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News and Opinion Highlights

  • Vancouver International Airport and Musqueam band sign 30-year 'friendship' agreement – Vancouver International Airport (YVR) signed a 30-year ‘friendship’ agreement with the Musqueam Indian Band whose land the airport has been situated on for over 80 years. Under the agreement, the Musqueam people will receive one percent of YVR’s annual revenues, job and educational opportunities such as apprenticeship positions and scholarships, and will be consulted on long-term YVR projects and issues of environmental sustainability.
     
  • Vancouver’s 1QBit announces high-profile collaborations – Quantum computing software developer 1QB Information Technologies (1QBit) will be partnering with Fujitsu Ltd. and Biogen and Accenture Labs. 1QBit will assist Fujitsu in the development of quantum based, artificial intelligence (AI) applications in combinatorial optimization and machine learning as well as Biogen and Accenture Labs in developing a quantum-enabled molecular comparison application. Enhanced molecular comparison could, potentially, accelerate the drug discovery process for neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
     
  • Technology startup accelerator expands to Calgary – San Francisco-based RocketSpace, an accelerator of technology startups, is opening a “Tech Campus” in Calgary as part of its global network of technology campuses across North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. The 75,000 square feet of office space will provide room for up to 1,000 startup clients and entrepreneurs. This announcement is the result of Calgary Economic Development’s mission to Silicon Valley in April with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deron Bilous.
     
  • TransCanada invests in natural gas pipeline capacity – TransCanada has announced a $2 billion expansion plan to its natural gas pipeline network in northern Alberta. New pipeline infrastructure is required to improve capacity and to connect the company’s NOVA Gas Transmission pipeline system to natural gas producers along the BC-Alberta provincial border. The NOVA network will allow these producers to access markets in the Pacific Northwest, California, and Nevada. Subject to approvals, construction may begin in early 2019.
     
  • Indian Business Corporation launches women’s fund – The Indian Business Corporation launched a new financing initiative in support of female Indigenous entrepreneurs in Alberta. The $5 million worth of loans will enable 70 to 100 small business clients to overcome traditional barriers to capital such as geographical remoteness, gender bias, and the mortgage limitations of on-reserve property. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada increased by 10,000 between 2003 and 2011, and the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association estimates that it will require $54 million to match the rate of growth in lending and increase the availability of micro-financing.
     
  • Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator launched – On June 6, Premier Brad Wall announced the launch of Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator in Saskatoon. Located at Innovation Place Research Park, Co.Labs is designed to provide early-stage technology startups with the skills, mentorship, and support required to build successful technology companies in the province. The Government of Saskatchewan committed $250,000 to support the operations of Co.Labs. There are currently 13 startups engaged with Co.Labs.
     
  • K+S Potash Bethune mine in Saskatchewan – K+S Potash’s new Bethune mine, located 60 kilometres northwest of Regina, recently produced its first tonnes of marketable potash. The new facility, which opened last month, is expected to produce between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of potash this year, with annual production eventually reaching two million tonnes. The mine’s first shipment of potash is expected to be shipped to Vancouver in August 2017. The mine is the first potash mine to open in Saskatchewan in 40 years.
     
  • Cypher Environmental opens a new production facility – Winnipeg-based Cypher Environmental opened a production facility for its newest road dust-control product, Dust Stop Municipal Blend (DSMB). The product, used for dust suppression on unpaved roadways, is an environmentally friendly alternative to chloride and oil-based products. Market analysis estimates show there is a US$12.3 billion global market for the product.
     
  • Churchill flooding closes rail line – On June 9, OmniTRAX announced the indefinite suspension of service along the Hudson Bay Railway from Amery, MB to Churchill, MB, due to severe flooding and rail washouts. A third-party assessment is being completed to determine the extent of damage and repairs required to resume operations. The line is expected to remain closed until next spring.