We have gained an uncomfortable familiarity with the Greek alphabet from the latest variants of COVID-19, our grocery bills have risen due to supply chain issues, and severe weather events are bringing the crisis closer and closer. climate. But 2021 has also been a year of positive change, with the widespread roll-out of vaccines, many people reconfiguring their careers and the stock market soaring.
In terms of innovation, there was a lot. Here are some of the biggest tech trends of the year.
Give the pandemic our best shot
Despite a slow and often chaotic vaccine rollout, over 76% of the Canadian population is now vaccinated and the booster program is accelerating. Important developments are underway to ensure that Canada is more self-sufficient when it comes to navigating the next wave. In August, the federal government announced plans to build a state-of-the-art mRNA vaccine production facility in Canada, and biopharmaceutical manufacturers move closer to domestic distribution of its first local COVID-19 vaccine .
âCanada’s perspective on pharmaceuticals has changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic,â said Takashi Nagao, president and CEO of biotech company Medicago. âWe don’t know when the next pandemic may strike, and we can’t have one platform or company doing it all. “
Medicago’s herbal vaccine, which has shown promising results against the Delta variant in its Phase 3 trials, is pending approval by Health Canada. âWe are excited to potentially help diversify the pool of available vaccines,â Nagao said.
Meanwhile, researchers at McMaster University are making progress on an inhaled aerosolized aerosolized COVID adenovirus vaccine that directly targets the lungs. Human clinical trials are expected to begin early next year, although this method of vaccine delivery still requires further research.
âIn reality, widespread availability is still at least a few years away,â says lead researcher Fiona Smaill, professor of infectious diseases and medical microbiology at McMaster.
On the treatment side, Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics is looking to build on the success of its antibody therapy, bamlanivimab, which was approved for emergency use in Canada and the United States last year. and saved thousands of lives. This month, the United States Food and Drug Administration extended its emergency use authorization for bamlanivimab given with etesevimab, another monoclonal antibody, to treat COVID in patients under 12 years of age. .
Big reshuffle in big tech
From rebranding from Facebook to Meta to resigning CEOs from Twitter and Amazon, big tech is undergoing massive change.
“This indicates that big techs would rather move on to the next supposed big thing rather than do the hard work of fixing the products they’ve already built,” says Taylor Owen, founding director of the Center for Media, Technology and Technology. the democracy of McGill University.
Calls for greater regulation are increasing. In the fall, Frances Haugen, former Facebook product manager, accused the company of knowingly fueling discord after leaking tens of thousands of internal documents on the social media giant.
Big tech needs to be harnessed, says Owen, and argues that Canada should strengthen its digital governance, create much more transparency and accountability, and reinvigorate competition in its online markets. âIn 2022, we have the chance to learn from what other countries have done and to implement a serious governance agenda,â he says.
Money flows into Canadian businesses
Silicon Valley Bank expects Canada to end 2021 with a record venture capital deal. At the end of September, there were already 568 transactions worth $ 11.8 billion, according to the Canadian Venture Capital Association. That’s more than the whole of 2019, the previous highest year, when $ 6.2 billion was invested in 560 deals.
Experts attribute this momentum to later rounds of funding, as mature Canadian companies tend to attract larger sums from foreign venture capitalists. Some of the big deals this year include the $ 375 million Series D increase from ApplyBoard in June and the $ 250 million Series D funding from Vancouver’s Dapper Labs in September, which follows funding. $ 305 million in Series C he landed earlier in the year. .
âWe’re creating better businesses, ones that grow faster and can attract funding at a later stage instead of having to be sold,â says Charles Plant, founder of The Narwhal Project, an organization that helps emerging technology companies.
We can expect to see more mega-deals in the coming year, Plant says. âI think software will continue to overtake health and cleantech because there are so many companies ready to break into,â he said.
Supply chain problems drag on
Whether it’s semiconductors, meat or Christmas trees, the fragility of global supply chains has been highlighted this year and companies of all sizes have had to rethink how they source.
âThe global impact of COVID-19 has increased the importance and urgency of having transparency and access to supplier information,â said Stephany Lapierre, Founder and CEO of TealBook, a supply chain management in Toronto. âBusiness priorities are increasing and teams must continually respond to demands while adapting to changes in the market. “
Some experts are predicting that the supply chain tightness will ease in the second half of 2022, but companies still need to plan for ongoing challenges, which means they need good data. âHaving access to the right information allows for greater diversity and flexibility within networks, protects against costly interruptions and allows organizations to be agile in the face of new needs,â explains Lapierre.
Towards the Moon! Growing interest in the crypto space
Bitcoin hit nearly $ 69,000, an all-time high, in November. Venture capital funds have invested nearly US $ 30 billion in the crypto industry this year, more than all previous years combined. But the busiest segment of the crypto space belongs to non-fungible tokens (NFTs): Shopify has announced a program that will allow creators to sell these digital collectibles, Nike has bought a virtual shoe business, and even Melania Trump is launching. a new NFT business.
“You can expect more and more crypto offers,” says CÃ©dric Jeannot, co-founder of Be One Financial, an app that accepts cash and cryptocurrency deposits, and allows consumers to convert one into the other. Additionally, expect further growth in NFTs. “There are many use cases for NFTs, like renting a piece of art to a digital museum or creating some sort of Spotify 2.0 where the artist is automatically paid without human interaction every time. his song is played, âexplains Jeannot.
It’s still 1969
It has been a historic year for humans in space: there have been 13 crewed space flights (eight orbitals, five suborbital), with three private companies (SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic) carrying out groundbreaking trade missions.
âUntil last year, the big question in changing the old space guard was: could incumbents keep pace with innovation? I think the answer is now a definite ‘no’, âsays Chad Anderson, managing partner of Space Capital, a start-up venture capital firm focused on space technology.
One of Space Capital’s portfolio companies, Planet Labs, a terrestrial imaging satellite company, began trading on the Nasdaq on December 8. Anderson predicts that this trend will continue into the next year. âWe expect to see more space companies going public in 2022,â he said.
His other predictions for the future include: SpaceX’s massive spacecraft – a reusable spacecraft – reaching full orbit, the first commercial mission to the moon, private space stations, and several breakthroughs in satellites.