The Short Report - Oct. 20, 2021: A global research hub for vision care, a UWaterloo centre for sustainable aeronautics, the Writer's Trust inaugural Balsillie prize, and more

Cindy Graham
October 19, 2021


The University of Waterloo and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have launched the world’s first international research hub for vision science, The Centre for Eye and Vision Research (CEVR), in Hong Kong with funding provided by the Hong Kong Government’s Health@InnoHK initiative. The centre, led by Dr. Ben Thompson (Waterloo) and Dr. Chi-ho To (PolyU), plans to focus on five key vision research areas: myopia and eye growth, ocular drug discovery and delivery, vision enhancement, tear film and ocular surface and advanced optometric technology. It also plans to validate and commercialize novel techniques and technology for assessing eye and vision health. The Waterloo team comprises 17 members from across its science faculty including Dr. Donna Strickland, 2018 Nobel Laureate, who will be leading a project to improve drug delivery to the eye. – UWaterloo Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Toronto-based medical device developer Baylis Medical has reached an agreement to sell its cardiology business to Boston Scientific Corporation for an upfront payment of $1.75 billion USD, subject to closing adjustments. Baylis Medical and its cardiology products will transition to Boston Scientific but Baylis affiliate Baylis Medical Technologies (Mississauga) is not part of the transaction and will remain a separate entity. The sale will allow Baylis to increase investments in its medical technology business and "enhance efforts to bring these technologies to a greater number of physicians and patients with [Boston Scientific's] significant global reach." – Baylis

Canada Health Infoway, the federally-funded NPO responsible for accelerating the uptake of digital health solutions for Canadians, is launching a set of materials to improve Canadians' digital health knowledge and health care experiences. The Digital Health Learning Program will offer materials covering priority topics including Virtual Care, Health Data Access, Security and Privacy, and Proactive Health Management to fill the knowledge gap for Canadians who want to access digital health technology but are unaware of the resources available. – Canada Health Infoway

Sherbrooke-based Immune Biosolutions has begun a Phase 1 clinical trial in South Africa for an inhaled immunotherapy treatment that has the potential to neutralize and eliminate COVID-19 and its variants. The discovery is the result of collaborations between several private and public Canadian organizations (unnamed). In the spring of 2021, Immune Biosolutions was awarded $13.4 million in funding from the Government of Canada's Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to develop and validate its immunotherapy treatment. – Immune Biosolutions


Beloeil, Quebec-based ambulance manufacturer Demers Ambulances and Lion Electric (Saint-Jérôme, Quebec) have unveiled the first all-electric and purpose-built ambulance. The new models are scheduled for commercialization in the second half of 2022 and will be sold throughout North America and eventually worldwide. The ambulances were developed with the support of the Government of Quebec and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). – Newswire

Kitchener-Waterloo's Grand River Hospital (GRH) and Waterloo-based software-on-a-system employee knowledge platform Axonify are partnering on a commercialization project that will see GRH use Axonify's services to reinforce training and prepare frontline staff for accreditation on an ongoing basis. The project is the first to be launched under the Coordinated Accessible National (CAN) Health Network, which received $12.45 million in funding from the Government of Canada to scale up Canadian technology adoption in healthcare. – CAN Health Network

The University of Waterloo has launched a research institute for sustainable aeronautics. The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) will combine the work of 50 researchers from each of the university's faculties and will be guided by an advisory committee that includes astronaut Chris Hadfield. WISA is the first institute of its kind in Canada to take on the challenge of making air transport sustainable. – UWaterloo

The Government of Quebec is providing $2 million in financial support to Lithion Recycling to carry out feasibility and preliminary engineering studies for the construction of a first-generation commercial lithium-ion battery recycling plant. Lithion has patented a hydrometallurgical process to recycle lithium-ion batteries and recover 95 per cent of compounds. The used lithium-ion battery market is expected to reach 7 million tonnes per year by 2040, according to the Argonne National Lab, a U.S. Department of Energy multidisciplinary science and engineering research center. – Lithion

Meanwhile, Lithion Recycling (Montreal) and Call2Recycle (Toronto) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on finding a solution for the safe and efficient recycling of electric vehicle batteries. The service aims to include transportation and recycling while exploring options for safety and compliance, training, container arrangement, tracking, and storage capability services for industry dealers, manufacturers and dismantlers. – Lithion


A coalition of investors are launching a finance-led initiative inspired by Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, which in 2019 made a series of recommendations to align Canada’s financial system with a low carbon future. The new program, Climate Engagement Canada (CEC), is launching with 27 investors and is meant to drive dialogue between the financial community and Canadian corporations to promote a transition to a net-zero economy. The initiative will serve as a national engagement program, akin to the global Climate Action 100+ initiative, "to drive a broader and more consistent dialogue with Canadian issuers around climate risks and opportunities." – Businesswire

A Q3 review of Canada's tech ecosystem by tech investment tracker shows 139 investments totaling $3.4 billion from 251 investors, a 15 per cent decrease in total investment and a 6 per cent decrease in the number of deals compared to Q2, but an increase of 170 per cent in total investment and 1 per cent increase in total deals compared to Q3 2020. According to, Canada is 87 per cent of the way to match the total deals in 2020 and has surpassed last year in total investment.


Dr. Sarah Gallagher is the new director of Western University's Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space), succeeding acting director Gordon (Oz) Osinski, who led the institute's predecessor, the Centre for Planetary Space and Exploration. Gallagher is a science advisor to the president at the Canadian Space Agency and is leading the supermassive black hole science team for CASTOR, a proposed new Canadian-led space observatory. – Western U.

Patrick Daoust has been appointed director of technical training for the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL, Charlottetown), effective October 25. Daoust was the director of manufacturing at Sherbrooke-based Immune Biosolutions where he led the first production of a clinical lot of a novel antibody treatment for COVID-19. At CASTL he will lead and direct training programs through CASTL's partnership with the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT, Ireland), which delivers training and education programs for biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies and partner academic institutions. – CASTL

Health journalist André Picard and Munk Chair of Innovation Studies Dan Breznitz have been shortlisted for the inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy from the Writer's Trust of Canada, worth $60,000. Picard is a finalist for his book on the crisis in Canada’s eldercare, titled Neglected No More: The Urgent Need to Improve the Lives of Canada's Elders in the Wake of a Pandemic while Breznitz is a finalist for Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World. – Writer's Trust

Dr. Jeff Biernaskie has won the 2021 Till & McCulloch Award for his paper published in Cell Stem Cell titled Distinct regulatory programs control the latent regenerative potential of dermal fibroblasts during wound healing. Biernaskie is an assistant professor in stem cell biology at the University of Calgary and an investigator at the Stem Cell Network. The award is presented annually to a Canadian-based researcher who has made an exceptional contribution to global stem cell research that year. – Stem Cell Network

Sara Lui has been appointed director of new product innovation at The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, which is Saskatchewan's only commercial food incubation centre for food processing and provides resources for agri-businesses to create and commercialize food products. Lui  has worked with the food centre for over 20 years in ideation, product prototyping, process development, food formulations and industry regulations. – Food in Canada

Health research alliance group Research Canada is welcoming the following new members into its organization: the Arthritis Society, BD Canada (Mississauga), Eastern Regional Health Authority (Eastern Health; Newfoundland and Labrador), École de technologie supérieure (Montreal), Johnson & Johnson, Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, Micellae Delivery Systems (Toronto), Ovarian Cancer Canada, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University, Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine and VoxCell BioInnovation (Victoria). – Research Canada

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