Government of Canada helping small businesses innovate

News release

Canadian small businesses invited to develop innovative solution to new challenge

June 27, 2019 – 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 program, government departments are inviting small businesses to come up with a new innovative product, service or solution that answers a specific challenge 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.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced the launch of a plastics challenge led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

As part of NRCan’s continued climate change commitments and following the launch of its bioplastics challenge in 2018, NRCan is now seeking the development of novel insulation products made of biofoam—a type of plastic in foamed format. These products would be derived from Canadian forest residue, would have insulation properties similar to current products, and would be less flammable and fully recyclable.

A successful solution to this challenge will help make Canadian homes more fire-resistant and safer. It will also lead to better-insulated homes, using a more environmentally friendly product.  

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.


“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. This is a worthy new challenge, 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

“This new challenge will help small businesses reduce plastic waste and pollution by finding environmentally friendly solutions. This is another example of how we are meeting our climate change commitments while developing new economic opportunities.”
– The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources 

Quick facts

  • Current foam insulation is made from petrochemicals that are non-renewable, generate significant GHG emissions during manufacturing, and are not easily recyclable at end of the product’s life cycle.

  • Program funding comes 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 an annual $100-million investment over the course of five years.

  • In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced the consolidation of innovation programs. As part of this exercise, the Build in Canada Innovation Program, managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada, was integrated into Innovative Solutions Canada. Innovators can sign up to receive updates on the Innovative Solutions Canada program.

  • 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. Using 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


Dani Keenan
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Mallory Clyne
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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