Advanced Research and Invention Agency, Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing, American Physical Society, Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, Canada Investment Plan Investment Board, Canadas Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, Canadian Frailty Network (, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Space Agency, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Entos Pharmaceuticals, FedDev Ontario, FPInnovations, GoodLeaf Farms, Government of Ontario, Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Health Canada, Innovate BC, Innovation Policy Lab, Innovative Solutions Canada, McCain Foods, McMaster University, MDA, MediPharm Labs, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces, National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Novo Nordisk A/S, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Results Driven Agriculture Research, Ryerson University, SigmaPoint Technologies, Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Laboratory (SNOLAB), the Ecuadorian Maritime Authority, The Ottawa Hospital, Toronto Pearson International Airport, TRIUMF, TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, and Vitacore Industries



The Short Report – March 3, 2021: A report on inclusive innovation, an urban health research network, a potential DARPA for Canada, and more

Cindy Graham
March 3, 2021


Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats at McMaster University and the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) have signed a formal agreement to accelerate vaccine and drug development, human and animal clinical trials and create new diagnostic tools to combat COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics. – McMaster University

The Ottawa Hospital’s Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre (BMC) is developing three COVID-19 vaccines for human clinical trials, including a DNA-based vaccine by Entos Pharmaceuticals (Edmonton) that will be produced jointly by BMC and Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing for clinical trials at Halifax’s Canadian Centre for Vaccinology. BMC is also manufacturing a cell-based therapy for a clinical trial in patients with severe COVID-19 that will expand from Ottawa to other centres across Canada. – The Ottawa Hospital

Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S and the University of Toronto are investing $20 million each to establish a research network that focuses on supporting healthier urban populations and finding ways to prevent and address type-2 diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. – UofT

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian Frailty Network (Kingston) are studying the health impacts of inactivity on the human body, the first Canadian study of its kind. The study will inform care for seniors undergoing long periods of bed rest or who experience long stays in acute and long-term care, as well as care for astronauts in training for space flights. The project, which received $3.34 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, involves eight teams and will take place at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. – CIHR

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority embarked on a new COVID-19 PCR and antigen testing research program at Toronto Pearson International Airport on March 1. The program is supported in part by funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program and explores the efficacy of antigen testing compared with the rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in a high-throughput, commercial environment and the operationalization of rapid PCR testing in an airport environment. – GTAA

Forestry R&D centre FPInnovations (Montreal) has created the world’s first fully biodegradable mask ready for production and commercialization by Canadian manufacturers. The project was funded by a $3.3-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Forest Innovation Program and would set the standard for non-medical masks in filtration, breathability and biodegradability. - FPInnovations

Vancouver’s Vitacore Industries received Health Canada authorization for its CAN99 respirator in February, becoming the first Canadian-made N99 equivalent single-use respirator, achieving 99-100 per cent filtration efficiency in national and international assessments. – Cision


McCain Foods has invested more than $65 million in vertical farming technology company TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture (Bedford, NS) and its subsidiary GoodLeaf Farms (Guelph), Canada’s largest commercial vertical farming operation, making McCain the single largest shareholder in the company and allowing GoodLeaf to scale-up nationally. – McCain

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other Canadian government departments, along with Brampton-based aerospace technology company MDA, have embarked on a $7-million satellite program to detect vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Program partners include the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and the Ecuadorian Maritime Authority, National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces. The Dark Vessel Detection program is part of $11.6 million in funding for Canada's commitments to ocean health announced at the 2018 G7 ministerial meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. – GoC

The Ontario Government is investing $1.2 million over three years to help young Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned tech start-ups access resources and tools that will connect them with customers, capital, experts, entrepreneurs and influencers. The funding is provided through Ryerson University DMZ's Black Innovation Programs.Ontario Government

Toronto-based technology company Mavennet will receive $1.125 million through Innovative Solutions Canada to improve the traceability of steel in the Canadian and possibly North American supply chain for businesses and government. – GoC

FedDev Ontario is making a $1 million repayable contribution to electronic manufacturing services provider SigmaPoint Technologies (Cornwall, Ont.) to scale up production of end-to-end assembly services for specialized electronic and technology products, such as servers for high-speed internet and monitoring equipment for nuclear power stations. – GoC

Innovate BC is awarding $900,000 through its Ignite program to accelerate commercialization of projects in cleantech (compostable bioplastics for single-serve coffee pods), mining (linking orebody knowledge to real-time sensor information to improve safety and productivity in cave mining) and biotechnology (developing radiopharmaceutical drugs for non-invasive imaging to improve management of cancer treatment). Each project receives $300,000 in funding. The next opportunity to apply for funding is Spring 2021. – Innovate BC

Barrie-based cannabis producer MediPharm Labs has offered to increase its bought deal equity financing to $29 million at a price of $0.58 per unit and will use the proceeds to fund growth of their product portfolio, R&D related to clinical trial formulations, sales and marketing in new markets and funding working capital. – MedPharm Labs

The UK government has introduced legislation to create a new high-risk, high-reward research agency. The Advanced Research and Invention Agency will be an independent research body that will have unique powers and freedoms to invest in ambitious research at unprecedented speeds. The new agency is modelled on the Advanced Research Projects Agency and Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US. The Business Council of Canada is calling on the Canadian government to create a similar kind of innovation agency here. UK GovernmentBusiness Council of Canada


An online interactive tool and accompanying report released by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) at Ryerson University and the Innovation Policy Lab (IPL) at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy suggests Canadian innovation is neither as inclusive or innovative as it needs to be in the post-COVID economy. The Inclusive Innovation Monitor allows users to track Canada’s progress on more than 30 metrics of inclusive innovation, noting that “by tracking performance across innovation and inclusion opportunities, activities, and outcomes metrics, we will provide policymakers with a clearer foundation from which to develop targeted policies and programs that improve growth and distribution.” – Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy


Dr. Alika Lafontaine has been nominated president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association and will be confirmed president this August. Lafontaine practices anesthesia in Grande Prairie and has been an advocate for more funding for Indigenous health research. At the age of 16, he became one of the youngest recipients of a prestigious undergraduate NSERC research grant through the University of Regina. – Canadian Medical Association

John Graham is the new CEO of the Canada Investment Plan Investment Board. Graham was appointed CEO last week after Mark Machin resigned following news that he travelled to the United Arab Emirates and arranged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while visiting. Graham has been with CPP Investments for over a decade and has a track record of building and leading global investment businesses. – CPP Investments

Dr. Dena McMartin, a researcher in rural water management, has been approved by the University of Lethbridge board of governors as the new vice-president (research). Her appointment begins July 1, 2021. – University of Lethbridge

Dr. Mark Redmond is the new CEO of Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), Alberta’s agriculture research accelerator. Redmond’s appointment was made official March 1. He replaces Dr. Gerald Hauer, who has been the interim CEO since RDAR’s beginnings in April 2020. – RDAR

Dr. Nigel Smith, executive director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Laboratory (SNOLAB), will serve as the next director of TRIUMF, Canada’s national particle accelerator lab. Smith succeeds Dr. Jonathan Bagger, who departed TRIUMF in January 2021 to become CEO of the American Physical Society. Smith will begin his five-year term on May 17, 2021. – TRIUMF

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