The Short Report – September 20, 2023

Danielle Burns
September 20, 2023


The Government of Canada invested $175 million in 12 new wind, solar and smart-grid projects in Alberta. These clean energy projects, in partnership with Indigenous and community groups, aim to create thousands of jobs, foster local economic growth and provide clean, affordable energy to communities. Once completed, the federal government says, these initiatives are expected to reduce emissions equivalent to removing nearly 325,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road annually, improving air quality and community health. The projects include: the largest solar installation in an urban centre (Calgary) in Western Canada; four wind farm sites near the hamlet of Jenner in southern Alberta;  and wind power projects in eastern and southeastern Alberta. The government says the investment aligns with Canada's commitment to achieving a net-zero electricity system by 2035 while advancing economic reconciliation, climate action and job creation. Natural Resources Canada

The Government of Canada invested nearly $3 million in three projects aimed at accelerating the integration of zero-emission technologies in the trucking industry, as part of Ottawa's efforts to combat climate change and transition to a low-emission economy. One project, receiving $1.5 million, will establish a Zero-Emission Trucking Testbed in Montreal to collect real-world performance data for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Two other investments, totaling just over $1.3 million,  will support projects in British Columbia and Nova Scotia to study zero-emission truck performance, develop training materials and plan for the deployment of zero-emission trucking technologies. The government aims to have all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2040 where feasible. Transport Canada 

The Government of Alberta contributed $5 million for a new Multidisciplinary Science Hub at the University of Calgary.  The new hub will be the primary home for research and collaboration in the Faculty of Science, UCalgary's second-largest faculty, and provide classroom and lab space for 2,200 students. The science hub, which will include startup incubators and industry collaboration spaces, will support STEM students in areas such as agriculture innovation, computer science, energy, quantum science, biotechnology and aerospace. Govt. of Alberta

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a US$15.5 billion funding and loan package aimed at supporting the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by retooling existing factories. This package includes US$2 billion in grants and up to US$10 billion in loans for automotive manufacturing conversion projects, with a focus on retaining high-quality jobs in communities hosting these facilities. The DOE is also planning to make US$3.5 billion in funding available to expand domestic battery manufacturing for EVs and grid applications, reducing the need for imports. The DOE says these initiatives align with President Joe Biden's commitment to retaining and expanding high-paying manufacturing jobs and strengthening domestic supply chains for clean energy technologies. The funding opportunities aim to support a just transition for workers and communities affected by the shift to electrified transportation while promoting equity and environmental justice. DOE 

The UK Government secured an agreement to participate in the Horizon Europe research collaboration program, the world's largest, with improved financial terms. This agreement will enable UK researchers to apply for grants and participate in projects under Horizon Europe, providing certainty of UK participation until 2027. The UK will also have the opportunity to join the governance of EU programs, allowing it to shape collaboration in the coming years. This collaboration will not only involve the EU but also countries like Norway, New Zealand, Israel, Korea and Canada, enhancing research opportunities and innovation in various fields from health to AI. Additionally, the UK will associate to Copernicus, the European Earth Observation program, providing valuable data for various applications, including flood and fire warnings. UK Government

China is set to launch a new state-backed investment fund aiming to raise approximately $40 billion to support its semiconductor sector. This move is part of China's efforts to catch up with global rivals, particularly the U.S., in the semiconductor industry. The fund, expected to be the largest of its kind, is being launched by the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, known as the Big Fund. It surpasses the sizes of similar funds launched in 2014 and 2019. The primary focus of investment will be chip manufacturing equipment. China has been emphasizing the need for self-sufficiency in semiconductors, especially after facing export control measures from the U.S. and its allies, restricting access to advanced chipmaking technology. Reuters  


Scientists from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) played a crucial role in the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's mission to gather samples from the asteroid Bennu. The CSA provided the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), a lidar instrument that helped create a detailed 3D map of Bennu's surface, allowing scientists to select the best location for sample collection. Canada will receive four per cent of the total sample for analysis, and preparations are underway to build a facility to house the samples. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will drop its sample capsule, containing around 250 grams of samples, on Earth on September 24, 2023, marking a significant milestone in the mission to study the origins of the solar system. CTV News

Western University and Defence Research and Development Canada are collaborating on an initiative to adapt camera technology used by the Western-led Global Meteor Network to efficiently monitor satellites over Canada using very low-cost cameras. The highly sensitive cameras monitor the entire sky and collect images tens of times per second, enabling the cameras to track satellite constellations, rocket bodies and debris in low earth orbit while continuing to monitor meteors. Current tests show the cameras can detect and track LEO satellites with sizes above 40 centimetres (about the size of a large pizza). Elon Musk's Starlink alone has an array of nearly 5,000 internet satellites, and projections forecast the potential launch of hundreds of thousand more micro-satellites by companies, governments and other public and private entities in the coming years. Western University

Oxford Properties Group, a global real estate investor, developer and manager, opened The Stack in Vancouver, the tallest commercial building in the city. The Stack is the first office tower to attain the Canada Green Building Council's Zero Carbon Building - Design standard certification and the first high-rise commercial tower in North America built to zero-carbon standards. The Stack is co-owned by Oxford and CPP Investments. The 37-storey, 550,000 sq. ft. office tower features innovative sustainability features, including low-carbon building systems, a high-performance triple-pane glazing system, and a rooftop photovoltaic solar panel array. The building also prioritizes employee experience and wellness with amenities like operable windows, outdoor terraces, a fitness center, bike parking, a rooftop terrace, and destination dining options.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada and Foundry's CIO, announced the recipients of the 2023 CIO Awards for Canada. These awards recognize Canadian organizations for technologically innovative projects that are shaping the future of digital innovation. The 20 winners, including Canadian Tire Corporation, TELUS, and McCain Foods Limited, will be celebrated at the CIO's Future of Digital Innovation Summit & Awards Canada on November 15, followed by an in-person celebration at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto on November 16. This event provides a platform for industry leaders to share insights and best practices, fostering a deeper understanding of digital innovation's role in various sectors. GlobeNewswire

Pet Valu, a Canadian specialty retailer of pet food and supplies, opened its 670,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art distribution centre (GTA DC) in Brampton, Ontario. This facility represents a significant milestone in the company's $110-million nationwide supply chain transformation and is the largest distribution centre dedicated to serving the pet specialty industry in Canada, PetValu says. The GTA DC is set to introduce automation capabilities in the first half of 2024, featuring Canada's largest goods-to-person robotics installation for pet specialty products. This automation is expected to enhance productivity and customer service while reducing costs per case.

NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies confirmed that the summer of 2023 was the hottest period on Earth since at least 1880, when global record-keeping of temperatures began. This record-setting heat is attributed to global warming and exacerbated by the climate pattern El Niño. August 2023 was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the average summer, with 57 million people in the southern and southwest U.S. experiencing a severe heatwave. The combined temperatures for June, July, and August were 0.41 degrees Fahrenheit (0.23 degrees Celsius) warmer than all previous summers. NASA administrator Bill Nelson highlighted the extreme weather events, including record flooding and wildfires, as evidence of the climate emergency. El Niño is expected to have its biggest impacts from February to April next year. NASA


Montreal-based startup Simmunome raised $2 million in pre-seed funding to advance the development and commercialization of its artificial intelligence (AI) software solution aimed at predicting the success or failure of drug candidates in clinical trials. While many AI startups in the pharmaceutical industry focus on drug molecules, Simmunome says it is unique in its focus on disease biology during the clinical stage of drug development. The company uses computational models to help pharmaceutical companies and research labs better understand diseases like Alzheimer's and melanoma, allowing them to simulate whether certain therapeutics will work for specific patients and diseases. This approach aims to reduce the risk of clinical trials, minimize the need for animal and human testing, and enhance the understanding of complex diseases. Simmunome plans to provide its services to pharmaceutical firms, biotech companies and research institutes. Simmunome

Inovia Capital closed its first discovery fund, the US$25-million Inovia Discovery Fund I, L.P., aimed at supporting early-stage venture capital firms in identifying and nurturing promising startups at the pre-seed and seed stages. The fund garnered support from both existing and new investors, including Deloitte Ventures and Roller Labs Ventures (the  corporate venture capital arm of Canadian Tire Corporation).  Inovia's initiative comes at a time when funding for U.S. VC firms, also known as emerging managers, has been declining in a volatile market environment, while Canada has seen significant growth in the number of active VC firms. Inovia says its fund will identify and support emerging managers who can outperform the market through their networks and industry knowledge, helping to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Inovia

Hydrogen is a losing bet for investors interested in making money in the foreseeable future, according to Barry Norris, founder and chief investment officer of UK hedge fund Argonaut Capital Partners. Norris said he's skeptical that the business models of a lot of companies aiming to develop hydrogen will work. He also noted that there's a massive capital cost in "green" hydrogen, which is building the electrolyzer to convert water to electricity. The only form of hydrogen generation that's "remotely competitive in terms of cost" is that produced by fossil fuels (by converting natural gas to hydrogen), hydro or nuclear energy, Norris maintained. BNN Bloomberg


A report by the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) highlights Canada's strong position in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of personnel and research, but points out that Canadian companies face significant challenges when it comes to scaling up. The CCI's "Roadmap for Smart Leadership in Canada" warns that many benefits of public investment in AI research and training are flowing to foreign firms, with nearly 75 per cent of intellectual property rights generated through the federal government's AI Strategy owned by foreign entities like Uber, Meta, and Google. To address this, the CCI calls for a policy and regulatory framework that supports the growth of domestic AI companies, emphasizing the need for access to talent, capital and customers, as well as clear and supportive marketplace frameworks. The report also recommends creating  an independent Parliamentary Technology and Science Officer to address AI-related issues, especially those related to the federal Artificial Intelligence and Data Act. CCI 


Pari Johnston was appointed incoming president and CEO of Colleges & Institutes Canada (CICan)  effective December 4. Johnston, a senior executive with 25 years of experience, is known for her strong leadership and commitment to advancing Canada's post-secondary education, research and innovation sectors. She currently serves as vice-president of policy and public affairs at Genome Canada and has held senior positions at Universities Canada. Johnston's extensive experience and alignment with CICan's mission and values make her well-suited to lead the organization during a period of significant transitions, CICan says. She will succeed Denise Amyot as CICan's 8th President & CEO. CICan

Veteran public servant Chris Forbes took over as deputy minister of Finance Canada, a post vacated earlier this year when Michael Sabia left Ottawa to lead Hydro-Québec. The key department has been without a permanent leader since May, when Sabia's departure was officially announced. Forbes, who holds a master's degree in economics from McGill University, comes to Finance Canada from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, where he had been deputy minister only since February. Prior to that, he was deputy minister of agriculture from 2017 to 2023. Ottawa also announced that Suzy McDonald will move from associate deputy minister of agriculture to associate deputy minister of finance. PMO, The Globe and Mail


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