Canadian Forces fires funding into BC innovators | The Sunday Briefing

The Department of National Defence dolled out 42 financial awards for innovative ideas, with just over $2 million going to eight BC companies including Xtract AI, Metaspectral and Terra Sense.

Good morning and welcome to the new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this Sunday. Make sure to stay engaged all week by connecting with us on TwitterLinkedIn and the 1,300-member Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse app. If you’re not already on Clubhouse but want to be, please get in touch for an invitation.

This week, I’m excited to highlight eight BC-based innovators that received funding from the Department of National Defence, the 21 projects that split funding from the CleanBC Building Innovation Fund, and the growing battle between the banks to shepherd billions of dollars in Canadian tech growth.

By the way, today’s Briefing is 1,624 words, a 5-1/2-minute read. Enjoy!

- William (@notionport)

Cover Story: Department of National Defence shoots $2M+ into eight BC organizations

Eight BC organizations were awarded Competitive Canadian Defence Contracts that will provide funding and insights to refine their innovations.

The awards stem from the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program. Known as IDEaS, the program commits the Canadian government to $1.6 billion of investment in innovations for defence and security over the next 20 years. 283 proposals were submitted to seven challenges from 210 different applicants. 42 awards were dolled out, with just over $2 million going to eight BC companies like Xtract AI, Metaspectral, Reach Insights and Terra Sense. ➝ Get the full list.

The BC government has invested $8 million into 21 companies and projects aimed at reducing building energy costs and pollution with innovative technologies.

From the CleanBC Building Innovation (CBBI) Fund, the province awarded up to $1 million to building projects and programs that accelerate the availability and affordability of low-carbon building solutions. Eleven of the 21 building projects funded throughout the province are being developed by innovative companies in the Lower Mainland, including Building Transparency Org., Northern Metrics Inc., and Nexii Building Solutions. ➝ Get the full story.

The Royal Bank of Canada launched RBCx, a new platform and suite of services and capital solutions to support scaling tech companies. 

The move is a reorientation of RBC services for the fast-growing tech sector and an acknowledgement that the bank had to evolve to succeed in a market where competition is fierce among our national financial institutions. In the past half-year, banks like CIBC, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Roynat by Scotiabank have all, in one major way or another, made key hires or professed their eagerness to fuel Canada’s tech giants of tomorrow. ➝ Get the full story.

In late May, Lorna Beecroft snapped two photos of an old-growth log in Nanaimo, now-viral images that have become symbolic of the fight to preserve old-growth forests on Vancouver Island.

The photos have since been converted into Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) with the goal of raising money through their online sale that can be donated to organizations working to protect old-growth forests. ➝ Get the full story from Capital DailyNFTs to save trees: viral photos of old-growth log for sale to support Fairy Creek blockades

⏩ Quick takes.

💵 Funding and deals.

Crown agency Innovate BC announced $1,075,000 awarded to four BC research and development projects. The funding, through its Ignite program, is accelerating the commercialization of biotech, cleantech, mining and robotics projects.

Awardees include Dr. Katherine Elvira at the University of Victoria, Dr. Stephanie Willerth of Axolotl Biosciences, Dr. Majid Bahrami and Dr. Erik Kjeang from Simon Fraser University, Shanna Knights of Ballard Power Systems, as well as multiple other notable researchers and companies. ➝ Get the full story.

Vancouver’s Bubblebox, a Saleforce Marketing Cloud partner, was acquired by VntCap Technologies, which is based in Illinois.

VntCap Technologies is the parent company of Allant Group, a national, data-driven marketing firm in the USA.

Victoria-based WeCommerce announced a $30 million bought deal financing.

WeCommerce is a holding company that owns a family of companies and brands in the Shopify partner ecosystem, including Pixel Union (more on them below), Out of the Sandbox, Yopify, SuppleApps, Rehash, Foursixty and Stamped.

🗞️ You should also know that…

BC-based fusion energy startup General Fusion will build and operate a $400 million Fusion Demonstration Plant (FDP) at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Campus.

The FDP will demonstrate General Fusion's proprietary Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology, paving the way for the company’s subsequent commercial pilot plant. Fusion energy has great potential as a source of limitless, low-carbon energy, and this announcement signals General Fusion’s belief that it can benefit from a cluster of fusion supply chain activities in the UK focused around UKAEA's expertise and global reputation in the field. ➝ Get the full story.

Vancouver tech firms SkyHive and Ionomr Innovations were named to the World Economic Forum's list of top 100 Technology Pioneers.

The annual list spotlights 100 early-to-growth-stage companies from around the world that are pioneering new technologies and innovations. Only three Canadian companies made the list. In addition to the two Vancouver firms, Xanadu Quantum Technologies, based out of Toronto, made the cut. ➝ Get the full story.

A feature on Vancouver’s Dan Eisenhardt, founder and CEO of Form Athletica Inc. which produces swim goggles with a smart display inside them.

Eisenhardt’s first wearables company, Recon Instruments, developed smart goggles for skiing and was sold to Intel Corp. in 2015. His new company, which harnesses data and AI to improve user and product performance, has 75 people working in Vancouver and one person overseeing manufacturing in Taiwan.

💡 Ideas and insights.

Hootsuite founder and executive chairman Ryan Holmes asked on LinkedIn, ‘Are NFTs a boom or bust market?’

In an article in which he doesn’t answer the question, he writes, “There’s no doubt this technology could potentially have a huge impact on tangible assets. However, there’s also a lot of questions around the stability of the NFT market.”

Later CEO Roger Patterson shares ‘3 Tips for Fighting Workplace Loneliness From a Former Solopreneur.’

“Sure, tools like Zoom and Slack are there to help us connect, but emojis and screen claps can’t replace the human-to-human experience that uplifts us in the flesh. It’s not a stretch to say with less real-life interaction, we’re experiencing a collective loneliness like at no other point in history,” he writes.

Jim Stanford, an economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, argues ‘AI, robotics and new technologies to come can work for workers, too.’

“Technology can intensify and degrade conditions for workers through surveillance, speed-up and digital outsourcing (think of algorithm-dictated work in a high-tech distribution warehouse). Or tech can enable more creative, safe and secure jobs. To achieve more of the latter and less of the former, workers need more say over how technology is conceived, designed and implemented,” he writes.

A local take on a global issue.

👔 People going places.

Lynsey Thornton, the Vancouver-based Shopify executive that led the company’s plan to open a 1,000 person west coast office, has stepped down from the company.

“After 8.5 years of highs, lows, & incredible growth, I left Shopify last week,” Thornton announced on Twitter last week. “So overwhelmingly proud to have been part of the story of this company. Hat tip to everyone I got to build it with - internally & externally, for making solving hard problems fun.”

  • Pixel Union, the digital design agency that operates as part of the WeCommerce family of companies, recently hired entrepreneur Danny Halarewich as chief executive officer for its Apps division. ➝ Get the full story

  • Vancouver’s Cymax Group Technologies added three industry leaders to its board of directors: Rob Williams, former GM at Amazon; Sarah Kavanagh, former Commissioner on the Ontario Securities Commission, and; Eric Patel, former board chair of Galvanize and Mobify.

  • Immersive Tech, a Victory Square Technologies Inc. portfolio company, announced the appointment of Vancouver VR/AR industry leader Dan Burgar to the company’s Advisory Board and HTC China President Alvin Wang Graylin to its Board of Directors.

  • Edward Choi joined cybersecurity giant Absolute Software as senior vice president of global alliances. 

  • Dean Eiwanger, Hootsuite head of revenue planning and optimization, was recognized as a Top 100 Revenue Operations Leader by The Modern Sale.

  • Dr. John Henderson has joined TechX Technologies as chief operating officer.

  • Marshal Webb joined Vancouver’s CoinPayments as chief technology officer.

  • Karen Adams joined health tech company CloudMD as president.

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