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IW Business Bulletin – April 15, 2022

SaskTel investing $337 million in Saskatchewan in 2022-23

SaskTel announced on Apr. 13 that it will invest $337 million of capital in Saskatchewan in 2022-2023 and more than $1.5 billion over the next five years. The investment aims to ensure homes and businesses throughout the province will have access to “cutting-edge wireless, Internet, television, data, and IP-based technologies and services.”

Highlights of the 2022-2023 core Saskatchewan investment program include:

  • $82.2 million for “Fibre to the x” program to continue expanding the fibre optic infrastructure powering Sasktel’s “infiNET service”
  • $110.6 million for 5G deployment and wireless network enhancements
  • $79.3 million for wireline network growth and enhancements to optimize network
  • $64.9 million to improve customer services and operations through information technology and information systems enhancements.

“Our government recognizes how critical advanced broadband and wireless technologies are to the overall success and prosperity of our province,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel.

“These investments will further strengthen and expand the networks we rely on today, while also setting the foundation for future technological innovations that will help to drive economic growth, job creation, and improvements in the quality of life for all Saskatchewan residents.”

Agribition posts loss in 2021

On Apr. 13, Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) announced its 2021 results at its Annual General Meeting, reporting an operating loss of $321,000. Despite the loss, Agribition reported more than $4 million in revenue for 2021.

“A financial loss is difficult to report, but we have many things to be proud of,” said CWA president, Chris Lees. “It was such a pleasure to see everyone back together once again, especially to celebrate Agribition’s 50th show. We are proud to be back doing business in the barns and continuing our work internationally as an advocate for Canadian agriculture.”

The AGM was also outgoing CEO Chris Lees’ last, as he will be heading to Economic Development Regina as that organization’s new CEO.

The next Agribition runs November 28– December 3 2022, at the REAL District in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan remains top-rated mining jurisdiction in Canada and second overall in the world

The Fraser Institute released its Annual Survey of Mining Companies for 2021 on April 12, ranking 84 jurisdictions around the world “based on their geologic attractiveness (minerals and metals) and government policies that encourage or discourage exploration and investment.”

Saskatchewan ranked first in Canada, and second in the world, behind only Western Australia.

“The Fraser Institute’s mining survey is the most comprehensive report on government policies that either encourages or discourages mining investment, and Saskatchewan remains not only the top choice in Canada, but second overall globally,” said Elmira Aliakbari, director of the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Natural Resource Studies and co-author of the study.

Bank of Canada’s interest rate hike biggest one-time increase since 2000

In response to high inflation, the Bank of Canada increased the key interest rate by half a percentage point to a total of one per cent on Apr. 13. The increase affects Canadian business and consumers by influencing the rates of mortgages, bank accounts, and the Global Industry Classification Standard.

With inflation reaching its highest level in decades due to COVID-19 variants, supply chain disruptions, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, price spikes in energy commodities the bank stated, “These factors are the primary drivers of a substantial upward revision to the Bank’s outlook for inflation in Canada.”

“First, the Canadian economy is strong overall. The economy has fully recovered from the pandemic and is now moving into excess demand,” Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said at the opening of a press conference. “Second, inflation is too high. It is higher than we expected and it’s going to elevated for longer than we previously thought. And third, we need higher interest rates. Our policy interest rate is our primary tool to keep the economy in balance and bring inflation back to the two per cent target.”

The increase is the first back-to-back rate hike since 2017 and is the single biggest one-time increase since 2000.

Startup TNT raises over $500,000 for Prairie Cleantech Companies

On Apr. 7, Startup TNT, a community of entrepreneurs, investors, and startup supporters streamed its Cleantech Investment Summit live from Calgary while hosting viewing parties in Edmonton, Regina, and Saskatoon.

At the event, the five finalists; Saskatchewan’s LightLeaf Solar and Prairie Robotics and Alberta’s Environmental Material Science Inc. (EMS), Quantum Silicon Inc., and Nanode Battery Technologies (Nanode) made live pitches to Startup TNT’s diverse pool of local, accredited investors.

Funding decisions were announced that night with EMS chosen as the winner, but additional side deals were negotiated with Nanode, LightLeaf Solar, and the New Brunswick-based Picketa Systems.

Having surpassed its goal of raising $500,000 for Prairie cleantech companies, Startup TNT is now accepting applications for TNT Investment Summit V, where they intend to raise $1.5 million for Prairie startups on June 23.

FlexNetworks completes link between Regina and Saskatoon

On Apr. 14, FlexNetworks announced it had completed work on the first ever commercial 100 Gbps service link between Regina and Saskatoon.

According to the company, the network built between the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina will “boost the speed and resilience of data-intensive research collaborations, but it will also benefit the entire province by connecting several underserved, rural communities.” CANARIE, the national backbone network of Canada’s national research and education network (NREN), is the first enterprise customer to use the all-Saskatchewan network.

“This is an exciting development for students and researchers in Saskatchewan and for their colleagues across Canada and around the world,” said Mark Wolff, CANARIE’s chief technology officer. “This end-to-end connection eliminates capacity constraints on this route and improves network resilience in the province.”

The new network will also deliver high-speed service to rural communities along the fibre-optic cable route, including Clavet, Young, Nokomis, Bulyea and Lumsden.

“The increased capacity, which scales to provide individual services of 400 Gbps and beyond, is the latest of the many technology advancements implemented by FlexNetworks that keeps Saskatchewan telecommunications on the leading edge,” said Jay McMaster, chief technology officer at FlexNetworks.

Saskatchewan enhances incentives for value-added agriculture and technology startups

To attract “major investment to Saskatchewan,” the provincial government introduced legislation on Apr. 11 to enhance the Saskatchewan Value-added Agriculture Incentive (SVAI) tax rebates and regulations to increase the Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive (STSI) tax credit cap. The SVAI is a non-transferable 15 per cent tax rebate on capital expenditures valued at $10 million or more for newly constructed or expanded value-added agriculture facilities in Saskatchewan.

The Income Tax Act Amendment Act, 2022 increases the credit from 15 per cent to 30 per cent for the portion of a project between $400-600 million in value, and from 15 per cent to 40 per cent on the portion of the project that is more than $600 million in value.

“The SVAI has helped incent global corporations to undertake major projects in Saskatchewan,” said Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer. “These corporations are investing billions, creating construction and permanent jobs, and establishing Saskatchewan’s leadership in value-added agriculture.”

No single project can be eligible for more than that amount of SVAI tax relief because the caps the dollar value of the SVAI credit at $250 million.

With a record of $17.5 billion in agri-food exports from Saskatchewan in 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan’s enhancements to the SVAI will make the province “even more competitive and effective in attracting investment to grow the industry and our province’s economy.”

Additionally, regulations for the STSI have been amended, a program that encourages investment in early-stage technology start-ups by offering a non-refundable 45 per cent tax credit to Saskatchewan-based investors who invest in eligible technology start-up businesses.

“The STSI has been a key part of our government’s commitment to drive growth in the technology sector,” Harpauer said. “Since launching in 2018, the program has attracted over $45 million of investment into 46 early-stage companies from over 230 angel investors.”

Tech startup Cadence begins Google accelerator program

On Mar. 22, Google announced the eleven companies selected to participate in its second Cloud Accelerator Canada cohort. The 10-week virtual accelerator offers cloud mentorship, technical project support, and workshops on product design, customer acquisition and leadership development for cloud startup founders and leaders.

Saskatoon tech company Cadence was chosen to participate in the 2022 accelerator class that began on Apr. 11. Cadence is a web app that automates estate settlement tasks functioning as a digital executor assistant supported by certified executor advisors and is the first Saskatchewan company selected for the program.

“The accelerator will help build all aspects of our company with growth and efficiency in mind,” Cadence co-founder and CTO Krystian Olszanski said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from Google’s leaders, with access to all of the Cloud Platform services that will allow us to build our product in a cost-efficient, scalable and secure way.”

Standard Uranium Completes Winter Drill Program at Sun Dog property

Vancouver-based Standard Uranium announced the winter drill program at its Sund Dog project located on the northwestern edge of Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The diamond drill program included 4 drill holes totaling 1,242.3 metres with phase-one drilling intersecting several characteristics of a uranium-bearing mineralized system.

Standard Uranium reports Additional high-resolution ground gravity and UAV magnetics geophysics identified several new high priority targets. Follow-up drill holes are planned to be tested during a phase-two winter 2023 program.

“I want to thank everyone involved in making this drill program happen,” said Jon Bey, CEO, and chairman of Standard Uranium.

“The technical team and I are very encouraged by the results of our first reconnaissance-scale program on Sun Dog,” Sean Hillacre, vice-president of exploration said. “The scale and intensity of deformation we are seeing in our first handful of holes is spectacular, and coupled with the alteration types intersected, we are confident it is only a matter of time until we vector into something even more exciting.”

Coming soon: The Mosaic Company will announce Q1 2022 results on May 2, and Information Services Corporation (ISC) will release its Q1 2022 results on May 4.

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