Home Spring 2017 Innovation Spotlight

Innovation Spotlight

Innovation Spotlight

Toronto boosts efforts to attract FDI

Three levels of government have committed $19.5 million over three years to Toronto Global, a new agency with a mandate to enhance and promote the business value proposition of the Toronto region as a location for foreign direct investment (FDI). Toronto Global is being structured as an arms-length, not-for-profit corporation to attract FDI from targeted industries around the world. The Toronto region generates 20% of Canadian GDP and is home to 40% of Canadian business headquarters.

Honda receives $83.6M for facility upgrade

Honda Canada Inc. is receiving $83.6 million from the federal and Ontario governments to build a new paint shop that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is part of a $500-million upgrade to Honda’s Alliston ON plant which produces the popular Honda Civic and four-cylinder engine blocks.

New Atlantic aerospace association forming

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is investing $3 million in a new Atlantic Aerospace and Defence Association (ACADA) to promote the sector’s capabilities and develop value-added activities, with an emphasis on small-and medium-sized enterprises in Atlantic Canada. ACADA represents nearly 200 aerospace, defence, security and marine companies with a focus on supply chain management, workforce development, career promotion and commercialization.

Tweed approved for marijuana research

Cannabis producer Tweed Inc., Smith Falls ON, has received a dealer’s licence that will allow the company to focus on strategic research-intensive activities beyond its existing operational scope. Tweed, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canopy Growth Corp., will undertake its licensed activities under the name Canopy Health Innovations in a purpose-built area of its facility constructed to Good Manufacture Practice (GMP) specifications. Tweed is developing new products in anticipation of the legalization in Canada of recreational marijuana, which is expected in either 2017 or 2018. The company also intends to pursue export of its products into jurisdictions that also allow recreational marijuana. The firm is currently restricted to serving the medical marijuana market.

New drug discovery labs open in Montreal

The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has opened new laboratories for its medicinal core facility that will increase drug discovery capacity and accelerate the expansion of its chemical compounds library with the installation of a robotics suite. Located at the University of Montreal, IRIC’s new labs coincide with the launch of Phase II clinical trials for a molecule jointly identified by IRIC and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The drug candidate is being studied for the treatment of thrombotic diseases to inhibit the protease-activated receptor type 4. Several hospitals across Canada and internationally will participate in the trial.

Battery researcher wins $1 million medal

Dalhousie University’s Dr. Jeff Dahn has won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering—Canada’s top science prize for his pioneering research on lithium-ion batteries that are commonplace in today’s mobile technology. Last year, Dahn partnered with Tesla Motors to form the NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair, with Dahn as the chairholder. This is the first and, to date, only time the company has partnered with a university researcher. The collaboration aims to develop lithium-ion batteries for automobiles and grid energy storage that are cheaper, more powerful and longer lasting, thus helping to ensure the wider adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy

Microbion Corp received US$25M in venture funding

Vancouver and Bozeman MT-based Microbion Corp. has received US$25-million in venture capital to further develop its lead compound for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections. The funding is being provided by the Global Health Sciences Venture Fund, a US$500-million joint venture between Vancouver’s Quark Venture Inc and GF Securities, a Hong Kong-based investment bank. The fund was established in late 2016 to invest in biotechnology and health sciences companies addressing unmet medical conditions and innovations in drug development, medical devices, health IT and emerging convergent technologies.

BlackBerry opens self driving research centre in Ottawa

Blackberry Ltd. is investing $100 million to refocus its Kanata-based QNX division towards autonomous vehicles (AV) and establish a Blackberry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre with an emphasis on industry and academic partnerships. (Watch the video.) The City of Ottawa’s innovation and economic development arm – Invest Ottawa – is also leading the region’s bid for a provincial AV Centre of Excellence. Ottawa is also home to several multinational telecommunications firms that could strengthen an AV cluster, including Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei.

Using Nuclear weapons not insecticides to fight crop pests

A high-tech form of insect birth control connected to nuclear power could solve a devastating pest problem for Ontario farmers. Bruce Power, the world’s largest operating nuclear facility located in Tiverton, ON, and Nordion, a global health science company, are funding a multi-year study led by University of Guelph researcher Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree on sterilizing pepper weevils using Cobalt-60 produced in four of Bruce Power’s eight nuclear reactors. The researchers hope the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) will control pepper weevils, a type of beetle that can burrow into farmed peppers and destroy them from the inside. In Ontario alone last year, pepper weevils ruined $83 million of crops. Scott-Dupree has also recently conducted research which has found that SIT has potential to control American serpentine leafminer, an insect pest that feeds primarily on chrysanthemums. Cobalt-60 harvested from Bruce Power’s reactors is already used to help sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical devices and treat brain tumours.


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