Analysis of Recent Awards: Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund

In this article the Strategic Innovation fund will be explored with a particular emphasis on what it is and examples of projects that have attained funds.

The Strategic Innovation Fund is a program from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. It was launch in 2017 and the goal of the program is to support the Canadian innovation ecosystem.

The program has 5 streams which are divided under two components:

  • The first component is Business Innovation and Growth, and it includes streams 1 to 3
  • The second component is Collaborations and Networks, and it covers streams 4 and 5

Strategic Innovation Fund drive innovation across the following six Economic Strategy Tables:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Agri-food
  • Clean Technology
  • Digital industries
  • Health/Bio-sciences
  • Resources of the Future

Stream 1: R&D and Commercialization

This stream offers funding for R&D and market commercialization of innovative technologies. The activities must be within Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-9.

Projects under this stream can focus on (but are not limited to):

  • R&D to evaluate the commercial potential of a new concept
  • Adaptation of research results to commercial applications that may disrupt the market
  • Development of existing products through the implementation of new technologies that will enhance the recipient’s competitiveness; and
  • Development of process improvements that decrease the environmental footprint of current production through the use of new technologies.

Stream 2: Firm Expansion and Growth

Projects under this stream must support the expansion or material amelioration of existing industrial or technological facilities, or projects. Furthermore, activities have to be in TRL 8-9.

Here are some examples:

  • Increasing manufacturing capacity to satisfy demonstrated market demand
  • Improving production efficiency through facility and equipment improvements; or
  • Improving processes to increase efficiency

Stream 3: Investment Attraction and Reinvestment

The third Strategic Innovation stream support new investments in industrial or technological facilities in Canada. Activities in this stream are at least TRL 2 and are intended to support the establishment of new facilities or bring new mandates to Canada.

For examples, projects could focus on:

  • Establishing a new production facility that did not exist in Canada
  • Obtaining a production mandate for a product that was manufactured outside Canada or is being produced for the first time
  • Obtaining a research and development mandate that was originally held outside Canada or is being established for the first time

Stream 4: Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration

This stream focuses on collaborative projects with a group of partners. The project is expected to support research, including activities related to the discovery of new knowledge that is intended to support the development of new technology-based products, processes, or services at early technology readiness levels. Activities under this stream are in TRL 1-7.

Example of projects could be:

  • Developing and demonstrating pre-commercial technologies
  • The development, by a Tier 1, of an original equipment manufacturer of a potential new product using university research results, in collaboration with SME suppliers and research councils.

Stream 5: National Innovation Ecosystems

The last stream support later-stage projects that have a focus on commercialization. Projects may include (but are not limited to):

  • Developing and demonstrating pre-commercial technologies and
  • Advancing new technologies into product-specific applications.

Eligible applicants

For streams 1 to 3, small, medium and large businesses incorporated pursuant the laws of Canada and who propose to do business in Canada are eligible to apply.

For stream 4, the consortium may include Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, for-profit corporation and/or not-for-profit organizations. The lead applicant must be incorporated pursuant to the laws of Canada and carry business in Canada.

If it’s a network, the lead applicant must be a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Canada.

For stream 5, networks – the lead applicant can be a not-for-profit entity or a for-profit corporation incorporated in Canada, in collaboration with Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, for-profit and/or not-for-profit organizations.

Award

Applicants must request a minimum contribution (repayable or non-repayable) of $ 10 million with a total cost of at least 20 million. Strategic Innovation Fund provide up to 50% of project costs.

Eligible expenses:

For each stream, eligible expenses include the following non-recurring expenses:

  • direct labour costs
  • land and buildings
  • direct material and equipment
  • project overhead (program limits apply)
  • subcontracts and consultants
  • other direct costs

Deadline:

Eligible applicants can apply anytime for stream 1, 2, 3 and 5. Organizations are required to complete a two-step application process, but proposals can be submitted throughout the year.

For stream 4, it operates on a competitive basis where EOIs are accepted following a call for proposals.

Projects

Since its inception, the fund has funded 88 projects for streams 1 to 3 and 8 projects for streams 4 and 5, a total of 96 projects as of September 2021. The total contribution for these projects was $4.8B. below are a few projects that received funding through the Strategic Innovation Fund.

The project below is an example of the type of projects funded under stream 4 of the Strategic Innovation program.

A Charlottetown-based not-for-profit organization, Natural Products Canada (NPC), has received funding from the Federal government to connect innovators and organizations from across various sectors to accelerate innovation and commercialization of products that impact human, animal and plant well-being. NPC received a $20 million investment and is expected to help the network expand to more than 2,500 organizations, accelerate the expansion of over 500 companies, enable $28 million in programs to accelerate R&D and the commercialization of innovative natural products and technologies, and generate $200 million in new investments for the Canadian natural products industry.

To date, the network has successfully assisted over 800 Canadian companies. In particular, it has completed the pilot phase of its commercialization programs, which helped 21 companies commercialize 25 new natural products, generating 48 new jobs, $12 million in new revenue and $22.9 million in new investment.

In June 2021, Meltech Innovation Canada Inc., a newly division of Medicom Group Inc., received in investment of $28.99 million to establish a new factory in the Greater Montréal dedicated to manufacturing the specializes fabric required to produce life-saving respirators and surgical masks. Meltech Innovation will also establish a research and development lab and testing facilities to improve the material and develop innovative material options for PPE.

This is a $38.754 million project that will create and maintain 21 jobs. It will also provide up to 16 student co-op opportunities. This project is an example of stream 3 project.

Another project funded under the Strategic Innovation Fund and is a good example of stream 2, is the investment made to Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. This company, located in Mississauga, Ontario, received in investment of $199,16 million to increase its manufacturing and fill-finish capacity for a number of vaccines and therapeutics, including for those that use novel technology such as mRNA and that are now being deployed to fight the COVID-19.

This investment is part of a project of $401,52 million and will help create and maintain 500 full-time jobs in Canada and create 50 co-op positions for students. Once completed, the facility is expected to allow for the manufacturing of approximately 112 million to 640 million doses of mRNA vaccines per year.

In New Brunswick, the federal government announced in investment of $47,5 million to Moltex Energy Canada Inc. this contribution will allow Moltex to develop a Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner (SSR-W) that will produce emissions-free energy through the Waste To Stable Salts (WATSS) process that recycles existing used nuclear fuel to produce non-emitting energy. Moltex has committed to create and maintain 48 full-time jobs.

D-Wave Systems Inc. of Burnaby, British Columbia received a $40 million investment to develop quantum computer hardware and software systems, ensuring that Canada remains at the forefront of quantum technology development.

This project has a total cost of $120 million and will help creating and maintaining up to 200 jobs as well as hiring up to 10 co-op students annually. The project also received assistance from Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Government of British Columbia.

Sources:

https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/125.nsf/eng/00022.html   

https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/125.nsf/eng/00012.html   

https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/08/government-of-canada-invests-to-help-over-500-innovative-companies-develop-natural-products.html           

https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/06/investment-to-increase-the-resilience-of-canadas-supply-of-critical-personal-protective-equipment.html        

https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/05/government-of-canada-continues-to-strengthen-canadas-biomanufacturing-sector.html    

https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/03/government-of-canada-invests-in-research-and-technology-to-create-jobs-and-produce-non-emitting-energy.html         

https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/03/government-of-canada-contribution-strengthens-canadas-position-as-a-global-leader-in-quantum-computing.html 

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