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Steering Committee Report

Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)

Report of the NCE Steering Committee

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Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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 Report of the NCE Steering Committee

Remarks from the Chair of the NCE Steering Committee

The call to submit applications for the 2010 Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) competition went out in December 2009 and the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Secretariat received 30 eligible Letters of Intent in response.

In February 2010, the Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) reviewed the LOIs and recommended to the NCE Steering Committee that 10 applicants be invited to submit full applications. In September 2010, these applications underwent an in-depth peer-review evaluation by expert panels, which prepared detailed reports on each submission. Based on these expert panel reports, PSAB made its funding recommendations to the NCE Steering Committee, which approved funding for five new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. There was considerable interest from all regions of the country in this third CECR competition, as well as the participation of industrial, academic, commercial and community sectors in the proposals submitted.

The NCE Steering Committee is confident the recommended Centres will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Canadians. We also anticipate that Canadian leadership in the global community will be enhanced through the recommended awards.

As chair, I am grateful to the members of the NCE Steering Committee, PSAB and the expert panels for their efforts, dedication, collegiality and commitment to the goals of the CECR program.

Dr. Suzanne Fortier
Chair, NCE Steering Committee
President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


The 2010 CECR competition, the third of its kind, was seeking to fund Centres with an emphasis on commercialization, including both goods and services. In addition, this competition was seeking to fund the top proposals in as many S&T priority areas as possible. Only proposals that met the threshold of excellence would be funded.

The goal of the CECR program is to create internationally recognized Centres of commercialization and research expertise in four priority areas in order to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits to Canadians. As established in the federal government’s 2007 Science &Technology Strategy, the priority areas are:

  • environmental science and technologies;
  • natural resources and energy;
  • health and related life sciences and technologies; and
  • information and communications technologies.

Based on these priority areas, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) in 2008 established 13 sub-priority areas to be addressed in the 2010 CECR competition. The submitted proposals needed to address one or more of the STIC sub-priority areas (see Table 1).

Table 1: Research and Development Priority and Sub-Priority Areas


  • Water
  • Health
  • Energy
  • Security
  • Cleaner methods of extracting, processing and utilizing hydrocarbon fuels, including reduced consumption of these fuels

Natural resources and energy

  • Energy production in the oil sands
  • Arctic
  • Resource production
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Monitoring
  • Biofuels, fuel cells and nuclear energy

Health and life sciences

  • Regenerative medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Health in an aging population
  • Biomedical engineering and medical technologies

Information and communications technologies

  • New media, animation and games
  • Wireless networks and services
  • Broadband networks
  • Telecom equipment

Funded Centres will be world-class and be expected to:

  • attract and retain top talent (including internationally recognized researchers, business leaders, post-graduate and post-doctoral students);
  • open up new opportunities for Canadian firms and researchers to access world-class equipment, facilities and research capacity;
  • create, grow and retain companies in Canada that are able to capture new markets with breakthrough innovations;
  • accelerate the commercialization of leading-edge technologies, goods and services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its competitive advantage; and
  • attract investment (including foreign direct investment and venture capital).

Organizations eligible to receive funds are not-for-profit corporations created by universities, colleges, not-for-profit research organizations, firms, and other interested non-government parties.

The CECR program follows a rigorous peer-review process to evaluate the LOIs and full applications against the three CECR program criteria:

  • Benefits to Canada
  • Track record and potential of the applicants
  • Strength of the business plan

Each group that submitted a full application met with an expert panel, which was responsible for performing an in-depth evaluation of the proposal’s strengths and weaknesses. The expert panel reports were submitted to PSAB so that they could make their final recommendations to the NCE Steering Committee.

The CECR Program Criteria are detailed in Appendix I. The biographical notes of the participating PSAB members are in Appendix II.

According to the competition schedule, successful groups will receive funds before March 31, 2011.

The five new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research are listed below:
Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM)
Toronto, Ontario ($15 million for 2010-15)

Centre Director: Dr. Peter Zandstra

  • primary target area: health and life sciences—regenerative medicine technologies
  • secondary target area: health and life sciences—biomedical engineering and medical technologies

The vision of the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) is to accelerate the commercialization of regenerative medicine (RM) technologies by bringing together business leadership and innovative stem cell and biomaterial technology development. CCRM will leverage partnerships and substantial resources from the private sector, scientific expertise, intellectual property and major public investment, which together will position Canada as the best place worldwide to invest in RM. The new, sustainable Canadian-based RM pipeline will be capable of attracting long-term partner investment as well as supporting and creating RM-based companies. Their high-value products and next-generation drugs will treat the many devastating diseases that affect our aging population and will change the paradigm of health care in Canada.

Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization (CImTeC)
London, Ontario ($13.3 million for 2010-15)

Centre Director: Dr. Aaron Fenster

  • primary target area: health and life sciences—biomedical engineering and medical technologies

The Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization (CImTeC) will address the barriers that prevent Canadian medical imaging companies from commercializing imaging technology. CImTeC will help these small and medium-sized enterprises with the expertise, technical capabilities and infrastructure needed to become internationally competitive. It will also promote training and investment in imaging technology through the cultivation of new partnerships between the private sector and academic Centres and will play an active role in managing intellectual property. These activities will attract new investments that lead to jobs and economic growth and will encourage greater interaction between academic Centres and the private sector. CImTeC provides the Canadian medical imaging sector with the best opportunity to establish and maintain worldwide leadership in innovation and technological development and have the greatest impact on the economy and the health care system.

Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North (LOOKNorth)
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador ($7.1 million for 2010-15)

Centre Director: Mr. Paul Adlakha

  • primary target area: natural resources and energy—Arctic (resource production, climate change adaptation, monitoring)
  • secondary target area: environmental science and technology—water (health, energy, security)

The mission of the Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North (LOOKNorth) Centre is to commercialize the emerging technologies that are used to monitor conditions in Canada’s North and are essential to the development of northern natural resources. Through its engagement of resource industries, researchers, service providers, local communities and government organizations, LOOKNorth will define industry needs by sector, develop business cases for new technologies that address those needs, and generate opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to secure a niche market for these monitoring technologies. Supported by a growing research capacity, Canadian industry is well positioned to export the services commercialized through LOOKNorth to an international market. In bringing together expertise from Canada and abroad, LOOKNorth will position Canada as an international leader in monitoring technologies for northern environments.

MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (MIC2)
Bromont, Quebec ($14.1 million for 2010-15)

Centre Director: Mr. Normand Bourbonnais

  • primary target area: information and communication technologies—telecom equipment
  • secondary target area: information and communication technologies—new media, animation and games

Microelectronics is a strategic industry that generates prosperity and creates well-paying jobs. The impact of this industry on the global economy is significant — in 2009 it represented US$224 billion. The MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (MIC2) was created through an initial investment of $218 million, supported by its three founding partners, the Université de Sherbrooke, IBM Canada Ltd. and DALSA Semiconductor, and by the governments of Canada and Quebec. With the creation of the Centre, an integrated innovation chain will be established. It will result in 250 high-technology jobs and solidify some 3,000 others. It will enhance the training of university researchers, stimulate development, accelerate the international commercialization of our innovations in the area of complex microsystems, and foster the creation of microelectronic businesses in Canada.

Wavefront Wireless Commercialization Centre (Wavefront)
Vancouver, British Columbia ($11.6 million for 2010-15)

Centre Director: Mr. James Maynard

  • primary target area: information and communication technologies—wireless networks and services

The Wavefront Wireless Commercialization Centre (Wavefront) will drive the growth of Canadian wireless companies by acting as a national resource hub connecting them to multinational wireless companies, the academic community, investors and wireless associations. These partnerships will generate a number of benefits for Canada, including growing and creating companies and jobs; increasing cross-sector innovation, productivity and return on academic investments; fostering the creation of new intellectual property; expanding export opportunities and raising Canada’s international brand; encouraging foreign direct investment in Canada; and promoting Canada’s digital literacy. In partnership with 26 Canadian universities, Wavefront will communicate industry’s technical challenges to academic institutions and provide greater opportunities to convert academic research into commercial products and services. As the worldwide market for the wireless industry approaches $1 trillion, Wavefront will enable Canadian companies to succeed on a global scale, capitalize on the next wave of wireless innovation and drive Canada’s digital economy strategy.

APPENDIX I – CECR Program Criteria

To ensure that the program objectives are met, proposals are assessed against the selection criteria outlined below.

1. Benefits to Canada:

  • the extent to which the Centre’s commercialization and/or research program addresses issues of high priority for Canada;
  • the potential for the Centre’s commercialization and/or research activities to yield significant economic, social, health or environmental benefits to Canadians;
  • the likelihood that the Centre will create sufficient scale and focus to brand Canada as the host of an internationally recognized Centre of excellence in the area;
  • the likelihood that the Centre will strengthen domestic collaboration and ensure that benefits spill over to a wide array of firms, sectors and regions of the country; and
  • the opportunity to optimize resources, drawing on existing national and international commercialization and/or research strength, world-class infrastructure, networks and funding sources to enhance Canadian capacity.

Elements to consider when commercialization is involved:

  • the opportunity to create, grow and retain companies in Canada that are able to capture new markets with breakthrough innovations; and
  • evidence that the Centre will help accelerate the commercialization of leading-edge technologies, goods and services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its competitive advantage.

2. Track record and potential of the applicants:

  • the achievements of the applicants and their ability to contribute to the Centre’s commercialization and/or research program;
  • the proven ability of the applicants to train and retain innovative and internationally competitive researchers in areas and technologies critical to Canadian productivity, economic growth, public policy and quality of life;
  • the likelihood that the Centre will attract top talent from around the world (researchers, post-graduate and post-doctoral students and internationally recognized business leaders, in the case of centres with a commercialization mandate); and
  • the ability of the applicants to attract investment (including, in the case of centres with a commercialization mandate, foreign direct investment and venture capital).

3.  Strength of the business plan:

  • excellence, focus and coherence of the commercialization and/or research program;
  • the extent to which the partnerships involve various levels of government and the private sector to complement the funding available through the granting agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation;
  • the effectiveness of the plan to manage, protect and exploit intellectual property resulting from Centre-funded research;
  • the likelihood for this investment to result in the creation of a sustainable, productive centre of excellence;
  • the quality of the proposed organizational structure with appropriate representation on the Board of Directors and management team; and
  • evidence that the applicants have in place an accountability framework likely to result in effective leadership and sound financial decision-making.

APPENDIX II – Biographical notes of the Private Sector Advisory Board

As requested by the federal government in Budget 2007, the NCE Secretariat established the Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) in August 2007. PSAB’s role is to provide the NCE Steering Committee with expert advice and recommendations during the CECR competition. PSAB members recommend proposals expected to create a strategic, long-term economic advantage for Canada.

The following were participating PSAB members in the 2010 CECR competition:

The Honourable Perrin Beatty (Chair) is president and CEO of the 170,000-member Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s largest and most representative national business association. Prior to joining the Canadian Chamber in August 2007, Mr. Beatty was president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. He was president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and has held portfolios in Progressive Conservative governments, including Minister of State (Treasury Board), National Revenue, Solicitor General, National Defense, Health and Welfare, Communications, and Secretary of State for External Affairs. Mr. Beatty has also worked as a communications consultant and wrote a weekly column on government and politics for a major Canadian newspaper. Mr. Beatty serves on a number of Canadian government advisory committees covering issues of national security, border management, privacy and international trade. He is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, and served for five years as business co-Chair of the Canadian Labour and Business Centre.

Sue Abu-Hakima is co-founder and president/CEO of her second start-up, Amika Mobile Corporation, launched in 2007. This is the second company she founded. Dr. Abu-Hakima holds a bachelor of engineering from McGill University and master’s and doctorate degrees from Carleton University, specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). She is an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in AI. She holds an adjunct professor position at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Abu-Hakima sits on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence and is the Chair of the Board of Management for the Centre of Excellence for Communications and Information Technology. She is also on the Executive Board of the Ottawa Software Cluster created by Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation. In 2003, she was one of the contributors to the Prime Minister's Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs. Dr. Abu-Hakima holds 19 international patents in messaging and content analysis (and has a 20th pending). As many as 27 global companies have cited her pioneering patents. She has published and presented over 100 papers.

Alan Burgess is the CEO and director of Northwest Mettech, the leader in highly controlled plasma spray coating solutions that meet the quality and production needs of the aerospace, automotive, pulp and paper, energy and electronics industries. Mr. Burgess brings a strong engineering and business background to product development and materials engineering. He founded Mettech and has been president since its inception. Through this period, Mr. Burgess has been involved in product development, applications engineering and customer service. Currently, he leads sales and is part of the financing activities for Mettech.

Mr. Burgess has a BASc in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia. He is a Board Member of Nanotech BC and is the Scholarships and Awards Chairman for the International Thermal Spray Association.

Patrick Champagne was appointed to the position of vice-president, CMC Electronics Inc., in 1998. In this role, he is responsible for the engineering support solutions for CMC’s three sites in Quebec, Ontario and the United States. His career at CMC Electronics began in 1986 as a developer. After that, he held various project engineering positions from 1988 to 1993, and was chief engineer for the Communications Group from 1993 to 1998. Before joining CMC Electronics, he was an electronic engineer with Nortel and Spar Aerospace from 1982 to 1986. Mr. Champagne holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, obtained in 1982 and a master’s degree in applied sciences, obtained in 1986; both degrees are from École Polytechnique in Montreal. He also obtained, in 1994, a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from McGill University. He is a member of the Order of Engineers in Quebec and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He has been a member of the administration council of École de technologie supérieure since 2002, and he was appointed Chair from 2004 to 2007. He also sits on the Board of the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec since it was formed in 2003 and is a member of the Innovation Committee, Aéro Montréal. He served on the Board of the Association de la recherche industrielle du Québec, on the advisory committee for the Fonds Nature et Technologie du Québec, and was a member of the jury for the Prix du Québec in Applied Sciences.

Pierre Delagrave is president of Cossette Media. He has been with Cossette since 1975 and is the founder of several business units within the organization. In particular, he built Cossette Media and Fjord Interactive Marketing and Technology, both of which he leads as president. In 2006, he published Erase Everything and Start Over!, which includes his observations on how “the consumer is in control” in the digital age, as well as his vision for the future. He founded and is on the Board of Directors of Conseil des Directeurs Médias du Québec. He has also sat on the Boards of the Canadian Outdoor Measurement Bureau, NADbank, BBM Surveys and Centre d’études sur les médias. He is vice-Chairman of Columbus Media International, an international network of media independents. Mr. Delagrave holds a bachelor’s degree in administration (with a specialization in marketing and finance) from Université Laval.

Paul Dottori is vice-president, Energy, Environment and Technology for Tembec Enterprises, Inc. A native of Timmins, Ontario, Mr. Dottori has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto. He joined Tembec in 1987, and over the course of his 20-year career has worked in roles of increasing accountability in the areas of engineering, project management, maintenance, construction, purchasing and operations. In 2000, Mr. Dottori was promoted to a corporate role supporting major projects, engineering, and merger and acquisition activities. He was appointed vice-president, Energy, Environment and Technology, with Tembec’s corporate group in October 2006. He is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Quebec. He is a past Board Director of the Industrial Gas Users Association. He continues to be actively involved with committees and industry associations focused on solutions within the electricity and energy sectors. He brings extensive experience and knowledge in energy and environmental operations and management, and in relations between government and First Nations.

Donald Lush is president of Environmental Bio-detection Products Inc. (EBPI), a company located in Mississauga, Ontario. EBPI develops and manufactures a range of biologically-based testing kits for evaluation of toxicity of contaminants in environmental media and the evaluation of genotoxicity and mutagenicity of individual chemicals and environmental samples. During his 30 years in the environmental consulting business, he has served in both a technical and management and advisory role as founder, president and chairman of a number of environmental and technology focused companies in Canada, the United States and Europe. He spent most of his consulting career with Beak International as a senior principal and board member, and acted as Chairman of its Board of Directors for 15 years. He is also Chairman of the Board of Microbial Insights (MI), a company located in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Kevin O’Brien Fehr is a pharmacologist managing since 1992 basic research and genetics studies conducted in Canadian companies and universities on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline. She has extensive contacts in the academic and biotechnology communities throughout the country and is actively working to attract funding from GlaxoSmithKline’s international sources for the support of Canadian researchers. She serves in an advisory capacity on several Boards of Directors, including the AllerGen Network of Centres of Excellence and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. After working for ten years at the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario as a scientist and educator, she joined the staff of the Medical Liaison Service of Sandoz Canada. There, she spent five years acting as an interface between the company and the Canadian medical research community in the areas of psychiatry and neurology.

David Ross is Langara College’s president. Most recently he became the vice-president, Administration and Student Services at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, a position held for the past seven years. Dr. Ross joined Kwantlen’s Marketing Faculty in 1994, became department Chair in 1996, undergraduate business Chair in 1997 and the associate vice-president, Advancement and External Relations in 1999. Dr. Ross has also held faculty positions in marketing and entrepreneurship at Langara College, the University of New Brunswick and the Shad Valley Program based in Waterloo, Ontario. His community service includes current Board positions as president of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations and vice-president of the Surrey Board of Trade. Dr. Ross holds a doctor of philosophy from the University of Nebraska; a master of aquaculture from Simon Fraser University, and a master of business administration and bachelor of science from Dalhousie University.

Jeff Turner is a biotech industry executive and entrepreneur with 20 years experience in life science product development/commercialization. Mr. Turner was CEO of Tissue Regeneration Therapeutics Inc. (TRT) and adjunct professor, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto. He has 34 domestic and international patents and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and abstracts. As president and CEO of Nexia Biotechnologies Inc., the second largest transgenic animal company in the world, Mr. Turner managed 124 employees in Canada and the US. He was responsible for raising $67 million of private and public funding. Mr. Turner joined TRT as CEO in 2006 and completed a $20-million licensing agreement for the company’s stem cell technology.