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Digital Technology Supercluster makes $10 million investment, rounding out $60 million COVID-19 program – BetaKit

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The Digital Technology Supercluster has made $10.7 million in follow-on investments to five projects under its COVID-19 stream, rounding out the Supercluster’s $60 million budget for the pandemic-focused program.

Bill Tam said these latest follow-on investments are a testament to the Supercluster model.

The COVID-19 program was created at the beginning of the pandemic to invest in digital solutions that protect the Canadian economy as well as public health. The creation of the program followed a decision in March from the federal government to refocus some of the Superclusters in order to help in the fight against the pandemic.

The COVID program’s $60 million came from the Digital Technology Supercluster’s $153 million budget.

The $10.7 million in follow-on investments come as a recent report from the parliamentary budget officer found that the Superclusters were far behind on their spending goals as of March 6. The report found the federal government’s five Superclusters had dolled out just $30 million instead of the $104 million they had been projected to spend by that time.

Bill Tam, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Digital Technology Supercluster, emphasized that the reporting conducted by the parliamentary budget officer did not capture the Supercluster’s momentum since March.

Tam claimed that, since March, the Digital Technology Supercluster has already completed its entire year’s worth of investments.

According to targets the Supercluster shared with BetaKit, the Supercluster was set to have about $170 million deployed by both itself and private sector partners, into 40 to 45 projects.

As of October 21, the Supercluster and its private sector partners have invested a collective $223 million in 67 projects since the inception of the initiative, according to the Supercluster’s annual report. Tam said he expects the Supercluster will have fully invested its $153 million budget by March 2021.

RELATED: Supercluster funding $74 million behind schedule, according to new PBO report

“I think the grand experiment of the Supercluster model is working,” Tam said, noting that the Supercluster’s ability to double down on these collaborations presents an opportunity to change the shape of Canada’s innovation economy.

The five projects that received the cumulative $10.7 million have previously received financial support from the Supercluster under its COVID-19 program as “feasibility studies.”

“Our follow on investment thesis is really about being able to double down.”

Tam told BetaKit the feasibility studies allowed the project organizers to determine whether a technology or innovative idea is appropriate for a large-scale project with the intention of developing an application for co-investment.

“We have feasibility assessment vehicles in order for these teams to actually have a sandbox with which to collaborate on initiatives,” Tam said. “Our follow on investment thesis is really about being able to double down.”

The projects receiving follow-on funding include:

COVID Cloud: $3.18 million

Originally called Beacon, this project is developing a digital technology platform to help track how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving over time and across specific geographic regions. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Lifesaver: $2.85 million

This project aims to fill COVID-19 information gaps by consolidating and harmonizing vast arrays of data. Lifesaver’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Raven2: $1.62 million

Raven2 extends the scope of the team’s original work by finding new, safe COVID-19 therapeutics that could be sold commercially in Canada and worldwide. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster was $250,000.

Scaling Safe Food Delivery for Canadians

This project will see startup Food-X Technologies develop an e-grocery solution that aims to help retailers offer online grocery sales at scale. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Screen O/S: $450,000

This project is focused on improving COVID-19 screening for the education sector and film industry after a successful two-month assessment of their on-the-spot screening technology. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster was $87,000.

Tam said although the program’s COVID-19 budget has been fully deployed, there is still an opportunity for follow-on investment from the Supercluster’s broader $153 million budget. All projects that receive investments from the Supercluster are able to receive follow-on funding, including those not part of the COVID-19 program.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com.

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Investment firms cautious on reopening plans, notification procedures – Investment Executive

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Financial sector could be a Covid-19 long hauler: Fitch

Banks in particular face future earnings, ratings challenges due to pandemic

Crisis coming in seniors’ care if governments don’t shift investments: report

Current spending levels of 1.3% of GDP could soar to 4.2% by 2041, says report

  • By: IE Staff
  • November 27, 2020
    November 27, 2020
  • 11:44

Global house prices rose in the face of Covid-19: BIS

Canada among the housing market leaders, both short and long term

Markets move past election uncertainty

With Biden’s transition underway, investors have shifted their focus to Covid vaccines and economic recovery

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Takeaways from our 2021 investment outlook: Legacy of the lockdowns – Investors' Corner BNP Paribas

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Here we summarise the big picture for investors at the end of 2020. This constitutes the starting point for our 2021 investment outlook.

  • Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the global economy has been mired in anaemic growth and weak demand, tempered by consistently rising asset prices.
  • In 2020 the global economy faced a crisis of unprecedented magnitude (see Exhibit 1 below) after the pandemic lockdowns. After a contraction of 4.4% in 2020 the IMF forecasts global growth of 5.4% in 2021. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6.5% lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperilling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty over the last 30 years. Countering inequality is a key challenge to be met in 2021 and beyond.

Exhibit 1: Largest decline since WWII – graph shows change in world gross domestic product (inflation-adjusted, in %)

Source: BNP Paribas Asset Management, as of 26/11/2020

  • Under the best-case scenario, one or more vaccines for COVID-19 become widely available by the second half of 2021. Otherwise, the disease remains a longer-term threat requiring us to ‘live with’ the virus – repeated lockdowns will not be a sustainable long-term strategy.
  • In 2020, advanced economies loosened the monetary and fiscal reins most spectacularly. Debt-to-GDP ratios soared, rising for many countries by more than they did in the years after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Major central banks have largely financed the increase in budget deficits, monetising an expanding national debt, much as Japan has done.
  • One way to understand the weakness in aggregate economic demand is to study real interest rates (the ‘price’ of money in the economy). In 2006, the real yield of the 10-year inflation-protected US Treasury bond was between 2% and 3%. Since 2010, its yield has mostly been below 1%, including a spell in negative territory both in 2012 and again in 2020. Negative real yields are now common to the G3 economies (see Exhibit 2 below) and beyond. In 60% of the global economy — including 97% of advanced economies — central banks have pushed policy interest rates to below 1%. In one-fifth of the world, policy rates are negative.

Exhibit 2: Real yields are now negative for G3 sovereign debt – graph shows changes in real yields for US, Japanese and eurozone government debt between 1997 and 16/11/2020.

Source: BNP Paribas Asset Management, as of 26/11/2020

  • In 2020, these meagre interest rates, along with cheap, low-risk liquidity from central banks, led asset prices higher. Risk premia for risky assets shrank. Companies whose revenues have plummeted — cruise lines, airlines, cinemas — were able to borrow money in 2020 to survive. Investors had few higher-yield options. Will central banks continue to supply such liquidity in 2021?
  • And how is all this debt to be paid for? The appropriate historical parallel is perhaps the post-World War II period, when central banks capped bond yields at levels well below the trend GDP growth rate to gradually reduce the national debt as a proportion of GDP.
  • Alternatively, instead of financial repression and inflation (as post WW2), the extraordinarily low real interest rates we have seen over the past decade could help achieve fiscal sustainability. It would, however, be imprudent to count on it. No policymaker should expect real interest rates to remain persistently below the growth rate of real GDP. Indeed, forecast imbalances in planned global savings and investment could drive real interest rates higher (ageing societies save a lot, but old societies do not).
  • Another risk is that improved real trend growth does not come to the rescue. Lower global growth after the pandemic accompanied by inadequate fiscal stimulus would leave marginal sections of the economy vulnerable to collapse. Such an outcome would test the paradigm of modest growth, low inflation and supportive central bank policy that has supported asset prices since 2008.

Today we face three interconnected crises – health, economic and climate. The instability provoked by the pandemic presents a window of opportunity to pivot in a new direction. Long-term environmental viability, equality and inclusive growth are essential pre-conditions to a sustainable economy. By taking a holistic, systemic, long-term view, we are less likely to be surprised by crises and better able to manage them.

For in-depth insights into what’s next for the global economy and markets, read our 2021 investment outlook, ‘Legacy of the lockdowns’


Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. The views expressed in this podcast do not in any way constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

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Fossil Free Lakehead pleased with university investment decision – CBC.ca

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A decision by the Board of Governors at Lakehead University to divest itself of fossil fuel investments is being hailed as a victory for one student group on its Thunder Bay, Ont., campus.

On Thursday, the board committed to not holding any investments involving fossil fuel extraction by 2023. 

“Our decision to divest from fossil fuel companies reflects Lakehead’s goal of becoming a leader in sustainability as reflected throughout our current Strategic Plan and Sustainability Action Plan,” said Board of Governors Chair Angela Maltese in a statement.  

Just over two per cent of the university’s investments are in fossil fuel organizations.

About 40 members of Fossil Free Lakehead have been working to convince the school since 2013, that it should no longer hold the investments.

Lakehead is the sixth university in the country, the group said, to divest itself of fossil fuel revenues.

“I think many people believe that burning and extracting is the only way forward, because that’s what we’re used to,” said Shaidya Aidid, a member of Fossil Free Lakehead.

“I think that progress doesn’t happen because we want to stay in our comfort zone,” she said, noting she got involved in the group, believing that Lakehead needed to lead the way when it came to promoting alternative fuels.

“A lot of the groups of students and members who are involved with our movement all believe in that message, that fossil fuels will not be fuelling our future.”

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