Feds list over 100 foreign institutions deemed security risks for tech research

Canadian researchers in some of the most innovative fields are going to face greater government scrutiny over who they work with.

What happened: The federal government released a list of over 100 schools and research organizations from China, Russia, and Iran that it says pose a risk to national security. It also defined 11 “sensitive” research areas representing leading-edge and disruptive technologies that may also interest those “seeking to misappropriate Canada’s technological advantages.”

What I learned building an app for the ChatGPT Store

It can be hard to grasp how the ChatGPT store and app builder work unless you’ve gone hands-on with them. So I did. 

Canada’s sugar industry gets a sweetener

An up-and-coming company’s Canadian expansion is giving ‘Big Sugar’ a run for its money. 

What happened: Florida-based sugar producer Sucro will invest $135 million to build what could be Canada’s biggest sugar refinery, according to The Globe and Mail. The upstart aims to take on the country’s sugar duopoly, as demand for the sweet stuff grows. 

Are work wellness programs doing anything?

Warning: If you are an HR manager implementing wellness initiatives at your workplace, this story contains content that you may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

Driving the news: A new study on the effectiveness of work wellness programs came away with a shocking conclusion: All those apps, courses, and puppy yoga classes aren’t doing anything to improve workers’ mental health. 

Burger King gobbles up franchises

Restaurant Brands International (RBI) — a very fake-sounding Toronto-based company that is the very real owner of Tim Hortons and Burger King — just ordered 1,000 juicy franchises. 

What happened: RBI agreed to pay US$1 billion for Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest U.S. franchisee of Burger Kings.

Paging Dr. Chatbot

Meet AMIE, the AI chatbot that did a better job diagnosing certain illnesses than human doctors… all while being comparatively nicer to its patients.  

Driving the news: The chatbot — powered by a large language model from Google — and 20 doctors each conducted 149 assessments of actors trained to portray medical symptoms. AMIE’s diagnoses were just as accurate or more accurate in the six specialties evaluated. 

Alberta dips its toes into nuclear

New year, new power source: Alberta is now dabbling in nuclear power. 

What happened: In a deal that could produce Alberta’s first nuclear power reactor, power producer Capital Power is partnering with Ontario Power Generation to explore building small nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the western province, according to The Globe and Mail

Can broke universities afford the humanities?

Add ‘school potentially going bankrupt’ to the list of reasons we’re happy we’re not in college anymore, alongside gruelling mid-terms and questionable dining hall food. 

Driving the news: Queen’s University’s provost (basically its CEO) warned that the prestigious institution faces a $48 million deficit this year and could go out of business if it doesn’t straighten up, balance the books, and slash outstanding expenses. 

Olympic beer sponsor bets big on non-alcoholic trend

The world’s biggest brewer is hoping that their newest sponsorship deal will capture sports fans who may be considering extending their Dry January’s.

What happened: Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev has signed a deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to become the first-ever global beer sponsor for the next three Olympic games, a platform the company will use to pump the tires on a non-alcoholic beer.  

Feds considering cap on international students

The federal government will look at capping the number of international students admitted to Canada in the coming months, Immigration Minister Marc Miller told reporters, saying the system “has gotten out of control.” 

Why it matters: The number of people coming to study in Canada from abroad has surged, climbing to around 900,000 last year, and worsening a housing shortage that’s driven rents up by 22% over the past two years.

Daniel Foch on Canada’s housing market

 On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Daniel Foch, co-host of the Canadian Real Estate Investor podcast, to talk about the future of the housing market. 

As the tides rise, cities look to seawalls

As Jakarta becomes the world’s fastest-sinking megacity, Indonesian officials are reviving a decade-old plan to save the capital by building a giant seawall. 

Driving the news: Floods are a common occurrence in the world’s largest island country, but the effects of rising sea levels are getting worse alongside more frequent extreme weather events.

Everything you need to know about Taiwan’s election

Today’s presidential election in Taiwan is shaping up to be a turning point for the tiny, but increasingly important, island nation.

Driving the news: As of writing, polls are showing no definite front-runner in the race to replace current Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, who has reached her two-term limit. 

Explain It Like I'm Five: Wi-Fi 7

Wait, there’s a new Wi-Fi?

Kind of! Wi-Fi 7 is a new technical standard for wireless internet, promising faster speeds and more stable connections. The technology has been around for a year or so, but now the Wi-FI Alliance has made sure it works properly and doesn’t interfere with other transmissions.

Carta’s crisis is about more than trust (but trust is still a big deal)

Carta, the most popular platform for startups to manage equity and ownership info, has spent the week defending how it handles that data.

Matter will get your smart tech to play nice

If you’ve been frustrated by your connected devices not working together, so have the companies that make them, and their solution is beginning to pick up steam.

What happened: A common theme among the smart home products announced at CES 2024 was compatibility with Matter, an open-source standard that lets devices from different manufacturers connect to each other and be controlled from a single app of the user’s choice.

Chinese mining investments face pressure

A little over a year after Canada’s big “crackdown” on Chinese investment in mining, companies are still lining up to pour money into the sector. 

What happened: Chinese mining giant, Zijin, plans to invest $130 million for a 15% stake in Vancouver-based critical minerals company Solaris Resources, the latest in a string of proposed investments by China-based firms into Canada’s critical minerals industry. 

Amazon’s illegal bestseller

Amazon has rightfully earned the title of “the everything store.” Unfortunately, everything happens to include illegal weapons.

Driving the news: An illegal switchblade sold on Amazon as a “camping knife" achieved “#1 Best Seller” status on the platform before the listing was taken down last week, a CBC investigation found. 

A breathless recap of Trump’s trial troubles

It’s time for our quarterly check-in on the long-running soap opera The Legal Adventures of Donald J. Trump

What happened: The New York civil fraud trial against Donald Trump has come to a close.