September 23, 2020

CATA’s policy approach recommended to nation leaders by OECD Chief Economist

 

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Click the cover to open the magazine, or  View via Issuu Download North - CATA - D17.pdfDownload North – CATA – D17.pdf

In these fresh Fall days we embark on new beginnings, and for the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, that includes the inaugural Issue of Download North Magazine – People & Policy. Download North will reach the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, MPs and the Parliamentary Press Gallery, as well as, 11,000 in the technology community across Canada.

A few days before the Throne Speech,  the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advised nations to adopt economic policies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) aligned with solutions proposed by CATA. Our recent advocacy action, starting with a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 3 April, is outlined in The Fall Issue above. OECD Chief Economist, Laurence Boone is giving clear economic policy advice to world leaders in her
 20 September blogCoronavirus: Living with Uncertainty:

‘Support to firms must evolve to let non-viable firms go and encourage viable ones to grow. Equity instruments could be deployed for large firms, with state support, provided competition is preserved and a clear strategy for exit designed. However, it will require more creativity for SMEs, for example in the form of tax credits, with repayments occurring when firms sustainably return to profit’

CATAAlliance‘s  Resilience and Rebound Proposal is such a creative approach. 338 members of parliament have received this simple CERB like solution that uses government audited data to boost SME new market opportunity liquidity for GDP, R&D, economic and jobs growth.

Our efforts were influential in unlocking $200M in stalled R&D tax credits in April. The people at the Canadian Revenue Agency were the heroes of that story. 

Additional solutions have been shared and advised Minister Chrystia Freeland that CATA stands by ready to help. 

 

 

 

July 20, 2020

IMBA Medical : Stories of Survival from Canada’s Tech Innovators

Since the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) was created in 1978 we have represented the interests of Small to Medium science and technology-centric enterprises. Today these Canada headquartered businesses are in the tens of thousands and have grown to be the heart of the Canadian economy.

We are over 120 days into COVID19 and still, there is no comprehensive, technology-sector emergency or restart response. We see some well placed companies thriving and others struggling, laying off staff, trying to pivot to improve their chances of survival. A healthy tech ecosystem and critical mass health of small and medium enterprises are crucial to Canada’s economy and job creation.

In this ongoing series, we profile companies dealing with the reality of COVID-19 and their experience with emergency government support programs.

We are inspired, we hope you are too.

Gasping for breath, and a long, slow decline 

Govindh Jayaraman is a serial entrepreneur. He is President of IMBA Medical located in Ottawa. The software business has developed a platform to deliver health and wellness products aimed at chronic disease prevention and management. Within days of COVID-19 ramping up in Canada, he was offering a COVID-19 support module to help manage the outbreak. In a few more days his business revenue dropped to zero. No one wanted to make a business decision, everything was on hold. Unfortunately, his story is not unique.

Jayaraman’s IMBA Medical company had been growing at 300% a year as of February. After the COVID-19 crash, it took two months to receive his first customer revenue, just $200.

As for government assistance, “It is a drop in the ocean, you are gasping for breath and the assistance only prolongs the agony of a long slow decline,” Jayaraman says.

Govindh Jayaraman, President IMBA Medical

He adds, “This is a cash crisis not an accrual basis accounting crisis. We keep going through pay periods and rent cycles. We are told to wait; help is coming but it is not.”  Jayaraman did not apply for the rent assistance program because application goes through his landlord and the landlord is demanding confidential and sensitive data about the company.  Information Jayaraman is not willing to give up.

There are signs that change is slowly coming. IMBA Medical has signed some Letters of Intent, including a nation-wide deal, plus some contracts but still waiting for payment, and clients are pushing hard for more favourable terms and pricing. Bottom line, still no revenue coming into the company. But the money goes out as staff make hundreds of cold calls per day seeking new leads. 

With more funding Jayaraman says his company could hire 30 people by the end of this year.  He adds, “As cash and options dwindle, tech companies are being forced to choose between their families, their homes and their tech to be sold for pennies on the dollar in exchange for cash.”

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) wrote to the Prime Minister proposing a solution for under-subscribed and delayed assistance programs. The alternative uses data from the nation’s largest innovation program; Scientific Research & Experimental  Development (SRED). 

SRED data is used as a simple pre-qualifier for zero-interest loans at operational scale. The Resilience and Rebound (RR) fund would help bridge innovative companies to the other side of COVID19 and aims to keep intellectual property and talent in Canada. 

The loans would be partially forgivable based on company headquarters, intellectual property and jobs remaining in Canada. Established companies within the program have good track records and are known to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  RR delivers a speedy response while minimizing fraud or abuse. Delivery could be hastened by using the CERB model via CRA or applied to other programs. 

Jayaraman has used SRED for five years to develop his software and says the impact of such a program would be “profound”.

Despite the tough situation Jayaraman says he will never quit. It is not time to retreat. His company has now launched “Take Action” – what he calls, a first-of-its-kind, employee wellness and chronic disease prevention platform in Canada.

CATA invited Jayaraman to join in a phone call meeting they organized with a cabinet minister to explain the RR plan.  He outlined his problems and the minister asked for another call to see what they can do. 

It has been several weeks and yet no funding solutions. Jayaraman will not wait for what the minister does or does not do but he worries.

“The 2008 recession impact will repeat itself and we will see many tech companies disappear.” says Jayaraman.

For more information visit www.imbamedical.com or email support@imbamedical.com.

July 13, 2020

FluoroTech: Stories of Survival from Canada’s Tech Innovators

Since the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) began 42 years ago we have represented the interests of Small to Medium science and technology-centric enterprises. Today these Canada headquartered businesses are in the tens of thousands and have grown to be the heart of the Canadian economy.

We are over 120 days into COVID19 and we do not see a comprehensive, emergency response, nor a strategic recovery plan for the technology sector. We do see previously vibrant companies struggling, laying off staff, trying to pivot to improve their chances of survival. These firms are crucial to Canada’s economy and job creation.

In this ongoing series, we profile companies dealing with the reality of COVID-19 and their experience with emergency government support programs.

We are inspired, we hope you are too.

FluroTech is Changing the New Normal by Pivoting Cannabis Technology to COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Danny Dalla-Longa is CEO of Calgary-based FluroTech Ltd. He is a former Alberta MLA. He knows how the system goes round and says, “This federal government has lost their way. They are not economically minded, they are socially minded. They need to support and advance the technology sector.”

Right now, during this pandemic he says it is the most difficult time he’s ever faced raising money. He calls this an economic pandemic that is costing the North American economy $150 Billion every month. officeArt object

FluroTech began three years ago and with a heavy investment in research and development, commercialized a machine that can in seconds accurately determine if a sample is marijuana or hemp and measure its potency. In many jurisdictions, there is a huge need for the test because one can be legal and the other illegal. The product is called CompleTestTM and interest from consumers was picking up as COVID-19 hit.

But in a fascinating twist, the drug testing machine uses a proprietary platform technology that is used to detect a wide range of particles and is now being developed to test for COVID-19 antibodies and determine if you are currently infected and what is your viral load… meaning how infectious a person may be.

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COVID-19 testing has a massive market potential as we all want to know our medical status. The company is targeting a $20 per test cost to take a saliva sample test with results in about 5 minutes. The “New Normal” may very well be a type of “viral card” which will require frequent updating. It would allow us to determine who is safe and so who can come to the office, who could come into a sporting event, who could visit with family and friends. Dalla-Longa sees people getting tested 4 to 7 times a month meaning millions of tests per year. Sports teams have already contacted him to learn more about the possibilities.

The current PCR based testing technology is outdated. Flurotest’s technology says Dalla-Longa, “Will not just tell you if you are infected but will tell you if you were infected plus can tell you if you could infect others .

The research and development of the testing device by FluroTech took place at the University of Calgary. They patented the technology with 58 unique claims and the company went public. The company is at an early stage and have begun sales although not yet cash flow positive. Curtis Smith the CFO says, “The banks and by extension, Export Development Corporation and Business Development Bank are not receptive to issuing grants to support our business. They said, since we are pre-revenue we are not a real business. The government said they had a program to help firms like us. We applied in early April, so far no response.” The company did qualify for the $40,000 federal loan program.

So the hunt is on for money and partners to do more development and testing for the COVID-19 application. This new venture is called FluroTest. Dalla-Longa says it looks like it will be US money and US labs that will be the primary solution. In April they signed an agreement with Albany, New York Medical College and Alberta BioPhotonics Inc. The plan is to conduct human testing by October plus they need to get government health approvals. Money becomes crucial to continue the work. They estimate they will need (USD) $2 to 4 million to complete the validation and obtain emergency regulatory approvals plus distribution and manufacturing partners.

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During the firm’s initial development phase for Cannabis testing the company used funds from the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SRED) program. The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) has proposed using the SRED pipeline to get significant money to the 13,000 firms that have used SRED in recent years. These companies have a track record with the government. Dalla-Longa says that kind of money would enable a significant advance for this groundbreaking test method for COVID-19 and bring this technology to market swiftly.

For more information contact Danny Dalla-Longa 403 680 0644, or visit www.flurotech.com