The Short Report - June 23, 2021: Construction finishes on Biologic's vaccine plant, a new interdisciplinary school of health at Concordia, quantum research funding in Quebec and more

Cindy Graham
June 23, 2021


The Government of Canada will invest nearly $29 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund towards Medicom's (Montreal) new $39-million personal protective equipment (PPE) R&D manufacturing plant, ending a domestic manufacturing gap in end-to-end PPE supply chain in Canada. – Medicom

The National Research Council has completed construction of the new $126-million Biologics Manufacturing Centre on its Royalmount site in Montreal. The site features end-to-end manufacturing capability and will have a production capacity of approximately 24 million doses of vaccine per year, depending on requirements. – GoC 

McGill University teams have been awarded funding totalling $1 million from Genome Quebec's Genomic Integration program, which requires applicants to have a non-academic external partner. The projects, principal leads and partners awarded are: developing software to screen antibiotics (Maureen McKeague; Molecular Forecaster, Montreal); characterizing antibodies through open science (Peter McPherson; YCharOS Inc.,Toronto); measuring metabolites in cancer cells (Peter Siegel; Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, California); using whole genome sequencing to measure exposure to foodborne pathogens (Paul J. Thomassin, Public Health Agency of Canada); and building software to support targeting ribonucleic acids for drug development (Jérôme Waldispühl, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Toronto). – McGill 


The SCALE AI supercluster (Montreal) is investing nearly $35 million in four new projects that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve supply and processing operations of tissue and towel products in North America (Kruger Products, Sherbrooke, $25.5 million); tailor product lines to community needs and preferences (Canadian Tire; $5 million); optimize transportation routes for water treatment solutions (Kemira Chemicals, $2.3 million) and optimize patient care between virtual, in-person and specialist visits (MCI Onehealth Technologies, Toronto, $1.8 million). The Scale AI supercluster projects total more than 150 in the past 12 months and represent more than $200 million of investments. – SCALE AI

Related: As federal budget doubles down on AI funding, industry leaders hope for greater push to commercialize

A National Institute of Scientific Research (NISR, Quebec City) team has received a combined investment of $1 million for projects in quantum communication and cryptography to bolster the security of online communication. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is contributing $800,000 to the project while Prompt Quebec and the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec are contributing more than $200,000. NISR is collaborating with OptoElectronic Components (Kirkland, QC) and industry and university teams from the United Kingdom on the project. – INRS

Results Driven Agriculture Research is contributing $750,000 (of which more than $400,000 will come from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership) over the next three years on a collaborative project that will use on-farm data to determine best practices for protecting water habitats from crop protection product use. Partners providing matching funds include Syngenta (Guelph), BASF (Mississauga), Bayer Crop Science – Canada, the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Potato Growers of Alberta, Alberta Sugar Beet Growers and Alberta Pulse Growers.RDAR

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council are working together to implement the National Inuit Strategy on Research with the goal of promoting equitable research outcomes for Inuit in Canada, improving Inuit governance in research and supporting Inuit research training and capacity. – NSERC 

The Canadian Institute of Health Research has awarded full funding to psychedelic research centre Braxia Scientific (Toronto) to support a ketamine clinical trial for bipolar depression. Dr. Joshua Rosenblat is leading the trial in collaboration with Toronto’s University Health Network.Braxia Scientific

The National Research Council and Corteva Agriscience (Delaware) are collaborating on a project to develop canola as a protein crop to increase the value of plant-based proteins. The project supports the Protein Industries Canada supercluster co-funded consortium project led by Corteva. – GoC

Concordia University's board of governors have approved the creation of an interdisciplinary school of health that will start operating in Fall 2022. The school will be structured around three hubs across multiple fields: community health, clinical research and prevention, and biomedical science and engineering. – Concordia


Alberta Enterprise has invested $5 million in Montreal VC firm Amplitude’s precision medicine venture fund to support the growth of life science, biopharma and digital health companies in Alberta. Amplitude oversubscribed on its first close at $200 million. – Alberta Enterprise Amplitude

Economic Development Regina and credit union-led incubator Cultivator (Regina) are launching a venture capital-backed agricultural technology (agtech) accelerator for agtech and food technology companies across Canada including those with a focus on data and predictive analytics, supply chain traceability and sustainability, precision agriculture, robotics and automation, farm management software and the Internet of Things, and animal health. – Economic Development Regina

Clinical stage biotechnology company Orion Biotechnology Canada (Ottawa) has raised $11.5 million USD in series A financing in an oversubscribed round led by Keiretsu Forum (San Francisco). Orion is developing a technology for targeting G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), a prominent drug target therapeutic for cancer and other diseases. – Orion 


Dan Herman has been appointed by the Government of Ontario to establish an intellectual property agency to bolster IP ownership in Ontario. Herman was the executive director of innovation policy for the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and led the development of the government's innovation agenda and led the creation of Innovation Canada.Twitter

Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe has been appointed director of the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations, a new research network based at the University of Toronto Mississauga that will focus on accelerating diabetes research and education through interdisciplinary collaboration. The network is a partnership between the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and U of T Mississauga. – U of T

Dr. Soheil Asgarpour and Dr. Sue Molloy have been appointed to the board of directors of the Council of Canadian Academies. Asgarpour is the president of Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada and president-elect of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Molloy is founder and CEO of Glas Ocean Electric and an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University who specializes in ocean engineering research. – CCA

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