The Short Report – Sept. 9, 2021: Greens release their campaign platform, $2 million for early-career brain researchers, supporting women-led businesses in Agri-Tech, and more

Cindy Graham
September 8, 2021


The Green Party of Canada released its full platform on Tuesday. It contains a number of promises on research and innovation that include investing in scientific research and implementing the full funding recommendations from Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, increasing R&D spending to 2.5 percent of GDP to bring Canada in line with the OECD average, increasing funding for the granting councils from $22.4 billion to $30 billion, and establishing a dedicated innovation agency that focuses on developing joint projects across universities, private industry and national labs. – GPC

Related: How are Canada’s political parties promising to support research and innovation?


The Government of Yukon has formed an Innovation Commission comprised of 15 members to provide technical and professional input on growing innovative activities over the next five years. The Commission’s work will be informed by the newly released Yukon Innovation Plan What We Heard report, which documents feedback received during public engagement in 2020. The Commission held its first meeting earlier this month, and will continue to meet throughout fall 2021. – Government of Yukon

FedDev Ontario has committed $2 million to the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) to support the relaunch and expansion of Toronto tech incubator OneEleven’s programming, and $10 million towards the creation of a new University of Waterloo and Western University-based health technology innovation hub. The OCI investment will enable OneEleven to augment programming and extend reach to high-growth small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in smaller communities outside Toronto through a new digital membership project. OneEleven has committed to at least 25 percent of project participants being located outside of the Greater Toronto Area, with half the projects being women-led or owned companies. Meanwhile, the healthtech hub initiative in Southwestern Ontario will connect early-stage and scaling healthtech firms to mentorship, business advisory and product development support, as well as access to specialized labs and clinical trial spaces at Western University and the University of Waterloo’s planned Innovation Arena. – Betakit


The Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS) is setting up a new research chair in Digital Health funded by the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation (MEI) to better diagnose and treat rare diseases. The program is based on a network of France-Quebec collaborations that include partnerships between pediatric hospitals and research centres and will be co-directed by Professor Anita Burgun, a French expert in biomedical informatics, who will hold a position at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMSS) at UdeS while retaining duties at the Université de Paris, and Christina Khnaisser, a researcher in health informatics and future professor at the FMSS and the Faculty of Science at UdeS. – Newswire

Researchers from Unity Health Toronto, Ryerson University, Ontario Tech University and the University of Toronto have created a virtual reality simulated platform that allows health-care workers to experience what it’s like to provide care with a shortage of ventilators and uses artificial intelligence to analyze the data. Possible next steps will be to build and measure resilience before people are put in morally distressing situations like healthcare settings or military work, and identify alternate ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study was funded by the Department of National Defense through the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security Program. – Unity Health

National non-profit Brain Canada along with Health Canada, the Azrieli Foundation, the Arrell Family Foundation and the Alvin Segal Family Foundation are investing a total of $2 million in seed funding in the form of $100,000 grants to 20 early-career neuroscience researchers studying a variety of brain disorders, diseases and brain function that will include pediatric brain tumours, the effects of isolation on mental health and the root of bipolar disorder. – Brain Canada

Research funded by  University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine Research Award program and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation has led to a discovery that concussion recovery can take longer than previously thought. The researchmay lead to new treatment possibilities for people with mild to severe concussions and a deeper understanding of the metabolic impacts of brain injury. – USask

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has awarded $500,000 to researchers at the University of Windsor, recognizing Windsor and Essex County can offer advance warning of spikes in Covid-19 infection rates by virtue of their location near one of the busiest border crossings between the US and Canada, and as the heart of intensive year-round agricultural operations with a high concentration of migrant workers. The funding is part of the federal government’s response to gaps in research that have been identified during the pandemic. – UWindsor

A dearth of research funding for occupational health and safety has prompted WorkSafeBC to create two new postdoctoral fellowships. The new $100,000 awards will also respond to a need by compensation boards and regulators for credible research. The two inaugural Ralph McGinn Postdoctoral Fellowship recipients are Dr. Sonja Senthanar, University of British Columbia (examining the relationship between rehabilitation services among immigrants compared to Canadian-born workers) and Dr. Heather Johnson, Institute for Health and Work (examining risk factors and hazards between work-related psychological injuries and musculoskeletal injuries). – OHS Canada


AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence has launched its annual competition to recognize startups in Canada's AgeTech sector. The 2021 AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge is "open to any entrepreneur or startup with a technology-based solution that can support the health and quality of life of older adults or their caregivers." This year's winner receives $25,000 in cash plus in-kind prizes, half of which is contributed by the Ontario Brain Institute. The deadline to submit an application is Sept. 20, 2021 and finalists will pitch to a panel of expert judges during AgeTech Innovation Week, a virtual event hosted by AGE-WELL from Oct. 4–8, 2021.  – AGE-WELL

Vancouver-based digital health company WELL Health Technologies will be added to the S&P/TSX Composite Index effective Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Last week WELL announced plans to continue its expansion in the United States with the US $41 million acquisition of telehealth and prescription medication provider WISP (San Francisco), which specializes in female focused online reproduction and sexual health treatments. Hamed Shahbazi, Chairman and CEO of WELL, said the transaction would position WELL as an emerging provider of women’s health services in the United States and that it plans to leverage its knowledge of the WISP operations in the US to launch similar services in other countries, starting with Canada. – WELL Health

Venture capital firm The51 Ventures (Calgary) has launched a Food & AgTech Fund, a full-stack $25 million fund focused on women-led and diverse businesses in the agriculture, food and aquaculture technology sectors. The fund is intended to provide capital to the increasing number of women and diverse founders gravitating to the Agri-Food sector. Currently one in three farm operators between the ages of 35 and 54 are women, but only seven percent of agri-food tech deals and three percent of the volume of dollars invested in the sector in 2018 went to women-founded teams. – The51 Ventures


The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) has elected new Fellows for 2021 and named the RSC College's incoming class. New Fellows were elected by peers for outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement while the incoming class of new Members consist of mid-career leaders who "provide the RSC with a multigenerational capacity to help Canada and the world address major challenges and seize new opportunities including those identified in emerging fields." RSC will welcome and award its new college Members and Fellows on November 19, 2021. – RSC

Full list of newly elected 2021 RSC Fellows and Members

Dr. Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec, replaced Sir Peter Gluckman (New Zealand) as President of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) on Sept. 1 and is the first Canadian to occupy the position. Quirion was announced President at the International Conference on Science Advice to Governments in Montreal last week. – Cision

Dr. Surya Acharya has received the 2021 Canadian Beef Industry Award For Outstanding Research and Innovation from the Beef Cattle Research Council for the positive impacts of his research on beef industry advancement. Acharya is noted for innovations in forage breeding and has developed more than 25 commercially released perennial forage and native grass species. His native grass cultivars are still used in reclamation projects, while his legume varieties have helped producers mitigate bloat risk and solve challenges with salinity and hardiness. – Beef Cattle Research Council

Dr. Sylvie Lambert is McGill University's new Ingram School of Nursing Associate Director (ISoN) - Research. Lambert assumed the role on Sept. 1, 2021, replacing Dr. Carmen Loiselle, who held the role for the past three years. Lambert is an associate professor at ISoN, a researcher at St. Mary’s Research Centre, and a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair currently leading the largest implementation of a patient-reported outcome screening program in Quebec (e-IMPAQc). – McGill

Dr. Rene Van Acker has been reappointed dean of the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph for a five-year term, effective Sept. 1. During Van Acker’s first term as dean, he led the creation of a new bachelor of Indigenous environmental science and practice program and course-based master’s programs in food safety and quality assurance, as well as dairy technology and management. He developed a new strategic plan, an infrastructure master plan and the first experiential learning strategy for the college. – UGuelph

Dr. Lori Francis has been appointed dean of the faculty of science at Saint Mary’s University, effective this month. Francis joined Saint Mary’s in 2002 as an assistant psychology professor. In 2017, she became associate dean of science, student affairs and later served as acting dean of science. – SMU

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