Tech update: Clock ticking for Canada’s EV battery industry

As extreme weather fueled by climate change continues to wreak havoc, experts stress the need to move away from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs), they say, will contribute significantly to the reduction of global greenhouse gases.

A new report of two Canadian research groups say we have a short window to be a key player in EV battery manufacturing.

clean energy canada Y Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing believes Canada has the potential to build a domestic EV battery supply chain that could create up to 250,000 jobs by 2030 and pump $48 billion into the Canadian economy annually.

Ottawa can start by breaking its habit of exporting minerals and raw materials from Canada used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles, it says, in favor of local production.

Not yet made in Canada: Canada’s first EV cathode and battery manufacturing plants are under construction, but until they are up and running, we will rely on other countries for full production. Guido Benvenuto, Vice President of Engineering for the Kitchener-based company Flex-N-Gate, which designs and manufactures battery parts for electric vehicles, says it’s crucial for Canada to invest in a national supply chain. “Canada’s reliance on a foreign-based electric vehicle battery industry carries predictable risks: brain drain, lack of autonomy, delays, political uncertainty and supply chain volatility,” he says.

Canada has the products: Canada is the only country in the western hemisphere that has all the critical minerals needed to make EV batteries. “Canada has both the talent and the resources to build a lucrative domestic electric vehicle battery supply chain,” says Natasha Kostenuk, founder and CEO of ayrton energy, a Calgary-based electric vehicle battery charging company. “The companies that are key to the domestic supply of EV batteries are both large, established companies and new start-ups that are developing in this space.”

What else does Canada need to be successful? Kostenuk says the federal government needs to support domestic companies. “This should include clear incentives for electric vehicle adoption to help Canada catch up with other countries’ electric vehicle adoption rates,” he says. Benvenuto says the way to accelerate the development of an all-Canadian electric vehicle battery industry is threefold. “It requires us to build a holistic supply chain, attract and collaborate locally with trusted and proven industry players, and elevate the role of Canadian academic institutions in the basic and applied science of manufacturing EV batteries on a global scale.”

Urgent call to address the impacts of climate change in Canada

Just weeks before the federal government releases its strategy to protect Canadians from the extreme consequences of climate change that is already happening, industries and organizations are warning that it could be too little, too late.

in a recent releaseenvironmental coalition weather-proof canada accuses Environment and Climate Change Canada of proposing a National Adaptation Strategy that focuses on vague and distant goals without a plan that provides concrete support for adaptation.

A coalition led by Insurance Board of CanadaClimate Proof Canada, which includes members such as the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says that with the increasing number of extreme weather events in Canada, we cannot wait until 2030 to limit the impacts of climate change.

Why can’t we wait? Craig Stewart, vice president for climate change and federal affairs at Canada’s Insurance Bureau, says the national adaptation strategy to be presented at the COP27 international climate summit in November does not set realistic targets. “Given the catastrophic severe weather events that have occurred in recent years,” says Stewart, “we have continually emphasized developing a focused five-year plan that reduces risk to Canadians and their communities.”

Canada’s biggest climate threat: The most widespread and costly weather problem in Canada is land-based flooding, says Stewart. “According to a recent report published by Public Safety Canada, the 10 per cent of households in Canada account for 89 per cent of the financial risk of flooding,” she says. “If we were to set a goal of collaborating to protect the 300,000 most at-risk homes in the country by 2028, that would address more than 50% of the financial liability in just 5 years and prevent $1.4 billion in annual losses in the future.”

What can the feds do? Preparation is key, says Myrna Bittner, CEO and co-founder of RWI Synthetics, which uses artificial intelligence to calculate the impacts of disaster responses. “Preparing also includes developing resiliency strategies, strategies to successfully prepare for ‘when’ not ‘if,’” says Bittner. “Many areas of Canada have an opportunity to reassess their resilience preparations and investments in light of recent examples of wildfires, heat events and atmospheric rivers before it is too late.”

Working from home is good for the head

More Canadians say working in their pajamas is good for their mental health. A new report on work preferences shows that, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of Canadians view the experience of working from home as positive.

Prepared by him Future Skills Center, Environics Institute for Survey Researchand the Institute of Diversityat the Metropolitan University of Toronto’s Ted Rogers School of Management, the report says that people who work at their regular workplace are more likely to report poorer mental health than those who work remotely.

This difference is more pronounced for younger workers; among those between 18 and 29 years old. They are more likely to feel anxious, lonely or depressed, compared to those who have been working from home.

Employee goals: The report reveals that 78 per cent of Canadians agree that they like working from home much better. People are looking for ways to work differently and have more options, says Kyra Jones, vice president of organizational development and culture at the Kitchener-based tech hub. communitech. “This report really highlights the top assets that talent has, with flexibility being a big driver in terms of their decisions about which companies they want to work for,” he says.

Employers benefit: Jones says remote work means organizations have access to a broader talent pool, giving them access to global markets. “This ability to find talent without worrying about relocation and the costs and risks associated with that is really useful for scaling technology companies,” he says. “There are also some savings to overhead costs, and typically employees with flexibility and decision-making ability in the way they work are more engaged, leading to higher retention rates.”

In other news …

  • Cannabis management software company growerIQ announced that it has closed a $3 million seed round. The deal was co-led by the seed stage fund MARS IAF and Houston-based venture capital fund golden section. Toronto-based GrowerIQ will use the money to grow its customer base.
  • start-up of insurtech ProNavigator has secured $10 million in a funding round co-led by the Toronto-based company graphite companies and Montreal-based venture capital fund Luge Capital. Kitchener, Ontario-based ProNavigator is investing in its growth south of the border by opening a US headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and plans to hire more employees.
  • Mental health tech startup therapy there announced that it is expanding its product offerings to make therapy more accessible. The Toronto-based company connects clients with high-quality therapists on a pay-what-you-can basis, from $35 to $150 per session.
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Technology Center communitech has acquired Informed.in, a startup data platform, which tracks investment in Canadian technology companies. The center hopes the acquisition will strengthen its ability to identify and support Canada’s highest potential companies and their founder-focused programs. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

  • advanced manufacturing organization Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) has announced an investment of $250,000 to support a half-million dollar project led by the Toronto genetic medicine company Mediphage Bioceuticals in collaboration with the synthetic biology company Ardra Inc.. The partners will develop industrial microorganisms designed for natural ingredients in the food industry and to prevent and treat human diseases.

Janey Llewellin writes about technology for MaRS. Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, has partnered with MaRS to highlight innovation in Canadian businesses.

Disclaimer This content was produced as part of a partnership and therefore may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.

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