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News and Opinion Highlights

  • New partnerships to advance the Cascadia Innovation Corridor – During the second annual Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference, which took place in Seattle this year, technology and innovation leaders from Washington State and BC announced a number of new initiatives focused on improving connectivity, strengthening innovation and generating economic opportunity. The announcements included: a Memorandum of Understanding between British Columbia Institute of Technology, Lake Washington Institute of Technology and Oregon Institute of Technology; expansion of the University of Washington’s Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) to include the University of British Columbia; a Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network; a new BC Trade and Investment Office in Seattle to provide BC-based companies with greater access to US markets and investors; and a new cross-border start-up accelerator partnership between BC, Washington and Oregon.
  • Fortinet expansion will bring 1,000 jobs to Burnaby, BC – Fortinet, a provider of cybersecurity solutions, have announced the expansion of their threat intelligence and research and development (R&D) operations in Burnaby, BC. The expanded facilities will house 1,000 new technology jobs to staff a data centre and enhance Fortinet’s FortiGuard Threat Intelligence and R&D centres. Fortinet opened its first threat intelligence and R&D centre in Burnaby 17 years ago, the company currently employs nearly 700 people in British Columbia and approximately 1,000 total employees in Canada.
  • University of Calgary discovers spill-resistant bitumen technology – The University of Calgary (U of C) is working with Innovate Calgary to commercialize a new spill-resistant bitumen technology. The pill-sized bitumen pellets have a liquid core and super-viscous skin that significantly reduces the chance of a damaging spill or environmental incident. Originally discovered by accident, the patented technology has been refined to allow the pellets to be produced at varying sizes right at the wellhead. The pellets would allow bitumen to be transported by rail without the need for heated railcars, after reaching their destination the pellets can then be refined like regular bitumen. Innovate Calgary is helping the U of C to connect with potential industry partners and customers to help advance the technology to a field trial.
  • Partnership to enhance sustainability-focused oil sands innovation– Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) is leading a new public-private partnership that aims to accelerate sustainability-focused innovation among oil sands producers. The project is seeded by a $2.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The partnership includes three academic institutions (the Ivey Business School in Ontario, the University of Alberta and the University of Quebec at Montreal), three COSIA member companies (Canadian Natural, Suncor and Cenovus), and Alberta Innovates and Natural Resources Canada. The research team will map the companies’ innovation processes. It will also help industry and government understand how new technologies and processes are brought to market, the key factors in determining which investments succeed, and how to accelerate the deployment of new technologies across sectors.
  • University of Saskatchewan professor named to United States expert panel on water – Howard Wheater, the Director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, has been named to an expert panel which will be advising the United States Government on water-related issues, including droughts, floods and water quality. The panel hopes to deliver a report to the National Academy of the United States by November 2018.
  • PotashCorp announces temporary cuts to production – Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced temporary cuts to production at two of its mines in Saskatchewan. Beginning November 19, the company will be reducing production at its Allan mine for 10 weeks, and starting December 3, it will reduce production at it's Lanigan mine for eight weeks. PotashCorp indicated that limiting production at these locations will help it match its supply to market demand, and maximize output from its Rocanville facility, which is its lowest-cost operation. The number of employees who will be temporarily laid off due to the cuts has not yet been determined.
  • Winnipeg company receives Chinese investment – Winnipeg-based business incubator Manitoba Technology Accelerator has partnered with the Chinese city of Hefei’s High-tech Industrial Zone (HHZT) to invest $1 million in Winnipeg company Arterial Stiffness (ASI). The funding will provide resources and infrastructure to further develop ASI’s technology and launch it into the Chinese market. This is the first Canadian collaboration for HHZT.