Government of Canada invites small businesses to develop new solutions for medical drug delivery and carbon manufacturing

News release

National Research Council Canada invites small businesses to solve two new challenges

September 3, 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 propose a new innovative solution that addresses a specific challenge they face. Successful small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and could, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. The government can then act as a first customer, which helps 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 two new challenges led by National Research Council Canada (NRC).

First, the NRC is challenging small businesses to develop a stable drug carrier, known as a liposome, which will safely transmit a number of different drugs through a patient's system. Liposomes act as drug delivery vehicles and can be used for indications such as cancer, pain management and vaccines. A successful product would meet all quality and regulation standards and improve the manufacturability of drug delivery formulations.

Second, the NRC is seeking a ceramic powder processing solution that will lead to stronger, lighter composite materials than those currently available with existing manufacturing methods. These ceramic powders will be used in products such as military and law enforcement body armour and will result in a lighter product while retaining a high level of protection. The solution to be proposed would eliminate time-consuming and expensive processing steps, while leading to a higher quality ceramic composite plate.

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, the government is able to access quality, innovative products that help solve some of our most pressing challenges, while businesses are able to grow and create good middle-class jobs."
— The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

"This is a small business–friendly government that is working hard to reduce red tape and make it easier for Canadian small business owners to start up, scale up and access new markets. Innovative Solutions Canada is a fantastic program that uses government procurement to help small businesses develop and then commercialize their innovations. These are worthy new challenges, and I can't wait to see the ideas from Canadian small businesses. When small businesses in communities across the country succeed, our economy grows and middle-class jobs are created."
— The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Quick facts

  • There are currently no publicly certified material standards for liposomes. This means that there is no way for the scientific community to quickly confirm and identify characteristics of a liposome, slowing down the regulatory approval process.

  • Carbon nanotubes and ceramic formations are often employed by National Defence to create physical protection tools such as lightweight armours. National Research Council Canada is working alongside Defence Research and Development Canada to optimize and strengthen these mechanisms.

  • Program funding comes mainly from the 20 departments and agencies participating in Innovative Solutions Canada.

  • Each of the 20 participating departments and agencies will set aside funding for this initiative that amounts to one percent of its 2015–16 combined procurement and intramural research and development expenditures. Together, the funding from the departments and agencies represents an annual investment of over $100 million 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

Corinne Havard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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

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