Mitacs , Public Health Agency of Canada, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council , Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Energy Regulator, Apple Inc. , AstraZeneca, Ballard Power , BC Wildfire Service , Borderless AI , Burcon NutraScience, Busbud, Buson, Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Innovation Corporation, Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Climate Institute, Canadian Institutes of Health, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Competition Bureau Canada , CQDM, Crown-Indigenous Relations and North Affairs Canada, Dalhousie University, DarwinAI, Department of National Defence, European Union, Finance Canada, Flosonics Medical, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. , FX Institutions , Glencore, Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba, Government of New Brunswick, Government of Quebec, Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal , Hibar Systems , HPS Food & Ingredients, Idealist Capital, IKEA, IKEA Canada , Impulso.Space USA Corporation, Infrastructure Canada, Innovative Medicines Canada, Lakehead University, Landerz, Li-Cycle Holdings Corp., LOOP Mission , MacroPolo, Maritime Launch Services, MDA Space, Michael Smith Health Research BC, Natural Resources Canada, New Brunswick Business Council , Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, NouLAB , Nukik Corporation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pathways Alliance, Paulson Institute , Pfizer Canada, pH7 Technologies , PocketHealth, Polytechnique Montreal, Pond-Deshpande Centre, Protein Industries Canada, Puratos Canada , Queen’s University, ResearchNB, Rithmik Solutions , Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Shell, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Squamish Nation, Standing Committee on Science and Research, Statistics Canada, Still Good, Tesla, Top Hat, Tortoise, Torys, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Justice Department , University of Guelph, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Vega BioImagerie, and WonderFi Technologies Inc.


"green" extraction and refining of critical minerals, AAFC's Food Waste Reduction Challenge, advanced "green" manufacturing, advanced analytics, AI-enabled software, artificial intelligence and competition, B.C. Budget 2024, blueprint to decarbonize businesses in New Brunswick, breast cancer research, business incubators and accelerators in Quebec, Canada Growth Fund, Canada's 2023 VC capital market, Canada's AI research strengths, CCS project in Alberta's oilsands, CDPQ's Equity 25³ fund, Common Ground Canada Network project , crypto trading, developing affordable protein options, divesting of retail gasoline stations, DND Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, drug discovery, EPA motor vehicle emissions standard, EU artificial intelligence legislation, federal Applied Public Health Chairs program, fuel cells manufacturing, generative AI for international payments, government response to Parliamentary committee report on commercializing IP, ground travel booking software, Health System Impact Embedded Early Career Researcher Awards, Hellenic Community energy-efficient community centre, IKEA pre-2004 budget submission, industrial carbon pricing in driving emissions reductions, Innovative Solutions Canada, International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project, lithium-ion battery recycling, machine learning used for field maintenance operations, managing water resources in Canada, medical image exchange technology, new laboratory construction, NGen's Sustainable Manufacturing Challenge, Northern REACHE Program, numbers of R&D personnel in Canada , Ontario Early Researcher Awards, Ontario government invests in research projects, Ontario Research Fund, property technology firms, Quantum Leap pharma-led funding program , Regulatory and Security Science Main (RSS Main) Project, rural regions lacking in innovation, Spaceport Nova Scotia, stealing of EV battery trade secrets , sustainable agriculture research, targeted alpha therapies, technology to remove harmful microplastics, The Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Energy and Resource Table Framework for Collaboration on the Path to Net Zero, Toronto High Containment Facility , University of British Columbia's seed2STEM program , University of Manitoba's Ignite Program, wearable medical ultrasound technology, and wildfire predictive technologies

The Short Report: March 27, 2024

Research Money
March 27, 2024


The Government of Ontario is investing more than $278 million in research projects at universities, colleges, research institutes and research hospitals across the province. The funding, delivered through the Ontario Research Fund and the Early Researcher Awards,  supports researchers in making discoveries that help advance the development of innovative new products and technologies. This funding will support 406 research projects, helping institutions attract and retain top research talent, and cover the costs of research operations and infrastructure, including building, renovating and equipping research facilities with laboratories and the latest technology. The Ontario Research Fund projects include:

  • $9 million for the University of Toronto to revitalize the Toronto High Containment Facility— the only level 3 lab that supports the research and clinical needs of partner research hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area. This work will provide the expertise, research and infrastructure necessary to mobilize a rapid response to future emerging infectious diseases.
  • $2 million for Lakehead University to develop novel models for industry partners to help them find new mineral deposits for potential mine development in northern Ontario.
  • $2 million for the University of Waterloo to explore and evaluate strategies for minimizing the negative environmental impacts of arsenic-bearing mine wastes.
  • $2 million for the University of Guelph to create an advanced battery pack for electric vehicles that is sustainably made, flameproof, and lighter and safer than other batteries that are currently available on the market.
  • $1.1 million for Queen’s University to develop microbial inoculants, which are a natural alternative to fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that deliver nutrients to plants. These inoculants will help reduce costs for Ontario’s farmers and increase resiliency in Ontario’s agri-food sector by reducing reliance on imports.  Govt. of Ontario

Public Service and Procurement Canada announced two contracts, with a combined value of $63.2 million (including taxes), to construct new laboratory facilities for the Regulatory and Security Science Main (RSS Main) Project. This project will provide federal scientists across several departments and agencies with a leading-edge, multi-purpose, sustainable and collaborative facility to complement existing government science laboratories and capabilities.

The new RSS Main facility will focus on distinct areas of scientific research, including:

  • the protection of human, plant and animal health
  • food safety with a specialization in food chemistry
  • strengthened emergency preparedness
  • enhanced border security

The new facility will be located at the existing Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Ottawa Laboratory (Fallowfield), and will relocate scientific operations from existing infrastructure in critical or poor condition to this state-of-the-art modern facility. The detailed design phase is set to take place in 2024, with construction targeted to start in 2025. The Laboratories Canada strategy aims to provide federal scientists with leading-edge, green, collaborative facilities to position Canada to be at the forefront of new discoveries and delivering on research priorities, while supporting Canadian jobs. Public Services and Procurement Canada

Finance Canada announced that the Canada Growth Fund is investing $50 million in Montreal-based Idealist Capital. The investment will boost the Idealist Climate Impact Fund’s ability to help businesses commercialize technologies, products and services that will accelerate the clean energy transition, Finance Canada said. Idealist Capital is an experienced team of investors with a track record of supporting the growth of cleantech businesses in Canada, focusing on decarbonizing energy, electrifying transportation, and promoting a circular economy, according to the federal government. Idealist Capital’s recent investments are enabling cleantech companies in Montreal to expand the size of HVAC production facilities; bring to market bi-directional home and EV energy stations that lower energy costs and promote grid stability; and develop the next generation of ultra-wideband semiconductors. Since the federal government launched the $15-billion Canada Growth Fund last year, including today’s investment, $1.34 billion of its capital has been committed to a world-leading geothermal energy technology companythe world’s first of its kind carbon contract for difference, and now, to clean tech entrepreneurs and innovators through a leading Canadian-based climate fund, Ottawa said. Finance Canada

The Ontario-based Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) global innovation cluster launched a new call for project proposals for its Sustainable Manufacturing Challenge. NGen said it will invest up to $35 million and will raise more than $65 million from industry to launch $100 million in new collaborative projects. These projects will aim to accelerate the application of Canadian cleantech and other advanced technologies to improve the environmental sustainability of Canadian manufacturing. The Sustainable Manufacturing Challenge is seeking projects that will support Canada’s path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and target challenges like emissions reduction, including in:

  • reduction of energy usage and natural resource consumption
  • operational efficiency gains
  • waste reduction
  • use of recycled and sustainable materials
  • full life cycle product management and closed loop manufacturing
  • circular manufacturing of materials.

Projects must be collaborative and transformative, promising to push the boundaries of advanced manufacturing technology and world-class cleantech. Focus areas should include:

  • low carbon – fuel feedstock, energy – applied to manufacturing
  • implementation of net-zero facilities
  • innovative solutions for high heat generation – applied to manufacturing
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage – applied to manufacturing
  • Tracking and managing GHG emissions across the supply chain
  • Smart Manufacturing for efficiency gains and GHG reduction
  • Greener/circular/sustainable materials.

More information about key dates and deadlines, eligibility criteria, and program scope is available here. NGen

Infrastructure Canada announced a $25-million investment by the federal government and the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal to support a project by the Hellenic Community  to build a new energy-efficient community centre in the heart of Laval’s Chomedey district. The federal government is investing $10 million in this project under the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program, and the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal is contributing $15 million. The new state-of-the-art eco-energy and net-zero carbon community centre will include, among other things, a sports complex with a double gymnasium, a theatre with a stage, space for social services, a library, offices and conference rooms. A large-scale photovoltaic system integrated into the building and state-of-the-art heat pumps will also enable the centre to produce and obtain renewable energy, all without carbon emissions. Infrastructure Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced $16.3 million in grant funding from the Government of Canada and Government of Manitoba, under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to support 101 projects under the Research and Innovation program over the next three years. The funding will go towards research and capacity building to accelerate innovation in agriculture in Manitoba, supporting companies that are leading innovative research and putting the province at the forefront of sustainable agriculture research. Projects funded improve sustainability, resiliency and competitiveness of the agriculture and agri-food sectors by accelerating the development and adoption of technologies and products that enhance efficiency and sustainability while addressing challenges such as climate change. Funding is available for stakeholders including primary producers, agri-processors, industry organizations, academic institutions and research bodies, industry service providers, and Indigenous governments, communities and groups. AAFC

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) announced the launch of a call for proposals to support business incubators and accelerators in Quebec, with up to $16 million in funding over the next four years (2024-2028). CED’s call for proposals targets  non-profit organizations whose primary mission is to offer incubation and acceleration services to a clientele composed mainly of startups and impact businesses. CED is now accepting, up to May 8, 2024, applications under this call for proposals. Quebec’s incubators and accelerators are invited to participate to receive funding under CED’s regular programs starting on August 1, 2024. CED

Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) announced an investment of $13.8 million from CIHR and the Public Health Agency of Canada, in the 2024 cohort of Applied Public Health Chairs – the program’s fourth cohort. The funding will support 12 research projects over six years. The Chairs will lead high-quality research programs to tackle pressing public health challenges, work with decision makers from various sectors and communities, and support evidence-informed decisions that improve health and health equity. The Applied Public Health Chair program was launched in 2008 to strengthen the skills and capacity of public health researchers, and since its inception has supported more than 45 leading public health researchers. CIHR

Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) announced an investment, with partners, of $9.6 million for 12 early career researchers who’ll receive the first Health System Impact Embedded Early Career Researcher Awards. These researchers will be embedded within health system organizations where they will develop research programs to address the evidence needs of their host organizations and use the evidence they gather to help transform Canada’s health care systems. The researchers will tackle priorities such as:

  • increasing equitable access to kidney transplantation
  • transforming cardiovascular care for underserved communities in Ontario
  • improving perinatal and neonatal health care in rural Nova Scotia
  • strengthening the health system response to violence against women in Eastern Canada
  • improving chronic pain management in Alberta with virtual care
  • addressing the social determinants of health in cancer outcomes
  • transforming autism research and policy at the national level, among other topics.

These awards are part of the Health System Impact (HSI) program, created by the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research. The program is made possible thanks to funding and support from partners such as Michael Smith Health Research BC, ResearchNB, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, and Mitacs. CIHR

The Saskatchewan-based Protein Industries Canada global innovation cluster announced a $6.9-million commitment to a new project to help meet the growing need for ingredients for affordable protein options. The cluster is providing $3 million to the project, with industry partners Burcon NutraScience, HPS Food & Ingredients, and Puratos Canada contributing the remainder. Burcon is increasing the value of hemp and sunflower flour by extracting hemp protein isolate, sunflower protein isolate and sunflower protein concentrate. In partnership with Burcon, HPS is assessing hemp crop varieties to determine which are best suited for the new ingredients, while also developing, commercializing and scaling the technology needed to process the hemp into the new ingredients. Further along the value chain, Puratos and Burcon will each focus on using the hemp and sunflower ingredients in new food and beverage products, particularly baking applications, beverages and meat alternatives. Protein Industries Canada

Crown-Indigenous Relations and North Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) announced an additional $2.8 million in funding for Nukik Corporation to advance the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project to the next phase of development. The funding is from Canada’s Northern REACHE Program. Led by Nukik, an Inuit-owned corporation, the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link proposes to build a 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line with fibre-optic cabling connecting Manitoba’s grid to the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. This nation-building project would take five communities and at least one gold mine off costly and polluting diesel and deliver high-speed internet to the region. The project would also significantly reduce the risk associated with shipping heavy fuels across the Arctic waters and fuel spills in communities. This funding will advance the project development phase activities, which include the engineering, design, and environmental fieldwork necessary for the project to move forward. Construction is expected to begin by 2028. CIRNAC

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced the release of The Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Energy and Resource Table Framework for Collaboration on the Path to Net Zero. The collaboration framework identifies four areas of economic opportunity to prioritize in a net-zero future: critical minerals; wind and hydrogen development; electrification; and carbon capture and storage. The framework is supported with federal investments totalling more than $2.5 million to make progress toward the two governments’ shared commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition, the framework proposes to significantly expand and deepen provincewide engagement on climate action through the NL Regional Table. The table is one of nine regional tables the federal government has established to date with individual provinces and territories.  Alberta and Ottawa have launched an alternative collaborative mechanism, the federal government said. Discussions with Quebec and Nunavut about regional tables are still underway. NRCan

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) announced an investment of $1.9 million in the Common Ground Canada Network project led by Karen Foster, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada at Dalhousie University. This investment, made through the SSHRC Research Network on Sustainable Agriculture in a Net-Zero Economy initiative, supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will focus on the development of this new national research network while also working to advance sustainable agricultural sectors and food systems to support a just transition to net zero in Canada. Producers are already taking action to make their operations more sustainable, efficient and profitable: for example, by adopting no-till approaches, cover cropping and precision agriculture. This knowledge sharing network will help amplify the work already underway and increase adoption of these best practices. The Common Ground Canada Network is intended to promote collaboration and partnerships between academic institutions, research institutes, Indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, industry and producers. Partner organizations including the Arrell Food Institute, Food Secure Canada and the National Farmers Union, and civil society organizations such as the JustFOOD Action Plan Halifax, Food Communities Network, Food for All NB, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Humane Society International, and Farm to Cafeteria Canada. SSHRC

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced the two grand prize winners of the Business Model Streams for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. LOOP Mission and Still Good will each receive up to $1.5 million to grow and scale their leading-edge food waste solutions. LOOP Mission is a Montreal-based circular economy company that creates products from food that would otherwise go to waste, like cold-pressed juice. The company created LOOP Synergies – a line of ingredients made from rejected food, that would otherwise be wasted, that food processors can easily integrate into diverse food products. Still Good, also based in Montreal, develops business solutions for companies to transform nutrient-rich byproducts that would otherwise go to waste to new food products, through a holistic approach called eco-valuation. For example, Still Good developed technology to turn spent brewers’ grain from local microbreweries into flour which is high in protein, fibre and essential minerals. AAFC

The Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick are together investing more than $1 million to create a blueprint that will support the decarbonization of small and medium-sized enterprises in the province. The provincial government is investing $450,000 in the project, while the federal government is providing $643,000. The project will include the gathering of information, a conference and a social innovation lab. It will be delivered by NouLAB at the Pond-Deshpande Centre, in collaboration with the New Brunswick Business Council and the provincial and federal governments. Academia, large industry, small and medium-sized enterprises, community organizations, industry and governments will be engaged during the project. The project is expected to result in: new resources and tools to help SMEs decarbonize; SMEs becoming more competitive by moving towards decarbonization; and new economic opportunities for SMEs as they transition to more sustainable operations. Govt. of New Brunswick

Competition Bureau Canada has published a discussion paper on artificial intelligence and competition for public consultation. The discussion paper explores several considerations for how AI may affect competition in Canada. With AI affecting many sectors of the Canadian economy, the Bureau is aiming to promote discussion and grow its understanding of:

  • how competition is developing in AI markets
  • how the Bureau can protect and promote competition in AI markets
  • how the Bureau can be prepared to address competitive harm from AI.

The Bureau is seeking feedback from those who do business in AI markets, as well as those who have expertise or experience with AI technologies and their potential impacts. Interested parties are encouraged to provide feedback on the issues raised in the discussion paper, or to bring other issues to the Bureau’s attention. Each submission received by the Bureau will be published on its website unless the provider requests that it be kept confidential. Feedback can be submitted until May 4, 2024, through an online feedback form, or by mail to:

Digital Enforcement and Intelligence Branch
Competition Bureau
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0C9

The Government of British Columbia’s Budget 2024 included several measures aimed at advancing a low-carbon economy in the province. The budget included a B.C. Electricity Affordability Credit that government said will give people a break on their electricity bills by helping households save an average of $100 over the course of the year based on their prior year power usage. B.C.’s Budget 2024 also allocated $318 million to continue funding grant and rebate programs for clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings and communities, and support the transition to a low-carbon economy. In addition, another $90 million will help people and communities reduce emissions, including:

  • $40 million for additional heat-pump rebates for households with low and middle incomes to provide access to affordable, clean energy
  • $20 million for active transportation grants to communities
  • $30 million to continue the implementation of electric vehicle public charging infrastructure.

B.C.’s budget also provided $24 million to continue to reduce permitting backlogs for mining exploration, enabling access to the critical minerals needed to produce components in clean-energy products, such as electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, electrical transmission lines and batteries. The budget also provided $30 million to add more than 500 public EV-charging stations to more than 5,000 charging stations already available across the province. Govt. of B.C.

The Government of British Columbia is providing $850,000, from its Innovative Clean Energy Fund, to Vancouver-based pH7 Technologies, which has developed a proprietary closed-loop process using advanced chemistry to extract and refine critical metals that will help the mining sector transition to renewable energy in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. The new process also enables efficient metal extraction from low-grade resources or difficult substrates in a cost-effective way. The metal alloys, including platinum group metals, copper, and tin, produced by pH7 are then refined by industrial customers. pH7 will use the funding to conduct a pilot project to process 5,000 kilograms per day of raw materials into approximately 2,500 kg of extracted platinum group metals per year. This method results in significantly less greenhouse gas emissions, electricity and water usage compared to mining or other recycling methods. Govt. of B.C.


CQDM announced $537,071 for a collaborative research project led by Michel Meunier, professor in the Department of Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montréal, in partnership with Vega BioImagerie, a Quebec startup resulting from research carried out at Polytechnique Montréal, and Dr. Dominique Trudel, pathologist and researcher at Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal. The Government of Quebec is providing $203,052 granted by CQDM, along with financial support from Vega BioImaging, Polytechnique Montréal and Pfizer Canada. Breast cancer patients whose tumors have HER2 gene amplification have seen their life expectancy significantly increase thanks to treatment with trastuzuma, a targeted cancer drug. Patient eligibility for this treatment is determined via tumor HER2 expression levels, but current techniques have a significant error rate, as well as low sensitivity, resulting in delayed diagnosis. The research team plans to validate a new cutting-edge technique based on counting gold nanoparticles to enable precise quantitative assessment of HER2 expression. The specificity of this technique having already been demonstrated on cell lines, the researchers are now testing it on breast cancer tissues that have already been characterized. The project will represent an important contribution to precision medicine for the treatment of breast cancer, CQDM said. The eligibility of patients for dedicated treatment will be determined thanks to this new, more robust and faster approach which can be easily integrated into analysis laboratories across Quebec while reducing costs for the health system. CQDM

CQDM’s Quantum Leap pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research helps SMEs or Canadian universities achieve innovative translational biopharmaceutical research projects. The program offers funding ranging from $500,000 to $1.2 million. Contact Jesse Paterson ( for more information. Projects selected as part of the Quantum Leap program focus on developing cutting-edge technologies with the potential to significantly advance the R&D activities of CQDM’s pharmaceutical members. Quantum Leap projects are executed in close collaboration and with the expert support and funds of pharmaceutical members. The enabling technologies, innovative platforms and/or innovative therapies derived from the Quantum Leap program for drug discovery research are selected for their potential to significantly improve, facilitate and/or accelerate the drug discovery process and the development of safer and more effective drugs. The technologies of interest can be at any stage of the drug development process and involve a wide range of therapeutic indications. CQDM


Halifax-based Maritime Launch Services and Florida-based Impulso.Space USA Corporation signed an agreement for Maritime Launch to provide vehicle payload capacity on multiple rideshare and dedicated launch operator missions for up to five years of launches from Spaceport Nova Scotia, with payload integration services provided from Impulso.Space’s new logistics and ground operations facility located in Florida. The agreement expands on the two companies’ previous letter of intent to deploy satellites for small and medium-class launchers using Maritime Launch’s facility. Maritime Launch is developing Canada’s first commercial launch site, Spaceport Nova Scotia, located near the communities of Canso, Hazel Hill and Little Dover in Nova Scotia, with a first orbital launch planned for 2025. Maritime Launch Services

Apple Inc. acquired Waterloo, Ont.-based startup DarwinAI to build out Apple’s AI team, as the company works to build AI features for its next-generation IOS 18 and macOS 15 operating systems. No financial details of the purchase were provided. Founded in 2017, DarwinAI created AI technology to inspect components during the manufacturing process, and also has a focus on making smaller and more efficient AI systems. DarwinAI’s website and social media accounts have been taken offline following Apple’s purchase. Dozens of former DarwinAI companies have now joined Apple’s artificial intelligence division. AI researcher Alexander Wong, who helped build DarwinAI, is now a director in Apple’s AI group.  MacRumors

Global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, based in the U.K., announced an agreement to acquire Hamilton, Ont.-based Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $21 per share in cash plus a non-transferable contingent value right of $3 per share in cash payment upon achieving a specified regulatory milestone. The upfront cash portion represents a transaction value of approximately US$2 billion, a 97-per-cent premium to Fusion’s closing market price on March 18. Combined, the upfront and maximum potential contingent value payments represent a transactional value of approximately US$2.4 billion. The deal still needs approval by Fusion shareholders and regulators. Fusion Pharmaceuticals was founded out of McMaster University in 2014 with the goal to cure cancer by developing targeted alpha therapeutics, a method that employs radioactive substances to treat diseased tissue at close proximity. Fusion Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is developing next-generation radioconjugates (RCs). These medicines deliver a radioactive isotope directly to cancer cells through precise targeting using molecules such as antibodies, peptides or small molecules. This approach has many potential advantages compared to traditional radiotherapy, including minimizing damage to healthy cells and enabling access to tumours not reachable through external beam radiation. Following the acquisition, Fusion will become a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca and continue its operations in Canada and the U.S. AstraZeneca

Vancouver-based fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power announced it was selected to receive $40 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants, pending negotiation of funding agreements, to support building an integrated fuel cell production “gigafactory” in Texas. Ballard plans to make a final investment decision on the facility later this year. The company plans for the new facility, dubbed Ballard Rockwall Giga 1, to be located on a parcel of 22 acres of industrial land within the Rockwall Technology Park in Rockwall, Texas. In Phase I, Ballard plans to invest approximately US$160 million (net of the US$40 million in expected DOE grants) from 2024 through the end of 2027 to build and commission a new manufacturing facility with annual production capacity of 8 million membrane electrode assemblies, 8 million bipolar plates, 20,000 fuel cell stacks, and up to 20,000 fuel cell engines per year, or the equivalent of three gigawatts of fuel cells. The land acquisition rights and facility design provide Ballard with optionality for additional future phases at the Rockwall site. Future phases are expected to further increase production scaling and capacity expansion with much lower capital requirements. Ballard Power

The Pathways Alliance of six major oilsands producers in Alberta announced it has begun filing regulatory applications to the Alberta Energy Regulator for the alliance’s proposed $16.5-billion carbon capture and storage project. The regulatory filing includes: details on the right-of-way proposed for a 400-km carbon dioxide transportation pipeline that would connect more than 20 oilsands facilities; information regarding proposed water crossings; environmental mitigation management plans; and commitment to regulatory compliance and stakeholder transparency. Not included in this initial regulatory submission are applications related to Pathways’ CO2 storage hub near Cold Lake; the pipeline from the oilsands region will transport CO2 to this storage hub in east-central Alberta. Those regulatory applications are expected to be filed in the second quarter this year. The regulatory filings come about five weeks after federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson publicly urged Pathways to “start to show actual progress on the ground” in the project. Pathways’ proposed project is expected to achieve net reductions from oilsands operations of approximately 10 million to 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year, working toward the alliance’s goal of net-zero emissions from oilsands operations by 2050. Pathways has yet to order any pipe, which is expected to cost several hundreds millions of dollars and is likely to be ordered toward the end of this year. Pathways hopes to make a final investment decision on the project sometime in 2025. Pathways Alliance

Mississauga-headquartered Li-Cycle Holdings Corp., a lithium-ion battery resource recovery company, announced it has slowed operations at its Kingston, Ont. recycling plant and also in New York, Arizona and Alabama, while the company re-evaluates its North American strategy. Li-Cycle also announced a $75-million strategic investment from Glencore, but is implementing a cash preservation plan, including further reducing its workforce as well as streamlining operations. Li-Cycle is conducting an internal review to examine scope and cost for its Rochester Hub project in New York, after pausing construction last November. The company has already spent about $587 million on this project and estimates it will take another $452 million to complete. Li-Cyle also will focus on only two battery materials in the Rochester plant – lithium carbonate and mixed hydroxide precipitate (containing nickel, cobalt and manganese) – to better reflect current expectations regarding the timing and evolution of the battery recycling and EV markets, the company said. Li-Cycle

Toronto cryptocurrency company WonderFi Technologies Inc. announced an agreement to purchase Australia-based FX Institutions (FXI) which offers crypto trading and payment remittances within the region. Financial details weren’t disclosed. WonderFi said it wholly owns and operates two of Canada’s largest crypto trading platforms, Bitbuy and Coinsquare, as well as its global crypto payment business, Smart Pay. WonderFi, through FXI, will launch over-the-counter trading services in Australia in the second quarter this year, with plans to roll out a comprehensive suite of offerings for retail and institutional trades in the third quarter. T-Net

Montreal-based Busbud, a global ground travel booking platform, acquired Buson, a leading bus booking marketplace in Brazil. As part of the transaction (financial details weren’t disclosed), Kaszek, Buson’s Series A investor, will become a shareholder in Busbud, along with Buson CEO and co-founder Thiago Carvalho and other shareholders of Buson. The acquisition expands Busbud’s presence throughout Brazil, the third-largest bus market globally. Bus travel makes up more than 59 per cent of leisure and tourism travel in Brazil, and the intercity bus market has been rapidly digitalizing in the past few years with the wider adoption of electronic tickets. Busbud

The BC Wildfire Service is expanding the use of wildfire predictive technologies, to better protect people and communities from wildfires. In advance of the 2024 wildfire season, B.C. is introducing software technology that can produce real-time wildfire behaviour predictions and incorporate information directly from the field. The technology will first be introduced in the Coastal and Kamloops Fire Centres, where it has already been piloted, to ensure compatibility with forest and fuel conditions. Following continued trials, refinements and staff training, B.C.’s remaining four regional fire centres will phase in the new technology throughout 2024. While wildfire predictive technology does not replace the experience and skills of qualified B..C Wildfire Service staff, it provides wildfire decision-makers with more intelligence and more time to plan their operations. Wildfire growth modelling works by using data from weather models, topography and fuel maps. The technology being implemented by BC Wildfire Service includes the ability to use existing geospatial data and fuel maps, but also uses an app-based interface to allow for on-the-ground inputs in real time. The technology includes an interface for field staff, operational decision-makers and fire behaviour specialists who each have a unique role to play in forecasting, resource planning and fighting wildfires. Collaborative efforts with jurisdictions using similar technologies, including California and Australia, have allowed the BC Wildfire Service to quickly operationalize and expand the use of these tools. Govt. of B.C.

Swedish-based IKEA, a global home furnishing retailer, is recommending that Canada’s federal government increase investment in building “made-in-Canada” solutions for the growth of electric vehicle infrastructure. In a pre-budget submission, IKEA Canada said increased investments in EV R&D will generate made-in-Canada solutions, create jobs, and allow Canada to become a world leader in green technology. Investments in “low-tech” solutions such as biking should be equally accessible under federal program funding that encourages the development of net-zero solutions, the company said. IKEA also said the government should implement a consumer-based rebate for the purchase of affordable, “climate-positive” consumer goods and energy-saving products, such as LED lightbulbs and occupancy sensors, to help grow a net-zero economy. IKEA also urged the government to increase investments to support strong and stable trade corridors, including ports and rail lines, across Canada. IKEA said the government also should implement a “national Circular Economy Infrastructure Fund” to encourage sustainable economic growth. This should include startup investment in local-level circular services and small business support such as tool libraries, permanent repair and care storefronts, furniture banks, and other reuse and repair options, the company said. More and more, average Canadians have less confidence that they’ll be able to live the life they want, IKEA noted. “Housing unaffordability, increasing grocery prices, and even environmental issues such as more severe fires and floods, have stressed many people.” IKEA, which has been in Canada for 46 years, operates 16 stores, four distribution centres, two windfarms and one customer support centre in Canada, employing more than 7,900 people across the country. IKEA

London, U.K.-headquartered Shell announced it is planning to divest 1,000 of its retail gasoline stations (including joint ventures) between 2024 and 2025. The move is aimed at reallocating those resources toward EV charging stations, “in response to changing customer’s needs,” Shell said in its latest energy transition strategy. The company said it would focus on public chargers – increasing those to 200,000 by the end of the decade compared with 54,000 currently – because customers need them more than home charging. The company will roll out these in China, where it operates more than half its current recharging stations, and Europe where demand is fast growing. Shell’s updated energy transition strategy weakens its carbon-emissions reduction targets for the coming decade, but sticks to its net-zero commitment for 2050. The company also introduced a new target to reduce customer emissions from the use of its oil products by 15 per cent to 20 per cent by 2030, compared with 2021 levels. BNN Bloomberg

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new motor vehicle emissions standards on March 20, 2024, adopting the most stringent federal regulations to date for carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from vehicles. The standards require that vehicle manufacturers achieve progressively lower emissions for new vehicles in model years 2027 through 2032, extending EPA’s 2021 rule that set emissions standards for model years 2023 through 2026. The standards apply to all new light-duty and medium-duty vehicles, which includes passenger vehicles, light trucks and large pickups and vans. EPA is relying on performance-based standards that do not require automakers to adopt specific technologies, and instead allow for a mix of technologies to meet the limits. The final rule largely adopts EPA’s proposed rule, published last May, for carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, but eases requirements in earlier model years in response to public comments. EPA projects that the influence of these standards, in conjunction with other market developments like incentives available under the Inflation Reduction Act, will result in plug-in electric vehicles accounting for 68 per cent of new light-duty vehicles by model year 2032. White & Case

The European Union’s parliament approved the world’s first major set of regulatory ground rules to govern the mediatized artificial intelligence at the forefront of tech investment. The EU brokered provisional political consensus in early December, and it was then endorsed in the Parliament, with 523 votes in favor, 46 against and 49 votes not cast. The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, described the act as trailblazing, saying it would enable innovation, while safeguarding fundamental rights. Dragos Tudorache, a lawmaker who oversaw EU negotiations on the agreement, hailed the deal, but noted the biggest hurdle remains implementation. The EU AI Act divides the technology into categories of risk, ranging from “unacceptable” – which would see the technology banned – to high, medium and low hazard. The regulation is expected to enter into force at the end of the legislature in May, after passing final checks and receiving endorsement from the European Council. Implementation will then be staggered from 2025 onward. CNBC


Toronto-based PocketHealth, which offers patient-centric medical image exchange technology, raised $45 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Round13 Capital with participation from Deloitte Ventures, Samsung Next, and existing investors Questa Capital and Radical Ventures. PocketHealth said the funding will enable the company to continue to evolve how medical images are shared, leverage AI to personalize the patient’s care journey, and grow its footprint across the U.S. and Canada. PocketHealth was founded in 2016 by brothers Harsh and Rishi Nayyar to give patients access, control and a deeper understanding of their health records while streamlining the way healthcare providers share medical imaging. PocketHealth said its technology is now used by more than 1.5 million patients at over 775 healthcare sites. Canadian Healthcare Technology

Sudbury, Ont.-based medical devices company Flosonics Medical, which offers wearable medical ultrasound, raised $27 million in Series C financing. The round was led by New Leaf Venture Partners, with participation from previous investors Arboretum Ventures, Genesys Capital, and iGan Partners. Flosonics said the funding will support the company as it continues to innovate and drive market adoption of its FloPatch device, a first-in-class wearable Doppler ultrasound for hemodynamic assessments, which measure the blood flow and pressures within the cardiovascular system. Flosonics, founded in 2015, said it aims to address the growing demand for wearable AI-assisted sensors to improve patient management inside and outside the hospital. BusinessWire

Toronto-based Borderless AI emerged from “stealth” mode, raising $27 million in seed funding to leverage the power of generative AI to automate and accelerate the process of onboarding, managing and paying international team members. The round was led by Susquehanna and Aglaé Ventures, the venture arm of Bernard Arnault, with participation from additional institutional investors. Borderless AI said its novel AI agent, Alberni, a human resources assistant, can solve complex problems and automate processes in any country around the world within 10 minutes, compared with the market norm of seven to 10 business days. Borderless AI’s platform was developed with the large language model created by Toronto-based OpenAI rival Cohere. Borderless AI

Less than three and a half years after launching the largest Canadian fund of its kind, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has quietly shuttered its Equity 25³ fund. In October 2020, the Quebec pension fund announced the creation of Equity 25³, dedicating $250 million towards increasing diversity and inclusion in growing small and medium-sized businesses based in Quebec and across Canada. At the time, CDPQ claimed Equity 25³ was “the largest Canadian fund ever created to target companies leveraging diversity as a vector of development and expansion.” CDPQ’s plan was for Equity 25³ to put that money into profitable businesses and promising tech firms. According to a story in BetaKit, Equity 25³ made just four investments in that timeframe, having backed ApplyBoard, BKR Capital (via Teralys Capital), Sama, and Unito. Today, Equity 25³’s webpage is no longer active and instead redirects to a page that outlines CDPQ’s broader investments in Quebec. Wils Théagène, formerly a senior director of private equity at CDPQ and the architect of Equity 25³, is no longer with CDPQ or the fund. CDPQ confirmed the end of Equity 25³. BetaKit

Montreal-based startup Rithmik Solutions closed $2 million in seed funding. The round included Sprout Fund, Cycle Momentum, DevCap, angel investors from AngelOne and the Golden Triangle Angel Network and Archangel’s Adrenaline Fund, with strong support from previous investors Chrysalix Venture Capital and Ecofuel. Rithmik offers AI-powered analytics for mobile equipment optimization in the mining industry. The company’s Asset Health Analyzer leverages advanced machine learning techniques to provide early warnings of equipment issues, optimize maintenance and deliver insights into aspects of operations impacting asset performance. Rithmik said that with the capability to rapidly and scalably tune its AI models to specific sites, its technology leads to increased equipment availability, lower maintenance costs, and a significant reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Rithmik said the funding will be used to increase the company’s global footprint. BusinessWire

Montreal-based property tech firm Landerz raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round. The round included an equity investment from Accelia Capital and the Quebec government through its delegate Investissement Québec, along with financial support from BDC, PME MTL, and CEIM through the Société d'Investissement Jeunesse. Landerz plans to make significant investments in technology, data, customer acquisition and professional development. Acquiring residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural land is a significant challenge, involving navigating through multiple channels, consolidating scattered data, and negotiating with inexperienced and sometimes poorly advised sellers. Landerz’s online platform simplifies the land acquisition process by providing buyers access to a variety of high-potential development sites, including exclusive off-market opportunities, as well as quick access to all critical information for purchase decision-making, such as market data, comparable transactions, zoning and development risks. Landerz

Canada’s VC capital market in 2023 remained depressed: Torys report

The 2023 Canadian venture capital market looked and felt a lot like the previous year, according to Torys’ Venture Financing Report 2024. The VC environment in 2023 included decreased financing activity, depressed valuations and deal terms becoming more investor friendly.

Venture-backed companies had a challenge raising capital in 2023, said the fourth annual report, which examined Canadian VC financings across 127 Canadian-headquartered startups. Companies were forced to take a more conservative approach to their cash management and growth strategies, as global markets continued to adjust to higher interest rates, geopolitical tensions and the impact on financing opportunities and operations.

Overall, the market for preferred share financings remained muted, with deal volume down approximately 14 per cent year-over-year, according to the report. Compared with 2021, deal volume was down 34 per cent.

Despite an uncertain fundraising landscape, the appetite to finance later-stage companies (albeit with many at flat or lower valuations) showed some resilience, with an uptick in the proportion of Series C and later-stage financings compared with 2022. Nonetheless, seed and Series A segments once again accounted for the largest number of financings.

“Anecdotally, founders of early-stage ventures had a keen eye on business models, cash flow and path to profitability, in contrast to a growth-at-all-cost approach that dominated earlier cohorts,” the report said. “In a similar trend, founders of early-stage ventures deferred their Pre-Seed financings as they pushed to discover product market fit and held out for better terms in the hopes of a stronger market to come.”

While Ontario and Quebec remained leaders in venture capital investment, Alberta continued its strong growth trajectory and, if this upward trend continues, it may be on course to take Quebec’s place as the second most active market for venture capital in Canada (on a deal count basis), according to the report. The growth in the Alberta market, although skewed to supporting early-stage companies, is credited to a combination of the provincial government’s ongoing policies to stimulate venture activity, a community of successful tech leaders supporting emerging founders, and a strong talent base.

As the year progresses, the market will continue to stabilize, but remain at a slow pace, the report said. Investment in clean energy, artificial intelligence, and healthcare will gain further momentum, as the demand for climate change mitigation technology, automated workflows, and better patient care increases. Torys


Ottawa remains committed to establishing Canada Innovation Corporation, Industry Minister indicates in response to Parliamentary committee report

The federal government remains committed to launching the Canada Innovation Corporation, Industry Minister François-Philipe Champagne indicates in a response to the report by the Standing Committee on Science and Research.

 “Beginning in 2026–2027, the Canada Innovation Corporation, announced in Budget 2023, will provide focused support to Canadian businesses across all sectors and regions so that they become more innovative and productive,” Champagne wrote. He was responding to the Committee’s report, “Support for the Commercialization of Intellectual Property,” and its recommendations.

Champagne said the government either agrees with or “acknowledges” all 14 of the Committee’s recommendations. However, his response essentially said the government is already doing the things the Committee recommended to better support the commercialization of IP. His response didn’t commit the government to taking any of the new actions or initiatives recommended by the Committee.

For example, the Committee recommended that the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders, undertake a review of Canada’s support system for intellectual property, research and development, and commercialization, with an aim toward identifying and addressing redundancies, gaps and inconsistencies.

But Champagne’s response didn’t commit the government to such a review, or mention working with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders to undertake a review.

The Committee also recommended that the federal government undertake a review of Canada’s intellectual property regulation regime in comparison with other jurisdictions to ensure international competitiveness in regard to timelines, protection, and interoperability. Similarly, Champagne’s response didn’t commit the government to doing such a review.

In two areas – federal government procurement and support for Canada’s compute power and supercomputing resources – Champagne mentioned government initiatives that many stakeholders in Canada’s innovation ecosystem have criticized as being ineffective.

 In federal procurement, for example, he noted that the government’s procurement market is $22 billion annually, and can be used to spur innovation and encourage the growth of Canadian companies. “Recognizing this opportunity, the Government introduced the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program as part of the 2017 Innovation and Skills Plan.” Through ISC, Champagne said, the government “plays a transformative role in growing innovative small businesses by acting as a partner in their early-stage development of their pre-commercial innovation, and the creation of unique intellectual property.”

 ISC requires 21 federal department and agencies to spend one per cent of annual procurement and R&D expenditures through the program.

 However, as part of the government’s effort to reduce spending, Ottawa will reduce spending on the ISC program by $28.2 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year, and then $70 million annually from 2025-26 onwards. The savings will come from “reduced contributions to the programs from participating departments across government,” according to Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s annual plan.

Champagne also pointed to the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, which he said “catalyzes the development of innovative solutions with participants across the innovation community including large defence industry prime contractors, academia, small and medium-sized enterprises, not-for-profits, as well as municipal, provincial, and territorial organizations. The program is a critical component in the pipeline that identifies and matures promising technologies.”

But DND and the Canadian Armed Forces, which has a $65-million annual commitment to fund innovation and buy from startups, has never come close to meeting its spending obligations under ISC. Also, the IDEaS program has no mechanism for DND to procure the products and services that participants develop.

Champagne’s response also pointed to investment of $443.8 million over 10 years, from 2021 to 2031, for the second phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, to help efforts to foster responsible adoption and commercialization of artificial intelligence. “It is also giving AI researchers access to advanced research computing resources,” he said.

 However, Canada’s compute capacity and supercomputer resources are far from “advanced,” and researchers and industry representatives maintain the federal government’s investment in this area is inadequate, as Research Money reported last December and other media have since reported, including a story last week by The Globe and Mail. Canada fell from 15th to 23rd place in ranking on supercomputer infrastructure, according to last year’s Tortoise Global AI Index.

 In another area – promoting post-secondary institution innovations to Canadian businesses – Champagne’s response acknowledged that the government doesn’t have enough information in this area. He said a survey on knowledge mobilization at post-secondary institutions is anticipated to be launched in 2024. “This survey aims to evaluate how institutional knowledge drives commercial outcomes.” Funding for this survey - $10.6 million over five years – was allocated in budget 2022. But the survey has yet to be launched.

Also, Champagne said, the government’s National Lab to Market program, launched in December 2023, will further support researchers in commercializing laboratory discoveries, integrating IP education and tools. Funding for this program – $47.8 million over five years and $20.2 million ongoing – also was allocated in Budget 2022. But funding has yet to start flowing and the earliest it could flow is in late fall this year, since the deadline for full applications for funding has been set as September 9, 2024.

However, universities haven’t waited on the government for funding to flow since Ottawa announced its commitment to the Lab-to-Market program in Budget 2022. As Research Money reported, a coalition of universities is now supporting and operating its own “Lab2Market” nationwide program. The program now includes 33 universities, with a national health hub and six regional hubs.

Champagne’s response noted that the 2018 National IP Strategy focuses on improving Canada’s IP literacy, reducing the costs and complexity of engaging in the IP system, and improving Canada’s IP system through amendments to key IP laws. This strategy led to accessible services like IP education tools from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the introduction of the IP Clinics and the Indigenous IP grant programs, theExploreIP marketplace, and the Patent Collective pilot project, he said.

Budget 2021 built on the foundations of the National IP Strategy by introducing new IP-focused programs like IP Assist for high-growth Industrial Research Assistance Program clients, and ElevateIP to empower Canadian start-ups in managing their IP.  Further, the Strategic Intellectual Property Program Review, first announced in Budget 2021, is assessing existing innovation and science programs to establish a robust and consistent approach to managing IP and ensure that these programs are operating in a manner that recognizes the importance  of IP and maximizes the benefits of federal innovation programming, Champagne said. R$


Canada’s AI research strengths are declining, global AI “talent tracker” suggests

Canada’s pioneering strengths in artificial intelligence research are waning, based on a new report by MacroPolo, a branch of the Chicago-based Paulson Institute think tank.

According to MacroPolo’s Global AI Talent Tracker 2.0 report, Canada had 10 per cent of the world’s “most elite” AI researchers in 2019. In 2022, Canada’s share of these researchers dropped to just three per cent. The “most elite” AI researchers are defined as authors of papers selected for oral presentations at NeurIPS, which represents the most prestigious class of papers.

When it comes to leading countries of origin of the most elite AI researchers (approximately the world’s top two per cent, based on undergraduate degrees) Canada had five per cent of these elite AI researchers in 2019. In 2022, Canada’s share of these elite AI researchers dropped to two per cent.

In 2019, the University of Toronto was the only Canadian institution in the world’s top 25 institutions for “top-tier AI research” – ranked #20. In 2022, no Canadian institution made it into the top 25.

As for “leading countries where top-tier AI researchers work” (approximately the top 20 per cent in the world), Canada’s share of these top-tier AI researchers was six per cent in 2019. In 2022, this declined to two per cent.

Globally, the U.S. remains the top destination for top-tier AI talent to work, according to the report. Within U.S. institutions, researchers of American and Chinese origin (based on undergraduate degrees) comprised 75 per cent of the top-tier AI talent in 2022, up from 58 per cent in 2019. Moreover, the U.S. remains far and away the leading destination for the world’s most elite AI talent and remains home to 60 per cent of top AI institutions.

Beyond the U.S. and China, the U.K. and South Korea, along with continental Europe, have slightly raised their game as destinations for top AI researchers to work. When it comes to AI researcher origin (based on undergraduate degrees), Canada and India have seen relative declines.

China produces a sizable portion of the world’s top AI researchers – rising from 29 per cent in 2019 to 47 per cent in 2022, with more Chinese talent working in their home domestic industry.

Over the last few years, top-tier AI researchers appear to be less mobile overall, the report said. Just 42 per cent of top-tier AI researchers in 2022 are foreign nationals currently working in a different country, down 13 percentage points from 2019 – meaning more top-tier talent are staying put in their home countries. Macro Polo


Canada’s rural regions lag urban centres in innovation, but are  higher in labour productivity

Around one in five Canadians live in Canada’s rural regions. Canada’s rural regions lag behind urban centres in patent intensity and other indicators of innovation, but labour productivity in rural areas is higher than in urban ones, according to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Also, there is a higher likelihood of starting a majority women-owned firm in rural areas in Canada compared with urban, although these firms in rural areas are less likely to participate in R&D than their urban equivalents. Other findings in the study, Enhancing Rural Innovation in Canada, include:

  • Canada is in the top quartile of OECD countries in terms of high-technology innovation (ranking 9thout of 37 OECD countries in terms of total patent applicants in 2020). But Canada lags behind the OECD average on a per capita basis (Canada had 0.09 patent applicants per 1,000 inhabitants in 2020, compared with an OECD average of 0.14).
  • Like other OECD countries, Canada’s rural regions lag behind metropolitan regions in terms of patent intensity. And although the gap (0.08) over 2016-20 was lower than the OECD average (0.15), this in large part reflects Canada’s relatively low national performance (0.09 compared to an OECD average of 0.14).
  • On broader measures of innovation, Canada’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D was 1.7 per cent of GDP in 2021, also below the OECD average of 2.7 per cent. Rural areas also displayed lower performance, with 0.8 per cent of firms reporting R&D activities, against the slightly higher rate of 1.1 per cent in urban areas.
  • From 2011 to 2019, labour productivity growth in Canadian rural areas (24 per cent) outperformed the growth rate in urban ones (19 per cent). In terms of level comparisons, labour productivity in rural areas was more than double that of urban areas in 2019. This trend goes counter to OECD figures between OECD metropolitan and non-metropolitan TL3 regions within countries. Only in Korea is productivity in non-metropolitan regions higher than in metropolitan regions.
  • If the rate of new business creation in Canada’s rural areas had been on par with the rate in urban areas, there would have been 8,100 more (50 per cent more) new firms in rural areas in 2018.
  • With a larger share of Indigenous peoples living in rural areas (around 60 per cent in 2016), Indigenous entrepreneurship in Canada is an important dimension of rural innovation. The number of Indigenous businesses increased by 11 per cent between 2009 and 2018. However, the number of non-Indigenous businesses increased by 17 per cent over the same period of time.
  • The rate of population decline in rural areas in Canada was higher (3.1 per cent) than on average in OECD rural areas (2.3 per cent) between 2000 and 2020. Canada’s population in non-metropolitan regions is also ageing faster than the OECD average in non-metropolitan regions. Between 2010 and 2020, the share of young working-age individuals (15 to 29 years) fell by 2 percentage points in non-metropolitan regions of Canada, compared to a fall of 1.1 percentage points in metropolitan regions. The decline in the share of young working-age individuals in Canada was greater than the OECD average in non-metropolitan (0.7 percentage points) and metropolitan regions (0.16). Thus in 2022, the average person living in a rural area in Canada was 2.5 years older than in urban areas.
  • In 2022, more than half (52 per cent) of total greenhouse gas emissions were due to production in remote regions of Canada. This share was significantly higher than the latest harmonized statistics on the average contribution of OECD rural regions (16 per cent) available for 2018. At the same time, Canada’s most remote regions, including the Arctic and its coastal areas, are particularly vulnerable to climate change: some are warming at over twice the global rate. “Canada’s Indigenous peoples are essential to realizing green innovation in rural regions.”

The OECD report makes several recommendations:

  • Continue to support efforts by Statistics Canada to increase the availability of statistics on rural areas and adopt a broader definition of innovation.
  • Strengthen and develop the rural lens in innovation policy and programme design, for example by developing programs that foster experimentation and continuous learning for community-led or private sector-led ventures, as well as public sector delivery.
  • Adapt innovation support that better fits demographics of rural communities, for example by conducting research to understand and address the challenges faced by women and Indigenous entrepreneurs in starting innovative companies and scaling-up.
  • Address governance challenges in delivering innovation services in rural areas by focusing on building scale, such as through increased capacity for locally based, grassroots or bottom-up programs in rural areas, and on  linkages, such as through research firm collaborations or initiatives to connect rural entrepreneurs to research institutes through one-stop shops.
  • Encourage innovation to combat climate change, for example by supporting diffusion and adoption of green innovation in rural communities through public procurement in clean technologies and green innovation. OECD


Number of R&D personnel grew in Canada, but declined globally as a percentage of total employment

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) R&D personnel in Canada rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2021, reaching 298,850 FTEs (+16,500 FTEs; +5.8 per cent), after a 6.9-per-cent increase in 2020, according to a Statistics Canada report.

On a global scale, however, Canada’s R&D personnel per thousand total employment ratio declined from 16.1 in 2020 to 15.7 in 2021. Canada still remains above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 15.4 (excluding the U.S. and the U.K. whose data weren’t available at the time of StatsCan’s report).

 The growth in R&D personnel in Canada correlates with the rise in Canada's gross domestic R&D spending, which reached a high of $46.9 billion in 2021 (+$4.0 billion; +9.3%).

R&D personnel gains recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 and 2021 were more than twice the increase observed in 2019 (+6,580 FTEs), but lower than the record increase in 2018 (+20,220 FTEs).

The uptick in the overall number of R&D personnel in 2021 was spread across all performing sectors, albeit with 95.4 per cent of the growth occurring in the two largest sectors: business enterprises and higher education. Specifically, the business enterprise sector added 12,940 FTEs to reach 197,460 FTEs. The higher education sector increased by 2,800 FTEs to 82,750 FTEs.

For the remaining sectors, the federal government added 460 FTEs for a total of 14,280 FTEs, while the provincial government rose by 160 FTEs to 3,100 FTEs, and the private non-profit sector increased by 120 FTEs to 1250 FTEs.

R&D personnel in 2021 were comprised of three occupational categories: researchers (the largest occupational category, accounting for 69.4 per cent of R&D personnel employed in Canada), followed by technicians and support staff (27.4 per cent) and on-site research consultants (3.2 per cent).

The majority of the growth in R&D personnel in 2021 was driven by increased researcher positions, which rose to 207,420 FTEs (+11,410 FTEs; +5.8%). Technicians and support staff positions also saw a noticeable rise, to 81,750 FTEs (+4,310 FTEs; +5.6%).

Almost 80 per cent of the increase in FTEs in 2021 came from Ontario and Quebec. Ontario accounted for more than half of the total growth (+8,700 FTEs to 136,570 FTEs), while Quebec accounted for about one-quarter (+4,240 FTEs to 81,430 FTEs). StatsCan


Industrial carbon pricing is biggest driver in reducing carbon emissions, report says

Governments’ climate policies are reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and industrial carbon pricing is the single biggest driver, according to new analysis by the Canadian Climate Institute, a Toronto-based non-profit climate policy research institute.

The report, Which Canadian climate policies will have the biggest impact by 2030?features the first rigorous analysis attributing emissions reductions to collective and individual climate policies. It examines, first, how policies implemented to date have affected Canada’s emissions trajectory and, second, how major climate policies are expected to impact emissions between 2025 and 2030. 

By 2030, industrial carbon pricing (which includes various types of large-emitter trading systems) is projected to contribute between 23 and 39 per cent (or 53 megatonnes to 90 Mt) of avoided emissions from all policies implemented to date. And between now and 2030, these large-emitter trading systems – such as Ontario’s emissions performance standard or Alberta’s TIER system – will do more than any other policy to cut emissions, delivering between 20 and 48 per cent of emissions reductions expected from Canada’s Emissions Reductions Plan moving forward. 

In comparison, the federal government’s proposed cap on oil and gas industry emissions is expected reduce carbon emissions by seven to 34 per cent, according to the analysis. Canada’s “carbon tax” paid by most households and small businesses are expected to reduce emissions by between eight and nine per cent (19 to 22 Mt).

Clean fuel regulations are expected to reduce emissions by up to four per cent, while zero-emissions vehicle standards could reduce emissions by two to three per cent.

Together, policies currently in place – from carbon pricing to vehicle efficiency standards to support for heat pumps – will prevent 226 Mt of carbon emissions in 2030, according to the Canadian Climate Institute.

“This analysis clearly demonstrates that climate policy is delivering results – with industrial carbon pricing leading the pack,” Rick Smith, president of Canadian Climate Institute, said in a statement. “Robust large emitter trading systems are fundamental to any credible climate policy package in Canada.”

Based on modelling by Navius Research, the analysis found that, by 2030, all existing climate policies in Canada combined will prevent 226 megatonnes of carbon pollution – roughly equal to the total annual emissions of Ontario and Quebec. In other words, without the various climate policies provincial, territorial, and federal governments have legislated to date, Canada’s emissions would be more than 40 per cent higher in 2030 than they are currently on track to be. 

Accounting for and addressing counterproductive policy interactions could drive additional emissions reductions. In particular, strengthening large-emitter trading systems can deliver deeper emissions reductions while protecting industrial competitiveness, the report said.

However, even full implementation of existing carbon-reduction policies will leave a gap of 42 Mt to Canada’s 2030 target, the report noted.

“While there’s still work ahead to reach Canada’s 2030 climate target, any backtracking or failure to implement measures working today will set back Canada’s progress unless they’re replaced by robust, evidence-based alternatives,” said Anna Kanduth, director of 440 Megatonnes, a Climate Institute of Canada project that tracks the actions and progress of Canada’s climate targets, plans and policies. Canadian Climate Institute

THE GRAPEVINE – News about people, institutions and communities

Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) announced that Dr. Bettina Hamelin is its new president, effective April 8, 2024. She'll assume the role from David Renwick, who has ben interim president since November 2023. Hamelin comes to IMC with over 30 years of experience in academia, industry, and not-for-profit organizations. Most recently, she served as president and CEO of Ontario Genomics, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing and supporting the development of genomics- and engineering biology-based solutions across key sectors of the economy. Prior to joining Ontario Genomics, Hamelin served as vice-president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Research Partnerships Directorate, where she was responsible for encouraging public-private sector collaboration and technology transfer by connecting Canadian research enterprises to Canadian and global innovation partners. She also previously held leadership positions at BioChem Pharma and Pfizer, in addition to 10 years of academic research expertise as a tenured professor at Université Laval. IMC

Yanwen Zang, a U.S.-based scientist and researcher, is joining Queen’s University as its new Canada Excellence Research Chair in Impact of Radiation in Energy and Advanced Technologies. For three years, Zang has dedicated her work to understanding defect dynamics and radiation effects in materials. She will relocate her research program to Queen’s from the University of Tennessee. Last November, Queen’s University appointed Paul Kubes as a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Immunology and Immunotherapy, who'll start his term this spring. Kubes was the founding director of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary and is a Queen’s alumnus. Queen’s University

Mike Greenley, CEO of Brampton, Ont.-based MDA Space, was recognized as the 2023 Satellite Executive of the Year at the Satellite 2024 Conference in Washington, D.C. Established in 1988 by Via Satellite Magazine, winners of the prestigious award are chosen based on their contributions to the global satellite markets, technologies and innovations, and business practices. In 2023, Greenley and the MDA Space Satellite Systems team introduced a new software-defined digital satellite product line, secured two major satellite constellation awards, and acquired the digital payload division of SatixFy Communications Ltd. MDA Space

Toronto-based Top Hat, which provides student engagement and learning solutions for higher education, appointed Maggie Leen as CEO. Previously Top Hat’s chief marketing officer. Leen’s track record in higher education includes serving as a senior executive at education firms Pearson, and Adtalem. The appointment comes about two months after Top Hat’s CEO Joe Rohrlich and CRO Matt Shurk  quietly departed the edtech company. Top Hat also appointed Larry Indovina, the company’s chief people officer since 2020, as the company’s chief operating officer. Bill Okun is Top Hat’s new executive chairman of the board of directors. Okun has spent the balance of his career in technology and higher education, serving in a variety of board and senior executive roles at McGraw-Hill, Penn Foster Group, Reonomy, and S&P Capital IQ. Top Hat

André Loranger was appointed as interim Chief Statistician of Canada, replacing Anil Arora, who retires on March 31. Loranger will remain in this role for six months, until the current process to appoint a new Chief Statistician of Canada is completed. Loranger is an experienced senior public official, having worked at Statistics Canada for 26 years. He has been assistant chief statistician since 2013 and was Statistics Canada’s chief data officer until January 2023. In his role as assistant chief statistician for the Economic Statistics branch, Loranger is currently responsible for many of Statistics Canada’s key economic indicators, such as the Consumer Price Index and the gross domestic product. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Canadian Klaus Pflugbeil, a resident of the People’s Republic of China, was charged by U.S. federal prosecutors for allegedly conspiring to profit from technology owned by his former employer, Canada’s Hibar Systems – now owned by Tesla. Pflugbeil, 58, was arrested in Nassau County, N.Y., and charged with conspiring with co-defendant Yilong Shao, 47, of Ningbo, China, to send undercover law enforcement officers trade secrets that belonged to Tesla. Shao remains at large. The trade secrets are related to battery components and assembly, the U.S. Justice Department said. U.S. attorney Breon Peace, for the Eastern District of New York, said it’s alleged the co-defendants set up a company in China, stole trade secrets from Tesla, and sold products developed with the stolen trade secrets. If convicted, Pflugbeil faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A U.S. federal judge ruled last Friday that Pflugbeil could be released from custody if he puts up and bond of US$150,000 in cash and two properties. U.S. Department of Justice

Dr. John Pomeroy, PhD, a water researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, said the current ways that Canada is managing water resources are no longer sufficient. The Prairies are entering another year of multi-year drought, with soil moisture, snowpacks and stream flow at levels far below normal in many areas. “We’re seeing new climates emerging in Western Canada and we don’t fully understand them yet and what they’ll mean. We will have to adapt very quickly in how we manage water and manage every aspect of our lives,” said Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change and Director of the Global Water Futures program at USask. Rocky Mountain glaciers, whose meltwater provides a safety net in times of drought, continue to shrink. “They can’t carry on like that forever. So we just have a few decades left of that glacier contribution on the North Saskatchewan [River] and it’s pretty well minimal now on the South Saskatchewan,” said Pomery, one of the world’s most accomplished snow hydrologists. The new USask-led Global Water Futures Observatories, a  network of early warning observation stations, gathers and organizes sophisticated information on prairie soil moisture, lakes, ponds, forests and snowpacks, and on upstream mountain snowmelt and glacier water supplies, using state-of-the-art hydro-meteorological and water quality sensors. Pomery said Canadians need to start having difficult discussions at the provincial, national and international levels about how water resources are managed and about who gets water when there isn’t enough to go around. It will take federal leadership to ensure that all voices are brought to the table, including Indigenous communities whose water rights have frequently been disregarded, he said. USask

University of Waterloo researchers have created a new technology that can remove harmful microplastics from contaminated water with 94-per-cent efficiency. The impact of nanoplastics, material that is a thousand times smaller than microplastics, has been found to have a significant detrimental effect on aquatic and human life. However, the options that can eliminate nanoplastics from oceans and lakes are limited. A team of researchers led by Waterloo chemical engineering professor Tizazu Mekonnen, who specialized in polymer engineering, tackled a new method to address small plastic waste and remove nanoplastics from wastewater systems. Mekonnen and his graduate student Rachel Blanchard used epoxy, a waste polymer that can’t be reused or reprocessed and often ends up in landfills or finds its way into water system networks like lakes or streams. Using a process called thermal decomposition, the researchers converted epoxy into activated carbon, a material capable of removing nanoplastics. The researchers then used the activated carbon to treat water contaminated by nanoplastics after producing nanoplastics from polyethylene terephthalate, a form of polyester often used in plastic water bottles and clothing such as fleece. These tiny contaminants pose a greater health risk compared with microplastics as they can penetrate cells and are hard to detect. The 94-per-cent removal efficiency of nanoplastics was achieved by physically trapping the nanoplastics in the porous structure of the waste plastic, which generated activated carbon. The researchers’ next steps will look to apply this clean-up process with other types of plastics and scale-up testing in municipal wastewater treatment facilities, which often contain a variety of other contaminants in addition to microplastics. The team’s study “Utilization of epoxy thermoset waste to produce activated carbon for the remediation of nano-plastic contaminated wastewater,” was published in the journal Separation and Purification Technology. University of Waterloo

The University of Manitoba launched a new program to support groundbreaking, high-risk, high-reward research that will help solve complex challenges at home and around the world. The Ignite Program will provide $350,000 per year over three years to five research projects that will push the boundaries of knowledge through creativity and innovation. The Ignite Program is a new internal grant program designed to support bold, forward-thinking research to tackle pressing challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration. The program will foster new partnerships by uniting experts from across disciplines in at least three faculties with external partners to identify impactful solutions that will improve the lives of Manitobans and beyond. The Ignite Program projects encompass:

  • improving internet connectivity in Canada’s North by developing a drone airship to act as a satellite communications hub and provide connectivity for local communities.
  • probing the connection between mental health, gut health and nutrition in chronic lymphocytic leukemia to improve patient care.
  • developing innovative solutions that improve access to personalized, fully automated orthopedic devices, from the initial diagnosis to bedside delivery.
  • finding innovative solutions to the lack of viable donors to recovery from burns and complex wounds, by engineering skin-like substitutes to support wound treatment and healing.
  • advancing new interdisciplinary research by incorporating Indigenous knowledge, connecting the global and the local, and communicating information that is crucial to achieving water rights and social justice. University of Manitoba

The University of British Columbia’s innovative program seed2STEM invites B.C. Indigenous youth in grades 9-12 to participate in six-week paid summer internships in research labs at either the Okanagan or Vancouver campus. During the summer of 2019, Shana George, who is from the Squamish Nation, spent six weeks with seed2STEM. George, now a second-year biology student at UBC Vancouver, says her seed2STEM experience planted a dream to one day become a physician or medical researcher. She hopes to apply to medical school after she finishes her undergraduate studies. The goal of seed2STEM is to help improve representation of Indigenous students in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program was created by the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, a spinal cord injury research centre supported by UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. seed2STEM is a partner with UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering and the Gynecologic Cancer Initiative. Students have an opportunity to help in the lab, contribute to short-term research projects, and take part in weekly learning modules and field trips. From just one student in 2018, the program has grown to include 19 students last year – 15 at UBC Vancouver and four at UBC Okanagan. The program recently received two years of funding from UBC Faculty of Medicine Strategic Investment Fund to expand the program across the faculty this summer. UBC



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