Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada , Advent International , Alberta Innovates, Anodyne Chemistries , Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Aux Labs , Ballard Power Systems, Bank of Canada, BHP Group, Biden-Harris Administration , Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, Bitfarms Ltd. , C100, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL), Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Institutes in Health Research, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, CanBiocin, Carrefour Industriel et Experimental de Lanaudière, CDPQ, Cenovus Energy, Conference Board of Canada, ConocoPhillips, Cove, CVC Cardiovascular Health Foundation, Dalhousie University, DeepSense, Dialogue Health Technologies Inc., Environment and Climate Change Canada, Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, Filament Health , Finance Canada, Flare, Flaura cuir Végétal , Foretrace, Gabriel Dumont Institute/Dumont Technical Institute, Gestion Dryad , Government of Alberta, Government of British Columbia, Government of Nova Scotia, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, Government of Saskatchewan, Halifax Partnership, Helika, Innovate BC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Monetary Fund, Koble Care Inc., Lambton College, MEG Energy, Nanos Research, NanoTech Innovation , Natural Products Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Neptune Nanotechnologies, Noa Therapeutics, Novacap, Nuvei Corporation , Ontario Bioscience Innovation Corporation, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board , Pathways Alliance, Pembina Institute, RealSage, RFINE Biomass Solutions , Rose Hill, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, SixRing, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Solaris Bus & Coach, Suncor Energy, Taylor Family Foundation, Telesat, Telesat LEO Inc., The Ottawa Hospital, The White House, Tofu, Tri-agency funding organizations, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. government, U.S. Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Internal Revenue Service, U.S. National Bioeconomy Board, U.S. National Bioeconomy Board, Université de Bretagne Occidentale , Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université Laval, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, University of Ottawa, University of Prince Edward Island, University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, ZayZoon, and Zone AgTech


2024 New Ventures BC Competition, accelerator for blockchain game studios, agroscience innovation centre in Quebec, Alberta Innovates’ Water Innovation Program, Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) Regulations, allocating international student study permits, Atlantic Zero-Emission Energy System Laboratory , B.C. New Energy Action Framework, C100's Growth Program, Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R Evans Leaders Fund, Canada's bioeconomy companies, Canada's productivity "emergency", Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, Canadians' opinions on oil and gas industry, cardiovascular research, CHIPS and Science Act., clean fuels and materials from biowaste, CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 , Climate Change and Health Hub at University of Alberta, computing cluster for AI research , cybersecurity and threat assessment , DeepSense COVE Digital Ocean Research Chair at Dalhousie University, economic impact of federal gap on oil and gas industry's emissions, federal Mineral Exploration Tax Credit, federal-provincial debate over carbon tax, financial empowerment platforms, fintech for global payments, foreign investments in AI, quantum computing and space technology, fuel cell engines for buses, Geospace Dynamics Constellation-Ground (GDC-G) sensor network , Government of Ontario’s 2024 budget , Government of Quebec’s Budget 2024-25 , Government of Saskatchewan’s 2024-25 budget , ground-based sensor network for space environment research , guiding principles for implementing research security measures, impact of AI on jobs, impact of climate change on human health, importance of oil and gas to Canada's economy, industrial laboratories in Quebec's innovation zones, Inflation Reduction Act, international training of marine science specialists, Invest Ontario Fund , Investment Canada Act, kinesiology research, made-in-B.C. cap on oil and gas industry emissions, Natural Products Canada's commercialization programs, nature-based solutions, Ontario Centre of Innovation Life Science Innovation Fund, platform to find tech workers to hire, property technology firms, proposed federal cap on oil and gas industry emissions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, research on psilocybin for medical conditions, Saskatchewan's post-secondary sector, technology and investment to produce long-term economic gains, training in life sciences, treatments for inflammatory barrier diseases, U.S. actions on bioeconomy vs. CAnada's actions on bioeconomy, UCeed investment program, uOttawa's Microprogram in Biomanufacturing, virtual health care and wellness platform, and water-related technologies

The Short Report: April 3, 2024

Research Money
April 3, 2024


Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) announced a federal investment of $9.6 million in Université Laval to help support the creation of a computing cluster for AI research. Funded through the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (PCAIS), this investment will help purchase  state-of-the-art computing infrastructure that will allow Université Laval to host the Pan-Canadian AI Compute Environment (PAICE) platform. PAICE will be developed in collaboration with Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, the Digital Research Alliance of Canada and Calcul Québec. The Government of Quebec is also providing $6.4 million to support this project. ISED

Finance Canada announced the federal government will extend the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for investors in flow-through shares for an additional year, until March 31, 2025. This tax credit, which was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2024, provides important support to junior mineral exploration companies working to unlock Canada’s mineral wealth, creating jobs and growing the economy. This extension is expected to provide $65 million to support mineral exploration investment, Ottawa said. In 2021, the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit supported over 300 companies to raise equity by issuing eligible flow-through shares to more than 12,400 investors. Finance Canada

As Alberta faces a risk of extreme drought, the Government of Alberta is investing more than $75 million through Alberta InnovatesWater Innovation Program, supporting 101 completed projects, with 65 more in the works. All 166 projects represent a total project value of more than $256 million. These projects are helping researchers and industry accelerate development of new technology that will deliver safe, secure drinking water to communities and promote healthy aquatic ecosystems. Water Innovation Program projects that come under environment technologies are funded under four themes: future water supply and watershed management; healthy aquatic ecosystems; water conservation, efficiency and productivity; and water quality protection. One of the technologies, developed at the University of Alberta, uses a granular sludge reactor to increase the amount of processed water that can be reused and recycled. It will also increase the performance and capacity of municipal water treatment facilities. The project is currently being piloted at a City of Calgary wastewater treatment plant. Govt. of Alberta

The Government of Quebec announced nearly $42 million for Zone AgTech to establish an agroscience and agritechnology innovation centre in L’Assomption, a city about 50 kilometres northeast of Montreal. Zone AgTech said the funding will help create the new innovation centre and enable relocation of its activities from Carrefour Industriel et Experimental de Lanaudière, a research hub specializing in the integrated management of horticultural crop pests. The new centre will include “laboratories, technological workshops, offices, meeting and training rooms as well as a state-of-the-art greenhouse complex, which will make it possible to test and validate agricultural technologies and plant bioproducts in a controlled environment,” the government said. André Lamontagne, Quebec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, said in a statement the centre is aimed at responding to key challenges in the agriculture sector, including the fight against harmful pests and the availability of essential cultivated plants to adapt to climate change. CTV News

The Government of Ontario’s 2024 budget allocated an additional $100 million for the Invest Ontario Fund (IOF). IOF was established in 2020 to help attract foreign investment and help businesses expand their operations in the province, prioritizing firms in advanced manufacturing, life sciences and tech. This new investment is in addition to the $100 million promised in 2023 and brings the size of the IOF to $600 million. The province also outlined plans to create a $12-million Health Technology Accelerator Fund to help healthcare service providers buy and use promising new tech to improve patient care. According to the government, this fund will hasten the review and adoption of healthtech solutions and give innovators in the space, including Ontario companies, more opportunities to partner with health care players. The province also plans to invest an additional $1 million per year into Ontario’s Regional Innovation Centres and create a new one in Barrie. The budget also allocated an additional $18 million over the next three years to support the ongoing operation and maintenance of Ontario’s Advanced Research Computing systems. In addition, the budget committed $5 million to explore the use of digital twins to deliver public infrastructure projects and promised an additional $5 million annually to the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund. The government also noted that the Ontario Securities Commission is working to develop rules to support angel investor groups and broaden potential sources of capital by adopting a self-certified prospectus exemption. To help smaller issues secure funding, the OSC also intends to broaden investment dealer participation in prospectus offerings. BetaKit, Govt. of Ontario

The Government of Saskatchewan’s 2024-25 budget allocated $793 million for the province’s post-secondary sector – a 3.7-per-cent increase from the previous year. The budget provides for increased funding within the multi-year agreement, health training programs and health-related seat expansions, and capital for key infrastructure projects. The government is providing a one-time, $12-million increase to its current multi-year funding agreement with post-secondary institutions, representing a 2.2-per-cent increase in operating funding. More than $19.8 million in operating grants directly supports Indigenous post-secondary education, including targeted funding to increase Indigenous student recruitment, retention, engagement and achievement. All students will benefit directly from $46.5 million in financial supports, including a new grant for low-income students with dependents under age 12 (or over 12 with a permanent disability). Students will continue to receive benefits after their studies through the Graduate Retention Program, which provides up to $20,000 in tax credits to post-secondary graduates who live and work in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan's post-secondary institutions will receive approximately $724 million in operating and capital grants, including:

  • $492.7 million to the University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina and federated and affiliated colleges
  • $193.8 million to Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, and Gabriel Dumont Institute/Dumont Technical Institute
  • $37.1 million to Saskatchewan’s regional colleges. Govt. of Saskatchewan

The Government of Quebec’s Budget 2024-25 included innovation- and tech industry-focused  initiatives totalling $443.1 million over five years aimed at:

  • setting up industrial laboratories in innovation zones
  • growing Québec’s aerospace sector
  • continuing to develop the aluminum sector
  • promoting the adoption of new technologies and research
  • supporting entrepreneurship and acquisition entrepreneurship
  • recapitalizing the Natural Resources and Energy Capital Fund.

Innovation zones are intended to position Québec globally in strategic sectors and contribute to its prosperity, according to the provincial budget. To promote their development, the government is initially investing $5 million in 2024-25 for setting up industrial laboratories in certain innovation zones, with a view to accelerating the promotion and transfer of innovations. This will increase to a total $125 million over five years. These industrial laboratories will use their expertise to serve businesses in innovation zones, aimed at increasing the impact of government investment in sectors where Quebec stands out for its competitiveness and capacity to innovate, the government said. “They will enable businesses to benefit faster from innovations developed through applied research and to solve common industrial challenges, and will provide access to talent and a cutting-edge research ecosystem, speeding up the commercialization of new products and processes.” Govt. of Quebec


The Government of Canada is prepared to invest $2.14 billion in the Telesat Lightspeed broadband satellite project by way of a loan to Telesat LEO Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Telesat, that's developing and will own and operate the highly advanced Telsat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) global broadband satellite constellation, Telesat announced. The 15-year loan will carry a floating interest rate that is 4.75 per cent above the Canadian Overnight Repo Rate Average (which is just over five per cent now), with a 15-year maturity. Interest is payable in-kind during the Telesat Lightspeed construction period, followed by a 10-year "sculpted" amortization (where the principal repayments obligations have been calculated to ensure the principal and interest obligations are appropriately matched to the cash flows in each period). Telesat LEO will provide the federal government with warrants for 10 per cent of the common shares of Telesat LEO based on an equity valuation of the company of US$3 billion. Telesat said the company will save about US$750 million in reduced borrowing costs relative to the original Telesat Lightspeed program. Telesat

The University of Calgary will establish a new kinesiology research facility focused on studying human performance, movement and sport science, thanks to a $20-million donation from the Taylor Family Foundation. The 25,000-sq-ft facility will provide a new home for the Human Performance Lab, a multidisciplinary centre that explores mobility and longevity, and features modern equipment, including multiphoton microscopes, cell incubators, motion-capture systems and instrument treadmills. UCalgary said the new Taylor Family Kinesiology Building will take the university from one of the top sport science schools in North America to an international leader, with a state-of-the-art research facility that will enable revolutionary advancements in exercise physiology, neuroscience, nutrition and more. The new gift makes the Taylor Family the largest individual donor to UCalgary, with their support over the years totalling more than $100 million. UCalgary

The Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) has established a co-supervision agreement with the Université de Bretagne Occidentale to advance the training of marine science specialists in both Canada and France. Under this agreement, doctoral candidates in oceanography will carry out research and training under joint supervision (and receive joint funding) from the two universities. They will have the opportunity to work on one of four projects – with grants totalling nearly $265,000 – on topics that include: macroalgae in coastal areas; sediment dynamics; ocean conditions off the glaciers of Devon Island in Nunavut; benthic biodiversity of three Greenland fjords; and the links between the surface and interior of the sea-ice Arctic Ocean. PhD students – supported by scholarships of at least $22,000 pear year for three years – will graduate from both universities. This partnership agreement will also explore further areas of collaboration on the topic of marine sciences. UQAR

The University of Alberta (U of A) will establish a new research chair in cardiovascular science in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, thanks to a $5-million donation from the CVC Cardiovascular Health Foundation. The chair will help drive advancements in research, improve health outcomes for patients, boost collaboration across disciplines at U of A, and expand research partnerships. One of the chair’s key roles is to expand research partnerships nationally and internationally, with the CVC having already worked with institutions around the world, including the Duke Clinical Research Institute and others in the U.S., Belgium, Sweden, Singapore and Australia. The endowment will not only support research but will also boost collaboration across disciplines within the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, the College of Health Sciences and other agencies. The research chair will be recruited from outside the U of A to bring a fresh perspective. U of A

Rose Hill, a Jamaica-based company that cultivates and supplies psilocybin, announced a strategic partnership with the University of Guelph (U of G) to research the benefits of psilocybin to address autism in the adolescent brain. The collaborative pre-clinical research will focus on exploring and standardizing the chemical diversity of Rose Hill’s psilocybin mushrooms, legally imported from Jamaica to Canada for the work. The initial research, by Dr. Max Jones, associate professor of Plant Agriculture at U of G, will delve into the intricacies of Rose Hill's psilocybin mushrooms to both explore and standardize their chemical diversity. Translational neuroscience work, led by Dr. Melissa Perreault, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at U of G, will then explore the application of psilocybin in the adolescent brain, using a rodent model widely used to study idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorders. In these studies, her team will examine the biological effects of oral microdose psilocybin mushroom administration, utilizing brain systems functional assays and a range of behavioral paradigms such as learning and memory, anxiety, social interactions and repetitive behavior. Psilocybin mushrooms, known for their psychoactive properties, have long captivated the scientific community’s interest due to their potential therapeutic applications and unique biochemical composition. By systematically investigating the chemical diversity within these mushrooms over 12 months, the research aims to unravel the various compounds present and their potential implications. According to Rose Hill, this comprehensive study not only contributes to advancing the knowledge of these intriguing fungi, but also lays the foundation for potential therapeutic developments and responsible usage within the field of neuropsychopharmacology. Rose Hill

University of Calgary (UCalgary) researchers are about to conduct the largest single-site clinical trial of its kind in Canada to find out whether combining a known therapy with psychedelics could be a viable treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). “Our study will help determine whether psilocybin combined with motivational enhancement therapy is a clinically feasible treatment for alcohol use disorder,” said Dr. Leah Mayo, PhD, principal investigator and Parker Chair in Psychedelics at the Cumming School of Medicine. Researchers will recruit 128 people diagnosed with AUD. Participants will be assigned to a specially trained therapist who will support them for the entire trial. Structured therapy sessions will be conducted before and after the psilocybin treatment. “We want to start with psychotherapy, which is effective on its own for some in this population, and then determine if adding psilocybin will improve the effectiveness of treatment,” Mayo said. She said one of the most important things in testing and developing new treatments is to develop a standardized protocol that can be replicated anywhere, so that the science can be validated and new interventions can emerge. Co-principal investigator Dr. David Hodgins, PhD, will train the therapists. The study is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Filament Health is supplying safe, standardized, naturally-derived psychedelic medicines for the trial. UCalgary

Dr. Yulin Hu, an assistant professor in the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering, has received federal and provincial government funding to establish a new Atlantic Zero-Emission Energy System Laboratory that will produce clean and sustainable fuels and materials from biowaste. The project is being supported with a $151,439 contribution through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and $64,362 from Innovation PEI, as well as $147,564 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R Evans Leaders Fund.  Hu and her research team will develop clean and sustainable fuels and materials, including hydrogen, syngas, drop-in fuels and cardon dioxide bio-adsorbents, that can be used as substitutes for fossil fuels-derived fuels and materials. They will use a wide range of biomass and organic waste ranging from agricultural and forestry waste to industrial and municipal solid waste to produce material and chemicals that are normally produced from fossil fuels. The new laboratory will be located in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering building on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown. UPEI

The University of Ottawa has partnered with The Ottawa Hospital’s Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre and the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) to deliver a customized course as part of the university’s Microprogram in Biomanufacturing. Biomanufacturing is a rapidly growing industry critical for the production of new vaccines, gene therapies and cell therapies. The 12-week course,, “Principles of Biopharmaceutical Process Development and Biomanufacturing Science,” is aimed at MSc biochemistry, microbiology and immunology students within the Faculty of Medicine. The course was designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the scientific and engineering challenges present in the manufacturing of biopharmaceutical products. As part of the course, students have the unique opportunity to experience a biomanufacturing environment firsthand through interactive tours at The Ottawa Hospital’s Biotherapeutic Manufacturing Centre. Upon course completion, students will earn three graduate credits towards the nine-credit Microprogram in Biomanufacturing. CASTL

Natural Products Canada (NPC) announced $1.2 million in support for nine companies through its strategic Commercialization Programs. The recipients reflect the broad application of nature-based solutions, encompassing everything from plant-based leather alternatives to animal probiotics. NPC’s contributions will enable a total of $3.5 million in strategic initiatives designed to help each client tackle the critical next step in their commercialization journey. The recipients are startups from across the country: Aux Labs (Ontario); Anodyne Chemistries (B.C.); Canbiocin (Alberta); Flaura cuir Végétal (Quebec); Gestion Dryad (Quebec); NanoTech Innovation (B.C.); Neptune Nanotechnologies (Ontario); RFINE Biomass Solutions (Nova Scotia); and SixRing (Alberta). NPC’s Commercialization Programs focus on three gaps common to highly innovative companies: product validation, talent, and competitive strategy. The Proof of Concept, Access to Talent, and Fast Track to Financing programs address each of these gaps and provide up to $350,000 in support. NPC


Montreal-based global payments fintech Nuvei Corporation announced it will be acquired and taken private by Boston-based fintech private equity investing firm Advent International in an all-cash deal valued at US$6.3 billion. Shareholders will receive $34 per share in cash, a premium of 56 per cent relative to Nuvei’s  closing share price on the Nasdaq on March 15. Canadian shareholders Philip Fayer (Nuvei’s founder), Novacap and CDPQ will indirectly own or control approximately 24 per cent, 18 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, of the equity in the resulting private company as part of the agreement. Fayer will continue to lead Nuvei as chair and CEO, alongside his broader leadership team, with Montreal continuing to serve as Nuvei's headquarters. The deal still requires shareholders’ and regulatory approval. The deal will make Nuvei the latest in a growing list of publicly traded Canadian tech businesses returning to private companies, including BBTV Holdings, Dialogue Health Technologies, Magnet Forensics, MDF Commerce, Q4 Inc, and TrueContextNuvei  

Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems announced a long-term supply agreement with Solaris Bus & Coach, a leading European bus manufacturer, for the supply of 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell engines through 2027 for the European transit market. The consolidated order is the largest for fuel cell engines in Ballard’s 45-year history. The agreement consolidates existing orders for approximately 300 fuel cell engines, while adding after-market and extended warranty services to such existing orders, with a new supply commitment for an incremental 700 fuel cell engines and related after-market extended warranty services.  The 1,000 units will be made up of approximately 80 per cent FCmove®-HD 70 kW and 20 per cent FCmove®-HD+ 100 kW engines to address both the 12-metre and 18-metre bus markets, with delivery starting in 2024 and running through the end of 2027. Solaris buses powered by Ballard fuel cell engines currently operate in over 22 European cities. Ballard also announced it has been awarded $54 million of investment tax credits from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as part of the 48C program, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and which provides 30-per-cent investment tax credits for selected clean energy supply chains. Ballard plans to use the credits to support the build-out of a new fuel cell gigafactory in Rockwall, Texas. The company also was selected to receive $40 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to support the new gigafactory. Ballard Power Systems

Montreal-based cybersecurity firm Flare announced it acquired Foretrace, a data exposure company based in Howard County, Maryland, for an undisclosed amount. Foretrace’s technology enables improved correlation and contextualization of threat exposure data with generative AI systems trained to provide assistance for users in threat investigations. Adding these improvements to Flare’s platform – which amalgamates the coverage of previously siloed technology solutions such as cyber threat intelligence, attack surface management, and digital risk protection – promises to deliver better outcomes for customers looking to build out threat exposure management programs, Flare said. As part of the deal, Flare announced that Foretrace founding executives Nick Ascoli and Matt Mosley will be joining the company as senior product strategist and vice-president of strategic partnerships respectively. Accesswire

Montreal-based Dialogue Health Technologies Inc., a virtual health care and wellness platform, announced it acquired certain assets of Toronto-based Koble Care Inc., a digital health and well-being platform supporting women’s health. The purchase – for an undisclosed amount – includes Koble’s entire suite of proprietary content, and related software and intellectual property. Koble’s expert content will be integrated into Dialogue's Integrated Health Platform. Swati Matta, Koble Founder and CEO, will be joining Dialogue’s team as head of women’s health. In July 2023, Dialogue was acquired by Sun Life for an equity value of $365 million. Dialogue


C100 announced its Growth Program, a new core initiative structured to help discover, grow and propel  Canada’s most promising scale-stage technology companies into global market leaders. Founded in 2009, C100 is a global network of Canadian tech founders, operators, and investors aimed at supporting Canadian tech entrepreneurs. This new program will provide selected companies and their leadership access to the C100 network – which includes Silicon Valley and global members. The C100 Growth Program is tailored to confront the challenges facing rapidly expanding Canadian tech businesses, including the scarcity of later-stage, risk-tolerant capital, a lack of experienced senior talent capable of navigating global markets, and insufficient personalized mentoring for CEOs and executives from seasoned industry veterans. Building on the continuity and learnings of 15 years of Fellows programming (C100’s early-stage founder program) and leaning into the veteran scale expertise of an exceptional membership – many based outside of Canada, predominantly in Silicon Valley – the Growth Program signals an expansion of C100’s mission to support Canadian-based founders, CEOs and executives at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey. Like the C100 Fellows Program, the 12-month-long Growth Program offers a comprehensive suite of support mechanisms, including in-person and virtual workshops, customized mentoring for entire leadership teams, role-specific peer groups, and an extensive network of service providers, funder, and experienced entrepreneurs. Applications for the new Growth Program and the C100 Fellows Program will be open from April through June, with the selection process in July and August and the program’s official launch in September. C100 has a goal to support more than 100 Canadian technology and tech-enabled companies in achieving revenues over $100 million and to propel some to surpass the $1 billion mark by 2030. C100

Calgary-based fintech startup ZayZoon raised an additional US$15 million through an extension of its Series B round. The round extension was led by Israeli venture fund Viola Fintech with participation from Intuit Ventures, previous investor Export Development Canada, and the original Series B round leader Framework Venture Partners. ZayZoon said the financing will support its continued growth, innovation and expansion. The company offers a financial empowerment platform for small and medium-sized businesses, allowing workers to receive a percentage of their wages before their employer’s formal weekly, bi-weekly or monthly payouts. Business Wire

Toronto-based property tech startup RealSage raised $5.5 million in seed funding for its AI-powered data intelligence software for multi-family rental housing asset managers. The funding round, comprised of equity financing, was primarily backed by American investors, including York IE, Karman Ventures, and Stellifi VC. RealSage’s software utilizes AI and predictive analytics to offer insights into market trends, tenant selection, pricing optimization, occupancy rates, and vacancy reduction. The funding will support expansion efforts in the U.S. and further product development. Medium

Toronto-based biotech startup Noa Therapeutics, a pre-clinical stage biotech company with a portfolio of novel trimodal therapeutics to address inflammatory barrier diseases, announced it raised $2.2 million in pre-seed financing. The round was led by UCeed (Canada’s largest university-based fund, at University of Calgary), with participation that included Ontario Centre of Innovation Life Science Innovation Fund, Archangel Network’s StarForge and Phoenix Fire funds, Golden Triangle Angel Network, Angel One Investor Network, and NorthSpring Capital Partners. The financing round included 58 per cent of investment diligence led by women and 27 per cent direct dilutive investment by women. Noa Therapeutics also announced its board of directors, including Dr. Maura Campbell, president and CEO of Ontario Bioscience Innovation Corporation, and Dr. François Ravenelle, president and CEO of Inversago Pharma. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Noa Therapeutics’ lead drug candidate for atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema), as well as optimizing promising molecules into potential drugs to treat secondary inflammatory diseases involving barrier dysfunction, including ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Noa Therapeutics

Toronto-based startup Tofu raised $1.2 million in pre-seed funding led by Night Capital with support from Garage Capital, San Francisco’s Wayfinder Ventures and Ritual Capital, and angel investor Deva Santiago. Tofu’s platform makes it easier for technology firms to find qualified tech workers that other companies have already vetted, but not hired. Tofu plans to scale up its marketplace to serve more companies and grow its team with product and engineering hires. BetaKit

The 2024 New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC, has officially started, with $250,000 in cash and prizes available. Now in its 24th consecutive year, the competition invites startups from across British Columbia to apply for the province’s largest and longest-running tech competition. Every year, hundreds of early-stage ventures from across B.C. vie for the title of the province’s top tech startup. Last year, 212 startups entered the competition, with North Vancouver’s RetreatsAndVenues emerging victorious. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,500 startups have participated, and more than $4 million in cash and prizes have been awarded. Vancouver-based biotech firm AbCellera competed in the competition more than a decade ago. For more information about this year’s competition, click here. New Ventures BC


Tri-agency sets out guiding principles and resources to help research community implement research security measures

The Tri-agency of Canada’s three federal research granting agencies – Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, along with the Canada Foundation for Innovation have set out guiding principles and policies, guidelines and resources to help the research community implement research security measures. Canada’s federal granting agencies recognize the importance of research security in the conduct of research and research training, as well as in research funding opportunities and policies, the Tri-agency said.

“This shared acknowledgement contributes to safeguarding Canada’s national security and its open and collaborative research ecosystem. In so doing, we are committed to ensuring that the research that we fund does not contribute to advancements in military, security, and intelligence capabilities of foreign state actors that could pose a risk to Canada’s national security.”

The research security measures developed by the federal government and implemented by the federal granting agencies follow a set of guiding principles (the longer description of each principle is available here), which are:

  1. Academic freedom: Freedom to teach and conduct research in an academic environment.
  2. Freedom from discrimination, harassment and coercion: Freedom from discrimination is a fundamental and internationally recognized human right that is foundational to the success of all aspects of the research enterprise.
  3. Equity, diversity and inclusion: Equity, diversity and inclusion is the active promotion of the principles of access, diversity and non-discrimination in all research activities – including recruitment procedures and career prospects.
  4. Institutional autonomy: Research institutions are free to pursue inquiry and disseminate knowledge based on evidence, data, and peer review.
  5. Open science and access to researchOpen science is the practice of making scientific inputs, outputs and processes freely available to all with minimal restrictions.
  6. Fostering public trust and research in the public interest: Openness, integrity and security in research are essential to fostering and maintaining trust in the scientific process and in the scientific knowledge produced across all research disciplines.
  7. Transparency: Fully transparent and reciprocal sharing of the methods, data, and outcomes of research – while maintaining confidentiality when appropriate – is crucial to research collaboration, integrity, and the free flow of ideas and information.
  8. Freedom of expression: As provided for in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of expression is the protection of free speech and the open exchange of ideas that form the cornerstone of intellectual discourse and the engine of impactful discovery.
  9. Integrity: As indicated in the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, anyone who conducts or supports research activities throughout the lifecycle of the research project or program – including the proposing, designing, performing, evaluating, reporting and dissemination of research and development – is expected to behave according to the values of honesty, fairness, trust, accountability and openness in order to foster and maintain an environment that supports and promotes the responsible conduct of research.
  10. Collaboration: In tandem with the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, research collaboration encourages the free flow of ideas and research. Research collaborations and partnerships must be encouraged and enabled between people, institutions and organizations who share common research goals and values.

The Tri-agency also provided a list of resources on federal policies and guidelines aimed at addressing research security vulnerabilities in the academic research environment, and which are being implemented by the federal granting agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The resource list includes:

A complete list of resources, including key lists and forms, can be found under the Resources section. NSERC


Canada tightening scrutiny of foreign investments in AI, quantum computing and space tech

Canada will tighten its scrutiny of foreign investments in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and space technology as the government expands its power to stall and block deals for national security reasons.

Non-Canadian companies will have to give advance warning to the government before they invest in or acquire Canadian entities in those key technology sectors, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in an interview with Bloomberg. The tougher rules will also apply to investments in critical minerals and potentially other sectors, he said. 

The idea is to buy the government time to conduct a national security review before any transaction gets too far advanced. The would-be buyer or investor may be restricted in its access to the target company’s user data or other property while the review is taking place, Champagne said.

It’s the first time the Minister has outlined some of the industries and technologies that will fall under beefed-up regulations to be attached to the Investment Canada Act, which is one of the major laws governing foreign investment in Canada and was recently revamped.

Canada has traditionally had an open door to foreign companies making acquisitions, a policy that allowed large global firms to snap up large mining and metals, energy and consumer products companies in Canada in the years before the 2008 global financial meltdown.

The mood began to shift after the financial crisis, as the government blocked BHP Group’s push to buy a huge potash miner and placed restrictions on the flow of Chinese capital into the oil industry. In recent years, as the U.S. began to take broader measures to counter Chinese influence and money, Canada has followed suit.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced a tightening of rules on foreign investment into the video game industry and other interactive media, citing the ability of “hostile state-sponsored or state-influenced actors” to use the games to spread disinformation.

The government also has also been taking steps to prevent certain foreign companies from taking control of Canadian critical-minerals producers. In 2022, Canada ordered three Chinese entities to divest from a trio of junior lithium producers.

Still, Chinese companies have continued investing in Canadian junior miners and China’s ambassador to Canada recently told Bloomberg his country intends to keep doing business in the industry.

Some mining companies have spoken out against Canada’s crackdown on Chinese investment, arguing the limits will make it harder to produce the metals. BNN Bloomberg


Canada has a productivity “emergency” that needs fixing, says Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor

Canada’s ongoing decline in productivity is now an “emergency, says Carolyn Rogers, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada. “I’m saying that it’s an emergency – it’s time to break the glass,” she said in a speech to the Halifax Partnership, the Halifax Regional Municipality’s economic development organization.

 In 1984, the Canadian economy was producing 88 per cent of the value generated by the U.S. economy per hour, Rogers said. By 2022, Canadian productivity had fallen to just 71 per cent of that of the U.S.. Over this same period, Canada also fell behind its G7 peers, with only Italy seeing a larger decline in productivity relative to the U.S.

When people measure productivity in an economy, they’re looking either at its level – how much value an economy is producing for every hour worked – or at the growth rate of that productivity, she said “Canada has been struggling on both measures for a while.”

Increasing productivity means finding ways for people to create more value during the time they’re at work, Rogers said. “This is a goal to aim for, not something to fear.”

There are two basic strategies for increasing productivity, she said. One is to have the economy focus more on the industries that add greater value than less-productive activities. The other strategy is to keep doing the jobs we’re doing but do them more efficiently.

Improving productivity doesn’t mean shutting down whole sections of the economy and telling workers they have to go learn new sets of skills, Rogers said. It means paying attention to where the future high-value industries are coming from. “We need to ensure that the right incentives are in place to allow companies in these industries to grow and thrive. And they need the right supports, such as access to markets and financing.”

The first area for improvement is in labour composition, or the skills workers bring to the job, she said. For existing workers, improvement means having access to training and reskilling programs. For new entrants to the workforce, “we’re counting on colleges, universities and apprenticeship programs to prepare students for current and future jobs.”

The second key area relates to multifactor productivity. Small and medium-sized companies tend to lack the economies of scale that allow larger firms to become more productive, Rogers said. “And Canada has proportionally more of these smaller firms than many other economies do. Removing disincentives to growth is always a good idea.”

But the biggest area of concern is lack of business competition in Canada, she said.  Competition drives companies to become more productive by innovating and by finding ways to be more efficient. “In doing so, competition can make the whole economy more productive.”

Canada’s economy features many sectors where companies face limited levels of competition, whether from firms in other provinces, foreign rivals or new entrants, Rogers noted. If firms have high profits, high margins and limited competition, they may not feel as much pressure to invest, she said.

 “When you compare Canada’s recent productivity record with that of other countries, what really sticks out is how much we lag on investment in machinery, equipment and, importantly, intellectual property,” Rogers said.

The global economy continues to change rapidly, and in many sectors, it’s not machinery and equipment that are key – it’s investment in intellectual property, she said. Increasingly, companies need to own or have the rights to patents that will allow them to compete by adopting productivity-boosting processes.

Rogers said another challenge for companies may be a lack of policy certainty. In some cases, incentives or regulatory approaches can change from year to year. “We have also heard from companies that are naturally wary of a regulatory approval process that can be both lengthy and unpredictable.”

Higher productivity should be everyone’s goal because it’s how we build a better economy for everyone, Rogers said. “When a business gives workers better tools and better training, those workers can produce more. That, in turn, means more revenue for the business, which allows it to absorb rising costs, including higher wages, without having to raise prices.” Bank of Canada


Ontario, Nova Scotia allocating vast majority of international student study permits under federal cap to public colleges and universities

The Government of Ontario is allocating the vast majority of international student study permit applications allowed under the federal cap on international students to the province’s public colleges and universities.

Ontario will allocate 96 per cent of permit applications to publicly assisted colleges and universities, with the remaining four per cent allotted to Ontario’s language schools, private universities and other institutions. Career colleges will not receive any applications.

The province didn’t say how many permit applications it’s allowed under the federal cap. Applications will be allocated to institutions based on the following criteria:

  • Prioritize programs in the following high-demand areas: skilled trades, health human resources, STEM, hospitality and child care.
  • Cannot exceed the institution’s 2023 permit application levels.
  • As a final backstop, the ratio of international permits cannot exceed 55 per cent (exclusive of high-demand areas) of the institution’s 2023 first-year domestic enrolment.

French-language enrolment will also be prioritized as employers compete for workers with French-language skills, the government said. The government said it will work with colleges and universities to support them in standing up and transitioning to programming aligned with labour market needs and support Ontario’s economic growth.

To protect international postsecondary students and ensure they have a positive and rewarding experience when studying in Ontario, the government also requires all publicly assisted colleges and universities to have a guarantee that housing options are available for incoming international students.

The government also invested more than $32 million in 2023-24 to support the mental health of all postsecondary students. This includes funding provided directly to postsecondary institutions through multiple grants.

International students may apply for a post-graduation work permit after graduating from an eligible designated learning institution in Canada.

The Government of Nova Scotia is also allocating the lion’s share of its international student permits under the federal cap to public post-secondary institutions.

Nova Scotia’s 12,900 permit applications – down from about 7,000 last year – will be distributed among 32 designated learning institutions (those approved to accept international students):

  • 11,565 to the province’s 10 universities and Nova Scotia Community College
  • 710 to a dozen private career colleges
  • 526 to nine language schools.

The province will hold back 99 application spaces to allow for some flexibility to respond to unexpected circumstances and new programs.

As part of the Nova Scotia government’s one-year agreements with universities announced last month, they must develop international student sustainability plans outlining how these students will be recruited, housed and connected to the labour market.

From 2013 to 2019, the number of international students enrolled in vocational programs at private career colleges in Ontario increased almost 12 times, from 882 international students in 2013 to 10,368 in 2019, according to internal Ontario government documents obtained by the advocacy group One Voice. According to Career Colleges Ontario’s website, the association represents more than 280 regulated career college campuses across Ontario.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller has said the cap is in response to a recent surge in international students and is meant to curb bad actors from taking advantage of high tuition fees while providing a poor education. Govt. of Ontario, Govt. of Nova Scotia


Majority of Canadians rate oil and gas important to Caada’s current economy

Approximately three in four Canadians (74 per cent) rate oil and natural gas as important (score of 7-10 out of 10) to Canada’s current economy, according to a survey commissioned by Positive Energy at the University of Ottawa and conducted by Nanos Research. The survey, by phone and online random survey, gauged the opinions of 1,114 Canadians 18 years of age or older on oil and gas.

When asked the reason for their opinion on the importance of oil and gas to Canada’s current economy, the top response for one in four Canadians (25 per cent) was because it “contributes/is tied to Canadian/provincial economy, exports, jobs.” That was followed (10 per cent) by it is “needed for our lifestyle and the cold weather (vehicle and transportation, heating, etc.), and “we are still reliant/dependent on it” (9.6 per cent).

The importance of oil and gas to Canada’s future economy has slightly decreased, with more than half of Canadians (53 per cent) rating it as important (score of 7-10 out of 10) compared with about three in five in the two previous research waves (57 per cent in January 2023 and August 2023). When asked the reason for their opinion, 25.1 per cent of respondents said “moving towards clean energy/reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” while 18.2 per cent said “oil and gas remains the main energy source/key resource in Canada/nothing can/will replace oil and gas.”

Most Canadians agree or somewhat agree that Canada should expand oil and gas exports to help the world have more secure energy supplies (31 per cent agree and 21 per cent somewhat agree, compared with 34 per cent agree and 24 per cent somewhat agree in August 2023). Of note, men are more likely than women to agree/somewhat agree (62 per cent men; 44 per cent women;) that Canada should expand oil and gas exports to help the world have more secure energy supplies.

Most Canadians agree or somewhat agree that exports from Canada’s oil and gas sector can contribute to combatting global climate change (34 per cent agree and  27 per cent somewhat agree, compared with 36 per cent agree and 28 per cent somewhat agree in August 2023), by displacing energy sources that are more damaging to the climate. Of note, residents of the Prairies are more likely (67 per cent) than those from Quebec (49 per cent) to agree/somewhat agree that exports from Canada’s oil and gas sector can contribute to combatting global climate change by displacing energy sources in other countries that are more damaging to the climate.

Consistent with the previous wave of research, Canadians are five times more likely to rate the job done by governments at providing a clear, predictable and competitive policy and regulatory environment for investors building energy infrastructure to help Canada meet its climate change targets as very poor/poor (45 per cent in January 2024 and 44 per cent in January 2023) than very good/good (9 per cent in January 2024 and 8 per cent in January 2023). When asked the reason for their rating of governments’ performance, most answered “I don’t know enough about this/not enough transparency for the public to know” (12 per cent). That was followed by “a lot of stop and go on actions or promises/confusion about priorities” (8 per cent), and “government continues to create regulatory red tape/approval is too slow/over taxation” (8 per cent).

Consistent with the previous wave of research, almost six in ten Canadians say that federal and provincial governments do a very poor/poor job of cooperating on decision-making on energy (23 per cent very poor, 34 per cent poor) and cooperating on decision-making on climate change (23 per cent very poor, 35 per cent poor). In both instances, residents of the Prairies are more likely to rate the job done as very poor/poor (79 per cent very poor/poor for decision making on energy and 75 per cent very poor/poor for cooperating on decision making on climate change) than residents of Quebec (37 per cent very poor/poor for decision making on energy and 41 per cent very poor/poor cooperating on decision making on climate change).

The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus percentage points, 19 times out of 20. University of Ottawa


Business leaders call on federal government to withdraw proposed cap on oil and gas industry emissions

A group of Calgary business leaders is calling on Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, to withdraw a proposed federal cap on the oil and natural gas sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, “given the profound consequences it would have on Canada’s economic prosperity.”

In a March 27 open letter to Guilbeault, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and its members say they’re aligned with the federal government’s commitment to reducing emissions – recognizing the significant challenge climate change poses to our planet and economy.“ However, we know a sector-specific cap on emissions is neither an effective nor efficient tool to address this challenge.” Rather than support investment, the emissions cap would create uncertainty, unfavourable economic conditions and a punitive regulatory environment, all of which would strand investment and innovation in decarbonization projects, the letter’s signatories say.

The signatories include: Calgary Chamber of Commerce; Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; Explorers and Producers Association of Canada; and Pathways Alliance and oilsands producer members Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy (but not Alliance members ConocoPhillips, Imperial and Meg Energy).

The signatories say that in the absence of the proposed emissions cap, there is momentum, with the desire to decarbonize creating a period of unprecedented collaboration. Emissions from conventional oil and gas production have fallen by 24 per cent from 2012 through 2021, and oilsands producers have continued to reduce the emissions intensity per barrel, achieving a 23-per-cent reduction since 2009.

[Editor’s note: The oil and gas industry’s total, or absolute, emissions have continued to increase, along with an increase in production].

Carbon pricing, coupled with strategic incentives, such as Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction  Regulations (TIER), has proven to be both effective and efficient, the signatories say. “This calls into question the merits of implementing a blunt instrument like an emissions cap – particularly given it would have a direct impact on energy costs for both businesses and consumers, compromise opportunities for Indigenous economic reconciliation, and negatively affect continental energy security by limiting the domestic supply of oil and gas products, making us reliant on international supply to maintain energy security."

The added regulatory burden, compliance costs and loss of production associated with the implementation of an emissions cap would increase both the price to produce and consume energy, the signatories say. The cap would also have a direct impact on Indigenous communities in Canada. Currently, 7.4 per cent of the energy sector’s workforce identifies as Indigenous, more than twice the national average. In its proposed state, the emissions cap would lead to a drop in production, and consequently a decline in employment opportunities currently available to Indigenous peoples. The emissions cap also inhibits Indigenous communities’ ability to participate in the energy industry at a time when the industry is actively investing in partnership opportunities with communities.

Energy security is of growing concern globally. By imposing a sector-specific cap-and-trade policy, the government has proposed a system that by its very nature, limits production, the signatories say. This system would undermine the ability of energy-producing provinces to regulate and develop their own resources – directly inhibiting the ability of Canadian producers to safeguard national and continental energy security, they say.

“Ultimately, the emissions cap is based on flawed economic, social and environmental policy. It sets us up to miss targets – not meet them, running counter to actual emissions reduction.” The signatories call on the government to:

  1. Withdraw the proposed emissions cap to allow the broad-based commercial carbon pricing and the provincial equivalents to effectively reduce emissions. 
  2. Advance and bolster further investment in decarbonization technologies, including carbon capture, utilization and storage through legislating the proposed investment tax credits and increasing funding to the Canada Growth Fund to support the development of Carbon contracts for difference. 
  3. Engage in further consultation with all sectors of the Canadian economy to understand the social, financial, and regulatory impacts of the proposed emissions cap and other legislation such as the Clean Electricity Regulations, with the goal of minimizing unintended consequences, maintaining economic stability and allowing the Canadian energy industry to capitalize on decarbonizing the economy in support of Canada’s long-term prosperity.

The federal government plans to publish the draft regulations for the emissions cap this year, with final regulations being published in 2025. The cap is expected to be phased in between 2026 and 2030.

“No industry should be allowed unlimited pollution; the oil and gas industry is no different,” a spokesperson for Guilbeault said in a statement. Calgary Chamber of Commerce


Federal cap on oil and gas emissions would come at substantial economic cost, Conference Board of Canada report says

The federal government’s proposed cap and trade system for the oil and gas sector would reduce emissions within six years, but the likely cuts to oil and gas production “would come at a substantial cost,” according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC).

Ottawa’s policy would see greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector reduced by 22 per cent from 171 megatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (Mt CO2e) in 2019 to 134 Mt CO2e when the regulations come into force in 2030.

The CBoC’s report puts the price tag at an estimated $2,100 in reduced Canadian economic activity for each tonne of CO2e emissions forgone through oil and gas production cuts. Some of the emission cuts from the new policy would be achieved at a lower cost (e.g., credit offsets and methane reductions).

Alternatives to production cuts, such as investments in carbon capture technologies, are typically much cheaper (around $100 to $200 per tonne of CO2e reduced), but would take significantly more time to implement and represent direct costs for companies as opposed to lost income, according to the report.

Greenhouse gas efficiency gains and technology adoption will not, on their own, be sufficient to meet the proposed emission targets, the CBoC says. As a result, the CBoC assumes efficiency gains will need to be supplemented by oil and gas production cuts to meet the federal government’s targets. The lion’s share – 79 per cent – of these production cuts would occur in Alberta.

The cost estimate was determined using the CBoC’s national and provincial economic models. The CBoC’s forecast assumes the oil and gas sector continues to grow in line with its modelled baseline outlook between now and 2029. Output is then reduced only when required by the federal policy in 2030.

In that year, a one-time, permanent shock to the oil and gas sector reduces real Canadian GDP by 0.90 per cent versus the CBoC’s modelled  baseline in 2030, a gap that slowly closes to 0.75 per cent by 2040.

In Alberta, real GDP is reduced by 3.8 per cent versus the baseline in 2030. “Even with this large shock, both oil and gas production and the economy overall would expand between now and 2030, but at a slower rate.”

In Canada, total real economic growth between 2023 and 2030 slows from 15.3 per cent to 14.3 per cent. In Alberta, growth slows from 17.8 to 13.3 per cent. Similarly, employment growth falls in Alberta – dropping from 15.8 per cent to 13.6 per cent over this period.

Total output in the oil and gas sector, as measured by barrels per day equivalents, would be much lower – growing only 1.6 per cent between 2023 and 2030, compared with 14.3 per cent without the federal policy. This reduced output would contribute directly to reduced emissions (which would fall 21.5 per cent, in line with the federal regulations), but would also impact federal and provincial finances. For the federal government, nominal revenues are expected to be 0.8 per cent lower due to the reduced economic activity in the oil and gas sector.

In Alberta, which relies heavily on royalties from the sector, revenue would decline by 4.5 per cent versus the baseline scenario in 2030. While this still represents growth of 11.9 per cent between now and 2030 in nominal terms (i.e. not adjusted for inflation), Alberta government revenues would be $4.5 billion lower in nominal terms in fiscal year 2030–31 as a result of Ottawa’s policy.

Oil and gas production cuts would be larger and more severe if carbon capture, utilization and storage projects currently under development come online slower than expected, the CBoC notes.

The CBoC said its analysis shines a light on the degree to which major economic shifts are required if Canada is to meet its goal of a net-zero economy by 2050. While addressing the climate crisis is a high priority, it is critical that we understand the negative disruptions that will likely occur in moving quickly to achieve that objective, the CBoC said. “Planning ahead, investing in support systems, training, and other programs to help individuals, businesses and governments adjust to the coming changes will be critical if broad support for climate change policies is to be maintained.” CBoC


B.C. government “backstops” federal cap on oil and gas emissions with a made-in-B.C. cap

The Government of British Columbia has announced the New Energy Action Framework, establishing that the target for reducing GHG emissions in the province’s oil and gas sector will be met by way of a made-in-B.C. oil and gas emissions cap. 

The oil and gas industry is currently responsible for around 50 per cent of industrial emissions and 20 per cent of B.C.’s total emissions, and represents two per cent of B.C.’s economy (based on the sector’s contribution to GDP). 

The sectoral target for the oil and gas industry aims to reduce emissions 33 per cent to 38 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030.  

“The oil and gas sector emissions cap is a critical and necessary tool to fight pollution and meet our emission reduction targets,” George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Strategy, said in a statement. B.C.’s framework, he said, “outlines our clear plan and timelines to ensure that oil and gas companies use some of their profits to reduce their climate-harming emissions in a predictable and accountable way.”

The B.C. government is in discussions with Ottawa to align the federal cap with B.C.’s specific goals and commitments, including meeting B.C.’s sectoral greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets and to avoid regulatory duplication and administrative burden for the oil and gas sector.

B.C. will introduce regulatory measures in 2025, to take effect in 2026, as a backstop to the federal emissions cap on the oil and gas industry. The backstop will only apply if there are gaps between federal coverage and B.C.’s targets. The backstop regulation will also apply in the event the federal cap is not implemented or is cancelled.

Oil and gas companies will continue to have incentives to reduce emissions through the Province’s new output-based pricing system and access to the CleanBC Industry Fund to support the companies’ work to transition to clean energy, the provincial government said.

The CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 committed that the province would implement policies and programs to ensure the oil and gas sector meets its sectoral targets. 

According to the most-recent information from the federal government, emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas sector have declined by 13 per cent since 2007 and 10 per cent since 2018, the provincial government said. This means emissions from oil and gas sector have been reduced from 13.6 megatonnes (Mt) in 2007, to 11.9 Mt in 2021.

B.C. has also reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 50 per cent, surpassing its target to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025.

“This progress can be attributed to several factors, including electrification using B.C.’s clean power, effective carbon pricing for industry and reductions in fugitive methane emissions,” the government said. However, it added that without further action, such as an oil and gas emissions cap, oil and gas emissions are expected to increase between now and 2030.

A made-in-B.C. regulatory cap on the sector’s emissions puts B.C. in position to meet its 2030 target of 9.1 Mt emitted per year – a 33 per cent reduction from 2007, the provincial government said.

Chris Severson-Baker, executive director of the Pembina Institute, an energy and climate policy think tank, said: “The Pembina Institute welcomes the B.C. government’s commitment to introducing oil and gas cap regulations in 2025, and urges the federal government to respond by formally implementing its promised oil and gas emission cap regulation this year, knowing it has a willing partner in the Province of British Columbia.” Govt. of B.C.


Federal-provincial debate over federal carbon tax intensifies

Seven premiers and the federal Conservatives called on the federal government to cancel April 1’s scheduled increase of the carbon price by $15 per tonne, increasing from $65 to $80 per tonne. The increase will add 3.3 cents to a litre of gasoline and 2.9 cents to a cubic metre of natural gas. The carbon rebates sent to households every three months are also being adjusted in parallel to the carbon price itself.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said political leaders who criticize the policy are failing to acknowledge and inform Canadians about those rebates, which are meant to offset costs to consumers. Households that lower their fuel use save money, but their rebate amounts are unaffected.

“Conservative premiers across this country are misleading Canadians, are not telling the truth,” Trudeau said. “Eight out of 10 families across the country in federal [carbon price] backstop jurisdictions make more money with the Canada Carbon Rebate than it costs with the price on pollution.”

Trudeau also accused Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre of blocking legislation that would double the rebate top-up for rural Canadians. Poilievre has vowed to scrap the tax if he forms a government after the next election.

The prime minister wrote to seven premiers, who’ve been calling on Ottawa to pause the increase to the carbon tax or scrap the program altogether, to propose credible alternatives to the federal measure. In his letter, Trudeau said the governments of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador haven’t put forward suitable replacements to the federal backstop.

 Trudeau’s letter to the premiers comes after more than 100 economists – mostly from universities – signed an open letter defending the carbon tax policy. The economists argue that a carbon tax is the cheapest way to lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Carbon pricing is the lowest cost approach because it gives each person and business the flexibility to choose the best way to reduce their carbon footprint. Other methods, such as direct regulations, tend to be more intrusive and inflexible, and cost more,” they wrote.

In addition, carbon pricing stimulates innovation by encouraging the development and adoption of low-carbon technologies. These incentives help Canadian businesses – in all sectors – stay competitive in the global transition to a low-carbon economy,” the economists said.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, testifying before a House of Commons committee, said he believes in climate change and that emissions need to go down. But he said pricing pollution is not the way to do it. "The goal is not for the big polluters to pay, the goal is for them to emit less.”

The Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois parties all endorse carbon pricing. CBC News


U.S. launches National Bioeconomy Board, as stakeholders in Canada’s bioeconomy call for a national strategy here

The Biden-Harris Administration in the U.S launched the National Bioeconomy Board. The Board will work with partners across the public and private sectors to advance societal well-being, national security, sustainability, economic productivity and competitiveness through biotechnology and biomanufacturing.

The move comes amid calls from stakeholders in Canada’s bioeconomy for the federal government to create a coordinated national bioeconomy strategy. More than 60 other countries – including the U.S., U.K., Germany and the European Commission – now have such a strategy.

“If we don’t have a larger vision, if we don’t have a strategy for this country, it’s going to make it much more difficult to build these industrial bioeconomy ventures in Canada,” Meaghan Seagrave, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, told March 7 online conference presented by Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont., and Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

Canada used to have a National Biotechnology Advisory Committee to advise the National Biotechnology Strategy that was launched in 1983. This strategy was renewed in 1998 and renamed the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy, and another advisory committee was created to advise on this strategy. This initiative was replaced in 2021 with Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, with another advisory group – the Council of Expert Advisors – created.

However, as bioeconomy stakeholders have noted, the current strategy is focused mainly on vaccines and other therapeutic medical biologics, and building manufacturing facilities for these products. Canada’s bioeconomy sector is much broader than this, and includes use of biomass –  such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – and biotechnology to make products that encompass food, health, materials, textiles and energy. There is still no national strategy for this broader bioeconomy.

The new National Bioeconomy Board in the U.S. is part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is making historic investments through the Inflation Reduction ActBipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS and Science Act. These investments are the foundation of a modern American industrial strategy that leverages critical technologies to revitalize U.S. manufacturing, bolster national security, and build a sustainable economy for all Americans, The White House said.

The strategy is catalyzing investment in the bioeconomy: since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, private companies have announced more than $20 billion in biomanufacturing investments. The economic impact of biotechnology and biomanufacturing is poised to expand at a rapid pace over the next two decades, adding thousands of good-paying jobs across many sectors of the economy.

The National Bioeconomy Board is co-chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Defense. The Board also includes representatives from nine additional federal departments and agencies. Board members represent the variety of biotechnology and biomanufacturing stakeholders across the federal government, including departments and agencies that promote economic development, sponsor fundamental research, facilitate technology commercialization,  focus on safety and security, and engage in workforce training.

According to the White House, the Board’s actions will complement the ongoing implementation of the Bioeconomy executive order, which has included the following actions so far:  

  • In December 2022, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology published a report on Biomanufacturing to Advance the Bioeconomy.
  • In March 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology published the Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing. This report outlines a vision for what is possible with the power of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, as well as the research and development needed to achieve this vision. At the same time, the Department of Commerce's  Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report on assessing the economic value of the U.S. bioeconomy, including what is needed to make better and more accurate measurements.
  • In June 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the release of an action plan to rapidly and equitably expand biotechnology and biomanufacturing education and job training programs in the U.S.
  • In December 2023, the Interagency Working Group on Data for the Bioeconomy published a report on the Vision, Needs, and Proposed Actions for Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative. The Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative will ensure that high-quality, wide-ranging, easily accessible, and secure biological data sets can drive breakthroughs for the U.S. bioeconomy. 
  • In March 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report on Building a Resilient Biomass Supply. The report outlines a plan to boost the biomass supply chain for domestic biobased product manufacturing and market opportunities for small and mid-sized producers, providing job opportunities to rural communities and making progress toward U.S. sustainability goals. The White House


Long-term economic gains depend on technology and investment

British economist John Maynard Keynes projected that, in 100 years’ time, living standards would be as much as eight times higher, driven by gains from technology and capital accumulation. “And he was right –the massive leap in living standards is very close to what he had predicted,” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in keynote speech at King’s College, Cambridge.

Keynes, who studied and worked at King’s College, became the father of macroeconomics, and was also one of the founders of the IMF. Keynes also expected people to turn productivity gains into more leisure, but his projected 15-hour work week has not yet arrived. He was also too optimistic about how the benefits of growth would be shared, Georgieva said, noting that economic inequality remains too high, within and across countries. Some three-quarters of the world’s wealth today is owned by just one-tenth of the population.

“And yet, his key message about the long-term economic gains from technology and investment holds as true today as it did then. It is the foundation for a promise to be made – to the next generation and those who follow.”

People’s lives and prospects were transformed by innovations – electricity, the internal combustion engine, antibiotics, indoor sanitation, communications technology – many of which started in the 19th century and came to fruition in the 20th, Georgieva said.

Capital fueled investment in industry, agriculture, and services. Public revenue gave us essential infrastructure: from roads and ports to electricity grids and fiber-optic cables. “All of this has driven productivity and output growth, which has in turn bolstered the size of the economy.”

We don’t know for sure what the economy would look like in 100 years – or even whether it will be solely based on planet Earth,” Georgieva said. “What we do know is that innovation is accelerating, transforming the way we live, work, and move, and the way we communicate with each other.”

From quantum computing to nanotechnology, from nuclear fusion to virtual reality, from new vaccines to gene therapy, she said, “we create miracles, like restoring hearing in children with genetic deafness." Our world is still more interconnected than ever before – so there is huge potential to share knowledge and rally people behind common causes, she added.

Artificial intelligence, for example, began at King’s College in 1950, when Alan Turing published his seminal paper. Every decade since then has brought us a step further, and every step has come faster than the previous one, Georgieva said. “Today’s generative AI is poised to reinvigorate the global economy: a “Big Bang” moment.”

The promise of transformation comes with risks, she said. We must ensure that the technology serves humanity – not the other way round. Instead of deepfakes and disinformation, we want to have scientific, medical and productivity breakthroughs. “We want AI to reduce inequality, not increase it – both within and across countries.”

New IMF research shows that, in advanced economies, about 60 per cent of jobs could be affected by AI. Half of these jobs may see benefits from AI. But the other half may see AI taking over more and more human tasks. This could drive down wages and destroy some jobs entirely – Keynes himself warned of this when he wrote about “technological unemployment,” Georgieva said. On the other hand, AI could turbocharge productivity, which has been too low for too long.

There is also a need to put in place better measurement of wealth that goes beyond the traditional GDP, that values not only produced capital, but also nature, people, and the fabric of societies,” Georgieva said.

She said she hoped Keynes would approve of a “global balance sheet” that includes an expanded set of assets and recognizes the valuable services provided by the environment, the value of the knowledge and ingenuity embodied in people and the value of good governance. “And he might be astonished to see so many women, including in positions of power.”

“I think he would like what he sees and would encourage us to go even further as a global ‘transmission line’ for sound economic policies, financial resources, knowledge – and as the ultimate platform for global economic cooperation.” International Monetary Fund

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) announced Dr. Rebecca Auer as Executive Vice-President of Research and Innovation at TOH, and CEO and Scientific Director of the hospital’s research institute. She will take over from outgoing research leader Dr. Duncan Stewart and start her new position on July 1. As Director of Cancer Research at TOH since 2018, Auer provided leadership for more than 300 scientists, clinician investigators, trainees and staff. She implemented innovative programs to accelerate human tissue research, connect trainees and patients and advance planetary health. In 2023, she was awarded a multi-million dollar grant to launch an innovative cellular immunotherapy clinical trial and enhance support for patients with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, called cholangiocarcinoma. Auer has also provided exceptional leadership within the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, with full professor appointments in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology and a Tier 1 Research Chair in Perioperative Cancer Therapeutics. Before she was recruited to Ottawa, Auer was Chief Fellow in the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. TOH

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board chief financial officer Tim Deacon will be leaving, effective April 5, to join Sun Life Financial as CFO. Deacon joined Ontario Teachers’ in 2021, bringing more than 20 years of senior management experience in financial management and global investments. Ontario Teachers said it will start a process to appoint a successor to ensure a smooth transition. Ontario Teachers is a global investor in more than 50 countries, with net assets of $247.5 billion as at December 31, 2023. Ontario Teachers

The Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation (CST) announced Peter Lewis as CEO, effective April 1. 2024. Lewis brings a record of 33 years of service at CST, most recently as chief operating officer. Founded in 160, CST is dedicated to helping Canadian families access post-secondary education, through philanthropy, discovery, advocacy and by sponsoring the Canadian Scholarship Trust Funds to help families save for post-secondary education. CST has helped more than 80,000 students. CST Foundation


Toronto-headquartered Bitcoin mining company Bitfarms Ltd. announced that L. Geoffrey Morphy, president, CEO and director, will be leaving Bitfarms upon completion of an executive search for a successful candidate. Morphy will continue to lead the company during the interim. The Board has formed a CEO search committee of independent directors that will act expeditiously with an identified executive search firm, Bifarms said. Morphy took the top job at Bitfarms in December 2022, in the depths of the “crypto winter” immediately following the collapse of Bahamas-based crypto giant FTX. Bitfarms

Kent Thompson joined the Charlottetown, P.E.I.-based Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL)  as chief financial officer. Thompson has held various roles including chief operating officer with Upstreet & Libra Beverage Corp., director of finance & food tourism with Food Island Partnership, and chief operating officer for the PEI 2014 celebrations. Anson Yu joined CASTL in the role of training administrator in Montreal. He holds a Bachelor's in Human Relations  from Concordia University, with a concentration in Organizational Development. CASTL 

Dr. Chris Whidden was named the inaugural DeepSense COVE Digital Ocean Research Chair, a new position created by Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science. The chair aims to build further alignment in these organizations’ shared ambitions, develop stronger industry partnerships, and propel the ocean-tech economy forward. Whidden is an original member of DeepSense and a PhD graduate in Computer Science. COVE serves as a high-tech innovation hub bringing marine technology organizations, academia and government together. DeepSense aims to grow the ocean economy through artificial intelligence by uniting the next generation of computer scientists with ocean-related companies. The Faculty of Computer Science focuses on the use of data science to benefit the economic, environmental, regulatory and social aspects of the ocean. Together, the organizations share the same vision: to advance the digital ocean research sector and bridge the gap between academia and industry. Dalhousie University

The University of Alberta (U of A) launched a new research hub to investigate, explain and help mitigate the impact of climate change on human health. The interdisciplinary Climate Change and Health Hub is the first of its kind in Canada, pulling together more than 30 researchers from across faculties in the health sciences, natural and applied sciences, and social sciences and humanities. The new research network “is about understanding how climate change impacts our health now in complex, intricate and maybe surprising ways we might not have thought of,” says network leader, Sherilee Harper, professor in the U of A’s School of Public Health and Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Health. Harper was elected last year as a vice-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the only Canadian representative on the 34-member IPCC Bureau. The World Health Organization reports that climate change is “directly contributing to humanitarian emergencies from heat waves, wildfires, floods, tropical storms and hurricanes and they are increasing in scale, frequency and intensity.” The WHO also notes that regions with weak health infrastructure – mostly  in developing countries – will be the most vulnerable to such disasters. The new research hub, based in the College of Health Sciences, aims to make the intersection of climate change and health an educational priority at the U of A, offering students learning and research opportunities in addition to fostering collaboration among researchers, other universities, practitioners and policy-makers across sectors. The hub will also bolster evidence-informed advocacy, communicating findings and adaptation strategies more broadly to the public. U of A

University of Calgary team aims to build world’s most powerful network to study space environment

A team of University of Calgary (UCalgary) researchers plans to build and operate the most extensive, comprehensive and powerful ground-based sensor network in the world for space environment research.

The Geospace Dynamics Constellation-Ground (GDC-G) sensor network will remote-sense the space environment to study different aspects of the ionosphere-thermosphere – where Earth’s atmosphere meets space. UCalgary said this groundbreaking initiative will enable the university to address cutting-edge research questions, foster national and international partnerships, and advance Canada as a global space research leader.

“For decades, UCalgary has been a powerhouse for design of ground-based instrumentation and using instrumentation to remote-sense the space environment,” said Dr. Emma Spanswick, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the principal investigator for the GDC-G project. “We’ve taken all of our knowledge, experience and wisdom from the last decades working in this field and are putting it towards GDC-G. This really is the next leap: building a larger sensor system than you could even imagine.”

GDC-G – which just received a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant for the project – is a collaboration etween Spanswick, Dr. Eric Donovan, PhD, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science, Dr. Susan Skone, PhD, a professor in the Department of Geomatics Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering and associate vice-president (research), and Dr. Ian Mann, PhD, a professor at the University of Alberta’s science faculty.

The GDC-G will be a ground-based sensor network to complement NASA’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation mission (NASA is supporting the GDC-C initiative), which will allow for breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of the processes that govern the dynamics of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. GDC-G includes seven types of instruments, everything from true colour auroral cameras – which will then be used to stitch together an image of the aurora over the entire Canadian land mass and into Alaska – to magnetometers for magnetic field measurements.

“We’re going to end up with this huge sensor web that’s all co-ordinated and providing data into the centralized data system from which we can essentially image the ionosphere across various axis,” Spanswick said.

The instruments, many of which will be designed and built at UCalgary, will operate from 27 sites across northern Canada and Alaska, stretching across a region from Labrador City, N.L. to Toolik Lake, Alaska.

As well as studying the pure science of space, GDC-G will be focused on studying and mitigating the impacts space weather has on technological systems we rely on every day. Space weather, and changes in distribution of charged particles in the atmosphere, can affect everything from communications, navigation like GPS, radar systems and polar flight paths. UCalgary


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