Government challenges small businesses to innovate

News release

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

December 6, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

As the single largest purchaser of goods and services, the federal government is using procurement to help Canadian small businesses succeed.

Through the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) 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 can then act as a first customer, helping small businesses to commercialize their innovations, scale up their business and create good middle-class jobs across Canada.

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 the launch of eight new challenges.

National Defence, through its Canadian Safety and Security Program jointly led with Public Safety Canada, is challenging small businesses to:

  1. Develop tools to help first responders make more timely and informed decisions, with the goal of better protecting Canadians in emergency situations such as terrorist threats or natural disasters.
  2. Develop tools and technologies to help identify available resources and the timelines for their delivery during emergency situations. These tools and technologies will help ensure that the right resources are at the right place at the right time to best protect the safety and security of Canadians.
  3. Develop innovative devices, applications or protective equipment to help firefighters rapidly assess threats, hazards and obstacles they face while fighting fires. This will help firefighters make more informed decisions, be more effective and better protect Canadians.

Public Services and Procurement Canada is challenging small businesses to:

  1. Develop a cost-effective and innovative method of stabilizing the coal mine tailings that are currently contained under water behind the Victoria Junction Tailings Dam in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The goal is to decommission the dam while keeping tailings stable to protect the local environment.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is challenging small businesses to:

  1. Develop a chemical compound that would attract a wide variety of insects that attack hardwood tree species such as maple, poplar and oak. The compound would help in detecting those insects more accurately and sooner. This will enable better protection of local trees.
  2. Develop an innovative device to detect volatile organic compounds associated with invasive plant pests. Better monitoring and detection of these plant pests will help CFIA better protect Canadian plants.
  3. Develop an effective and easy-to-use device that fishery industry workers and others could use for early detection of marine biotoxins. This would help avoid the distribution and consumption of unsafe shellfish.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is challenging small businesses to:

  1. Develop a digital tool to trace real-time inputs and outputs from the steel supply chain. The adoption of this new digital technology will provide information to enhance the production of higher-quality steel. It will improve the identification of the source of raw material and the tracing of the product through supply chains. This tool will help Canadian steel manufacturers be more efficient and more competitive.    

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

“Our government is using its purchasing power to help small businesses innovate and become more competitive. Through Innovative Solutions Canada, we’re accessing quality products, while businesses are growing and creating good middle-class jobs.”
– 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 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

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 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

Dani Keenan
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development
343-291-1710

Mallory Clyne
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion
343-291-3553

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

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