December 2020
Let's Connect this Winter!
Find out what's happening in our ecosystem and check out all the great opportunities featured below to virtually partner and build momentum at work this winter season. 

We are ready and have much in store for you in 2021. 

Until then, practice safe distancing!

BioAlberta Team

Bioalberta is working with Biosciences Association Manitoba and Life Sciences BC to help prepare companies for virtual events.

On January 7th, 2021 from 9:00 - 10:30 AM (PST), we will hold the first of three in a webinar series designed to help companies get the insights they need to succeed in the virtual environment. This first webinar will feature exceptional speakers that can help SME's “Maximize Opportunities at Virtual Investor Conferences.”

Save the January 7th date and register for this event here now.
ICYMI: BioAlberta Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (HESA)

BioAlberta continues to raise concerns and has now responded to publication of final PMPRB Guidelines by Government of Canada. BioAlberta continues to be opposed to both the process and results of Health Canada’s PMPRB draft regulations since they were first published.

BioAlberta’s position is that the regulation changes to PMPRB do not advance any of these objectives, and in fact the negative impact to Alberta and Albertans is significant and unacceptable. If you haven't already, read our complete submission here.
Shout Out – University of Alberta
Research hub headed by Nobel Laureate Michael Houghton gains significant provincial support to accelerate research and commercialization of antiviral drugs and vaccines.

The Government of Alberta signalled its support for the University of Alberta’s leadership in Alberta’s biotech sector by announcing $20 million in new funding for the U of A’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI) during a celebration of Michael Houghton’s Nobel Prize on November 10, 2020. This builds on the more than $30 million the Government of Alberta has invested in the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, home to the AVI, over the past 10 years.

Read all about this new funding here
Congratulations to Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta who won a Mitacs Innovation Award for a COVID-19 mask innovation.

According to Rubina, salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated. The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

This salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza. Learn more here now.
New Resource: COVID Vaccine Facts Webpage
A timely resource given the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines becoming available soon.

Get the facts on vaccine development & learn more about the scientific rigor that goes into developing a vaccine here now.
Focal Point: Technology North Corporation
Technology North partners with Alberta Innovates to develop autism management software

Edmonton-based information tech company Technology North has partnered with Alberta Innovates to develop a management software called RoboCoach, which aims to make it easier for young adults with autism to find work.

RoboCoach helps prospective workers determine how ready they are to join the workforce, and businesses to manage employees with Autistim Spectrum Disorder.

The program also provides web-based and mobile support to employees with the purpose of creating a stable work environment with clear communication.

“When a young person with autism graduates from high school, or college, there are very few opportunities,” CEO Ling Huang said in a statement Tuesday. “They face incredible challenges and very few employment prospects. They essentially fall off a cliff.”

Huang, a father to a son with autism, also created a service to digitize documents, which employs people with ASD.

“Two years ago my son starts working here after high school. My staff called Brian a fish on the wall: he's swinging around the office, no eye contact, doesn't want to talk to anyone. But two years later, you can see he is an active member of the team,” said Huang.

When asked what the best part of his job is, employee Alex Kelsey said, “Other than getting paid to do it? It's simple but at the same time still challenging."

According to Alberta Innovates, between 85 and 90 per cent of autistic children who graduate from high school or college are either unemployed or underemployed.

Technology North has, through its masBility Inclusion Framework Research and RoboCoach project, developed a novel approach to a current social trend encompassing business, technology, and employment. As businesses advance in this technological age, and with greater access to and deployment of software and web environments, the advent of machine learning, and Big Data, vast oceans of data are produced and need to be housed and transmitted. Data housing occurs at the most basic level on computer servers, the monitoring of which is usually assigned to junior ICT specialists. Server monitoring includes a set of tasks which are unattractive due to their repetitive nature, so there is great fluidity in the employment of junior ICT specialists whose interests quickly transcend their work. Tech companies worldwide are struggling to fill the void left by employees departing from these positions with stable, reliable employees likely to maintain the position for the long-term. In Canada, for instance, there is a reported vacancy of over 216,000 junior ICT specialists. Concurrently, there is a largely untapped workforce desiring employment but largely left out due to their special needs.

Technology North Corporation (TN) is an Alberta-based IT firm incorporated in 1998. Since 2010, Technology North has been dedicated to developing and commercializing accessible and assistive technology and practical program in partnership with stakeholders in the disabilities sector. TN has over 20 years of experience developing technological solutions, including software development, health IT systems, large-scale infrastructure design and deployment, IT security, and business process automation. To learn more see the Technology North Corporation website here.
Deadline: December 22, 2020

Federal & provincial joint funding

Industrial innovation initiatives that support economic recovery and sustainability are now eligible for up to $150 million in funding. Today, the Government of Alberta announced it is funding $100 million for Emissions Reduction Alberta’s (ERA) Shovel-Ready Challenge through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. Up to $50 million in additional funds will also be available from the federal Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund (LCELF).

ERA’s Shovel-Ready Challenge will provide vital financial support to companies ready to implement leading-edge technologies in applications for both greenfield and brownfield operations. This support will be leveraged with private funding, leading to projects valued at over $500 million. This will result in operational efficiencies, cost and emissions reductions, new investment, job creation and retention, and address longer-term environmental sustainability priorities.

ERA is seeking commercial demonstration and deployment projects that have the highest potential to immediately create economic stimulus and environmental resiliency. Projects must begin within 60 days of funding approval and outcomes must include commercial demonstration or deployment of technologies in operational environments. New projects and projects at early stages of execution that have been initiated but stalled due to the current economic situation are also eligible to apply. Projects may involve components outside of Alberta, but all technology demonstration and deployment activities must occur in the province. The application deadline is Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Program details are available on the ERA website here.
Proof of Concept Program

The Proof of Concept Program is designed to help establish the commercial feasibility of innovative natural products and technologies in order to attract and de-risk subsequent investment.

The program is open to Canadian research institutes, start-up companies, and SMEs. Applicants can receive up to 50% of the cost of the proof of concept plan to a maximum of $100,000 during the Program Period (not to exceed 12 months). The applicant will be required to contribute 50% of the cost over the Program Period.

The program does not support basic research or preliminary product/technology development. It is intended to demonstrate commercial potential via preliminary animal, field, demonstration or human trials.

For research institutes, the program is conditionally repayable and is intended to move a product or technology from intellectual property disclosure to near term spin-out and/or licensing opportunities.

For start-ups and SMEs, the program is repayable and is intended to demonstrate commercial feasibility of products and technologies.

Applicant Eligibility Requirements
  • Canadian SME, start-up or research institute
  • The applicant has an innovative natural product or technology
  • Start-ups and SMEs must have the potential to achieve $10M- $15M in annual revenue within a reasonable period for the market or sector
  • Products or technologies being developed within research institutes must address an industry/sector challenge that has a significant market potential
  • Member of Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster.

See here for more information.
Business Link receives additional funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Alberta to support COVID-19 recovery for small businesses

Business Link strives to support Alberta businesses with their unique needs at any stage of business, and in support of that, on August 4, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) and the Government of Alberta have provided Business Link with additional funding to support entrepreneurs and business owners through this challenging time.

Business Link will be launching three new programs with the funding received, including peer-to-peer group sessions with entrepreneurs and Business Link small business strategists, a business recovery coaching program, and the development of an online toolkit, which will include an interactive business plan writer for Business Link clients to utilize through the planning and growth stages of running a business. The remainder of the funding will be used to provide additional advisory support for small businesses and on marketing and awareness campaigns that will run across the province.

The new programs and resources will be launched over the next several months and entrepreneurs and small businesses are encouraged to apply or seek more information at www.businesslink.ca or by contacting Business Link directly at 1-800-272-9675.
Student Work Placement Program
Building Skills for Canada's bio-economy

Canadian universities and colleges are placing highly-
educated students in the bio-economy. If you are looking to hire young and eager talent, BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) can help. Past positions include everything from Drug Formulation & Delivery to Sustainable Agriculture Intern.

SWPP will support you to hire, train and retain employees in a variety of sectors, including healthcare. They will also provide funding to employ post secondary students within healthcare organizations, bioscience companies and research organizations.

The subsidy covers up to 75% of a student's work placement to a maximum of $7,500.

Apply today at biotalent.ca/Co-opFunds to grow your talent pool and provide upcoming graduates with the foundational experience they need to start careers.

Want to learn more? See Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and contact Colleen at chayes@biotalent.ca.

Canada's Technology and Aging Network's - AGE-WELL - is receiving $21.9 million over three years from GoC to provide Canadians with technology-based solutions to improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers.

They continue to seek new projects. If you have an idea apply for these exceptional funding opportunities. Details can be found at: http://ow.ly/fgsL50zE3oO Y
Western Economic Diversification Canada

Businesses across Western Canada unable to access existing relief measures can now apply to Western Economic Diversification Canada's Regional Relief and Recovery Fund worth $304 million.

This Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations, that are key to the regions and local economies. A total of $304 million will be available for western Canadian businesses. To learn more or apply see Western Economic Diversification Canada
In the news…
Edmonton-based companies MACH32 and Andau Medical bring to market an aerosol containment device to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure for healthcare personnel and patients.

Canadian Innovators at MACH32 have vowed to build better protection for healthcare personnel as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. The Public Health Agency of Canada acknowledged last week that the COVID-19 virus is spread through aerosols, small droplets which linger in the air. As a result, the risk to healthcare personnel and patients is higher than originally anticipated and greater precautionary measures are needed. MACH32 says negative pressure patient isolation for high risk procedures is the key to making hospital environments safer.
Dr. Marc Curial and the MACH32 team have developed a device called the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT). The ACT is designed to create a negative pressure zone around a patient’s head during critical airway procedures such as intubation and ventilation. “Airway procedures are the most high-risk procedures for exposure to aerosolized COVID-19 particles,” says Dr. Curial. “The ACT needs to become the standard for care in hospitals now and after this pandemic for all aerosol-generating procedures.”

The ACT device uses negative pressure and a HEPA filter to contain 99.97% of particles, rather than allowing the particles to escape into the surrounding environment. It is the only portable device on the market that enables clinicians to perform procedures while the patient is under negative pressure, providing an additional layer of protection to healthcare personnel. Read all about this new device here now.
PanTHERA CryoSolutions Closes Investment with BioLife Solutions & Casdin Capital

Congratulations to PanTHERA CryoSolutions Inc., a University of Alberta spionoff, who announced on December 3, 2020, that it has secured a $2 million USD investment from US-based BioLife Solutions Inc and Casdin Capital.

PanTHERA CryoSolutions is a Canadian company that designs and manufactures products for use in the cryopreservation of cells, tissues and organs used in human and veterinary therapies. The core technology was created out of an academic research collaboration between the University of Ottawa and University of Alberta that has received research funding from GlycoNet, one of the National Centres of Excellence (NCE) in Canada; Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada; Canadian Blood Services; the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP); and Mitacs. See all the details here.
Telus Agriculture launches with 7 acquisitions and more on the menu
Canadian telecom giant Telus has unveiled a new business unit dedicated to providing connected tech solutions to the ag industry.

“Telus Agriculture is led by [Telus president and CEO] Darren Entwistle, who is at the core of the strategy. He has created this massive culture inside of Telus that is focused on social capitalism,” said Thad Armbruster, CEO of data management startup and recent Telus acquisition TKXS.

“As a part of that thesis, they went into health. But when they started looking beyond that, agriculture caught their eye,” he told AFN. “They’ve taken some of their experience with healthcare through Telus Health and set their eyes on a new industry.”

Some of Telus’ other ag-focused efforts include joining forces with tech giants Microsoft and IBM in 2018 to back a C$250 million ($193 million) project to enhance cross-industry use of agricultural data. Last year, Telus invested C$16 billion ($12.2 billion) into developing Alberta’s fiber-optic broadband network, with support for agtech applications on farms one of its stated objectives. Get all the details here now.
Roche Canada Launches National Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence
Roche partners with AI leaders Amii, Mila and the Vector Institute to drive digital transformation in health

On November 18, Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) launched the Roche AI Centre of Excellence (CoE), the first such collaborative centre to combine the expertise of all three national AI institutes under the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy - Amii, Mila and the Vector Institute. The CoE focuses on advancing digital transformation in health, marrying Roche’s longstanding history of leadership in health and life sciences, and the three institutes’ established track record of excellence in AI research and enabling industry application. The CoE will work to deliver quality AI based digital solutions that optimize and reduce the cost of healthcare delivery, improve health outcomes, and enable Canada to learn and nimbly respond to opportunities and potential challenges in the healthcare system.

“With the combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, Roche is uniquely positioned to develop innovations that bring significant value to the healthcare system and to patients. We believe that strong collaborations like the Roche AI CoE are essential to transform the future of healthcare, and we are proud to partner with the Pan-Canadian AI Institutes to co-create solutions that deliver meaningful and sustainable impact, while accelerating Canada’s global leadership in AI.” – Roche Canada leaders: Ronnie Miller, Roche Pharma Canada; Andrew Plank, Roche Diagnostics Canada; Jade Dagher, Roche Diabetes Care Canada.

In 2017, Canada became the first country to launch a national AI strategy, building on its history of AI research excellence and with the goal of establishing Canada as a world-leading destination for talent and companies looking to advance their AI capabilities. Since the creation of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, Canada has solidified its place as a global leader in AI. Get all the details here!
Mitacs partners with Canadian Intellectual Property Office to increase protection, awareness, and use of ideas
Agreement supports industrial and social innovation in small businesses by recognizing value of IP

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to growth and innovation, have formed a strategic partnership that will contribute to the promotion and use of intellectual property (IP) to support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

The protection of intellectual property generated from ideas is important because Canadian businesses need to adopt effective IP strategies in the early stages of formation in order to succeed.

The Mitacs-CIPO partnership commits to increasing awareness, knowledge, and use of IP among small- to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and not-for-profit organizations. The agreement underscores the importance of IP in business development and commits to providing advanced training for the highly skilled research interns and fellows supported by Mitacs funding.

The agreement leads to such opportunities as co-hosting public webinars and investigating the needs of entrepreneurial-minded interns with respect to protecting their IP as well as exploring the intersection of the intellectual property system and the protection of Indigenous knowledge. Through a suite of IP training products and services, CIPO is working to increase the understanding and strategic use of IP among inventors and Canadian businesses, particularly SMEs. Read all the details here.
VitaFiber® IMO, BioNeutra’s Popular Healthy Alternative to Sugar, Is Named the World’s Top Beverage Ingredient 

A leading food/beverage industry publisher, FoodBev, today named VitaFiber® IMO, a healthy alternative to sugar, as the world’s top beverage ingredient. VitaFiber and other award winners were announced at the 18th Annual World Beverage Innovation Awards in Nuremberg. Almost 300 nominations came from twenty-five countries across twenty-two categories.

BioNeutra Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Steve Jakeway says, “It is truly an honour to be recognized as the best beverage ingredient in the world! We understand the importance of sugar reduction not only in beverages but across all food categories. VitaFiber® IMO stands at the intersection of sugar reduction and great taste allowing our clients to develop superior products that consumers love.” See details here.
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