Federal government invests $796,000 in projects tackling pandemic-born challenges


Six projects focused on addressing challenges surfaced by the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving a cumulative $796,000 investment from the federal government through the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

The federal government also announced new contracts awarded under the Innovative Solutions Canada Testing Stream.

The NRC funding will be invested through the agency’s Pandemic Response Challenge program, which seeks to fast-track research and development aimed at specific COVID-19 gaps and challenges identified by Canadian health experts. The challenge is part of the government’s $1 billion package aimed to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes $275 million for research and medical countermeasures.

“The successful made-in-Canada projects and proposals announced today will support the researchers and companies that are contributing to the fight against this pandemic,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains. “This has remained a top priority for our government and is all part of our continued commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians.”

The Pandemic Response Challenge specifically looks at projects addressing digital patient care and pandemic analytics, therapeutics and vaccines, rapid detection and diagnosis, and adaptive responses.

The six projects part of the Pandemic Response Challenge that are receiving funding include:

  • The University of British Columbia is receiving $147,000 for a project to aid clinical adoption of contactless sensors for COVID-19 patients.
  • OCAD University will receive $150,000 to develop guidelines and functionalities for the design of virtual care software for vulnerable populations.
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is receiving $199,000 to develop and validate of mobile application modules to relieve mental health symptoms related to the pandemic.
  • The University of Toronto is receiving $100,000 to develop tests for rapid, instrument-free COVID-19 diagnostics in saliva.
  • The University of Toronto is receiving an additional $100,000 to develop chemicals for the visual detection of SARS-CoV-2.
  • LFAnt Medical is receiving $100,000 to develop a molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 rapid diagnostic from saliva.

As part of the announcement of new funding recipients, the government also announced new contracts awarded under the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) Testing Stream. The ISC Testing Stream looks to help Canadian companies get their products to market. It involves the government buying pre-commercial products or services, trying them in real-life settings, and providing the companies with feedback.

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The federal government did not disclose how much each company is receiving, but the maximum funding available for this grant is $300,000. The companies receiving funding through the ISC Testing Stream include:

  • Project Oasis – this project is developing a platform allowing government subject matter experts to share information.
  • Bulky Inc. – this project is creating a platform allowing industry, researchers, health providers, and funders to exchange and procure expertise and materials in response to COVID-19.
  • Cole Webber Productions – this project is developing a platform that helps supply resources by compiling information on available facilities and resources.
  • Optima Analytics – this project is working on an “intelligent clearing house,” that can be accessed from anywhere using a computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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