Frequently asked questions: Strategic Innovation Fund
What type of projects does the Strategic Innovation Fund support?
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) provides repayable and non-repayable support for projects and investments put forward by companies of different sizes and from a range of sectors to encourage and accelerate the development of innovative and/or growth oriented initiatives.
Applicants may submit applications for funding in one of four project Streams:
- R&D and Commercialization;
- Firm expansion and growth;
- Investment Attraction and Reinvestment; and
- Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration.
Are projects accepted at various Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)?
The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a scale of 1 to 9 which reflects different stages of development of a given technology. Each Stream will accept applications within specific TRL ranges. They are:
- Stream 1: TRL 1 to 9
- Stream 2: TRL 8 to 9
- Stream 3: TRL 2 and above
- Stream 4: TRL 1 to 7
What are the objectives of this program?
The objectives are to encourage R&D that will:
- accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services
- facilitate the growth and expansion of firms in Canada
- attract and retain large scale investments to Canada
- advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration between academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector
Why do we need this program?
The Strategic Innovation Fund builds on existing federal innovation programming, namely the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, Technology Demonstration Program, Automotive Innovation Fund and Automotive Supplier Innovation Program.
Budget 2017 announced a new $1.26 billion five-year Strategic Innovation Fund to consolidate and simplify existing business innovation programming.
Unlike its predecessor programs, the Strategic Innovation Fund is open to all sectors of the economy.
How does the Strategic Innovation Fund foster collaboration between research institutes, universities and colleges, and the private sector?
Stream 4 of the Strategic Innovation Fund is based on the cost-sharing funding model of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's (ISED) previous Technology Demonstration Program (TDP) which has shown to be effective in building partnerships in the aerospace, space, defence and security industries. By supporting technology demonstrations, the Technology Demonstration Program encouraged the development of new technologies that might otherwise have been delayed, abandoned, or developed outside Canada due to the lack of capital to prove them.
Similarly, the Strategic Innovation Fund seeks to advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration, regardless of the linkages of the project to a particular sector or region. As a result, it is a more flexible tool that will support a wider range of innovation based on broader economic, innovation and public benefits to Canadians.
Applications under Stream 4 are assessed using a number of criteria to determine their suitability. One of the criteria is whether the project involves a high degree of collaboration that enhances the supply chain and linkages between academia and/or research bodies. For example, projects could focus on the development by a Lead Applicant of a potential new product finding of academic research, in conjunction with SME suppliers and research councils.
Encouraging collaborative R&D relationships helps to advance technology transfer, spin-offs and innovation, in addition to contributing to a skilled workforce and opportunities for on-the-job training.
How will this program benefit Canadians?
Canadians will benefit from the economic spin-offs and technologies developed under this initiative. Investment in R&D promotes technology development within diverse sectors of the Canadian economy. In allocating this funding, the government will look to accelerate areas of economic growth, strengthen and expand the role of Canadian firms in regional and global supply chains, support economic strategies, and attract investment that creates new, well-paying jobs.
In addition, this initiative promotes collaboration between industry and academic institutions (universities, colleges and research institutions) fostering technology transfer and the development of a highly skilled workforce.
How can I obtain more information?
Telephone (toll-free in Canada): 1-800-328-6189
Telephone (Ottawa): 613-954-5031
TTY (for hearing-impaired): 1-866-694-8389
Business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
By mail: Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street, 1st floor, West Tower
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5
Who is eligible to apply for funding?
Applicants under Streams 1, 2 and 3 must be businesses (small, medium or large) incorporated pursuant to the laws of Canada, proposing to carry on business in Canada, and undertaking eligible activities.
Applicants under Stream 4, the Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration Stream, must consist of a group of Applicants, in other words, a consortium that may include Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, for-profit corporations (including SMEs) and/or not-for-profit entities. This Stream will need to have a Lead Applicant which must be incorporated pursuant to the laws of Canada, carry on business in Canada and propose to conduct industrial research and technology demonstration activities. The Lead Applicant will be responsible to submit a project application and manage the project.
Networks can also apply under Stream 4. In this case, the Applicant must be a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Canada. Its role will consist of distributing funds to research partnerships consisting of industry, academic institutions and research institutions for the purpose of co-funding collaborative research and technology development projects. The Network will be responsible for managing the project, submitting claims, receiving the government contribution and reporting on results.
The program funds projects from across the country and funding decisions are based on a set of clear, predetermined assessment criteria.
Are small and medium-sized companies eligible for funding?
All incorporated companies that carry on business in Canada are eligible to apply for funding through the Strategic Innovation Fund.
What level of support is available, under what conditions?
Contributions under the first three Streams will be:
- conditionally or unconditionally repayable;
- non-repayable; or
- a combination of 1 and 2, at a level and amount as specified in the Contribution Agreement.
The amount of the contribution will be based on the minimum amount required to allow an eligible activity to proceed. The sharing ratio (contribution vs costs of activities) will be based on the type of activities proposed for a given project. It will not exceed 50% of the costs for eligible activities and the maximum level will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Contributions under Stream 4 will be non-repayable and the program contribution to any Recipient will not exceed 50% of its total eligible costs, except for Recipients that are academic institutions, where the contribution provided may cover 100% of their eligible costs. If the Recipient is a Network, it may receive 100% of its eligible costs.
Can two or more companies enter into a collaborative arrangement for a project?
If companies would like to enter into a collaborative arrangement for the purposes of a project, there are several ways they can apply for funding through the program:
- As co-signatories on the same contribution agreement;
- By identifying one lead company among the group who will be the principal Applicant and the sole signatory on the contribution agreement;
- By applying under Stream 4 Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration.
How does a company apply for funding?
Under Streams 1, 2 and 3, contributions will be determined through a continuous intake process. The type and size of contributions will be determined through a two-Step assessment process:
Step1 Statement of Interest: Applicants are required to submit a high-level overview of their project. In this document, Applicants need to describe their project and how it meets the objectives of the Strategic Innovation Fund. Applicants will also be asked to provide current and/or past corporate information to allow an initial assessment of their basic corporate capability to complete the project.
More detailed information on how to complete the Statement of Interest can be found in the Statement of Interest Guide.
After the Step 1 review is complete, Applicants will be provided feedback on whether the Statement of Interest indicates potential for the program funding and if advancing to Step 2 is advisable.
Step 2 Full Application: Applicants develop and submit a detailed project application. The information provided will be used to complete a due diligence and benefits assessment.
More detailed information on how to complete a Full Application will be made available later.
Under Stream 4, contributions for collaborative consortia projects will be determined through a competitive selection process. The department will aim to hold one competition per year, with the first to be launched before March 31, 2018. The frequency of competitions could be adjusted based on demand. Under Step 1, Applicants submit a Statement of Interest Form which will be subjected to a multidisciplinary review to identify which projects should continue to a Full Application. Under Step 2, projects will be put through a comprehensive due diligence process and assessed against program indicators, creating a pool of qualified projects that could be recommended for funding. In both steps, benefits to Canada are central criteria in the evaluation. The Minister will make final decisions on projects to receive funding.
Are applications only accepted at certain times of the year?
Under Streams 1, 2 and 3, applications can be submitted throughout the year. There are no submission deadlines.
Under Streams 4, calls for applications will be made periodically. Interested companies are encouraged to join the mailing list to ensure they are advised of the launch of each new call for applications by emailing their request to the program.
Are investment officers available for consultation during the application writing stage?
They will not provide advice on how to frame specific applications or review and comment on drafts of applications. The department will be involved in the project assessment and approval process and must not be involved in shaping specific applications to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.
Does the program have regional investment officers to work with the Strategic Innovation Fund Applicants?
The program does not have investment officers based in the regions, but investment officers in the National Capital Region are available to work with Applicants by telephone.
How are project applications assessed?
Under Streams 1, 2 and 3, applications are assessed using the following set of predetermined criteria:
Step 1 Criteria
Applicants will be required to demonstrate that proposed projects meet the program objectives, by submitting a high-level project overview, the requirements of which are provided in a Statement of Interest Guide. A basic capability to undertake the outlined project is to be demonstrated.
More detailed information on how to complete the Statement of Interest Form can be found in the Statement of Interest Guide.
After Step 1 is complete, Applicants will be provided feedback on whether the Statement of Interest indicates potential for program funding and if advancing to Step 2 is advisable.
Step 2 Criteria
Applicants will be required to develop and submit a detailed project application, the requirements of which will be provided in an application guide. The information provided will be used to complete a due diligence and benefits assessment.
The first three Streams will accept applications on a continuous basis which will be assessed to identify those that demonstrate substantial benefits, such as:
- The proposed project's expected contribution towards the enhancement or development of new industrial or technological innovations. Assessment factors could include: potential spillover benefits, creation of intellectual property, impact on productivity of the new technology, etc.
- The proposed project's forecasted impact on the growth of Canadian firms, clusters and supply chains, as well as its expected benefits for Canada's workforce. Assessment factors could include: number of jobs created, number of high-paying jobs, project-related revenue growth, etc.
- The project's expected contribution to the broader public, including inclusive business and hiring practices (e.g., gender balance), investment in skills and training and environmental best practices. Assessment would consider the degree to which the Applicant demonstrates that the project is expected to generate social, environmental, health, security or other benefits to Canada. Assessment factors could include: project-related environmental benefits, investment in local communities and project-related impact on Indigenous communities
Proposed projects will also be evaluated against the capacity and experience of the Eligible Applicant to implement the proposed project, to achieve the stated objective and to fulfill repayment obligations (if applicable). Factors taken into consideration may include management and workforce capability, corporate technical capability, financial stability and capacity, and market risk.
Under Stream 4, applications will be assessed on a competitive basis to identify the projects which will provide strong innovation, economic and public benefits, and which also best demonstrate a commitment to further develop the technology for potential commercialization or research purposes.
How long does the entire application process take?
The duration of the application process will vary depending on the nature of the project as well as on the amount of funding being requested.
Are contributions under the Strategic Innovation Fund repayable or non-repayable?
The program contains broad flexibilities to reflect the different needs and realities of a variety of companies and other stakeholders. This includes the possibility of non-repayable contributions under appropriate circumstances where the benefits to Canada would be significant, and in keeping with our international obligations. This can be further discussed with your assigned officer once an application has been submitted.
Contributions made under Stream 4 will always be non-repayable.
What are the repayment options?
Only contributions under the first three Streams may be repayable and may either be conditionally and/or unconditionally repayable or a combination of both as follows:
- Unconditional: Repayment will be paid on a fixed schedule of payments over a specified period of time;
- Conditional: Repayments will be performance-based and reflect a risk-sharing approach under which the amount repaid will depend on corporate gross business revenues; or
- Combination of 1 and 2: Repayments may be in excess or below the nominal contribution amount and be for a fixed period of time based on the considerations as outlined in 1 and 2.
This can be further discussed with your assigned officer once an application has been submitted.
How does funding get disbursed to successful Applicants?
Recipients must submit project claims for incurred eligible costs as work is completed. Progress reports, which detail both the project work completed and work in progress, must also be submitted with the claim.
Project claims undergo a rigorous verification process to validate the eligibility and accuracy of claimed costs and cost breakdowns.
All projects are subject to being audited to ensure they are in compliance with the provisions outlined by the contribution agreement.
Can a company receive funding for its project from other municipal, territorial, provincial and federal government sources as well as through the Strategic Innovation Fund?
Receiving funding from different levels of government is known as stacking, and is subject to the Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Transfer Payments.
Under Streams 1, 2 and 3, the combined level of assistance from all government (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal) financial assistance sources shall not normally exceed 75% of Eligible Costs.
Under Stream 4, the combined level of assistance from all government (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal) financial assistance sources to any one Eligible Recipient shall not normally exceed 75% of Eligible Costs, except for Eligible Recipients that are academic institutions for whom the maximum assistance would be 100%.
The combined level of assistance provided to Networks from all government sources will not exceed 100% of the total Eligible Costs of the Network.
How do the Strategic Innovation Fund repayable contributions affect a company's tax credits through the government's Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program?
The SR&ED is a federal tax incentive program, to which Canadian companies can apply for investment tax credits for certain research and development expenditures. For information about which project specific Strategic Innovation Fund costs may be eligible for the SR&ED tax credits, visit the Canada Revenue Agency's SR&ED website or contact your local SR&ED office.
What other funding is available to me?
If your initiative does not meet the requirements of the Strategic Innovation Fund, you might wish to consider the following sources of funds:
- Programming offered by Regional Development Agencies:
- Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
- Northern Ontario Development (FedNor)
- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
- Find Financing for your business—Canada Business Network
- National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
- Concierge (delivered by NRC-IRAP)
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