Government challenges small businesses to innovate

News release

Invites Canadian small businesses to develop innovative solutions to nine new challenges

October 3, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

Small businesses and their ability to innovate make Canada’s economy run. At the same time, the federal government is Canada’s largest purchaser of goods. How can the government use these purchases to help small businesses innovate and grow?

The answer is Innovative Solutions Canada. Through this program, government departments are inviting small businesses to come up with a new innovative product, service or solution in answer to specific challenges they face. Winning small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. The Government will then act as a first customer, helping small businesses to commercialize their innovations, scale up their business and create good jobs.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, today announced nine challenges on behalf of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is challenging small businesses to:

1. Improve soil sample collection to make it easier, and make testing more accurate

2. Make “smart farming” technology cheaper so that smaller farms can use it

Canadian Coast Guard is challenging small businesses to:

3. Harness the movement of ships in ocean waves to reduce fuel consumption and the need for external power sources

Correctional Service Canada is challenging small businesses to:

4. Find new technology to stop inmates from performing illegal activities using wireless devices

5. Monitor the life signs of inmates and identify critical conditions so that staff can respond more quickly in emergencies

6. Create an innovative and cost-effective way to stop contraband items from getting into prisons via drone or being thrown over the fence

Public Services and Procurement Canada is challenging small businesses to:

7. Improve the sound quality for remote interpretation services so that service isn’t interrupted because the interpreters can’t hear

Shared Services Canada is challenging small businesses to:

8. Deliver high-speed broadband Internet access to citizens and Government of Canada employees who work or live in remote areas of the country

Transport Canada is challenging small businesses to:

9. Accelerate the adoption of low-cost yet effective technologies that improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety around commercial vehicles, preventing injuries and saving lives

Innovative Solutions Canada is a key component of the government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year plan to make Canada a global innovation leader and prepare Canadians to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.


Quotes

“In the Economic Strategy Tables reports, we heard it clearly from Canada’s industry and innovation leaders: the Government must use its purchasing power to help small businesses innovate and be more competitive. That’s exactly what we’re doing through Innovative Solutions Canada. Government gets access to quality products, while businesses grow and create good middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and employ over 8 million hard-working Canadians. That’s why our government is committed to helping small businesses start up, scale up and access new markets. Innovative Solutions Canada is a fantastic program that uses government procurement to help small and medium-sized businesses innovate and then commercialize their innovations. These are worthy new challenges, and I can’t wait to see what our innovative Canadian small businesses come up with.”

– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

“Through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, we are challenging small businesses to help us provide Canadians and federal employees with access to the services they need, whether it is accurate translation of proceedings or improved efficiency of high-speed Internet access in remote locations.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility and Minister responsible for Shared Services Canada

Innovation is a driving force of Canada’s agricultural sector. Through these challenges, small business innovators can help agriculture researchers, smaller-scale farms and processing plants access the tools and technologies they need to be environmentally sustainable and economically prosperous. We look forward to seeing their creative solutions to help drive the sector forward and create good middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“The Canadian Coast Guard is a leader in environmental stewardship and marine safety. By partnering with innovative small businesses to find ways to reduce fuel consumption, we are supporting our government’s commitment to reduce emissions and protect our marine environment.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Partnering with Innovative Solutions Canada is a great opportunity to share new ideas that contribute to public safety for all Canadians. I welcome innovative ideas that support Correctional Service Canada’s mandate of actively encouraging and assisting federal offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.”

– The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“I’m pleased to see this initiative being used to explore new ways to protect vulnerable road users. This program is an excellent opportunity to encourage small businesses to be new partners in road safety by advancing technologies that improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.”

– The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • Program funding will come from the 20 departments and agencies participating in Innovative Solutions Canada. Each department will set aside funding for this initiative that amounts to one percent of its 2015–16 combined procurement and internal research and development expenditures. Together, the funding from the departments and agencies represents a more than $100-million investment over the course of five years.

  • Small businesses make up 98 percent of Canadian businesses and employ over 8 million hard-working Canadians.

  • Innovative Solutions Canada is encouraging submissions from businesses owned and led by women, Indigenous peoples, youth and members of visible minorities by ensuring those groups are included in the program’s outreach plans and activities.

  • There are hundreds of programs and services that offer everything from funding to expert advice to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. With a simple, story-based user interface, the new Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.

Associated links

Contacts

Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA

Nilani Logeswaran
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
343-291-2849
613-668-1794

Sandra Aubé
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion
343-998-5328

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca


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