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Ont gov’t supports innovation-based economy

$28.8-M Innovation Challenge aims to support start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises


The Ontario government launched a $28.8-million challenge to help innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario address public sector business and service challenges.

The Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) is part of the Ontario government’s Business Growth Initiative (BGI), and will be managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) on behalf of the Ontario government.  The SBIC will stimulate the growth of SMEs by supporting them in developing and demonstrating innovative technologies with the goal of these new solutions driving innovation in the public and private sectors.

Successful applicants will receive funding

Under this new program, participating Ontario government ministries will issue innovation challenges, inviting start-ups to SMEs with 500 employees or less to develop and test novel technology solutions. Successful applicants will receive funding for feasibility and demonstration projects.

“Governments need the transformative technology and innovation that start-ups can provide,” says Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Growth and Development. “This challenge is a great way to encourage businesses here in Ontario to develop solutions that can help us better serve Ontarians, while testing ideas they can ultimately export to the global market.”

 The SBIC will:

* Provide SMEs with an opportunity to develop, test, and demonstrate their products in an applied setting with an eye towards market entry;

* Increase commercialization opportunities for SMEs through direct funding support;

* Develop and diffuse new solutions, driving innovation in the government and public sector; and

* Provide a stronger footing for Ontario SMEs to compete domestically and abroad, in both the public and private sectors.

“Supporting innovative Ontario-based companies and helping people in their everyday lives is truly a win-win proposition,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “The companies that compete in this challenge have an opportunity to use it as a launch pad for global opportunities while also strengthening Ontario’s position as a global leader in innovation.”

Public sector innovation represents a significant market for SMEs. The Government of Ontario purchases $6 billion in goods and services each year from 55,000 vendors.  Participation in the SBIC will help SMEs that may otherwise experience barriers to market entry use public sector challenges as a platform to develop and test innovative technology solutions. In addition, the government can offer improved services and products to the public.

“Ontario Centres of Excellence is a leader in the deployment of early adopter programs focused on public sector innovation, including the AdvancingHealth and AdvancingEducation programs that connect innovative companies with public sector partners,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s president and CEO. “The Small Business Innovation Challenge will help our SMEs grow within Ontario by providing them with an opportunity to work on the development, evaluation, and adoption of new technologies targeting government challenges and addressing  public sector needs.”