The Short Report - March 31, 2021: Canadian government invests $925 million in biomanufacturing, funding for variants research, a new digitalization centre, and more

Cindy Graham
March 31, 2021

COVID-19 & HEALTH NEWS

The Government of Canada, along with the Government of Ontario and France's multinational pharmaceutical and vaccine company Sanofi Pasteur, are investing a total of $925 million to strengthen Canada's domestic biomanufacturing capabilities. The federal government will contribute up to $415 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to build the end-to-end influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, while Sanofi will invest more than $455 million and the Ontario government will contribute $55 million. Sanofi is also committing to an average of $79 million a year in R&D in Ontario, or more than a half a billion dollars over the life of the agreement. - GoC ONGovt

The Canadian government is investing more than $14 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support studies on the COVID-19 virus variants, including $5.3 million in supplementary funding for 90 ongoing COVID-19 projects and $9 million to create a new national network to coordinate variants research. The Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network will be led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois from the University of Ottawa, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Lab, the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network, provincial and territorial public health labs, and other national and international bodies. – GoC

Health Canada has greenlit a clinical trial application for a new therapeutic developed to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients at risk of developing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, the leading cause of mortality in patients with COVID-19. The therapeutic, ARDS-003, was developed by Ottawa-based Tetra Bio-Pharma. – Tetra Bio-Pharma

COLLABORATION, INNOVATION & FUNDING

The Government of Quebec is supporting the digital transformation of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the province with a $20-million contribution over the next three years to business accelerator Inno-centre (Montreal, Quebec City). – Globe Newswire

The Canadian government is contributing $6 million through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to Hamilton's Innovation Factory, who will work with the Synapse Life Science Consortium to create a hub to accelerate the commercialization of life science and health care innovations in southern Ontario. - GoC

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) are committing $1.25 million each to a five-year partnership between COSIA, NSERC and the University of Calgary to develop a framework to assess oil sand wetland reclamation success. The research will allow for sampling at over 100 different wetland sites over consecutive summers to study the functionality, water quality and surrounding features of newly, and sometimes naturally, forming wetlands in the post-mining landscape. – COSIA

The Canadian government has committed to invest almost $3 million over the next four years to support research on the effects of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and B.C. Priority research areas include microplastics, oil- and gas-related contaminants, pesticides, and contaminants of emerging concern. – GoC

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is collaborating with Microsoft Canada to use cloud, data and artificial intelligence (AI) services to apply digital solutions to support NRCan’s sustainable development and climate action research. – GoC

Siemens Canada has inaugurated the first MindSphere Application Center in Canada to accelerate digitalization of energy and infrastructure. It will focus specifically on smart energy grids, intelligent buildings, and industry digitalization solutions serving transmission system operators, distribution system operators, utilities, industry partners, smart building operators and other infrastructure entities.  – Siemens

Alberta Innovates and Innovate Calgary have launched a program to help life sciences researchers in the digital health field navigate the commercialization process and create successful start-ups. This is the third cohort of Life Sciences Fellows to be supported by $3.5 million in funding from Calgary Economic Development’s Opportunity Calgary Investment FundMinistry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation and Alberta Innovates. Each company will receive up to $200,000 in start-up funding, including a stipend of $55,000 per year. – Alberta Innovates

Alberta Innovates is issuing a request for proposals for the development of business accelerators to move promising Alberta start-ups and small- and medium technology companies through scale-up and growth faster. Up to $25 million in funding will be available for a three-year contract for three or more accelerators, with an option to extend for an additional two years. - Alberta Innovates

India’s HCL Technologies has opened a digital acceleration innovation centre in Mississauga. It will house co-innovation labs for business customers to collaborate and take advantage of digital and analytics solutions, cloud consulting and migration, cybersecurity, IT infrastructure and application services. - HCL

The Canadian Digital Media Network has changed its name to "Canada’s Tech Network" to capture its mission of supporting Canadian tech-driven companies with opportunities to bring tech-enabled solutions to market. CDMN was originally created as a Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. - CDMN

REPORTS AND BRIEFINGS

The national science academies of the G7 nations launched their science agenda ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in the United Kingdom in June 2021, outlining three urgent issues to be addressed: Creating a net zero climate resilient world, tackling biodiversity loss and improving the use of data in pandemics. The statements were submitted to Canada’s G7 Sherpa and to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor last week. - RSC

The Royal Society of Canada’s newest policy briefing, “Supporting Canada’s COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Through Robust Immigration Policy and Programs” is publicly available. The report provides an overview of Canada’s immigration system prior to the pandemic, and a discussion of the vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic. – RSC

FINANCE, VC AND INVESTMENT

Small to medium business innovator Requiti (Toronto, Vancouver) has acquired fintech company Pinmo (Vancouver) for $13 million and will focus on offering a full suite of financing and business investment solutions for startups. – Globe Newswire

THE GRAPEVINE

Rachael Maxwell is the new executive director for Evidence for Democracy, the Ottawa-based non-profit organization promoting the use of evidence-based policy-making. Maxwell replaces outgoing ED and founder Katie Gibbs. – E4D

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