Government of British Columbia , Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium , Accenture, AGF Management Limited, AGF Private Capital Inc., Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Akerna, American HealthTech , Ample Organics , APF Villeneuve, ArcTern Ventures, Assiniboine Community College, Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp., Bank of Montreal, BC Hydro, Blue Vision Capital, Business Council of Canada, Calabrio, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Infrastructure Bank, Canada Water Agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Capital Power, Celiac Canada, Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement , Ceridian, Colleges and Institutes Canada, Computer Programs and Systems, Concordia University, Crunchbase, Daizen Joinery Ltd., Deep Tech Canada , DeneTha’ First Nation, E2E Energy Solutions , eloomi, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Five Eyes, Flashfood, FluidAI Medical, FPInnovations, GCStrategies, General Motors, GM Canada , Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba, Government of New Brunswick, Government of Nova Scotia, Government of Ontario, Government of Quebec, GrowerIQ, Health Canada, House of Commons, IBM Consulting , Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Infrastructure Canada, Investissement Quebec, Kalesnikoff Mass Timber, Kensington Capital Partners Limited, LifeLabs Medical Company, Mage Networks, Manitoba Métis Federation, McGill University, McMaster University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Meta AI, MindBridge Analytics, Ministry of Northern Affairs, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, National Association of Career Colleges, National Research Council, Natural Resources Canada, Nexii Building Solutions, Northvolt, NowVertical Group, Ocean Networks Canada, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System , Ontario Power Generation, PointClickCare Technologies, Polar Knowledge Canada, Pornhub, Prairies Economic Development Canada, Public Safety Canada, Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, Sarlim North America Corp., Soly, SP Studios Canada , Spanish National Research Council , Springdel, Standards Council of Canada, StartupBlink, Statistics Canada, Supreme Court of British Columbia, Telesat, Thomvest Ventures, Toronto Zoo , Town of Rainbow Lake , U. S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Domestic Security Alliance Council , U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Universities Canada, University of Ottawa, University of the Fraser valley, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, uOttawa's Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Valsoft Corporation, ventureLAB, World Economic Forum AI Governance Alliance , Wysdom, Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government, and Yourbrook Energy Systems Ltd.


AI-powered financial risk detection, AI-powered health technology, Alberta's Innovation Employment Grant program, battery factory in Quebec, BC Hydro's 10-year capital plan, bot management software, Canada Water Agency , Canada's ranking among global startup ecosystems, Canadian hardware and semiconductor companies, Canadian Internet Use Survey , cannabis technology companies, clean electricity in B.C., clean energy projects in B.C., crop production and research, Earth low orbit satellite internet services, EcoAction Community Funding Program, enabling global access to AI, energy efficiency in food processing businesses, federal cap on international students, federal support for communities to adapt to climate change, food safety in Ontario's dairy processing sector, food waste-reduction technology, forest industry transformation projects in B.C., Freshwater Action Plan, green building startups, health care technology platforms, investigation into ArriveCan app, investment in climate techology, investment in solar energy, investment in the tech sector, legislative changes to Canadian Security Intelligence Service, machining high-precision components, mass timber buildings, medical testing in Canada , mental health and online and smartphone usage, National Research Council of Canada’s NRC Luise and Gerhard Herzberg Postdoctoral Fellowship, ocean research in Antarctica , problems with clean hydrogen, protecting freshwater ecosystems, quantum technologies in Ontario, ransomware attacks, renewable geothermal energy, research on celiac disease, research on microplastics, small modular reactors in Alberta, StartupBlink’s Startup Ecosystem Report 2023, sustainable aviation fuels in Manitoba, and virtual production hub in Ontario

The Short Report: January 24, 2024

Research Money
January 24, 2024


The Government of British Columbia announced a $36-billion investment for community and regional infrastructure projects that the government said will deliver clean, affordable electricity to people and businesses in the future. BC Hydro’s updated 10-year capital plan, Power Pathway: Building B.C.’s energy future, includes almost $36 billion in community and regional infrastructure investments throughout the province between 2024-25 and 2033-34. This represents an increase of 50 per cent over spending in BC Hydro’s previous capital plan ($24 billion), and includes a significant increase in electrification and emissions-reduction infrastructure projects (nearly $10 billion, up from $1 billion). The plan reflects growing demand for electricity – by 15 per cent or more by 2030 – across sectors due to population growth and housing construction, increased industrial development, and people and businesses switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, among other factors. The plan includes:

  • building new high-voltage transmission lines and supporting infrastructure from Prince George to Terrace to meet industrial customer demand in the north coast area, including in the mining sector.
  • building or expanding substations and installing new equipment to support residential housing growth and transit electrification in high-growth areas across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
  • upgrading B.C.’s dams and generating facilities to make them safer, more reliable and more efficient.

BC Hydro said its goal is to acquire new sources of clean, renewable electricity, including wind and solar. In addition to the 10-year capital plan, the B.C. government and BC Hydro are implementing a new streamlined, one-window regulatory approval process to speed up approvals to get electricity to in-demand industries faster, and to support jobs. Govt. of British Columbia 

 (Photos showing construction of Site C hydroelectric dam, courtesy of BC Hydro).

The Government of Canada announced a call for projects by the Canada Water Agency, which includes $650 million over 10 years – announced in Budget 2023 – in the Freshwater Action Plan to protect and restore water quality and ecosystem health in major watersheds across the country. Ottawa’s $650-million commitment includes $85.1 million over five years, starting in 2023-2024, and $21 million ongoing thereafter, to support creating a Canada Water Agency. Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water, announced that Canadian groups, organizations, and governments with freshwater projects can now apply for funding under five Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives, including Lake Simcoe, the Wolastoq/Saint John River, the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, and Lake of the Woods. The EcoAction Community Funding Program, which supports freshwater projects across Canada, is also now accepting applications. The Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium already is receiving funding from the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program to support an in-lake science platform, which coordinates monitoring and scientific research activities on Lake Winnipeg. The Manitoba Métis Federation is receiving funding through the EcoAction Community Funding Program to restore and improve aquatic habitats in the Red River Basin, including the restoration of habitat along the Seine River. Environment and Climate Change Canada

The Government of Alberta said it had distributed more than $72 million to small and medium-sized businesses by the end of September 2023 under the province’s Innovation Employment Grant program. The program rewards Alberta businesses that invest in research and development with grants worth up to 20 per cent of qualifying expenditures. The Innovation Employment Grant also promotes economic diversification by rewarding eligible research and development spending in all sectors of Alberta’s economy. Govt. of Alberta

Infrastructure Canada announced $59.6 million over five years to amplify and expedite research initiatives that will help ensure communities have the knowledge and guidance – including codes, standards, guidelines and tools – needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The investment will build upon the current work funded by Infrastructure Canada to support the National Research Council-led Climate Resilient Built Environment (CRBE) initiative and the Standards Council of Canada-led Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program (SSRIP). The CRBE initiative provides knowledge to adapt our public infrastructure where necessary, informs potential changes to building and infrastructure codes and standards, and creates guides, tools and technical solutions to support resilience to climate change. The SSRIP initiative delivers standards and related guidance that address priority areas such as heat, flooding, nature-based solutions and transportation system resilience. The federal government’s National Adaptation Strategy, released last June, commits $1.6 billion in new federal funding to help address both immediate and future climate risks to Canadian communities. Infrastructure Canada

The Government of Ontario is investing up to $14.9 million to support a project by Quantum Valley Ideas Lab (QVIL), an independent research laboratory in Waterloo, that will accelerate the development and adoption of quantum science technologies by Ontario companies. QVIL will receive the funding through the province’s $107-million Critical Technology Initiatives program, which supports programs that accelerate the use of critical technologies – such as 5G, blockchain, quantum and robotics – by Ontario companies. QVIL will use the funding to add to its existing lab infrastructure, continue specialized research in quantum sensing and provide co-op and internship programs for postdoctoral students and new graduates to develop and test quantum technologies and generate intellectual property. Current applications for quantum technologies include transistors, MRI scanners for medical imaging, solar cells for electricity generation, and navigation where GPS is unavailable. Govt. of Ontario

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $13.5 million for two “forest industry transformation” projects and six clean energy projects in British Columbia. Projects funded through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program include:  

  • $4.5 million for Kalesnikoff Mass Timber’s Robotic Processing Line Project: This South Slocan project will drive mass timber products further up the innovation curve by deploying a new robotic processing line for enhanced mass timber products with superior acoustic and moisture-resisting performance. This process will help overcome existing technical challenges faced with conventional mass timber products, supporting Canada’s efforts to reduce the GHG emissions associated with our built environment.
  • $500,000 for Daizen Joinery Ltd.’s Wood Fibre Stabilization Project: Located in Kamloops, this project involves a new proprietary wood stabilization process suitable for materials such as under-utilized species that are typically difficult to dry and process. It will demonstrate the application of these new technologies and treatments, which will be the first of their kind in North America.

Projects funded through Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program include:

  • $2.5 million for Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government’s Klokon Creek/Augers Lake Small Hydroelectric Front-end Engineering and Design Study: This study will result in a shovel-ready project to generate hydropower on Klokon Creek utilizing Augers Lake for storage. The hydropower system will be integrated with the renewable energy microgrid to further reduce diesel generation in the central and west communities of Nemiah Valley.
  • $1.9 million for Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government’s Nemiah Valley Renewable Microgrid Project: This project will demonstrate the integration of a solar and battery energy storage system onto the diesel microgrid to utilize local resources to produce energy for the central and west communities.
  • $1.5 million for FPInnovations’ Combined Heat and Power Academy Project: This project will develop an equal opportunity capacity-building program that provides practical training in the areas of biomass combined heat and power operation and maintenance, and biomass supply chains.
  • $1.3 million for Yourbrook Energy Systems Ltd.’s Kamdis Tidal Power Demonstration Project Phase I: The objective of this project is to conduct a design study for a 500-kilowatt tidal energy generation system combining pumped hydroelectric storage to displace diesel with clean, reliable and firm power generation on the north grid of Haida Gwaii.     
  • $1.1 million for Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation’s Yuquot Wave Energy Demonstration project: This project will design a 100-kilowatt wave energy plant that would integrate with a microgrid to displace current diesel fuel use of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations residents and visitors at Yuquot, B.C. NRCan

Investments by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are resulting in more than $16 million worth of energy costs savings projects to help food processing businesses increase energy efficiency and lower their costs. The cost-shared funding, provided through the Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative, will help 30 food processors lower their energy costs to be more competitive and sustainable. The Initiative is focused on supporting projects that prioritize energy efficiency by investing in new technology, equipment, as well as building or facility modifications. The funding will contribute to an anticipated $3 million in annual operational cost savings for recipient businesses. Govt. of Ontario

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of Ontario are investing up to $8 million, through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to create or increase processing efficiencies and enhance food safety in the province's dairy processing sector. The investment supports the objectives of the Grow Ontario Strategy to strengthen the agriculture and food supply chain and build resiliency in the face of any future disruption. Eligible dairy businesses, including cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo milk processors, are invited to apply for funding through the Dairy Processing Modernization Initiative to acquire modern technologies that increase production efficiency and ensure food safety in their facilities. Applications will open on April 2, 2024, and will remain open until the initiative is fully subscribed. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a $6.2-million investment to support the future of sustainable aviation fuels in Manitoba, in partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and the Government of Manitoba. The combined project investments total $12.3 million, including nearly $3 million in investments from the Manitoba government. The federal investment includes $5 million from the Clean Fuels Fund, to support B.C.-based Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp. in delivering a front-end engineering and design study. The study will assess and prepare plans to define the development of a renewable distillates facility in Manitoba, primarily focused on the production of sustainable aviation fuel with the ability and flexibility to produce other renewable clean fuels. Azure’s planned processing facility will be near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, and it is anticipated to produce about one billion litres of sustainable aviation fuel annually, primarily from Canadian feedstock such as canola and soybean oils. These results are expected to benefit the Manitoba economy through a $2-billion economic impact while helping the world shift away from more-polluting aviation fuels. NRCan

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced $4.5 million for Markham, Ontario-based ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI) to help Canadian hardware and semiconductor-focused companies grow and scale up to become globally competitive. The funding will accelerate the pool of investment-ready semiconductor and hardware technology companies via access to specialized equipment and services, to reduce the cost and time associated with getting Canadian-made products to market. The HCI lab is Canada’s only semiconductor and hardware lab and accelerator, supporting companies that produce the technology that is key to high-growth areas like artificial intelligence, medical tech and automobility. To date, HCI has supported more than 65 businesses, created and maintained 400 jobs, and created or licensed 80 new pieces intellectual property. FedDev Ontaio

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced $3.9 million for the University of Toronto to support construction of a 14-storey mass timber academic and research tower on its St. George campus. The contribution comes through the Green Construction through Wood program. The new building, being constructed almost entirely from engineered Canadian timber, will provide a new and creative workspace for several faculties and act as a living laboratory to further the university’s innovation agenda. Mass timber products require less energy to produce and store carbon dioxide, contributing to the future of low-carbon construction and development of Canada’s bioeconomy in a manner that is consistent with the forest carbon cycle, NRCan said. NRCan

Health Canada announced funding of $2.1 million over four years, through the Environmental Health Research Contribution Program, to three academic institutions to increase research on microplastics and their potential impact on human health. McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the University of Toronto have been selected to undertake research related to the potential exposure to microplastics from various sources, including food, food packaging, drinking water, indoor and outdoor air, as well as dust. Health Canada said that research through this program aligns with the priorities of Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda and will fill knowledge gaps identified in the Government of Canada’s 2020 Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. Health Canada

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), the Government of Quebec and Investissement Québec are together providing a total of $1.6 million in financial contributions to APF Villeneuve, a business in Crabtree, Quebec specializing in the machining of high‑precision components. The funding will support the acquisition of two pieces of numerical control equipment that will enable the company to increase its productivity. This automation project is valued at $2 million. The Government of Canada, through CED, is granting a repayable contribution of $400,000 to the business for this project. The Government of Quebec is providing a loan of $600,000, and Investissement Québec is granting an equivalent loan from its capital funds. CED

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of Manitoba will together contribute more than $1.3 million over five years, through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to Assiniboine Community College (ACC) for horticulture production through innovative and sustainable production practices and protective system technologies. Two projects currently underway at ACC include conducting research on high-tunnel crop production and research in a passive greenhouse setting, which reduces the production costs compared with a standard greenhouse. These studies contribute to making crops grown in Manitoba available over a longer season and work towards providing communities with opportunities to develop local food supply options, the partners said. ACC is also researching crop varieties, agronomy and cropping systems to develop crops that are more resilient to extreme weather conditions and, in collaboration with northern Indigenous communities, creating adaptable growing systems such as passive-solar greenhouses that foster year-round crop production. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Government of Ontario is contributing more than $1.4 million toward an investment of over $25 million by Kitchener-based FluidAI Medical, a medical technology company. FluidAI Medical has developed an AI-powered monitor that detects post-operative gastrointestinal leaks, preventing complications that can arise from their late detection. The company’s investment will be used to research product improvements and build an automated assembly line to meet growing international demand. Ontario’s investment is provided through the province’s Regional Development Program, which to date has provided more than $122 million to support 100 projects. Through this program, the Ontario government also is contributing nearly $1.3 million, plus nearly $1 million from the Ontario Together Fund, to a $10.4-million investment by Sarlim North America Corp., which does silicone injection molding, to enhance its existing facility in London. The company produces 60 unique silicone components for the health care, mobility, automotive and consumer goods industry. Govt. of Ontario

Prairies Economic Development, through the Regional Innovation Ecosystems program, invested more than $1 million over three years in Edmonton-based Deep Tech Canada, a non-profit organization supporting Canadian innovation in deep tech. Deep tech refers to high level-technological advancements rather than gradual or end-user enhancements. It is based on entirely new concepts and deployed to solve real-world problems in unique ways. Deep tech often incorporates artificial intelligence, quantum computing or machine learning to introduce revolutionary solutions that can be deployed in a variety of industries and results in totally new ways of operating. This funding will enable Deep Tech Canada to deliver training and development programs as well as national and regional events and more. Activities will connect stakeholders operating in the deep tech space and help small- and medium-sized deep tech businesses across the Prairies access new markets. Deep Tech Canada


Capital Power, an Edmonton-based utility, and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) agreed to examine the feasibility of developing grid-scale small modular reactors (SMR) in Alberta. While the feasibility assessment is set to be completed within the next two years, the next stages of SMR development will carry on, as a continuation of the joint strategic plan for the deployment of the nuclear technology released in 2022 by the governments of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Capital Power owns 7,700 megawatts of power generation capacity at 30 facilities in Alberta, B.C. Ontario and 10 U.S. states, including renewable generation, natural gas and battery energy storage systems. OPG is building North America’s first fleet of SMRs at its Darlington New Nuclear site in Ontario. Construction of the first four SMRs will be completed by the end of 2028, and the unit will be online by the end of 2029, according to OPG. Capital Power

E2E Energy Solutions has partnered with the Town of Rainbow Lake in northwest Alberta on a pilot project aimed at making the town the first in Canada to be powered entirely by renewable geothermal energy. The project will rely on E2E’s patent-pending enhanced geothermal reservoir recovery system to upgrade the temperature of saline aquifers until they are commercially viable for a large-scale geothermal development where conventional methods would not work. The pilot test is the first of three phases, to be followed by the construction of a surface geothermal facility and, finally, the design and installation of community infrastructure. The goal is for the town to be fully powered and heated by geothermal energy by 2028. The geothermal plant is also expected to bring significant benefits to the DeneTha’ First Nation, which has expressed support. Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ottawa-based Telesat and Calgary-based Mage Networks, an internet service provider and technology developer, announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement for Telesat Low Earth Orbit satellite services. Telesat and Mage Networks will collaborate on integrating commercial and technical aspects of Telesat Lightspeed high-throughput and low latency capacity into its services portfolio. Together they will develop demand and traffic projections and network performance criteria by market segment and define optimal business and operating models, with the objective of contracting Telesat Lightspeed services. Through this collaboration, Mage Networks will expand broadband internet services to unserved and underserved communities in Canada. Telesat

AGF Private Capital Inc., Toronto-headquartered AGF Management Limited’s private markets business, will acquire for $45 million a 51-per-cent majority interest in Toronto-headquartered Kensington Capital Partners Limited, as part of AGF’s strategy to grow its private markets business. Founded in 1996, Kensington, with $2.6 billion in assets under management and a 27-year history of successful performance and growth, is a significant source of financing for private technology companies in Canada. Kensington will retain its investment and operational independence as part of AGF and will receive significant strategic support from AGF as part of the relationship. Kensington’s three senior managing directors, Tom Kennedy, Richard Nathan and Eamonn McConnell, will continue to manage the business in their leadership roles, working closely with Ash Lawrence, head of AGF Private Capital, and the Kensington board of directors. The deal, subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions, is expected to close in the second quarter. AGF

Mississauga-based SP Studios Canada is currently in discussions with a Qatari private fund to secure $500 million in financing to build Canada’s most technologically advanced virtual production hub in Ontario. As negotiations advance, SP Studios said it is gearing up to finalize all design work, with construction expected to commence in the third quarter of 2024 and the project tentatively scheduled for completion in early to mid-2027. The announcement follows SP Studios’ opening of Canada’s most advanced film production facility, which features LED walls and motion control robots, in Mississauga last March. The company also integrates artificial intelligence for rendering, motion capture and scene optimization. The new investment will expand on the initial initiative with a massive investment that will make SP Studios a major player in TV, film and video advertising. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the virtual production market is expected to grow at a compound annual grow rate of more than 15 per cent from 2021 to 2026. Retail Insider

Vancouver-based Nexii Building Solutions, a green building startup with a $2-billion valuation less than two years ago, has been granted protection from creditors as it seeks a buyer to rescue the money-losing operation. Nexii said it owes its creditors more than $109 million and faces “significant liquidity constraints,” according to the petition it filed last week with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. It is unable to pay its debts after a costly expansion in the U.S., notably a new manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. The company makes concrete-like panels for residential and commercial buildings using a proprietary material, developed in Moose Jaw, Sask., that it says is less carbon-intensive and creates less waste. Two years ago the company made headlines when it formed a partnership to build a plant with actor Michael Keaton, known for such films as Birdman and Beetlejuice. After striking a deal for US$4.3 million in interim financing with its senior lenders, Nexii is now searching for a buyer for the company and its subsidiaries. The Globe and Mail

Toronto-based Ceridian, a human capital management software company, announced a cash deal to buy eloomi, a learning experience platform software provider based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Orlando, Florida. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The acquisition will expand and enhance Ceridian’s current learning and development offerings, including with enterprise-grade learning capabilities, mobile-first frontline training and communications solutions, and a powerful AI-enabled co-writer that augments content authoring. Ceridian

Toronto-based PointClickCare Technologies, a health care technology platform enabling real-time insights at every stage of the patient healthcare journey, acquired American HealthTech (AHT). Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Prior to the acquisition, AHT was a subsidiary of Alabama-based Computer Programs and Systems, which provides electronic health record solutions and related services for the post-acute care market. With PointClickCare, AHT customers’ care teams will gain access to the data they need, at the point of care, for proactive care collaboration and intervention for their patients. PointClickCare

Minneapolis-headquartered Calabrio acquired Toronto-based bot management software startup Wysdom, which offers artificial intelligence and virtual agent performance solutions. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Wysdom’s proprietary technology facilitates the fine-tuning of virtual agents (such as chat and voice bots) interactions in real time. Calabrio provides digital solutions for customer contact centres with its Calarbrio ONE platform. Calabrio

Toronto-based GrowerIQ, a cannabis technology company, acquired Ample Organics from its U.S. owner Akerna. Ample Organics’ software platform makes compliance easy by tracking individual plants from seed to consumer and reporting every detail of the growth, production and sales processes. GrowerIQ sells enterprise resource planning software to licensed cannabis producers. Financial details of the all-cash deal weren’t disclosed. All seven members of Ample Organics’ team have joined Grower IQ. The deal returns Ample Organics to Canadian ownership 3 ½ years after it was acquired by Arkerna. GrowerIQ

The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), one of Canada’s most substantial pension plans, is in preliminary discussions to sell LifeLabs Medical Company, a medical testing firm. Evercore Group LLC, in cooperation with a Canadian bank, is steering the sale process, which has sparked interest from potential buyers in both the U.S. and Canada. LifeLabs, which has benefitted from an investment of more than $2.5 billion from OMERS, is currently on the market at a premium valuation. LifeLabs, with a workforce of 5,700 and operation of 382 collection centres and 16 laboratories and 382 collection centres, has a significant impact on the laboratory testing market in Canada. The potential sale of LifeLabs has sparked debate regarding its future ownership. Quest Diagnostics in New Jersey is reportedly in the running to buy the company. The question of whether LifeLabs will remain under Canadian control is a pertinent one. A major rival in Canada, Dynacare, is U.S.-owned BNN

Canada ranks No. 4 globally for startup ecosystems for the fourth consecutive year, 25 per cent ahead of all ecosystems ranked below the country, according to Zurich, Switzerland-based StartupBlink’s Startup Ecosystem Report 2023. However, the gap has narrowed, resulting in Canada’s total score being closer to lower-ranked countries than to the top three – the U.S., U.K. and Israel, according to the report. In city startup ecosystem rankings, San Francisco is the leader of the top 200 city startup ecosystems for another year, ahead of second-ranked New York City. Canada’s Toronto-Markham Area ranks 23rd  globally, Vancouver 41st, Ottawa 68th, Kitchener 76th, Calgary 111th, Quebec City 129th, Edmonton 144th, and Kingston, Ont. 180th. Canadian cities hold global top 25 positions in eight of the 11 ranked industries. StartupBlink’s research covers more than 1,000 cities and 100 countries, across 11 industries and dozens of sub-industries.

“Considering the active approach by its efficient public sector to develop startup ecosystems, and a relative abundance of resources, there is no reason Canada should not take an even more substantial role in producing massive global hubs. For this to happen, there will have to be more Canadian startups with global impact, like those built in the neighboring United States,” the report says. “The lessons to draw here are that Canada should continue to make sure its most talented entrepreneurs remain in the country while also working on attracting high quality foreign talent.”

After experiencing a record year in 2021, global startup funding in 2022 declined by more than 30 per cent, according to the report. Most of the decline occurred in the second half of 2022, signaling an accelerating downturn in the investment ecosystem, the report says. The number of startup funding deals declined by about three per cent, but the startup funding volume fell to US$413 billion in 2022 from US$624 billion in 2021. “In this difficult investment climate, founders will need to change their mindset: this year, early revenue is more important than massive growth,” the report notes. Angel-seed investment increased slightly in 2022. “This shows the resilience of early-stage investment compared to later stages which are more correlated with the massive decrease of value in publicly traded tech companies,” the report says. Late-stage investments registered a 43-per-cent decline year-over-year.

“The real story is in the initial numbers of 2023,” the report says. According to Crunchbase, global funding for startup ecosystems in the first quarter of 2023 stood at US$76 billion, a 53-per-cent decline from US$162 billion in the first quarter of 2022. Globally, 200,000 people were laid off in the IT sector in the first 4 ½ months of 2023, surpassing the total 164,51 layoffs for the whole year in 2022. “Tough times are ahead,” warns the report. StartupBlink


Stockolm-based Northvolt announced US$5 billion in financing – Europe’s largest green loan yet – to enable the expansion of its battery gigafactory and adjacent battery-recycling facility in northern Sweden. Northvolt said the recycling facility recovers battery-grade metals with a carbon footprint 70-per-cent lower than mined raw materials, thereby enabling a fully integrated, circular battery production setup that has not previously existed outside of Asia. Bank of Montreal was among the 23 commercial banks in the financing round, which also included refinancing of a US$1.6-billion debt package announced in July 2020. Norvolt’s Canadian financiers include Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Investment Management Corporation of Ontario, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, as well as incentives from the federal and Quebec governments. In Quebec, Northvolt has temporarily suspended preparatory work on its battery factory in the Montérégie region, pending a Superior Court decision on whether to grant an injunction suspending the work indefinitely. The Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE) and three citizens filed a request for an injunction seeking an immediate halt to the project. Lawyers for CQDE argue that a few months earlier, “the destruction of wetlands in the same area was refused” for a different project and that experts in Quebec’s Environment Ministry cited at that time “the importance of these milieux for the region and for biodiversity.” Preparatory work in the form of clearing trees from the sites, located in McMasterville and St-Basile-le-Grand, had begun after the provincial Environment Ministry authorized the start of construction. Northvolt, The Gazette

San Franciso-based financier Thomvest Ventures – founded by Thomson Reuters director Peter Thomson – launched a $250-million investment fund to support groundbreaking companies in the tech sector. Thomvest plans to use the fund to invest in 25 to 30 companies, along with some smaller seed investments, spanning both early-stage as well as mid- to late-stage companies. Key focus areas for the fund are financial technology, real estate technology, cybersecurity, and cloud and AI infrastructure. These are the same areas Thomvest focuses on for its investments in what it says are "capital-efficient Canadian software businesses that have demonstrated meaningful customer traction.” The VC firm also promoted Umesh Padval, who leads the cybersecurity, cloud and AI infrastructure, and Nima Wedlake, who leads real estate technology investments, to manager directors. Medium

Montreal-based Valsoft Corporation, which specializes in the acquisition and development of vertical market software businesses, announced the closing of $229 million in growth financing in a mix of debt and equity financing. The investment, led by Coatue and Viking Global Investors, seeks to accelerate Valsoft’s portfolio expansion and strengthen its leadership position as a global consolidator in the vertical software sector. Valsoft’s portfolio includes companies in over 40 verticals, including information technology, retail and point of sale, aviation, education, transportation and logistics, among others. Valsoft is led by Sam Youssef and Steph Manos, who have computer engineering degrees from Concordia University, and are two of the original founders of Pornhub, now the world's largest pornography video site. Valsoft

Springdel, a Toronto-based mobile device platform, secured $5 million in Series A financing. The round was led by Silicon Valley-based Carbide Ventures, with participation from Beyond Ventures. Founded in 2018, Springdel’s platform allows enterprises to control, secure, and enforce policies on various mobile devices to ensure they are used safely, efficiently and in compliance with company policies. The financing will help drive product development of artificial intelligence-enabled advanced capabilities and automation, and also accelerate Springdel’s go-to-market expansion in core markets. Venture Capital Journal

Toronto-based ArcTern Ventures, a climate venture capital firm, led a €30-million funding (Cdn$44 million) round in Netherlands-based solar energy company Soly. The investment included collaboration with Fifth Wall and was supported by existing investors Shell Ventures and pension fund ABP. The funding will support Soly’s expansion into Italy, Spain, France and Scandinavia. The company aims to supply renewable energy to over 500,000 households and businesses by 2030. Soly plans to utilize the capital to offer a diverse range of innovative energy services, including its home energy management system, the Soly Brain®, which intelligently controls solar panels, home batteries and charging stations. CREtech


Federal government caps international students

The federal government has temporarily capped by province and territory the number of international students allowed to study in Canada. Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced the intake cap on international student permit applications, aimed at stabilizing growth of international student numbers for a period of two years. For 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35 per cent from 2023. Ottawa said that “in the spirit of fairness,” individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, weighted by population, which will result in much more significant decreases of international students in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, which will then distribute the allocation among their designated learning institutions. To implement the cap, as of January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by no later than March 31, 2024. Current study permit holders and study permit renewals will not be affected under the cap. Those international students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education, are not included in the cap. The government also changed the eligibility criteria of the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. The changes are:

  • Starting September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that’s part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a post­graduation work permit upon graduation. Under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college. These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, though they have less oversight than public colleges and, the government said, they act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility.
  • Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a three-year work permit. Under current criteria, the length of a post­graduation work permit is based solely on the length of an individual’s study program, hindering master’s graduates by limiting the amount of time they have to gain work experience and potentially transition to permanent residence.

Ottawa also said that in the weeks ahead, open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible. The temporary measures will be in place for two years, and the number of new study permit applications that will be accepted in 2025 will be re-assessed by the end of this year. The federal government said it will continue to work with provinces and territories, designated learning institutions and national education stakeholders on developing a sustainable path forward for international students, including finalizing a recognized institution framework, determining long-term sustainable levels of international students, and ensuring post-secondary institutions are able to provide adequate levels of student housing. The number of international students admitted to Canada has increased significantly, with the country hosting more than 1 million international students in 2023. Experts and observers have noted that these students, who typically pay higher fees, end up competing for housing in an already tight market.

David Farrar, president of McMaster University, said losing international students would result in not as rich a learning environment. Of McMaster’s roughly 32,000 students, about 5,000 are international. Farrar said the extra fees international students at McMaster pay help cover the cost of 3,000 domestic students the university does not receive government funding for. “We would have to cut our domestic student body if we didn’t have [international students],” Farrar said. Colleges and Institutes Canada, which represents publicly funded colleges, said in a statement that growth in international student numbers has brought many benefits to schools and communities, including a $22-billion annual contribution to Canada’s economy. Michael Sangster, CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges, said he doesn’t believe that private institutions, such as his constituents, are the problem. Dale McCartney, an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, said a lot of what has driven recruiting of international students has been the stagnating or even decline in some provinces of government support for post-secondary institutions, leading those schools to recruit more international students. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun


Business Council of Canada calls for legislative changes to CSIS

The Business Council of Canada (BCC) is calling for federal legislative changes that would allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to share threat intelligence with companies to help them take timely protective measures. BCC president and CEO Goldy Hyder, argues for the new approach in a letter to Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, in response to a federal consultation on possible changes to the legislation governing CSIS. “BCC members increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs of malicious actors seeking to undermine Canadians’ lives and livelihoods — be it by sabotaging critical infrastructure, disrupting vital supply chains or stealing invaluable proprietary information,” Hyder wrote. The consequences are diminished economic growth and competitiveness, leading to the loss of good, well-paying jobs, foregone tax revenues to pay for essential public services, as well as lost competitive advantage in advanced industries vital to the country’s national strength, he said.

Government-produced threat intelligence is of increasing value to companies combating malicious actors, Hyder noted. The domestic security agencies of Canada’s Five Eyes partners, such as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, each possess modern legislative authorities allowing them to proactively share relevant, timely and actionable threat intelligence with their respective business communities, he said. “This arms the business community with the intelligence they need to protect their customers, employees and communities from new and emerging economic security threats.”

The CSIS Act, on the other hand, currently prohibits CSIS from sharing all but the most generalized information with the private sector, or from disclosing classified intelligence to provinces, territories, Indigenous governments or municipalities.  “CSIS’ outdated governing legislation therefore represents a considerable gap in Canada’s defences,” Hyder said. Despite CSIS possessing the knowledge and expertise to help Canadian companies withstand growing security threats, Canadian businesses are left fending for themselves, putting Canadians’ safety, security and prosperity at risk, he said.

The Business Council of Canada “has repeatedly argued that the Government of Canada should amend the CSIS Act to authorize CSIS to proactively share relevant, timely and actionable threat intelligence with Canadian companies where it is in the public interest and subject to all necessary safeguards and oversight,” Hyder said. To facilitate enhanced threat intelligence sharing with the Canadian private sector, the BCC also is calling on the federal government to create a formalized threat intelligence exchange, akin to the U.S. government’s Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC). DSAC is a partnership between 700 strategically important American corporations, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. Some civil liberty groups, however, are concerned about inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information about people under CSIS scrutiny and are calling for a broader debate about changes to the CSIS Act. For example, Indigenous and environmental activists have come under the lens of security agencies while organization to protect natural spaces and treaty rights. Business Council of Canada


A ransomware attack in January on the Toronto Zoo stole some personal information of current, former and retired Toronto Zoo employees dating back to 1989, the Zoo said in a statement. The stolen information includes past earnings, social insurance numbers, birthdates, telephone numbers and home addresses. “Based on the current information we have, we do not believe it includes personal banking information as the Zoo does not store that information on our servers," the Zoo said. As a proactive step, the Toronto Zoo will offer all current, former and retired Zoo staff dating back to 1989 with a complimentary two-year credit monitoring service, which allows people to check for signs of identity fraud so protective action can be taken. The Toronto Zoo said it continues to investigate the attack to determine how Zoo members, guests, donors and volunteers are affected. Toronto Zoo

 The World Economic Forum’s AI Governance Alliance (AIGA) called, in a series of three new reports, for a global effort to create equitable access to artificial intelligence. AI holds the potential to address global challenges, but it also poses risks of widening existing digital divides or creating new ones, AIGA said. The reports, done in collaboration with IBM Consulting and Accenture, focus on generative AI governance, unlocking its value and a framework for responsible AI development and deployment. AIGA is calling upon experts from various sectors to address several key areas. This includes improving data quality and availability across nations, boosting access to computational resources, and adapting foundation models to suit local needs and challenges. There is also a strong emphasis on education and the development of local expertise to create and navigate local AI ecosystems effectively. In line with these goals, there is a need to establish new institutional frameworks and public-private partnerships along with implementing multilateral controls to aid and enhance these efforts. AIGA brings together governments, businesses and experts to shape responsible AI development applications and governance, and to ensure equitable distribution and enhanced access to AI technology worldwide. World Economic Forum

The head of GCStrategies, a two-person IT staffing company Ottawa contracted to develop the ArriveCan app, invited federal officials to a whisky tasting event and for offsite meetings at various breweries and restaurants around Ottawa, according to preliminary records from a House of Commons committee on government operations investigating contracting misconduct allegations. Invitations to the mid-pandemic virtual whisky tasting event were extended to four Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, including Cameron MacDonald and Antonio Utano, who were suspended without pay in January in connection with the CBSA investigation. MacDonald has since become an assistant deputy minister at Health Canada and Utano left the CBSA to work as a director-general at the Canada Revenue Agency. Documents show GCStrategies' managing partner Kristian Firth sent an e-mail to the four CBSA officials in April, 2021, for an “ArriveCan Whisky Tasting,” organized by a company called Thirst Responder Mobile Bar. The documents also include call logs, listing hundreds of calls from Utano and MacDonald to Firth between October, 2018, and December, 2022. The documents were obtained by The Globe and Mail after they were privately presented to the House of Commons committee on government operations by the CBSA. Chris Spiteria, a lawyer representing MacDonald and Utano, said the volume of calls between his clients and Firth was entirely reasonable given the workload related to ArriveCan, and that all out-of-office meetings “were all in accordance with CBSA ethical guidelines and disclosed to their superiors.” The House of Commons committee is investigating how the cost of the ArriveCan app for international travellers ballooned from an initial $11.2 million contract with GCStrategies to wind up costing more than $54 million. The Auditor General is also conducting an audit of ArriveCan spending. The Globe and Mail 

See also: Why federal government IT projects are doomed to failure.


Report identifies several problems with clean hydrogen

Clean hydrogen is expensive to produce, difficult to transport, and a “second- or third-best clean energy solution in almost all proposed markets,” according to a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation. “To help drive the global green transition, a realist approach to hydrogen policy must address all these practical challenges,” says report author Robin Gaster, non-resident senior fellow at the ITIF. The report’s key takeaways are:

  • It is critically important to see past the hype and self-interest of multiple players in the hydrogen space. “We have neither the time nor the resources to waste on fanciful and expensive projects that lead nowhere.”
  • The primary objective for U.S. policymakers should be to find pathways for clean hydrogen to achieve price/performance parity – without long-term subsidies – with “dirty” hydrogen. [About 98 per cent of all global hydrogen production today currently uses natural gas or gasified coal as feedstock, which release carbon dioxide emissions].
  • Blue hydrogen [produced using natural gas but coupled with carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) of at least 90 per cent of the emissions] investments should be minimized. Blue hydrogen is not a global solution for greenhouse gas emissions even in targeted industries, as it will never reach price/performance parity with grey hydrogen [produced using natural gas or gasifed coal as feedstock], and "may not effectively address GHG either.” Gaster also notes: “CCUS for hydrogen has not been proven at scale, from either a cost or an emissions perspective.”

[R$ editor’s note: Producing blue hydrogen is the path Alberta is taking to develop its fledgling hydrogen economy].

  • Green hydrogen, produced by applying renewable electricity to water, separating out hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, could reach price/performance parity for some applications, in some regions of the U.S. But that depends almost entirely on lower costs for the renewable energy it requires, which is the key input. Economies of scale won’t transform the economics of green hydrogen. “Even if the cost of electrolyzers declines dramatically as scale grows, that makes little difference to hydrogen prices. For green hydrogen to reach price/performance parity, the cost of renewable electricity inputs must fall very close to zero,” Gaster says.

[R$ editor’s note: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are investing in green hydrogen production].

  • Most proposed markets for hydrogen “reflect magical thinking. They are nowhere near competitive with fossil fuels, and often are not competitive with electrification using renewable energy.”
  • We don’t have all the technologies we need, so accelerating R&D and deployment around green hydrogen is critical, emphasizing the competitive pathway to scale-up for a few key potential markets, such as long-duration energy storage.
  • Policymakers should favor projects that co-locate green hydrogen production, energy sources, and end users, avoiding projects that require electricity from the grid or extensive transportation infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced seven new hydrogen hubs backed by US$8 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, while the Inflation Reduction Act offers unlimited production subsidies for “clean hydrogen.” Europe also is gearing up, offering similar subsidies. “Unfortunately, much – but not all – of the hydrogen story is just hot air,” Gaster said. ITIF


Online and smartphone usage linked to self-reported mental health status

Increased time spent online and smartphone use were associated with lower self-reported mental health, and increased smartphone use was also associated with lower satisfaction in interpersonal relationships, according to the Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS). However, the survey also showed that spending more time with others online was linked to an increased likelihood of seeing others in person, and that the correlation between time spent engaging in online activities and self-reported mental health differed by type of online activity. “As other studies have proposed, the quality of time spent online may be a better predictor of digital well-being than time spent online alone,” Statistics Canada said in reporting the survey results.

The 2022 CIUS found that one-quarter of Canadians spent 20 hours or more per week using the internet for general purposes, up from 2018 (21 per cent) and down only slightly from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (27 per cent). Almost nine in 10 Canadians watched content online in 2022 (87 per cent) and 17 per cent watched content online for 20 hours or more in a typical week. Watching online content includes activities such as watching television series or movies, watching eSports or other video game streaming services, or watching user-generated content on platforms such as YouTube or TikTok.

Taking a break from the internet wasn’t associated with better mental health, but spending less time online was, according to Statistics Canada. The percentage of Canadians reporting very good or excellent mental health was 16 percentage points higher for those who watched content online for less than 10 hours per week, compared with those who watched online content for 20 hours or more per week. The percentage of Canadians reporting very good or excellent mental health was significantly lower for all amounts of time spent playing video games online, compared with general internet use.

The 2020 CIUS found that most Canadians (84 per cent) had a smartphone for personal use, up four percentage points from 2018 (80 per cent). Canadians who checked their smartphone once per hour or more were less likely to report being completely satisfied with their relationships with friends (46 per cent) compared with those who checked their phone less frequently – a few times per day or less (54 per cent). Checking one’s smartphone more frequently was also associated with lower reported levels of very good or excellent mental health.

“Researchers have proposed that it’s not the amount of time spent with technology that matters most when understanding the impact of technology on well-being, but rather the quality or content of the activities a person engages in,” Statistics Canada said. Statistics Canada

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Universities Canada announced Gabriel Miller as its new president and CEO, effective March 18, 2024. Miller is an experienced not-for-profit leader who has built an extensive track record in member relations, advocacy, stakeholder engagement and public policy development over his 22-year career. He is currently the president and CEO of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Prior to joining the Federation, he served in a series of senior roles with the Canadian Cancer Society, culminating as vice-president of public issues, policy and cancer information, and at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Miller will succeed Philip Landon, who has served as interim president and CEO of Universities Canada since July 1, 2023. Universities Canada

Meta AI vice-president, AI research Joelle Pineau, who also teaches at McGill University, shifted to product development as part of technology giant’s shift to incorporate artificial intelligence into its products. Pineau and chief AI scientist Yann LeCun will now report to Meta chief product officer Chris Cox. Cox emphasized in an internal note to employees that the reorganization aims for a more unified AI research portfolio and roadmap. Contxto

General Motors announced the appointment of Kristian Aquilina to GM Canada president and managing director. He was previously GM Canada’s vice-president, vehicle sales, service and marketing. Aquilina will report to Marissa West, who was previously appointed to senior vice-president and president, GM North America. Aquilina leads GM Canada at a pivotal time of growth and opportunity, as the industry prepares for an all-electric future and the company continues to build on its recent investments in Canadian manufacturing, EV supply chain and software development work. General Motors

Toronto-based NowVertical Group, a data analytics and AI solutions company, appointed Sandeep Mandiratta as CEO. He succeeds Sasha Grukicic, who completed his service as CEO and stepped down from NowVertical’s board on January 12, 2024. NowVertical said Mendiratta’s appointment is a critical step in the company's strategic reorganization designed to fast-track the integration of its global asset base and propel the company into its next phase of growth. To support Mendiratta, NowVertical also announced that Santiago Trógolo, former CEO of CoreBI (acquired by NowVertical in February 2022), will be promoted to executive vice-president, Latin America. Mostafa Hashem, former CEO of Smartlytics (acquired by NowVertical in January 2023), will be promoted to executive vice-president, product and technology. NowVertical

MindBridge Analytics, which offers AI-powered financial risk detection to financial professionals, announced the appointment of Stephen DeWitt as CEO. He has held executive positions at companies such as Cloudbees, WorkMarket, Cobalt Networks, HP, Cisco, Symantec, and Sun Microsystems. MindBridge said DeWitt’s connection to the Canadian innovation economy is robust, marked by significant work experience in Canada and his board service at Apply Board. DeWitt succeeds interim CEO Bill Hewit who will remain on the company’s board of directors. BNN

Toronto-headquartered Flashfood, a food waste-reduction tech company, appointed Nicholas Bertram, former Giant Company president, to CEO. Previous CEO and founder Josh Dominques will transition to the role of executive chairman. Dominques will lead Flashfood’s strategic expansion initiatives and corporate development, continuing to serve as an active voice for the company. Chief brand officer Jordan Schenck will take up the newly created role of chief customer officer. The company also unveiled a new icon, logo, typeface and colour, “Blueberry.” Flashfood’s app gives grocers a platform to upload photos of food coming to the end of its shelf life and sell it at a discount to customers who pick it up from a fridge at the front of the store. Canadian Grocer

Montreal-based Blue Vision Capital, an early-stage climate technology investor, added Vladimir Savic as managing partner. Savic is a former leader at Cibus and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. London, U.K.-based Savic has 20 years of experience in food, ag-tech and the blue economy areas. Blue Vision’s limited partners include the Government of Québec through Investissement Québec, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec via Teralys Capital, and Fondaction. BetaKit

Dr. Zahra Shayegan, PhD, is the first recipient of the National Research Council of Canada’s NRC Luise and Gerhard Herzberg Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded annually to a recent PhD graduate who identifies as a woman and who has demonstrated research excellence. Last October, Shayegan joined the NRC’s Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge program, bringing with her an impressive background in the field of environmental engineering. After completing  her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering in Iran, she began her doctoral studies at Concordia University. During her studies, she developed a highly effective photocatalyst for breaking down pollutants to improve indoor air quality. Shayegan’s outstanding work earned her the Governor General of Canada’s Academic Gold Medal, and the Doctoral Prize in Engineering and Computer Science at Concordia. As a member of the NRC’s Energy, Mining and Environment Research Centre in Vancouver, Shayegan will apply her expertise in light-driven catalysts to the challenge of clean energy production, working on solar-driven photochemical processes to produce hydrogen. NRC

Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez has won Celiac Canada’s 2023 J. A. Campbell award, a $25,000-research grant. Pinto-Sanchez, a gastroenterologist and director of the celiac clinic at McMaster University, leads a nationwide team of top researchers to evaluate the effect of late versus early introduction of gluten-free oats in newly diagnosed patients with celiac disease. An international review revealed there are no clinical guidelines anywhere in the world about oats for people with celiac disease. Because oats are usually cross-contaminated with gluten, eating them can bring on severe symptoms in celiac patients. Yet gluten-free oats offer vital nutrients, such as manganese, B-vitamins and iron that are missing because wheat, rye and barley are off the table. These vitamins are critical for child growth and development. The study led by Pinto-Sanchez – the first of its kind in the world – will determine the best clinical approach for the introduction of oats into a celiac diet and ongoing disease management. Celiac Canada’s Young Investigator Award, a $5,000 grant, went to Dr. Mark Wulczynski, PhD, at McMaster University. His study looks at the role of fibre in the small intestine, with the aim of developing  potential treatments that reduce inflammation from exposure to gluten. Celiac Canada

The Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa announced its new ISSP 2024 Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Science & Society. Dr. Aleta Quinn, PhD associate professor of philosophy at the University of Idaho, researches the relationships among science, social values, and objectivity. Her research focuses on the sciences that concern biodiversity, and on distinct forms of citizen-science. R$

A research project run jointly by Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria and the Spanish National Research Council has successfully deployed an underwater observatory in the sea north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Canadian-built scientific equipment, which could fit in the back of an SUV, is already streaming open-source data for anyone wanting to monitor the Southern Ocean’s health. Scientists said the underwater observatory collects measurements, including temperature, oxygen concentration and chlorophyll levels, and will fill a gap in data to help understand the impact of climate change in the waters around Antarctica. Prior to the observatory being installed, data in the Antarctic primarily came from surface satellites, some floating research equipment and people on cruises, said Ocean Networks CEO Kate Moran. The scientific package is now about 23 metres deep in the Southern Ocean near a Spanish research station on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands archipelago, where it is expected to stay for years. Kohen Bauer, a senior staff scientist at Ocean Networks Canada, says the Southern Ocean and its circumpolar current are critical to how much the water in the area circulates, and having long-term data from a stationary location will help researchers spot changes. Data could pick up changes to sea ice, glacier formation and ice retreat, Bauer said. The observatory, which also measures conductivity, depth and clarity in the water, posts updated data to Ocean Networks Canada's online dashboard about every 30 minutes. Last year, following a symposium focused on the Southern Ocean, 300 scientists from 25 nations issued a statement calling for better observation. The Southern Ocean has seen record low levels of sea-ice, record high temperatures and dramatic shifts in penguin populations, among other  changes. David Hik, chief scientist for Polar Knowledge Canada, which manages Canada’s scientific contributions in the Antarctic under the Ministry of Northern Affairs, said the observatory and the work with Spain is an example of the kind of contribution Canada can make to Antarctic science. CBC News, University of Victoria



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