The Pulse: March 30, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 12°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High 12. Wind chill minus 5 in the morning. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 6,801: In 2020, 6,801 divorces were filed in Alberta, the lowest number since 1979. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Oilers (37-25-5) will host the Los Angeles Kings (36-23-9) at Rogers Place. (details)

PulseMedica CEO Nir Katchinskiy speaks into a microphone in front of a slide reading "500 million people worldwide are suffering"

PulseMedica raises $2.6M as it prepares to launch laser treatment trial

By Emily Rendell-Watson

PulseMedica has raised an oversubscribed $2.6-million seed round, which it largely plans to use to run its first clinical trial beginning in June.

The University of Alberta spinoff company is working on a new way to treat patients with major eye diseases. The fully automated platform it has developed uses an imaging system to capture the eye of a patient, then determines where to treat and delivers the treatment using lasers instead of injections.

PulseMedica is aiming to demonstrate the safety and accuracy of its imaging and laser delivery systems by testing it on 10 to 15 patients in Edmonton who have diabetic retinopathy.

"The purpose of this is really to help us generate this data and show it to people. We've managed to build this platform, it works ... now we can start going after all of the clinical indications, and then start commercialization," said CEO and co-founder Nir Katchinskiy.

The company-led round, which includes more than $500,000 from Startup TNT's Investment Summit IV last fall, will also help PulseMedica finish building its device as it works on getting approvals from Health Canada ahead of the clinical study.

It will continue to build out the team, too. The company has recently added six new members, including Geoffroy Rivet-Sabourin as its chief technology officer. It has also established a medical advisory board, which Katchinskiy said is key for the company's success.

"As part of this board, we brought three of the top of ophthalmologists in the world (Dr. Ike Ahmed, Dr. Matthew Tennant, Dr. Ehsan Sadri) to help us brand and shape the company, and to build our clinical studies in a way that will be recognizable by everybody else," Katchinskiy explained.

"The goal that we have right now is transforming PulseMedica from a local startup company to the global stage."

Continue reading


By Kevin Holowack

  • The Alberta government has committed $110 million to support Edmonton's bid to host the FIFA 2026 World Cup, pending several conditions including securing federal and municipal funding. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, an outspoken proponent of the bid, responded positively, telling Global News that "Edmonton has an incredible soccer community that has supported this bid from Day 1. As the World Cup host, our festival city would be in full celebration mode, giving a much-needed boost to our hospitality and tourism sectors." CTV reports that it is not clear when FIFA will announce the host cities, but that FIFA officials who visited last November were "generally positive" about Edmonton's facilities. The province's announcement came after Canada qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
  • The president of the Ritchie Community League is questioning whether the parking lot leased to the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market until 2025 is the best use of city-owned lands. "If that space was an area for community or civic space, or a garden, a park — think of how many different Edmontonians could use that space all days (of the) week," Avnish Nanda told Postmedia. The city will be seeking input this spring on how the neighbourhood's public spaces ought to be used.
  • TransPod has secured US$550 million to finance the next phase of a hyperloop system between Edmonton and Calgary, having signed an agreement in principle with Broughton Capital Group and China-East Resources Import & Export Co. (CEIRCO). The proposed hyperloop system will transport passengers and cargo in a low-pressure tube and cost a person about $90 to take a 45-minute trip between the two cities. The company's next phases include research, permits, and test track construction, with intercity line construction scheduled to begin in 2027, Transpod said in a news release. The company's earlier feasibility study claimed the project would add $19.2 billion to Alberta's GDP, create 15,600 jobs each year, and reduce CO2 emissions. CEO Sebastien Gendron hopes to have government approval by this summer, at which point TransPod will create a plan to disburse the investment, Global News reports.
  • Applications are now open for the Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), a new two-year pilot that allows Edmontonians to apply for low-cost financing for energy efficiency upgrades to residential homes, later repaying the loans through property taxes. The pilot is expected to benefit 80 projects over its duration.
  • Former mayor Don Iveson is now the executive advisor of climate investing and community resilience for Co-operators, a financial services co-operative. Iveson's new position will help the organization "catalyze sustainable investing in Canada," says the news release. Iveson called the position an intuitive next step in his career: "In my time at Edmonton City Hall, and as Chair of Canada's Big City Mayors, I thrived on building coalitions to tackle complex challenges like climate change."
  • Nathan Ip, a three-term Edmonton Public School Board trustee for Ward H, announced he is seeking the nomination to run for the Alberta NDP in the riding of Edmonton-Southwest, in hopes of running against Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, the only UCP MLA elected in Edmonton. "My commitment to you is this," Ip announced at a coffee shop, "I will listen, I will work alongside you, and I will fight for you in the legislature just as I have as your school board trustee." Madu has confirmed he will seek reelection.
  • "First impressions are that you are welcoming us so graciously," Valentina Gogvozd told CBC after she and about 60 Ukrainians landed in Edmonton this week on a flight from Warsaw that was organized by the Canadian Polish Historical Society. She and her sons will stay with her brother-in-law in Red Deer.
  • Flair Airlines announced that it will offer twice-weekly flights from the Edmonton International Airport to the Tuscon International Airport starting next winter. New flights to Arizona will also begin at the Fort McMurray International Airport, the Lethbridge Airport, and airports in Prince George, B.C., and Windsor, Ont.
A newspaper ad with the headline "The University of Alberta's Physical Environment" with a call for input to the senate

A moment in history: March 30, 1973

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1973, the University of Alberta was considering its future space needs and the future of North Garneau.

When the University of Alberta was founded in 1908, it consisted of 45 students on the third floor of Queen Alexandra School. There was a spirited debate on whether its permanent home should be in Edmonton or Calgary. In the end, the province picked on neither, selecting instead the city of Strathcona. Four years later, the university would become an Edmonton institution when the two cities merged.

Political manoeuvring was an issue even before the university built its first building. The province's education minister resigned during early construction. His replacement was less willing to open the public purse for the project, so construction paused. The U of A convinced the government to pay for a student residence that contained temporary classrooms.

Athabasca Hall was constructed in 1911 and practically housed the entire university — dorms, laboratories, and a library included. University leaders were so worried about funding they decided to spare the expense of making the building fireproof. Instead, they opted to make it out of "wood of the type known as slow-burning," says an alumni story on the building's history.

The Faculty of Medicine was founded in 1913, just in time to help coordinate the flood of physicians and nurses from Alberta who went overseas in the First World War. At one point, half of the province's physicians were part of the war effort, most of them mobilized through the U of A.

The 1920s saw more growth with the addition of the Faculty of Education. But expansion stalled for the next couple of decades, due to the Great Depression and the Second World War. The post-war years meant rapid growth, a result of a growing population and a greater emphasis on higher education. In 1960, the U of A expanded with a new campus in southern Alberta, which would become the University of Calgary a few years later.

As more faculties were added, the need for space increased. The 1973 task force on physical planning was just one of many mechanisms the U of A used to plan for its future needs. (The head of that task force, William Thorsell, went on to work at the Edmonton Journal before spending a decade as the editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail. His decision to live an openly gay life during that time is credited with helping shift public opinion on homosexuality in Canada.)

Government austerity and cutbacks saw a slowdown of construction of the U of A campus during the 1990s and early part of this century. Recent years have seen several new buildings going up in recent years. However, the university says its current plans focus more on renovating and refurbishing existing buildings. That comes with its own issues and concerns, as shown by the recent controversies over plans to demolish buildings like the Mactaggart Mansion or relocate the century-old Ring Houses.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.