The Short Report, June 26, 2019: Dementia, Ontario chief scientist, AI for travel

Debbie Lawes
June 26, 2019

The Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging is receiving $46 million over five years: $31.6 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and $14.4 million from partners, including the Alzheimer Society. Headquartered at Baycrest in Toronto, the second phase of CCNA’s research program will include a large-scale study to evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches to dementia prevention that may include a combination of medication, diet, exercise, and cognitive training. – GoC

Sidewalk Labs has released its draft Master Innovation and Development Plan for Toronto’s eastern waterfront. The three volume document—Toronto Tomorrow—examines the planning concepts and proposed operational systems, the urban innovations (mobility, public realm, buildings and housing, sustainability and digital innovation), and the public-private partnerships. The draft master plan also includes plans for an “urban innovation campus” for start-ups and a new Google Canada headquarters. - Sidewalk Toronto

George Brown College has teamed with the City of Toronto, MaRS discovery District, and Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (Re-MAP) to create a new urban light-manufacturing space for entrepreneurs in Toronto. The mixed-use complex at 440 Dufferin St., will house a 5,574 square-metre light-manufacturing space, including 1,347 square-metres dedicated to the incubator, called Factory 6. The project is slated to open in July 2020. - GBC

The National Research Council of Canada has announced the first round of collaborative research projects funded through the New Beginnings Initiative, which supports small-scale, exploratory research projects with external collaborators. Under the $2-million annual initiative, the NRC will partner with 47 researchers across 22 organizations. - GoC

The Fonds Nature et technologies (FRQNT) and the Fonds Culture et société (FRQSC) are providing $3.6 million over six years to the Centre for interdisciplinary research into the operationalization of sustainable development. Under CIRODD, researchers in the engineering, social sciences and healthcare sectors take an interdisciplinary approach to issues such as sustainable mobility, changing behaviours and practices and optimizing the consumption of electricity through the use of artificial intelligence in Quebec. - Newswire

Austerity measures in the recent Ontario budget have claimed another R&D initiative, WaterTAP, the Water Technology Acceleration Project.  The Toronto-based project announced it will cease operations June 30, after its funding was terminated in March by the Ministry of Economic Develop, Job Creation and Trade. Since 2012, WaterTAP has provided commercialization and business support to over 300 companies. (Related: Ontario Budget 2019 takes “slice-and-dice” strategy to research funding) - WaterTAP

Researchers and institutions have until August 1 to provide their wish-list for the next phase of the New Frontiers Research Fund. The online consultation is inviting researchers and institutions to provide feedback on the “Transformation stream”, which will support large-scale, Canadian-led interdisciplinary research projects that address a major challenge. The competition will award $144 million over six years, with individual awards of up to $4 million per year. - GoC

Canada will lead one of nine action groups under the Blue Charter—a commitment made by the 53 Commonwealth member states to work together to solve ocean-related problems. Canada will head the Ocean Observations Action Group which will advance opportunities to increase the innovation, development and deployment of ocean observational technologies; accessibility of ocean observational data, knowledge and best practices among Commonwealth countries; political cooperation to better integrate ocean observational data, information and knowledge into decisions, products and services within the Commonwealth; and gender issues within the context of ocean science. – The Commonwealth

Evidence for Democracy says it hasn’t seen “any indication that the Ontario government has made any efforts to fill the chief scientist position”. The advocacy group describes the responses it received to two Freedom of Information requests to the Ontario government as “disappointing”, saying it was denied access to most documents related to research funding, or required to pay “a prohibitive fee” for information that it “is likely to lack significant value”. Dr. Molly Shoichet held the position until she was dismissed by the Progressive Conservative government after it was elected in 2018. - ED

Canada has placed six universities in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings 2020: University of Toronto (U of T) (29), McGill University (35), University of British Columbia (UBC) (51), University of Alberta (U of A) (113), University of Montreal (UM) (137), and University of Waterloo (173). Canada fared slightly better in the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (NTU Ranking) for 2019, released by National Taiwan University. Nine Canadian universities made the top 200: U of T (4), UBC (27), McGill (47), U of A (81), UM (104), McMaster University (119), University of Calgary (132), University of Ottawa (147), and Western University (197). – World University Rankings; NTU Ranking

Carleton University becomes the ninth regional hub for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), a federal government-supported national network and digital platform for sharing research, resources and best practices among female entrepreneurs. – Carleton University

MicroSintesis, a Charlottetown, PEI-based life science company focused on developing proprietary microbiome therapies, has closed a $16.4-million minority investment from Toronto-based  Northern Private Capital (NPC), an investment vehicle of CFFI Ventures, a company controlled by John Risley, founder of Clearwater Fine Foods. The funding will be used to scale-up production of the company's products and build out the company's research capabilities and platform to deliver a new generation of microbiome products dedicated to improving livestock, companion animal, and human health. - Newswire

Canopy Growth Corp.’s investment arm, Canopy Rivers, is investing USD $10 million in San Diego CA-based ZeaKal Inc., creators of a proprietary technology that increases photosynthesis, improves plant yield and enhances nutritional profiles for a variety of agricultural crops. The investment will enable ZeaKal to expand field trials currently underway in Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand to include cannabis and hemp. Canopy Rivers will also own 8.7% of ZeaKal. - Newswire

Vancouver-based Nextleap Solutions Ltd. has entered an agreement to buy a hydrocarbon extraction process and formula for a cannabis concentrate known as “shatter”, set to become legal in Canada on October 17. - Newswire

A new $180-million, seven-year international DNA barcoding project launched in June, led by the University of Guelph and U of G professor Dr. Paul Hebert. The project, which aims to catalogue every living thing on Earth, involves more than 1,000 researchers from about 30 countries. -  U of G

McMaster University is planning to launch the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Resistance to tackle the growing global threat of antimicrobial resistance. The $7 million for the new centre comes from a $50-million gift made to the university by David Braley in 2007 for teaching, learning and health-care research and delivery. - McMaster

Montreal-based M&A firm FNC Capital has signed a five-year, $5-million partnerships with artificial intelligence company Stradigi AI, Montreal, to develop AI solutions for the airline and travel industry. In May, FNC announced plans to acquire Quebec-based airliner, Transat A.T. - Newswire


Dr. Rui Wang will begin a five-year term as the new dean, Faculty of Science at York University effective Jan. 1, 2020. Wang joined York in August 2018 as a professor of biology and since May 1, has served as interim VP research and innovation. He has also been leading the planning for York’s new campus in Markham, ON. - YorkU

Barbara Dirks, head of Silicon Valley Bank’s Canadian division, is leaving her position for personal reasons. Dirks was appointed to the new position in March 2018. – G&M

The federal government has created a new Canadian Statistics Advisory Council to provide the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Chief Statistician of Canada with impartial and independent advice on the quality of Canada's national statistical system, in keeping with Canada's Digital Charter. The council will be chaired by Dr. Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy at the University of Ottawa. The other members are: Gurmeet Ahluwalia, Managing Partner, StratExLead; David Chaundy, president and CEO, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council; Annette Hester, principal of TheHesterview; Jan Kestle, president and CEO, Environics Analytics; Céline Le Bourdais, Distinguished James McGill Professor of Sociology at McGill University; Gail McDonald, Akwesasne Heritage Complex Project Developer, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe; Dr. Howard Ramos, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University; and Dr. Michael C. Wolfson, health consultant and former Canada Research Chair in Population Health Modeling, University of Ottawa. - Newswire

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has appointed two new directors to its board for a three-year term: Nobina Robinson, former chief executive officer of Polytechnics Canada, and Dr. A. Scott Carson, a professor of governance and strategy at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University. – HEQCO

Fertilizer Canada has inducted Dr. Cynthia Grant to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. The soil fertility and crop nutrition researcher recently retired from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Brandon, MB. Grant is just the tenth women—out of more than 200 people—to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 1960. – Fertilizer Canada

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