Frequently asked questions: Strategic Innovation Fund

General questions

What is the Strategic Innovation Fund?

The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) provides financial support to projects that will improve Canada's innovation performance while providing economic, innovation and public benefits to Canadians.

The SIF supports four types of projects:

  • Stream 1: R&D projects that will accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services.
  • Stream 2: Projects that facilitate the growth and expansion of firms in Canada.
  • Stream 3: Projects that attract and retain large scale investments to Canada.
  • Stream 4: Projects that advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration between academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector.

What is the application deadline?

There is no application deadline for Streams 1, 2 and 3. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Stream 4 operates on a competitive basis where applications are accepted following a call-for-proposals.

Eligibility requirements

Who can apply to the Strategic Innovation Fund?

Any company incorporated in Canada can apply to Streams 1 to 3. For Stream 4, applicants must be a consortium led by a company incorporated in Canada. Networks can also apply under Stream 4.

Can a small business or start-up apply to the SIF?

Yes but before applying to the SIF, applicants should consider if their project would be suited to other federal or provincial business support programs based on its size, sector or activities.

In late February 2018, changes to the Strategic Innovation Fund were announced as part of the federal Budget. The SIF will now focus its support on projects over $10 million. If you submitted an application for a smaller project prior to Budget 2018, your application remains valid and will be assessed.

We recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform to find out what other help governments have for businesses.

If I have a proposal that is under $10 million, can I apply to SIF?

As announced in the most recent federal Budget, SIF will now only focus its support on projects over $10 million. If you submitted an application for a smaller project prior to Budget 2018, your application remains valid and will be assessed.

We recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform to find out what else the federal government has to offer to innovative businesses.

Which industries or sectors can apply for this program?

SIF is open to all industries across Canada.

Type of support

How much funding can I expect to receive from SIF?

SIF funding is project-based where a portion of eligible project costs are reimbursed. Potential applicants are encouraged to base the level of funding sought on the needs of their project and not automatically seek 50% funding in all cases.

Our previous experience shows that the government's share of funding for a given project can vary from 10% of project costs to 50%, in exceptional cases.

All Stream 4 contributions are non-repayable.

I need working capital, is SIF for me?

SIF is not a short-term financing vehicle. Instead, funding is provided to support a given project with a repayment period of potentially up to 15 years.

What types of projects does SIF support?

SIF was designed to spur innovation in all sectors of the Canadian economy. It provides funding for projects that fall into one of these four streams.

  • Stream 1: R&D projects that will accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services.
  • Stream 2: Projects that facilitate the growth and expansion of firms in Canada.
  • Stream 3: Projects that attract and retain large-scale investments to Canada.
  • Stream 4: Projects that advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration between academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector.

What else do I need to know about eligible projects?

Depending on the stream, projects must fall within a range of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs).

  • Stream 1: TRL 1-9
  • Stream 2: TRL 8-9
  • Stream 3: TRL 2 or higher
  • Stream 4: TRL 1-7

What project costs are covered under the SIF?

Non-recurring costs that are specifically related to the project, these include but are not limited to:

  • direct labour
  • overhead (limits apply)
  • subcontracts and consultants
  • direct materials and equipment
  • other direct costs
  • land and buildings

What project costs are not covered under the SIF?

Costs which are not related to the project. In addition, the following costs are not covered under any circumstances:

  • Entertainment and marketing expenses
  • Losses on contracts or other bad debts
  • Depreciation of assets
  • Income and goods and services taxes
  • Fines and penalties

Application Process

How do I apply to the SIF?

Before completing any application, ask yourself the following:

  • Is my project innovation-based?
  • Does my project fall within one or more program's streams?
  • Would my project be better suited to other federal or provincial programs, based on its size, sector or activities?
  • Can I demonstrate, through my track record, my technical and management teams that I can successfully bring the project to fruition?
  • Can I clearly describe the anticipated innovation, economic or public benefits of my project?

If you are confident that your project is a good fit for the SIF, you need to complete a statement of interest (SOI) which you can download here.

What information do I need to provide in a Statement of Interest (SOI)?

You will be asked to provide the following:

  • information about you and your firm
  • a description of your project
  • a description of the anticipated benefits of your project.

You will also be asked to provide financial information on your firm and on your project. This includes three year's worth of financial statements but we will consider applications from companies that have been in existence for fewer than three years.

Please refer to the SIF SOI Form Guide for further details.

How long will it take to process my SIF application?

Due to a very strong early interest in the program, we are currently experiencing a longer than expected response time and are taking steps to ensure that the process is more streamlined.

We highly encourage all applicants to read the Program Guide and these FAQs before for submitting an application to ensure the program is a good fit for you.

Will I be notified if my application is retained?

First, you will receive a confirmation of receipt immediately after submitting your SOI. Following that, program staff will be in contact to update you of the status of your application.

If I am invited to full application, what information will I be asked to provide?

You will be asked to provide detailed information on the following:

  • your corporate structure
  • your project schedule, activities, costs and location of work
  • your company's capability to undertake the project , this includes information on your company's finances as well as its technological and managerial capabilities.

A guide has been prepared to help applicants through the full application process.

Assessment Process

How is my financial information used in the assessment process?

Your firm's financial information in the SOI is used to formulate a preliminary assessment of your firm's state of readiness to undertake the project as planned.

How is my project being assessed?

First, innovation must be a key part of your project. Also, your ability to accomplish the project will be assessed along with your project's potential benefits to Canada. These are categorized as being related to innovation, the economy or public benefits.

What are examples of innovation benefits?

Innovation benefits include: IP creation, development of new and/or improved products, services and/or processes, and collaboration between recipients and NGOs, post-secondary academic institutions and other private sector firms.

What are examples of economic benefits?

Economic benefits include: an increase in business revenue, increased exports, increased involvement in a Canadian supply chain, attraction of R&D or production mandates to Canada, expansion of industrial or technological facilities, and commercialization of products, services or processes.

What are examples of public benefits?

Public benefits include: environmental benefits (such as an increase in energy efficiency, reduction of green house gasses (GHGs) emissions, conservation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, increase in production efficiencies and reduction material usage), and broader public benefits (such as improvements to employment equity and diversity, positive impacts on the local community, improvements in safety, increase in national security and improvements to human health).

Other important issues

Do I need to have secured the background intellectual property (IP) to apply to SIF?

Yes, you need to have secured the rights to the IP required to undertake your projects before applying to SIF.

Do I need my project's funding to be secured before applying to SIF?

You must demonstrate that you have secured your portion of the funding required for the project. However, other government funding (federal or otherwise) does not need to be secured at the time of submission of the Statement of Interest.

What share of the project costs will the SIF cover?

When applying to the SIF, ensure that you make a strong case for why you government funding is needed to complete the project, as a complement to funding available from the private sector. Clearly demonstrate the incremental benefits to Canada that related to the government funding you are requesting.

Also, keep in mind that the amount of funding considered for your project will be assessed in the context of the project's needs (i.e. don't automatically ask for 50%).

How do I get a non-repayable contribution?

For projects submitted under Streams 1 to 3, contributions are repayable with the possibility of non-repayable only in exceptional cases.

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