The Short Report - September 14th, 2022: York U. leads global team on infectious diseases; new fellows elected to the RSC; fintech funding falls in 2022, and more.

Cindy Graham
September 14, 2022


An international team led by York University has received a $7.25-million grant from the International Development Research Centre for a five-year project that will build a network using big data and artificial intelligence to tackle emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. York University Assistant Professor Jude Kong is leading the project to support prevention, early detection, preparedness, mitigation, and control of emerging or re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa. York U.

The University of Waterloo is leading an interdisciplinary team that includes researchers and experts from Western University, USP Technologies (London, ON), Brown and Caldwell, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, Ontario Water Consortium, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association, and seven regional water supply systems in Ontario to detect, identify and treat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as "forever chemicals," in water systems affecting more than 2.5 million Canadians. Funding for the joint project is supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Alliance Option 2 grant, which supports projects valued at over $30,000 to $300,000 per year with a duration of one to five years. UWaterloo

The Government of Alberta is contributing nearly $2 million towards five projects at the University of Calgary designed to enhance access and delivery of palliative and end-of-life care. The funding is through Alberta's  Palliative and end-of-life care grant fund and includes projects led by Dr. Zahra Goodarzi (more than $1 million to develop frailty assessments and palliative interventions), Dr. Veronica Bruno ($500,000 to pilot a palliative care outpatient clinical care program), and Dr. Jessica Simon (nearly $100,000 to map the state of palliative care service and enable best practices to improve access to palliative care). UCalgary Government of Alberta

Calgary biofuel company SixRing has been promised $1.4 million in federal funding to scale and research new applications in clean technology, including scaling up in production of biomass and development of sustainable aviation fuel. The funding is subject to negotiation of a contribution agreement and will come from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's recently expanded Agricultural Clean Technology Program. GOC Calgary Herald

The University of Waterloo is renaming its Centre for Sight Enhancement to The George & Judy Woo Centre for Sight Enhancement to celebrate a $1.5 million gift from benefactors George and Judy Woo. Their donation is part of the school’s  $35-million fundraising initiative that will create the new Waterloo Eye Institute, a national resource to expand access to eye and vision care and bring new treatments from the lab to patients. UWaterloo

The Weston Family Foundation has awarded $750,000 to 15 projects ($50,000 each) as part of its $33-million Homegrown Innovation Challenge launched in February to support R&D in building a resilient domestic food supply. The funding enables innovators to refine concepts and develop teams for the next phase of the program. Awardees include Dr. Marie-Hélène Fillion, Laurentian University (collaborators Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, SNOLAB, Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation and Windsor Salt; investigating producing strawberries year-round in underground mines across Canada.), Dr. Jim Mattson, Simon Fraser University (collaborators BC Blueberry Council and Sky Blue Horticulture; solving the challenge of year-round production of blueberries in Canada), and Dr. Johnny Kashama, Collège Boréal (collaborators Sault Ste Marie Innovation Centre – Rural Agri-Innovation Network, Smart Indoor Farming Solutions; developing increased market opportunities for small-scale farmers and increased access to local, high-quality strawberries for consumers). Newswire


Calgary-based Acceleware, a clean-tech decarbonization innovator, and Aurora Hydrogen (Edmonton) are collaborating on a project to accelerate the scale up of industrial hydrogen production through the decarbonization of heavy emitting industrial heating processes via radio frequency energy. Acceleware

Quebec-based not-for-profit and agri-food technology innovation centre Cintech agroalimentaire and the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre have entered a partnership working on local, national and international projects and conducting R&D to accelerate the growth of the Canadian protein ecosystem. The collaboration aims to help agri-food companies develop plant, dairy, and hybrid protein formulations through the food manufacturing ecosystem in Quebec and the ingredient-manufacturing ecosystem in the Canadian Prairies. SFIDC

The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) has launched their first series of training courses for the biopharmaceutical sector, based on the curriculum developed by the National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training in Dublin. The training will be delivered at the CASTL facility in Charlottetown September 15, 18 and November 30. CASTL

RELATED: Conference recap: Building the Next Generation of Leaders in Canadian Biomanufacturing


Takeda Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Research's Institute of Genetics are contributing $360,000 each to establish a fellowship to support advancements in rare diseases across Canada. The program will provide a total of $720,000 to four postdoctoral fellows for up to three years who are focused on one or more rare disease disorders. A full list of research areas can be found at Takeda

The Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology is requesting project proposals from researchers and industrial partners in the areas of climate change and environment, economic growth and development, and sector resilience and societal challenges as it plans for its new food cluster. Full project proposals must be submitted by Monday, October 17, 2022. Food in Canada

The Canadian Space Agency is sponsoring three new Phase 1 challenges from the Innovative Solutions Canada Program. They include using artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose and predict failures of flight hardware (closing date October 28); developing an AI visual system that detects potentially hazardous obstacles and verifies clearance margins (closing date October 20), and making a proximity sensor system to prevent collisions of space manipulators (closing date October 14). The maximum funding available for each is $150,000 for a duration of up to 6 months.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has launched the Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative to provide financial support to Indigenous master’s students in social science, humanities, natural science, and engineering programs. Qualifying Indigenous applicants will receive a $17,500 award and a $5,000 supplement as part of the current Canada Graduate Scholarships—Master’s program offered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. GOC


Montreal-based pre-seed and seed-stage investor Panache Ventures has closed $100 million on its second fund. Investors included Alberta Enterprise Corporation, Bank of Montreal, Investissement Québec, Telus Ventures and the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation. Panache has made 12 investments to date out of Fund II into companies like OneVest (New York), Big Whale Labs (Vancouver), and SureBright (Toronto), and says it plans to make around 20 investments per year. Betakit

Investment in the Canadian financial technology sector dropped by more than 50 percent in the first half of 2022, according to KPMG's Pulse of Fintech H1'22 Global report. Canadian fintech companies saw more than $1 billion in total investment across 85 deals in the first half of 2022, down from nearly $2.5 billion in the second half of 2021. It was also a significant drop compared to the first half of 2021, which saw $7 billion in investment across 108 deals. However, KPMG notes, the first half of 2021 was an outlier with one of the strongest quarters on record. KPMG

Montreal software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup Kaloom has received more than $27 million in a matched investment from the Quebec government and its current investor and majority shareholder Alternative Capital Group (Montreal). Kaloom provides programmable, automated edge data centres located close to the populations they serve and says the investment will help them expand into new markets. Kaloom

Global maritime data and analytics firm Global Spatial Technology Solutions (Halifax), has secured $2 million in non-dilutive funds from BDC Capital’s Growth & Transition Capital division. The funds will be used to accelerate the roll out of GSTS’s Maritime Artificial Intelligence Platform, which uses data from more than 150 satellites dedicated to maritime monitoring of the world’s waterways. The financing package is meant to position GSTS for a new equity raise in the near future. BDC


Royal Society of Canada members have elected 102 new fellows and named 54 new members to its college for 2022. This year's fellows include McMaster University's Dr. Sonia Anand for her research on the cardiovascular health of women and populations of diverse ancestral origin; Université de Montréal's Dr. Katherine Borden for landmark studies that revolutionized central tenets of mRNA biology, and Concordia University's Dr. Emad Shihab, a world-renowned leader in software engineering and software quality. This year's new college members include Dr. Nicolas Cowan, Canada Research Chair in Planetary Climate at McGill University, and Environment and Climate Change Canada's Dr. Amila De Silva for advancing the field of environmental contaminant chemistry. RSC Class of 2022

Dr. Robin Craig has joined the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) as the associate vice-president of the research grants and scholarships directorate. Craig previously served as the inaugural director of Recherche & Innovation Boréal, the applied research arm of Collège Boréal in Sudbury, a position she had held since 2019. Northern Ontario Business NSERC

Darby McGrath has been appointed vice president of research and development at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. McGrath started at Vineland in 2013 as a research scientist. She will guide Vineland’s innovation portfolio with a team of more than 50 scientists and technicians. Greenhouse Canada



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