Photo: Jordon Hon, via Folio

Alberta government funds four COVID-19 vaccine proposals

Alberta will provide $81.2 million to fund four proposals for vaccine development and manufacturing. The University of Alberta will receive up to $55.1 million, Entos Pharmaceuticals will receive $15.5 million, Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation will receive $5.6 million, and Northern RNA will receive $5 million. U of A president Bill Flanagan called the investment “visionary and game-changing.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, said in a release that “the COVID-19 pandemic showed us how important it is to have the capacity to develop and manufacture vaccines at home. These investments will help build not just vaccines but also an industry that will protect and benefit Albertans for years to come. This sector provides a significant number of high-quality, high-paying jobs and supports other sectors in Alberta, including agriculture, manufacturing, petrochemicals and research.” 

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Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship


  • Llearner is a startup that offers a new way to keep track of and share your books, podcasts, courses, training, and more. “There’s this really great opportunity to create, to discover, and to share what we’re learning with each other,” said co-founder Gregg Oldring.
  • Trust Science has launched Credit Bureau 2.0, a platform aimed at “letting lenders approve more borrowers and helping borrowers access more credit by changing the way scores are generated.” The company said its technology “relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to leverage unstructured data.”
  • Bitcoin Well said in its third quarter financial results that it now operates 200 bitcoin ATMs in Canada. The company also outlined three strategic pillars: non-custodial financial services, technology development, and education.

CleanTech & Climate Emergency

Digital Inclusion

  • A new report from the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) anticipates that employment in Alberta’s digital economy will reach 203,000 by 2025 but cautions that making the most of the opportunity will depend upon properly utilizing skilled newcomers.
  • Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley said recently that if elected her party would spend $520 million to provide every Albertan access to high-speed internet within four years. “Affordable high-speed internet has surpassed its designation as a ‘nice-to-have’ – it is without question an essential service,” she said. “We cannot allow the digital divide to grow into a digital canyon.”
  • Sturgeon County finalized a contract with Canadian Fiber Optics for the development and operation of its $7.3 million broadband project. Construction is expected to start in the spring, with service starting in summer 2022.

Food Security & AgTech

Public Health

  • AltaML has partnered with health-care technology company PROTXX to improve the precision of concussion diagnostics. The company’s machine learning systems interpret data from a phybrata sensor developed by PROTXX to provide a more precise diagnosis than previous approaches. AltaML said the same technology could be applied to other neurophysiological conditions in the future, such as Parkinson’s disease.
  • Visionstate said its IoT solutions can help support frontline cleaning staff and facility managers in the fight against COVID-19, and plans to launch a new website next year to better reflect the role it plays.
  • Ceapro is receiving up to $480,000 from NRC IRAP to support a project centered around the company’s pressurized gas expanded (PGX) technology that can be used to process biopolymers into active pharmaceutical ingredients like yeast beta glucan.
  • The University of Alberta is receiving close to $27 million from the provincial government to support 11 new research projects, developing potential treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS, as well as new health diagnostic tools. Funding will also go towards investigating the impact of prescription drugs on the long-term health of mothers and their children.

Social Impact

Arts & Culture

Bits & Pieces


The Blast is curated by Taproot Edmonton and published by Innovate Edmonton.