd, BlueGrid, C.D. Howe Institute, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, Canadian Safety and Security Program, Canadian Space Agency, CIFAR, Cisco Investments, City of Burnaby, City of Estevan , Cohere, Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, College of the North Atlantic, Communications Security Establishment Canada, Compusuit Limited , CQDM, Defence Research and Development Canada, Digital Research Alliance of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fairfax Financial , Fairfax India Holdings Corporation , Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec, Genome Quebec, George Brown College, goeasy, Government of Alberta, Government of British Columbia, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, Government of Saskatchewan, Hamilton Health Sciences, Health Canada, Healwell AI , Holland College Foundation , Innovation UK , Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, iNovia, IntelliCulture, International Maritime Organization , International Monetary Fund, Invest Alberta Corporation, Life Sciences Nova Scotia , Lightspeed Commerce, MaRS Discovery District, McGill University, McMaster University, McRock Capital, MDA Space Ltd. , Meadow Lake Tribal Council , Médicament Québec, Mesoil, Mila – Quebec AI Institute, Mistral AI , Montreal InVivo, National Cybercrime Coordination Centre, National Cybercrime Coordination Centre, National Research Council of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, New Brunswick Community College Foundations , Nova Scotia Community College, Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Onimiskiw Opitciwan Limited Partnership , OpenAI, Opportunities NB, Optimi Health Corp. , Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Economic Development Canada, Pfizer, Procurify, Protein Industries Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, QS Quacquarelli Symonds, Quantiphi Analytics Canada Limited , Ratehub Inc. , RBC, RBC Economics and Thought Leadership, RBC Foundation, RNA Québec, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Saskatchewan Research Council, SaskPower, SCALE AI, Simon Fraser University, Stantec, TD Bank Group, Thar Process , Tiny Ltd. , Transport Canada, TryCycle, U of T Institute for Aerospace Studies , United Conservative Party, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of California, Berkeley, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, Userful , VentureLabs, Virtex Grain Exchange , Vitruvi Software, WeCommerce, Western University, World Bank, and Zafin

People:

Topics:
“Canada's Growth Challenge: Why the economy is stuck in neutral (report), 2023 Exploration competition, 2023 International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, accelerating zero-emissions vehicles in Canada , AI for providing mortgage approvals and term life insurance, AI-first digital engineering solutions, AReNA, Quebec’s RNA Hub, artificial intelligence projects supported by Scale AI, Bill C-26, An Act Respecting Cyber Security, biomass cogeneration, building resilient communities for climate change, CalgaryToSpace FrontierSat cubesat , Canada's blue economy, Canada's Blue Economy Strategy, Canada's cybersecurity workforce, Canada's Ghost Gear Fund, Canada's tax competitiveness , Canada's Tobacco Strategy, Canada’s Ghost Gear Program, Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy, Canadian National Action Plan for Ghost Gear, CELLULE to support development of RNA technologies , COVID-19 vaccine side-effects, culture at OpenAI, enabling development of marine energy projects in offshore Canada , equipment management software for specialty crops, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility , Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023 (Bill C-59), federal blue economy regulatory roadmap, federal Competition Act , federal Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy, Green Municipal Fund, green skills education and training, high-performance computing, improving care for Canadians with multiple myeloma, improving safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles, industrial software, innovation in RNA therapies, Innovative Measurements of Auroral Geophysics for Education and Research (IMAGER) project, internal trade barriers in Canada , lab space in southern Ontario's life sciences sector, Lab2Market program, leadership changes in Canada's tech sector, Local Leadership for Climate Adaptation (LLCA) initiative, Marine spatial planning , Maritime autonomous surface ships , MDMA and psilocybin for PSTD and depression , MYCOVACC (Canadian Cardiovascular Society National Active Surveillance Study of MYocarditis and/or Pericarditis following mRNA COVID-19 VACCination) , nanotechnology to prevent infection and disease, National Cyber Security Strategy, National Research Council (NRC) Ocean Coastal River Engineering, New Frontiers in Research Fund, NRC’s Ocean Program , nuclear microreactors in Saskatchewan, ocean-focused test sites to support ocean technologies, Ontario life sciences companies and biomanufacturers , productivity gains in agriculture through using technology, projects funded by Environmental Damages Fund’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund , protecting Canada from cyberattacks, protein processing technology, QS World University Rankings, radio astronomy , RBC report on Canada's declining productivity, RBC's The Growth Project, Simon Fraser University's Clean Hydrogen Hub , small modular reactors in Saskatchewan, space low Earth orbit architecture, SPEC Labs Centre for Advancement of Biomedical Innovation , Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), staff reductions at MaRS, STEVE –Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement phenonmenon , supporting AI adoption by early-stage companies, supporting the startup ecosystem, Sustainable fishing gear and practices, Swedish SYSTER rocket campaign, technology to improve public safety and security abilities, utilizing immigrants' skills in Canada , Venture Ontario Fund, whalesafe fishing gear , Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund , Whalesafe Gear Strategy for Canada, wildfire technologies, wind turbine technician program, and winners of Canadian Space Agency's Space Brain Hack


The Short Report: June 12, 2024

Research Money
June 12, 2024

GOVERNMENT FUNDING

 The Canada Research Coordinating Committee announced a federal investment of more than $92 million  through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) to support 165 Canadian-led research projects through two initiatives: the 2023 International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, and the 2023 Exploration competition. Canada led the international joint initiative with an investment of $60 million to support 32 international interdisciplinary research projects, involving 424 researchers from 45 countries. These three-year projects focus on designing and implementing climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for vulnerable groups. These groups are currently the most impacted by climate change effects, because of their physical and socio-economic vulnerability. The initiative is also the result of a collaboration with research funders from Brazil, Germany, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S., who together contributed a total of more than $30 million in additional funding to the research projects. Each year, the NFRF Exploration competition supports research that brings various disciplines together in new ways and from bold, innovative perspectives. Exploration grants support research with a range of impacts – economic, scientific, artistic, cultural, social, technological, environmental or health-related. This year, $33 million was awarded to 133 research projects that focus on topics such as exploring the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere and the cosmos from a high-Arctic perspective, transforming AI software concepts into smart mechanical systems, and using liquid biopsies to better detect breast cancer. Canada Research and Coordinating Committee

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) announced that Canada has become a member of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory, or SKAO (Artist's illustration at top of page) investing $269 million over eight years, through the NRC, as part of its membership in the SKAO. This membership is the culmination of more than 20 years of Canadian leadership and international collaboration in the Square Kilometre Array project, the government said. This investment will result in opportunities for Canadian industry and academic institutions to deliver key observatory systems and to ensure Canadian astronomers have access to one of the world's leading facilities. Along with Canada, SKAO currently includes Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. Once complete, the SKAO will be the world's largest radio astronomy observatory, with an impact comparable to the James Webb Space Telescope or the Hubble Space Telescope. NRC

The Digital Research Alliance of Canada, a non-profit agency funded by the federal government, awarded more than $50 million to two national high-performance computing host sites in British Columbia. Simon Fraser University (SFU) was awarded more than $41.4 million to upgrade the compute infrastructure of Cedar, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in Canada. The University of Victoria (UVic) received nearly $10.3 million for infrastructure upgrades to Arbutus, the largest cloud computing installation for academic research in the country. The federal investment is made possible by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy. The Government of British Columbia announced an additional investment of more than $24.5 million in SFU’s Cedar renewal and more than $6 million in UVic’s Arbutus Cloud renewal. Digital Research Alliance of Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced the launch of a $530-million fund, a key initiative under Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy in response to climate change. ECCC said the Local Leadership for Climate Adaptation (LLCA) initiative, through the Green Municipal Fund administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is one of the largest ever investments in building livable and resilient communities in preparation for climate change in Canadian history. Through collaboration with local governments, the initiative will support adaptation planning, capacity building, implementation and financing, to help municipalities and their partners build long-term, resilient infrastructure. Funds are to be rolled out over eight years. By 2031, the initiative will have funded more than 1,400 municipal activities, ECCC said. This $530-million investment was first announced on November 24, 2022, as part of more than $2 billion in new federal funding commitments to help protect communities from coast to coast to coast to prepare for climate change under the National Adaptation Strategy. As part of the launch, the federally funded Green Municipal Fund is now accepting applications through its website under the Adaptation in Action funding stream of LLCA. In all, there are three funding streams that will provide substantial support for municipalities to carry out climate adaptation projects. In addition to support for climate adaptation planning, municipalities can apply for up to $1 million for implementation projects and up to $70,000 for feasibility studies. Municipalities that have completed climate adaptation plans and/or risk assessments are eligible to apply. The deadline for applications is August 14, 2024. The Green Municipal Fund is also introducing funding for partner-led initiatives that will enable skills development and training to help local governments build more resilient communities. ECCC

The Government of Ontario is investing $40 million from the Venture Ontario Fund, dedicated to helping Ontario life sciences companies and biomanufacturers innovate, grow and compete in global markets. This new funding will help the province’s researchers and companies develop innovative life-saving medicines and technologies of tomorrow, the government said. Ontario’s Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level strategy aims to establish Ontario as a global biomanufacturing and life sciences hub. The goal is to grow the number of high-value jobs in the sector to 85,000 by 2030, a 25-per-cent increase from 2020. Govt. of Ontario

The Quebec-based Scale AI global innovation cluster announced an investment of more than $31.3 million in 22 artificial intelligence projects representing a total investment of $96 million, in key sectors such as life sciences, retail, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and agriculture. Scale AI said the projects selected were chosen for their potential to deliver concrete economic and human benefits and intellectual property advancements for the players involved and for the Canadian AI ecosystem. Scale AI

Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) announced nearly $10 million for two initiatives led by Simon Fraser University (SFU), including the first Canadian academic-industry clean hydrogen energy project of its kind. More than $9.4 million will be used to establish a new Clean Hydrogen Hub at SFU’s Burnaby campus. This project will also receive $1 million from the Province of B.C.’s Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy, nearly $2.4 million from SFU, $1 million from the City of Burnaby, as well as several other partners. The Hub, which will use B.C.-developed electrolyzer technology to produce "green" hydrogen, will be available for companies who want to develop and refine emerging hydrogen-energy technologies. PacifiCan is also investing $425,000 to help SFU to deliver its Lab2Market program through VentureLabs. This pilot offers a suite of programs for graduate students and researchers to develop their entrepreneurship skills and efficient commercialize their innovations. PacificCan

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced an investment of more than $9.5 million through the Healthy Canadians and Communities Fund, as part of a comprehensive approach to Canada's Tobacco Strategy. The Canadian Cancer Society, the University of Toronto and McMaster University will receive funding for four projects that aim to decrease smoking and support healthy living in at risk populations including First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and urban Indigenous newcomers to Canada, racialized communities, Two-Spirit people, queer and trans young adults. PHAC

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster based in Halifax and Innovation UK announced four new projects with a total value of $8 million. These projects include Canadian project leads from: Halifax, Calgary, Mount Pearl, NL,  Waterloo, ON, along with partners from across Canada and in the U.K. The projects include the $2.3-million Node Zero Project, led by Compusuit Limited in Mount Pearl, which aims to develop the first of a global network of next-generation wave-powered, data-collection buoys and marine autonomous systems hubs developed by U.K. and Canadian companies. Another project, the $2.3-million CanUK Vessel-to-Grid Project, led by Halifax-based BlueGrid, is aimed at reducing the cost of electric-first vessels while greening the electrical grid. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) announced an investment of $5 million for SPEC Labs Centre for Advancement of Biomedical Innovation (SPEC Labs). SPEC Labs is a not-for-profit corporation that provides ready-to-use lab facilities and access to world-class equipment and expertise to assist life science companies poised for scaling up and expanding. Through this investment, SPEC Labs will address a critical need for lab space in southern Ontario’s life sciences sector by establishing a new 20,000-square-foot dedicated wet lab that meets the needs of companies specializing in biotechnology, health technology, medical technology, therapeutics, and cell and gene therapies. The new space will provide needed state-of-the-art equipment to support these companies as they advance from an initial incubator or accelerator stage to the next stage of growth where they can conduct clinical trials and initiate sales. FedDev

Opportunities NB is providing $4.9 million to AI and data company Quantiphi Analytics Canada Limited to expand its Fredericton operation centre. Quantiphi, founded in 2013, is a provider of AI-first digital engineering solutions that address critical business challenges for enterprises. Quantiphi is hiring for several roles through a New Brunswick-first recruitment approach and by prioritizing local talent, and is also establishing teams through employee relocation. Opportunities NB is a Crown corporation and the lead economic development agency for the province. Govt. of New Brunswick

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced more than $3.3 million from the Environmental Damages Fund’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund for nine projects in four provinces and territories across Canada that will help to develop knowledge, tools and skills to engage communities in climate action. These projects will help support Canada’s climate goals, including achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Led by eight non-governmental organizations and one university, the projects will focus on community-based climate action to fight climate change at the local level by:

  • engaging more than 95,000 participants, including 65,000 students and educators, in project activities or events related to building capacity for climate action.
  • protecting and maintaining wetlands as natural resources for potential carbon storage, flood attenuation and water storage capacities.
  • providing workshops on various energy efficiency and solar energy options.
  • developing climate change adaptation plans while building community capacity and providing watershed expertise.
  • planting trees, fruit trees, shrubs and wildflowers to attract pollinators while promoting biodiversity.
  • promoting education and awareness of climate change impacts and mitigation practices while considering local and traditional perspectives. ECCC

The Government of Alberta announced a $2.1-million grant over three years to support CIFAR (previously known as the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research). Canada CIFAR AI chairs are recruited from around the world to advance research in a variety of key areas like health, natural language processing, imaging and more. They are based out of one of three national AI institutes, including the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) in Edmonton. Amii is home to 36 Canada CIFAR AI chairs. Govt. of Alberta

The Regina-based Protein Industries Canada global innovation cluster is investing $1.6 million in a new project with Saskatoon-based Blue Sky Hemp Ventures Ltd., Virtex Grain Exchange in Saskatoon and Pittsburgh-based Thar Process to advance Canada’s protein processing technology, create new high-protein ingredients, and support the commercialization of hemp and canola ingredients. Industry partners are investing $4.2 million. Using cutting-edge, sustainable, solvent-free technology, combined with Blue Sky’s “whole plant utilization” model, the partners will produce high-protein canola and hemp ingredients for applications in food products that are expected to have a negative carbon footprint. It's anticipated these developments will open new markets for sustainable baking products, plant-based dairy and meat alternatives. Protein Industries Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is providing $1.4 million to MYCOVACC (Canadian Cardiovascular Society National Active Surveillance Study of MYocarditis and/or Pericarditis following mRNA COVID-19 VACCination) for its third year, bringing the total investment to $5 million. Research began during the global pandemic in 2022 amid reports of rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart muscle) following mRNA vaccines and COVID-19 infection. At the time, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) mobilized its network of 2,300 members, as well as cardiac care centres and partner organizations across the country, to study the issue in adults and children. The funding will support:

  • continued recruitment and detailed follow-up of patients during the third year of the study.
  • further cardiac imaging and comparisons of vaccine and COVID-19 outcomes. 
  • development of tools to improve reporting of adverse events following vaccination.
  • delivery of the latest knowledge into the hands of clinicians, policymakers, and the public. CCS

RESEARCH, TECH NEWS & COLLABORATIONS

 Canada has no universities ranked in the top 20 in the QS Quacquarelli Symonds 21st edition of the QS World University Rankings of 1,503 institutions around the world. Four Canadian institutions appeared in the global top 100: University of Toronto (#25); McGill University (#29), University of British Columbia (#38); and the University of Alberta (#96). U of T was also noted for having the world’s leading score in the measure of sustainability. UBC ranked #4 on this indicator, while Western University was #10. The global top three universities are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, and University of Oxford. Two-thirds of the U.S.’s 197 ranked universities have dropped in ranking in the last year, and more than half of the U.K.’s universities have dropped in ranking. Eight of Australia’s highest-ranked universities improved their position this year, and three Australian institutions are among the global top 20. Among China’s five top-100 universities, four rose in ranking. QS Quacquarelli Symonds

Pfizer is investing $4.9 million in a McMaster University-led study, through the Ontario Clinical Oncology Group, aimed at improving care for Canadians living with multiple myeloma, a life-threatening blood cancer. The EMBRACE study, being led by Dr. Hira Mian, assistant professor in the Department of Oncology at McMaster University and a hematologic oncologist at Hamilton Health Sciences, will study how adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma can safely receive treatment and care at home, to improve patient care and reduce pressure on Canada's health systems. EMBRACE will launch in July 2024 at five sites across Canada: Ottawa Hospital; Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton; Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute in Calgary, ; BC Cancer Vancouver; and Hamilton Health Sciences. Pfizer Canada

RBC launched The Growth Project, a multi-part initiative focused on Canada’s economic growth trajectory. The initiative will offer key insights into productivity, AI, the agriculture sector, immigration, trade and skills development, and will propose actionable strategies that can help solve Canada's growth problems. RBC Economics & Thought Leadership launched the inaugural Growth Project research report titled “Canada's Growth Challenge: Why the economy is stuck in neutral.” The report explores the conditions that have led to Canadians working more, but producing less and explains why our collective productivity is our country's most pressing economic challenge. In addition, RBC Foundation is making a total of $2 million in donations to five Colleges in Atlantic Canada to support green skills education and training across the region. The College of the North Atlantic and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick will apply the donations to develop electric vehicle education and applied skills training programs. The Nova Scotia Community College and New Brunswick Community College Foundations will use the donations to support wind and solar technician training programs. In Prince Edward Island, a donation to Holland College Foundation will help fund a four-year green retrofit project, to transform an existing campus residential property into a model of energy efficiency and sustainability. RBC

MaRS Discovery District innovation hub made reductions to its staff as the Toronto innovation hub looks to get back to its “original vision,” BetaKit reported. Alison Nankivell, who became CEO of MaRS in March, confirmed the layoffs, stating the hub is examining how its spaces, programs and community can “propel Canadian innovation in a shifting global context.” MaRS’ path forward “necessitates changes towards a more agile and lean organizational structure that reduces hierarchy and [leadership] roles in favour of a reallocation of resources to support programming that more effectively supports founders, fosters even greater ecosystem collaboration, and ultimately increases our impact,” Nankivell said. MaRS’ chief delivery officer Krista Jones will be leaving her role after more than 15 year at the hub. BetaKit

CQDM, in collaboration with Axelys, Montréal InVivo and RNA Québec announced AReNA, the new Quebec’s RNA Hu. The initiative brings together key players in life sciences and aims to propel Quebec to the forefront of innovation in the field of RNA therapies, by showcasing all stakeholders in Quebec’s RNA therapy sector at the provincial, national and international levels. AReNA is one of the five key initiatives of the RNA therapy mobilization project announced April 30 by the Quebec government. AReNA will establish a website offering a comprehensive overview of the RNA therapy sector in Quebec. AReNA will also offer a series of events to foster partnerships between industry and academia, both locally and internationally. AReNA

CQDM, in collaboration with Axelys, Fonds de recherche du Québec, Génome Québec, and Médicament Québec, announced the launch of the CELLULE, a new model to support and finance the development of promising technologies based on the use of RNA. The CELLULE is one of five initiatives included in the mobilization project on RNA,  announced April 30 and supported by funding of $20.3 million from the Government of Quebec. The CELLULE is a collective of government funding partners who will work closely together to identify, fund, monitor and support the development of the most promising technologies in select industrial themes, aiming to drive commercial advancements in Quebec across RNA-related fields. Leveraging a world-class industrial advisory committee, the CELLULE will launch several calls for solutions over a three-year period, inviting Quebec’s academic and industrial community to propose technological innovations that address the most pressing industrial and societal needs. Selected projects that demonstrate their commercial value could receive ongoing funding until they reach the market. The CELLULE aims to support at least 15 to 20 projects over three years with investments that could total up to $42 million. AReNA

Vancouver-based Optimi Health Corp. announced it was awarded a Drug Establishment Licence from Health Canada for the manufacturing and sale of the company’s MDMA and psilocybin capsules. The designation affirms a compliant rating for Good Manufacturing Practices, enabling Optimi Health to supply MDMA and psilocybin capsules to patients with PTSD and Treatment-Resistant Depression under Australia’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme, and to other regulated jurisdictions globally pending export documentation from Health Canada. The company said it will now prioritize the registration of both drugs with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Optimi

Brampton, Ont.-based MDA Space Ltd. announced it was awarded a contract by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to support the development, construction and integration of radio telescope technology for the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), an international space exploration and astronomy project that seeks to further our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe. The SKAO is the most ambitious ground-based astronomy project ever undertaken, bringing together countries to build and operate two telescopes for the global scientific community. The SKAO telescopes are made up of arrays of antennas, including hundreds of mid- to high-frequency antennas in South Africa and over 100,000 low-frequency antennas in Australia. As part of its contract with the NRC, MDA Space will develop the project’s Correlator Beamformer for the SKA-Mid telescope in South Africa, a powerful data-processing engine that will collect and process the large volumes of cosmic signals received by the telescopes. MDA Space

SaskPower announced it has narrowed the search for a potential site for its first small modular reactor (SMR) down to two potential sites near the City of Estevan in southeast Saskatchewan – one at Boundary Dam and the other on the Rafferty Reservoir. After more detailed investigation, final site selection will be made in early 2025, with a final investment decision planned for 2029 and construction started in 2030. Once a decision to proceed has been approved, SaskPower intends to build the first 315-megawatt reactor by 2034, with another to potentially follow shortly afterward at the same facility. SaskPower has been engaging with Rightsholder, municipal leaders and community members in the Estevan and Elbow regions for some time. In December 2023, SaskPower started discussions with landowners to secure land options on two quarter-sections of land (320 acres) to host a facility that could house up to two GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 reactors, as well as the cooling water infrastructure. ReNew Canada

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) and Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework for collaboration regarding the applications of microreactors in the MLTC's First Nation communities. In November 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan announced $80 million in funding for SRC to pursue licensing and commercial deployment of a microreactor. SRC will apply the research and knowledge gained from the operation of that microreactor to help pave the way for future microreactor projects. Nuclear-powered microreactors are 100 to 1,000 times smaller than conventional reactors and also smaller than small modular reactors. A typical size for a microreactor is one to 10 megawatts; they usually generate less than 50 MW. Govt. of Saskatchewan

TD Bank Group is using artificial intelligence applications to provide mortgage approvals and term life insurance application approvals. In August 2023, TD introduced a new AI model to provide faster credit decisions on some mortgage pre-approval applications. The model assesses mortgage and home equity line of credit pre-approval applications and can provide pre-approvals for some applications to customers often seconds after they're submitted. In March 2023, TD Insurance launched a machine learning model that reviews and approves some eligible term life insurance applications seconds after they're submitted. TD

The Onimiskiw Opitciwan Limited Partnership has selected consulting engineering firm Stantec to design a biomass cogeneration plant for the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan in the Mauricie region of Quebec. The facility will be the first biomass cogeneration plant in Quebec to use organic Rankine cycle technology, which produces electricity from residual heat sources. The project aims to accelerate the energy transition for First Nations in Quebec and promote social and economic development. Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Government of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to express Saskatchewan's “profound alarm” over the federal omnibus Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023 (Bill C-59). New amendments to the federal Competition Act will enable environmental activists to “complaint swarm” and bring applications before the Competition Tribunal, which could result in maximum fines to companies between $10 million and $15 million (or three per cent of their annual gross revenues), simply for advertising their sustainability records or defending the energy sector, Eyre maintained. “The federal government has taken Charlie Angus’ private member's bill, The Fossil Fuels Advertising Act, and incorporated it into government legislation. It introduces new liability based on vague, subjective requirements for which a company must carry the full burden of proof.” Bill C-59 was rushed, included no consultation with provinces and, if passed, will have “irreparably harmful consequences on Saskatchewan's businesses and economy,” Eyre said. Bill C-59 completed second reading on June 4 in the Canadian Senate. Govt. of Saskatchewan

The B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) launched Canada’s first call for innovation focused on wildfire technologies. Up to $3 million in non-dilutive investment will be awarded to innovators across B.C. that are commercializing technology in the following areas to advance wildfire management solutions at scale: 

  • Prevention solutions: Predictive modelling tools, proactive land management practices, and fire-resistant materials.
  • Mitigation technologies: Early wildfire detection systems, communication and information technologies, firefighting technologies, spread-halting, sustainable fire retardants, and the development of specialized equipment. 
  • Adaptation innovations: Solutions to increase forest and community resiliency, post-fire recovery, and business model innovations to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into land/vegetation management practices.

Applications for the wildfire technology innovation call will be accepted to August 7, 2024 (5 p.m. PT). CICE will prioritize solutions that have significant co-benefits such as integrating carbon sequestration and removal initiatives, promoting ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation, empowering Indigenous fire stewardship practices, and enhancing community resilience and socio-economic benefits through wildfire management efforts. For inquiries related to the call for wildfire technology innovation, download the Wildfire Tech Applicant Guide. CICE

The Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) launched eight new science and technology challenges to improve public safety and security abilities in Canada. Solutions submitted for the 2024 CSSP Call for Proposals must address the following challenge areas:

Prospective partners from government, academia and industry are invited to apply. CSSP invites potential applicants to discuss the challenges and match with partners on its GC Collab message boards (to request permission to access this platform, follow the instructions in the user guide). These message boards are optional. To apply for the CSSP Call for Proposals, visit CanadaBuys. CCSP

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) issued a call for proposals on space low Earth orbit architecture. In recent years, large constellations of commercial satellites at low Earth orbit (LEO) have shown that they can process a high volume of data with minimal delay, known as high throughput, low latency communications, to users across the world, including Canada’s Arctic. DRDC’s space LEO architecture initiative seeks to exploit these technological advances, undertaking research, development and analysis into the key technologies required to build a network of space assets which will connect different types of on-orbit capability, such as remote sensing, imaging and data processing. The goal is a resilient, flexible, scalable and secure space-based information ecosystem that can fulfil a wide variety of possible future mission requirements. Canadian industry is invited to apply, by July 10, to DRDC’s call for proposals on space LEO architecture on CanadaBuys. DRDC

Accelerate, Canada’s ZEV (zero-emission vehicles) vehicle supply chain industrial alliance, is launching a national consultation aimed at identifying actions to catalyze growth in each segment of Canada’s ZEV industry, offer long-term value to North America and, ultimately, see more of Canada adopt ZEVs. Over the next several weeks, Accelerate is inviting input from key stakeholders to help create a national approach that positions zero-emission vehicles as a champion industry for Canada and aligned with broader North American economic and geopolitical objectives. The consultation will focus on several key areas:

  • Sustainable development of critical mineral assets and a robust mid-stream sector.
  • The transition and growth of components and parts manufacturing sectors.
  • Commercialization of innovative Canadian technologies.
  • Strengthening Canada’s value proposition within North America.
  • Integration and coordination within the ZEV supply chain.

All parties interested in submitting are encouraged to provide comments and suggestions by July 17, 2024. Accelerate

The Digital Research Alliance of Canada (the Alliance) launched the DRI EDIA Champions pilot program call for proposals, a $3.15-million funding opportunity to support a new equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) initiative. This project is part of the Alliance’s 2023-25 digital research infrastructure (DRI) investments, with the goal of increasing awareness and uptake of the Alliance’s DRI by equity-seeking groups. This competition is open to graduate or post-graduate researchers who:

  • Are affiliated with an eligible Canadian institution.
  • Self-identify as a member of an equity-seeking group and/or have relevant expertise in EDIA with a strategy to reach out to an equity-seeking group.
  • Will propose a project to promote the awareness and uptake of Alliance DRI to an equity-seeking audience.

Successful applicants will receive up to $35,000 in funding. The deadline to submit applications is July 17, 2024, 5 p.m. ET. To register for information sessions on June 27, click here. Digital Research Alliance of Canada

A group of 11 current and former employees of OpenAI allege there is a culture of recklessness and secrecy at the San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company, which is racing to build the most powerful AI systems ever created. Members of the group say OpenAI, which started as a nonprofit research lab and burst into public view with the 2022 release of ChatGPT, is putting a priority on profits and growth as it tries to build artificial general intelligence. They also claim OpenAI has used hardball tactics to prevent workers from voicing their concerns about the technology, including restrictive non-disparagement agreements that departing employees were asked to sign. The group published an open letter calling for leading AI companies, including OpenAI, to establish greater transparency and more protections for whistle-blowers. The letter was endorsed by AI pioneers Yoshua Bengio, scientific director at Mila – Quebec AI Institute, Geoffrey Hinton, professor emeritus of computer science at the University of Toronto, and British computer scientist Stuart Russell, professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. The New York Times

VC, PRIVATE INVESTMENT & ACQUISITIONS

Cisco Investments, the global corporate venture investment arm of San Francisco-based Cisco, launched a US$1-billion AI investment fund to bolster the startup ecosystem and expand the development of secure and reliable AI solutions. As part of the new AI fund, Cisco is making strategic investments in Toronto- and San Francisco-headquartered Cohere, Mistral AI headquartered in Paris, and San Franciso-based Scale AI, to advance customers’ AI readiness and complement Cisco’s AI innovation strategy. Cisco has already committed nearly $200 million of the $1-billion investment fund to date. Cisco

Toronto-based artificial intelligence company Cohere secured US$450 million and launched a program to support AI adoption by early-stage companies. According to Reuters, the financing included returning investors such as Nvidia, and Salesforce Ventures, as well as new investors including Cisco and Canadian pension fund PSP Investments. Cohere builds large language models for AI systems for businesses. As part of its Cohere Startup Program, the company plans to give eligible businesses access to all of its frontier AI models at a 25-per-cent discount for a year, provide support from the company’s technical experts to help develop ideas and solve problems., and showcase participating startups. Cohere

Toronto-headquartered McRock Capital announced the first closing of McRock Fund III with US$81 million in commitments. McRock Fund III investors include longtime partners Export Development Canada, BDC Capital, Alberta Enterprise Corporation, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Aspen Technology, Inc., plus newcomers Venture Ontario, Bell Ventures and CIBC Innovation Banking. Fund III will focus on industrial software, McRock said. McRock Capital

Kitchener-Waterloo-based agtech startup IntelliCulture, an equipment management software for specialty crops, secured $3.5 million in funding for accelerating its scaling in the market. The round was led by Serra Ventures and backed by Emmertech and Tall Grass Ventures. IntelliCulture said the investment will primarily be allocated towards growing the company’s team as expansions continue both within North America and internationally. In addition, continued R&D will drive further product evolution for areas of new development, accelerating critical product milestones on the company’s roadmap. Tim Hoerr, CEO of Serra, joins the board of IntelliCulture as part of the transaction. IntelliCulture

Mesoil, a nanotechnology startup spun out of the University of Toronto, secured $2.2. million seed funding to ramp up its production and fuel its commercialization plans. The equity seed round closed was led by GreenSky with support from fellow new investors Greyhill Ventures, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, and existing backers Archangel Network, NorthSpring Capital Partners, and undisclosed angels. Mesosil is developing nanometre-scale, silica-based additives designed to prevent infection and disease at the tissue-biomaterial level and extend the lifespan of dental and medical devices like dental fillings and hip implants. After years of R&D, Mesosil has finalized its flagship material and said it is ready to scale up production to meet customer demand in the dentistry space. BetaKit

REPORTS & POLICIES

Solutions available to fix Canada’s declining economic growth and productivity: RBC report

Canada has fallen behind most major economies since 2000 but governments, businesses, unions and industry groups can take actions to increase growth and productivity, according to a report by RBC Economics and Thought Leadership.

At the turn of the century, the economic output of the average Canadian was on par with Australia. Today, Australians are almost 10 per cent more productive, while their economy has grown 50 per cent per person faster than Canada’s over the quarter century, the report says.

Canada is 30 per cent less productive than the U.S., and closer to lower-income states like Alabama in terms of economic performance than tech-rich California or New York.

Canada has fallen from the 6th most productive economy in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1970 to the 18th as of 2022.

The productivity gap with the U.S. stands at about $20,000 per person a year, putting Canadians’ wages roughly eight per cent below their U.S. counterparts, according to the report.

The gap has been even more taxing for capital. Anyone who invested $1,000 in Canada’s main stock index in 2000 would have $4,400 today. The same investment in the U.S. S&P 500 index would be worth $6,000 – a more than 35-per-cent difference.

Canada’s relatively low productivity – the amount of production and income generated per hour worked in the economy – has been held back by a shortfall in investment, especially outside of real estate, construction and public services like hospitals, the report says.

“As a result, we’ve not been able to capitalize on the immigration boom that has added seven million people – most of them working-age and well-educated – since the turn of the century, and that offset the retirement wave of baby boomers.”

The deindustrialization of many parts of Canada has cut into the country’s overall prosperity, the report says. Manufacturing is half what it was to the economy in 2000, while mining has also shrunk. Oil and natural gas investment levels remain far below what they were a decade ago.

Administrative burdens across multiple levels of government have created inefficiencies and increased internal trade barriers, according to the report. Infrastructure chokepoints and red tape make international trade more difficult than it should be.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that internal trade barriers (for example, regulatory differences across regions, paperwork requirements for businesses in multiple jurisdictions, and certification differences that limit labour mobility) cost the equivalent of a 20 per cent average tariff between provinces. By comparison, the effective tariff rate collected on international imports from abroad in Canada is less than one per cent.

In 2020, Canada ranked 188th out of 208 economies tracked by the World Bank on the number of days businesses spent dealing with construction permits for new projects. That is three times longer than time spent in the U.S.

Canada’s turnaround times at ports are among the longest in the world, with a median of two and a half days, ranking 103rd out of 113 countries tracked by the World Bank in 2023. Canada also ranks poorly on “ease of exporting” in global rankings by the World Bank, largely due to high documentation and paperwork costs.

Even the mobility of skilled workers – hard enough given Canada’s geographic expanse – can be limited by the way provinces, industries and professional groups try to control labour supplies, the report says. “Those issues all contribute to lower Canadian business investment and with that, lower growth.”

Canadian businesses invest substantially less than in the U.S. – about half as much per worker in aggregate. For example, businesses have invested a substantially smaller share of GDP in the manufacturing sector in Canada than in the U.S. over the last decade.

The contribution to productivity growth from capital investment in Canada since the 2008-09 financial crisis has been less than half the average over the decade before.

“The issue does not appear to be a lack of available funding. Central banks have pushed interest rates higher, but businesses are still sitting on a large cash stockpile worth almost a third of GDP.”

Moreover, the report says, in recent economic cycles, a growing share of savings and investment has flowed to real estate and construction which, while needed and beneficial for many reasons, are both relatively inefficient and can hold back the overall productive growth of an economy. Such investment doesn’t do as much for economy growth as investing in machinery and intellectual property.

Investment in residential structures accounts for twice the share of GDP in Canada (six per cent) than in the U.S. (three per cent). Businesses in Canada invest more in nonresidential structures and less in intellectual property products.

Canada invests about 40 per cent less than the U.S. (as a share of GDP) in intellectual property products (IPP) overall – with a larger weighting towards mining exploration activity. Canada's manufacturing sector invests  just a quarter of what the U.S. invests in IPP relative to the industry’s GDP footprint.

Canada’s small businesses, which account for 98 per cent of total businesses, historically have been less productive. “Many policies have favoured small businesses over growth companies and large enterprises, which, in turn, limits our overall productivity growth.”

Agriculture is where Canada shines in terms of technological innovation, the report says. “No industry in Canada has seen more disruptive technological advancement over the last century (or two) than food production.”

Those advances have led to massive productivity gains – even in recent decades. Agricultural production per farm acre in 2016 was three and a half times the level in 1941. Per-worker production gains have been even stronger. Output per agricultural worker is about 12 times what it was in 1941.

Other sectors, however, have become less productive. Canada’s large public sector education and health care industries are less productive than in the U.S. by 70 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively. They account for one-fifth of the total economy productivity gap despite only accounting for 14 per cent of the economy.

The share of the Canadian workforce with completed post-secondary education has increased from 41 per cent in 1990 to 70 per cent in 2023, but growth in measured productivity from labour composition (skill upgrading as measured by increases in the experience and education composition of the workforce) has been running at about half its pace in the 1990s.

Canadian corporate tax rates are still comparable to other advanced economies. But taking into account the tax on company dividends at the personal income tax level, the total tax on distributed profits from Canadian companies is the highest in the G7, according to the OECD.

At the same time, while foreign direct investment in Canada has remained firm, investment by Canadians abroad has grown substantially, leading to a large net outflow of investment.

The investments abroad are valuable. Canada’s stock of net assets held abroad has increased to about $1.7 trillion (57 per cent of GDP) – but they are adding to productivity growth outside of Canada, rather than within.

The solutions to these challenges are clear and attainable and don’t require many trade-offs, the report says. The most compelling options for governments, businesses, union and industry groups include:

  • Cutting red tape and reducing internal trade barriers. This doesn’t have to mean lowering standards but rather improving consistency and rules across jurisdictions to make project approval times and costs more predictable.
  • Better utilization of immigrant skills. All population and workforce growth is going to come from immigration, and we need a better system to match education and skills with jobs.
  • Improving tax competitiveness. Canada’s tax competitiveness has been slipping. Our level of taxation overall is lower than other more productive economies, but broader reforms to reduce complexity and the cost of tax compliance could help to attract more investment.
  • Adopting new technologies. “Smarter” investments like artificial intelligence can help but adoption rates are low in Canada. Making it easier to invest in new technologies is critical to maintaining global competitiveness.
  • Capitalizing on a highly educated workforce. Canada’s highly educated workforce is uniquely positioned to benefit from a global shift to a more services-based economy. Canada needs to ensure investments in education are generating a return.

Canada’s productivity problems could take years, if not decades, to fix, the report says. “But if action isn’t taken to address why people are working more and producing less – resulting in lower wages – then the growing discontent among workers and businesses could set the economy back even further than where we are today.” RBC

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Canada lacks capacity and tools to protect Canadians from cyberattacks: Auditor General’s report

Canada’s federal police force, security and safety agencies, and communications regulatory organizations lack the capacity and tools to effectively protect Canadians from cyberattacks, according to a report by the Auditor General of Canada.

Overall, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Communications Security Establishment Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) did not have the capacity and tools to effectively enforce laws intended to protect Canadians from cyberattacks and address the growing volume and sophistication of cybercrime, the report says.

“We found breakdowns in response, coordination, enforcement, tracking, and analysis between and across the organizations responsible for protecting Canadians from cybercrime.”

In 2022, victims of fraud reported financial losses totalling $531 million to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, according to the report. Three quarters of these reports were cybercrime related.

The centre estimates that only 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cybercrimes are reported. “Without prompt action, financial and personal information losses will only grow as the volume of cybercrime and attacks continues to increase.”

While the RCMP, Communications Security Establishment Canada, and Public Safety Canada have discussed implementing a single point for Canadians to report cybercrime, this has yet to be implemented, the report notes.  “Under the current system, people are left to figure out where to make a report or may be asked to report the same incident to another organization."

For example, between 2021 and 2023, Communications Security Establishment Canada deemed that almost half of the 10,850 reports it received were out of its mandate because they related to individual Canadians and not to organizations. However, it did not respond to many of these individuals to inform them to report their situation to another authority.

“In general, we found that Canada’s cybersecurity workforce needed to be strengthened across organizations,” the report says.

For example, the RCMP has struggled to staff its cybercrime investigative teams. As of January 2024, the Auditor General’s Office estimated that almost one-third of positions across all teams were vacant. “In our view, having a plan to reduce human resource gaps across all responsible organizations is an important component of an updated National Cyber Security Strategy.”

The RCMP has also experienced delays in deploying its National Cybercrime Solution, an information technology system meant to make it easier for victims to report cybercrimes, provide a shared cybercrime database for Canadian law enforcement agencies, and allow cross-referencing of domestic and international malware samples.

The report’s key facts and findings included:

  • The RCMP, through its National Cybercrime Coordination Centre, established partnerships with Canadian and international law enforcement to understand the needs of these agencies and coordinate efforts. However, it did not always forward to domestic police agencies requests for information it received from international partners.
  • The RCMP and Communications Security Establishment Canada were often well coordinated in their responses to potential high-priority cases, such as attacks on Government of Canada systems or critical infrastructure.
  • In a report involving an offer to sell child sexual exploitation material, the CRTC did not refer the matter to law enforcement but rather told the complainant to contact law enforcement directly.
  • In one instance, to avoid being served with a search warrant by a law enforcement agency, the CRTC deleted evidence and returned electronic devices on an accelerated time frame to a person being investigated for violating the anti‑spam legislation.
  • The National Cyber Security Strategy developed by Public Safety Canada had critical gaps, such as the absence of the CRTC as a key player despite its mandate to enforce Canada’s anti-spam legislation, which is directly linked to cybercrime.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • The RCMP’s National Cybercrime Coordination Centre should establish procedures to identify the most urgent victim notifications and ensure that they are sent first. The centre should set formal expectations for how fast victim notifications are sent, measure against these standards, and ensure they are met.
  • Public Safety Canada, the RCMP, Communications Security Establishment Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission should work together to ensure that cybercrimes reported by Canadians and Canadian businesses are routed to the organization with the mandate to address them.

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, who provided Ottawa’s response to the Auditor General’s report, said the government agrees with the recommendations.

The government in 2020 provided the RCMP with approximately $137.5 million to establish the National Cybercrime Coordination Centre to work with domestic and international law enforcement and other partners to investigate and combat cybercrime, LeBlanc said.

The RCMP has also invested an additional $78.9 million to increase its federal policing capacity, including establishing specialist cybercrime teams across the country, he noted.

Bill C-26An Act Respecting Cyber Security, is currently making its way through Parliament, LeBlanc said. “Its provisions will give the Government of Canada additional tools to protect Canada’s critical infrastructure systems from cyberthreats.”

In the coming months, he said, the government will launch Canada’s new National Cyber Security Strategy. “This strategy will outline a strengthened, whole-of-society approach to protecting Canada’s economic interests from cyber threats.” Auditor General of Canada

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New federal “blue economy regulatory roadmap” aims to protect Canada’s ocean waters while developing economic opportunities

The federal government has released a “blue economy regulatory roadmap” aimed at addressing regulatory and operational challenges and exploring innovative approaches to opportunities within the blue economy.

The roadmap was developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in partnership with Transport Canada, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the National Research Council.

This roadmap, a key outcome of the government’s Blue Economy Regulatory Review, outlines initiatives that departments and agencies are committing to undertake to enhance the ability of communities and businesses that rely on the ocean economy to grow responsibly, resulting in benefits for all Canadians.

The minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is leading the development of a Blue Economy Strategy, aimed at positioning Canada to seize emerging, sustainable and inclusive economic growth opportunities while helping to regenerate ocean health and build resilience in Canada’s coastal and rural communities. 

Ottawa in 2022 released a document, What We Heard: Engaging on Canada's Blue Economy Strategy, summarizing the feedback received during the engagement process with partners and key stakeholders, who expressed the need for regulatory changes and modernization.

According to the blue economy regulatory roadmap, a range of initiatives are being advanced under these thematic areas:

The federal government is proactively developing the legislative and regulatory framework to enable the development and growth of marine renewable energy in the offshore, including harnessing energy from tides, ocean waves and offshore winds.

On May 30, 2023, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources introduced Bill C-49, an Act to amend the Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act (Accord Acts), expanding the mandate of the existing Offshore Petroleum Boards to include offshore renewables.

Bill C-49, which is currently being considered in the House of Commons, aims to establish a new regulatory regime specifically for renewable energy projects offshore Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

MSP is an internationally recognized process underway in over 100 countries to address increasing demands on ocean space and multiple pressures on marine and coastal resources. Countries across North and Central America, Europe, Oceania, Asia and Africa are advancing ocean management using MSP as a collaborative and transparent approach to address blue economy opportunities alongside the need to protect marine ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them. MSP takes into consideration all activities and partners in an area to help make practical and informed decisions about the management of our oceans, by looking at an ecosystem as a whole.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) MASS is defined as “a ship that, to a varying degree, can operate independent of human interaction.” While still in the development phase, the operations of MASS for large international commercial vessels fall under the regulatory purview of the IMO.

MASS, as well as the interrelated themes of connectivity, automation, digitalization, robotics and big data, will fundamentally reshape the marine sector – both domestically and internationally, the regulatory roadmap says.

“Increased automation of ship controls, navigation functions and operations represent an important opportunity to enhance Canada’s global competitiveness and the efficiency and reliability of our trade corridors, strengthen maritime safety and security, and contribute to economic  growth opportunities for Canadians.”

Internationally, Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of this emerging technology, the roadmap says. Canada already possesses a highly educated maritime and IT workforce that has extensive experience developing automated technologies for the automotive and remotely piloted aircraft industries.

This MASS-enabled shift is expected to result in the creation of higher-skilled jobs, especially within the domains of computer science, artificial intelligence, and aerospace infrastructure (e.g., satellite communications and earth observation), the roadmap says.

Transport Canada (TC) is undertaking MASS-related research, development and demonstration projects in collaboration with industry, academia, and other federal departments. For example, TC is currently working with the National Research Council (NRC) Ocean Coastal River Engineering on a MASS research project to assess the potential risks of MASS operations in ice-infested waters. 

NRC’s Ocean Program has invested $4.55 million in collaborative research projects with academia and non-profit organizations with the goal of developing commercial technologies for uptake by industry in the areas of environmental prediction, system performance of marine assets, and autonomous operations in harsh environments.

Under the Innovation Solutions Canada program, the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as the NRC, are testing and evaluating MASS technologies from Canadian SMEs.

The NRC, with support from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, is leveraging existing infrastructure, namely ocean-focused test sites, to support industry in testing and validating ocean technologies in a real-world environment.

NRC’s Ocean program is investing approximately $10 million (2021-2027) in collaborative research projects to support ocean focused test sites and technological innovation. The NRC will launch up to six projects to support the development of ocean technology.

The projects include efforts on coastal resilience through nature-based defenses, flood mapping technologies, micro and nano-plastics, “zero-waste” fish harvesting and fish farming, seaweed aquaculture, and the use of MASS to advance marine decarbonization.

“Ghost gear” (abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear) makes up as much as 70 per cent of the weight of floating macro-plastics in the five major ocean gyres. Ghost gear is estimated to deplete five per cent to 30 per cent of harvestable fish stocks in some areas, jeopardizing food security and livelihoods, and harming millions of marine animals every year, including species at risk.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), leveraging four years of data from Canada’s Ghost Gear Program and the Ghost Gear Fund, is working to enhance regulations and policies addressing abandoned gear, ensuring they are as efficient and effective as possible.

DFO will enhance the Ghost Gear Program through improvements to data collection, lost and retrieved gear reporting systems, a regulatory review, promotion of sustainable gear and best practices, and identification of responsible disposal and recycling options for end-of-life fishing gear. These are just some of the actions to be included in the development of the Canadian National Action Plan for Ghost Gear, anticipated in 2027.

Fishing gear entanglement also threatens Canadian whale species, including the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, with just 360 individuals left. DFO is facilitating testing and adoption of whalesafe fishing gear in Canadian commercial fisheries, including innovative on-demand gear technology to prevent entanglements, as well as low-breaking-strength gear modifications to minimize harm in the event of entanglements.

The Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund (launched in August 2021, allocated nearly $20 million over two years to projects in Eastern Canada. Its purpose was to facilitate the transition to whalesafe gear, encompassing initiatives such as gear trials and manufacturing innovation.

Starting in 2024, DFO is supporting voluntary adoption of lower breaking-strength gear in certain fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. DFO also will launch the development of a Whalesafe Gear Strategy for Canada, with external engaging and finalization in 2024. Fisheries and Oceans

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) government appointed former Alberta premier Alison Redford,  who's also a former executive director of the UCP caucus, to the board of directors of Invest Alberta Corporation, a provincial Crown corporation that promotes the province as an investment destination. Redford’s term is set to expire January 30, 2027, and comes with a $10,000 annual retainer and $300 compensation for each meeting attended, as well as provisions for travel and meal expenses. Redford, 59, won the Progressive Conservative leadership race of 2011 to succeed the outgoing Ed Stelmach as premier and served in the role until 2014 after defeating Danielle Smith and her Wildrose Party in the 2012 election. Redford resigned as premier in March of 2014 following scandals involving the improper use of government aircraft, travel and staff expenses, and plans to construct the so-called “sky palace” atop the structure now named the QEII building. Edmonton Journal

Invest Ottawa announced that Sonya Shorey will become president and CEO on a fulltime basis. She has served as Invest Ottawa’s interim president and CEO since its former head Michael Tremblay left late last year. Shorey spent more than six years as the organization’s vice-president of strategy, marketing and communications before taking over from Tremblay. After beginning her career as a recruitment manager at Calian, Shorey held senior communications posts at Nortel Networks and CMC Microsystems before starting her own consulting company. She also co-founded SheBoot, a national non-profit entity that helps women founders secure scaleup capital.  Invest Ottawa said it has supported almost 14,000 companies, helped domestic companies raise $1.86 billion in capital, and attracted $1.47 billion in domestic and foreign direct investment to Ottawa since its founding. Ottawa Business Journal

JP Chauvet, former CEO of Lightspeed Commerce, joined Montreal-based venture capital firm Inovia as its newest executive in residence. He plans to help Inovia source and evaluate deals, while supporting the VC firm’s portfolio companies. Chauvet joined Lightspeed in 2012 as employee No. 37, ready to disrupt the point-of-sale systems used by restaurateurs and retailers. He worked closely with Lightspeed Founder Dax Dasilva to modernize an industry that had changed little in decades, building the Montreal company into a global player that went public in 2019. By the time Chauvet left Lightspeed in 2024, the company’s annual recurring revenue was more than US$900 million. Inovia

Vancouver-based investment company Tiny Ltd. announced the appointment of Jordan Taub as CEO, effective immediately. Taub most recently served as CEO of WeCommerce, Tiny's e-commerce software platform, and brings extensive operating experience from his time at Constellation Software. Tiny's founders, Andrew Wilkinson and Chris Sparling, will remain actively engaged with the company as chairs of the board. Taub brings expertise in acquiring, integrating and managing portfolios of companies and investments across diverse verticals. Tiny

Toronto-based fintech Ratehub Inc. announced the appointment of Naga Parvatharajan as the company's new CEO. Ratehub runs Ratehub.ca, a mortgage brokerage and website that compares financial products. Parvatharajan succeeds co-founders Alyssa Furtado and James Laird, who have been at the helm since the company's inception in 2010. While stepping down from their roles as co-CEOs, they will continue to contribute to the company's success, with Laird maintaining his position as the mortgage brokerage's broker of record. Parvatharajan is an experienced operating executive with 20+ years of leadership experience in banking and fintech, including at U.S. firms such as SoFi, Goldman Sachs, Discover, and Capital One. Ratehub

Several leadership changes in the Canadian tech sector occurred during  the last month. They include:

  • Mississauga-based goeasy appointed former​​ Capital One Canada executive Patrick Ens as president of its easyfinancial and easyhome brands, effective July 1.
  • Healwell AI appointed Anthony Lam as its new chief financial officer, replacing Scott Nirenberski, who had held the position since September 2020. Since last year, Healwell, previously known as MCI Onehealth, has undergone a major shift  by ditching its clinical business and narrowing its focus on AI for early disease detection.
  • Ottawa-based healthtech firm TryCycle announced Brett Merriman as its new CEO, replacing founder John MacBeth, who will now focus on customer acquisition.
  • Calgary-based software startup Userful  named Jeff Metcalf as its chief financial officer. Metcalf appears to be replacing Amy Wang, who left the role in February and joined Vancouver-based Procurify as its CFO.
  • Calgary telecom software company Vitruvi Software’s founder and CEO Bryan McIver departed the top job to step into an advisory role for the company.
  • Vancouver-based SaaS company Zafin appointed Michael Nitsopoulos as chief product officer.
  • Industry group Life Sciences Nova Scotia named Doris Grant as its new CEO. With over three decades of experience in academia and the public and private sectors, Grant replaced Sean Awalt, who is stepping away to pursue another opportunity. BetaKit

Fairfax India Holdings Corporation announced that Prem Watsa, chairman of Fairfax India’s board since 2015, is stepping down. Watsa is a billionaire and prominent Canadian investor, whose Toronto-based holding company Fairfax Financial also has other subsidiaries globally. Benjamin (Ben) Watsa, the founder and CEO of Marvel Capital Ltd., will be appointed as board chairman of Fairfax India effective July 1, 2024. Prem Watsa will continue to serve on the board. His role as CEO and chair of Fairfax Financial remains the same. Also, Gopalakrishnan (Gopal) Soundarajan, currently the chief operating officer and a director of Fairfax India, will be appointed CEO of Fairfax India effective July 1, 2024. The current CEO, Chandran Ratnaswami will become executive vice chairman of Fairfax India. Fairfax India

Duncan Munn, president of the C.D. Howe Institute, is retiring effective June 30, 2024. Munn joined the Institute in 2000. After serving as vice-president, development and public affairs, he became senior vice-president and chief operating officer in 2008, and president in 2020. As president, he played a key role in developing the Institute’s talent, managing its finances, and engaging with its stakeholders. To recognize his accomplishments, the Institute will name a roundtable in his honour: the annual Duncan Munn Roundtable will focus on taxation, trade, monetary and financial services policies. Following his retirement, Munn will be senior advisor until year-end. C.D. Howe Institute

George Brown College in Toronto launched a wind turbine technician certificate program to address the growing global need for workers skilled in servicing, diagnosing, repairing and installing wind turbines and related equipment. The 14-modules (courses) program is delivered online and is asynchronous, allowing students to learn at their own pace, equipping them with the skills necessary for working confidently in the wind power industry at all levels. One of the main features of the program is its state-of-the-art 3D interactive wind turbine simulator. This program will meet a growing need for skilled technicians as wind generation and is expected to more than double by 2030. According to Global Wind Energy Council’s Global Wind Report 2023, installed wind generation capacity worldwide has jumped from 8.2 gigawatts in 2002 to 906 GW in 2023. The Council estimates that over half a million new wind technicians will be needed by 2026 to service this new capacity. National wind energy capacity grew by 11.3 per cent across Canada in 2022. George Brown College

Researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) have introduced a pair of high-tech tools that could improve the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles, by enhancing the reasoning ability of their robotic systems. Their innovations address multi-object tracking, a process used by robotic systems to track the position and motion of objects – including vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists – to plan the path of self-driving cars in densely populated areas. In a paper presented at the 2024 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Yokohama, Japan, Sandro Papais, a PhD student in UTIAS in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, co-authors Robert Ren, a third-year engineering science student, and Professor Steven Waslander, director of UTIAS’s Toronto Robotics and AI Laboratory, introduced Sliding Window Tracker (SWTrack) – a graph-based optimization method that uses additional temporal information to prevent missed objects. “SWTrack widens how far into the past a robot considers when planning,” Papais said. “So instead of being limited by what it just saw one frame ago and what is happening now, it can look over the past five seconds and then try to reason through all the different things it has seen.” Another paper, co-authored by master’s student Chang Won (John) Lee and Waslander, introduced UncertaintyTrack, a collection of extensions for 2D tracking-by-detection methods that leverages probabilistic object detection, to quantify the uncertainty estimates of object detection – including in multi-object tracking. U of T

A University of Calgary (UCalgary) project is preparing for a space mission to learn more about a long, glowing ribbon of purple light that sometimes arches across the night sky. Known as STEVE – or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement – the light had been observed and photographed by aurora borealis chasers for decades before being studied by scientists. Researchers have determined it’s not an aurora, but there are still questions about the phenomenon. The project, called Innovative Measurements of Auroral Geophysics for Education and Research (IMAGER), is supported by the Canadian Space Agency. It’s also backed by the Government of Alberta' s Major Innovation Fund, as part of the province's Space-Defence Technologies Alberta project. Dr. Johnathan Burchill, PhD, an adjunct associate professor of physics and manager of research projects in the university's Faculty of Science, plans to fly improved UCalgary mini plasma imagers into the upper atmosphere on two space missions while training science students. The missions include the CalgaryToSpace FrontierSat cubesat and the Swedish SYSTER rocket campaign. The plasma imager, first developed in 2018, will be borne by a nano-satellite (about the size of a loaf of bread). The imager will enable scientists to measure the wind direction and wind speed of the ionized component of STEVE, to get a better idea of the ionosphere inside the structure, what may be causing the large flows, and the link between motion and temperature. UCalgary

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the winners of its first Space Brain Hack, whose theme this year related to the mental health of astronauts. Students in Grades 6 to 12 were asked to provide astronauts with sensory stimulation and a virtual escape from their work and stressful environment, and to help them maintain connection with family, friends and their home planet. Grand Prize winners are:

  • Bhavishyaa, a student from Oakville, Ont., for “PeaceMaker,” a proposed virtual reality headset that includes stereo sound, detection gloves and preprogrammed places on Earth that the astronaut is fond of. The headset would also use brain wave analysis to monitor the astronaut's emotions and automatically change the setting to relax their mind if required. (Grades 6 to 8 category)
  • Maya from Calgary, for “Cosmic Companions: Digital Pets in Space,” proposed digital pets that would be an AI assistant for the astronauts and enable them to access multimedia content that’s unique to their preferences.
    (Grades 9 to 12 category)

“Comical mission,” by Lea, Lily and their colleagues at Bibliothèque Georges-Brossard/Maison des jeunes de Saint-Bruno, in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, won second place in the Grades 6 to 8 category. Third place went to Telepresence Robot, by Areeb, a Grade 7 student in Ottawa. Nose-taligia,” by Grade 9 student Sadie in Stittsville, Ont., won second place in the Grades 9 to 12 category. Third place went to “Virtual Reality: Our Solution to Improving Mental Health of Astronauts,” by home-schooled Karen in Calgary. The top three winners for each category will be invited to take part in a virtual working session with CSA experts, during which they will present their solution to the experts and the other winners and receive feedback about their idea. Bhavishyaa and Maya win a virtual visit from a CSA expert or an astronaut. CSA

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