As the end of 2019 draws closer, we have the opportunity to look back at the great strides taken in the Canadian and global high tech industry across a range of sectors over the past year. From advanced manufacturing to ICT, from medtech to energy, leading innovators and companies within these fields have been hard at work developing the next generation of new technologies that will drastically reshape our world and spur economic growth.

Breakthrough Drug Discovery Using AI Therapeutics

The Toronto-based startup, Deep Genomics, has nominated the industry’s first ever AI-discovered therapeutic candidate. After two decades of research, their AI-based drug discovery platform successfully identified a novel treatment target and corresponding drug candidate for the genetic disorder known as Wilson disease. From this news, it is clear that AI systems will usher in a new era of drug discovery by figuring out genetic predictors of diseases and how to treat them in a manner far more efficient than humans alone ever could. What once took years to identify the right drug compound has been reduced to mere months by rapidly sifting through extreme amounts of data using AI.

New CRISPR Technique Promises to Accelerate Gene Editing 

One of the most significant limitations to gene editing through CRISPR technology was the inability of the process to target more than one gene for editing. This challenged efficient discovery of desired genetic variations due to the amount of time required to analyze the complex genetic conditions of individually-targeted genes. Thanks to recent advancements made by scientists at ETH Zurich, however, a CRISPR method has been formulated to target 25 genes at once. The scientists believe this technique can be adapted to theoretically target hundreds of genes simultaneously, which means the ability to edit entire gene networks in a single step is right around the corner.

Artificial Leaf Technology Photosynthesizes Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

Scientists at the University of Waterloo have developed a new technology based on the concept of photosynthesis to produce methanol and oxygen from carbon dioxide in the air. This ‘artificial leaf’ utilizes a cheaply engineered powder called cuprous oxide to trigger a novel chemical reaction when mixed with water that converts carbon dioxide from traversing airstreams into the alternative fuel. The methanol is then collected as it evaporates from the solar-heated water-powder solution. Once optimized, this process may very well play a crucial role in combatting climate change.

Power Grid to be Supplied by Safer and Cheaper Nuclear Source

New-wave nuclear power designs entailing advanced fission reactors—specifically, generation IV fission reactors—have been officially established this year as a means of making the power source safer and cheaper. Canadian developer, Terrestrial Energy, is leading the way on this front in an R&D partnership with utility providers, aiming to supply the power grid by the 2020s. Small modular reactors and fusion reactors are also gaining momentum in the field of nuclear power.

Progress in Robotic Dexterity Adds Remote Touch Functionality

Remotely operated robots carry out crucial tasks such as bomb disarming and space construction, but until recently dexterous robotic hands were unable to transmit a sense of touch to the operator. By combining technologies in robotic mechanics from The Shadow Robot Company, tactile fingertip sensors by Syntouch, and haptic feedback gloves from HaptX, humans will now be able to feel delicate objects remotely. This innovation will pave the way for increasing control and precision of robotic hands and limbs, making sensitive jobs safer while providing the basis for a wide range of new remote-controlled applications.

Blockchain Combines with AI to Advance Food Supply Networks

Recent advances in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies have made it easier than ever to understand and monitor food supply chains from seed to plate. Real-time analytics, such as IBM’s Food Trust, enables growers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers to make informed decisions regarding wastage, quantities, availability, and spoliation based on records of transactions and a network of sensor technology. This in combination with AI systems will be able to greatly improve the management of food resources distribution.

Quantum Processor Drastically Outperforms State-of-the-Art Supercomputers

The challenge of running quantum algorithms in an exponentially large computation space has finally been overcome. A high-fidelity ‘Sycamore’ processor has been built with programmable superconducting qubits to enable quantum states. In only 200 seconds, experimentation showed a quantum circuit could be sampled a million times—a task that would take a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer approximately 10,000 years to complete. Such a significant increase in processing speed marks the beginning of a superior new computing paradigm.

Looking Forward

Companies throughout Canada that are currently working in these areas, as well as any other tech sector, are building a better future. In recognition of this, the Canadian government offers numerous funding opportunities, such as SR&ED tax credits and grants, to further encourage innovation and commercialization in Canada.

Contact Us

Capitalizing on these non-dilutive funding options can provide the advantage needed to accelerate innovation and business growth. Contact us for a free consultation to find out how much you could receive.