Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) in the Prairie provinces


The regional development agencies (RDAs) are delivering the RIE program across Canada, in their respective regions. Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is delivering RIE in the Prairie provinces.

Through RIE, we are making targeted investments in not-for-profit organizations that support businesses in priority sectors to innovate, grow and compete globally. We are also fostering inclusive growth by supporting under-represented groups, mainly women, Indigenous peoples and young entrepreneurs, to more fully participate in the innovation economy.

By providing funds to advance the development of regional innovation ecosystems, PrairiesCan is delivering on the Budget 2018 commitment to grow the Prairie economy. This will ensure Canada’s prosperity for decades to come.

The RIE program stream builds on the federal government's Innovation and Skills Plan. This plan helps make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation that creates well-paying jobs and grows the middle class.

Objectives of RIE

Who can apply for RIE

RIE is open to not-for-profit organizations that support businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs, for start-up, growth, productivity, technology commercialization, technology adoption, export and investment attraction, including:

Applicants must meet the following mandatory criteria:

All eligible applicants must be legal entities capable of entering into legally binding agreements.

Projects funded through RIE

Activities that support a regional innovation ecosystem to respond to a specific challenge, opportunity, or market need or demand related to business scale-up and productivity, with emphasis on:

RIE applications must support one of the following 2 priority areas:

  1. Cluster* growth, within one of the following priority sectors:
    • clean technology
    • Clean resources
    • life Sciences
    • value-added agriculture
    • advanced manufacturing
    • digital technology
  2. Inclusiveness, with respect to one of the following under-represented groups:
    • Indigenous Peoples
    • women
    • youth

* Clusters are defined as a dense area of business activity containing a critical mass of large and small companies, post-secondary and research institutions, and other innovation actors. Their close geographic proximity can result in supply-chain benefits, encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration, drive competition and business specialization, and help to attract "anchor" companies from around the world.

More information

Eligibility criteria

Are there specific priority areas that are being targeted by RIE?

Your project must support one of the following two priority areas:

  1. Cluster* growth, within one of the following priority sectors:
    • clean technology
    • clean resources
    • life sciences
    • value-added agriculture
    • advanced manufacturing
    • digital technology
  2. Inclusiveness, with respect to one of the following under-represented groups:
    • Indigenous Peoples
    • women
    • youth

What is the likelihood that I will receive funding?
Only applications demonstrating the highest merit and fit with RIE objectives will be considered for funding. Many good projects will not receive support under RIE.

What do you require as proof or evidence of confirmed non-PrairiesCan funding? Is a letter of intent sufficient?
Written proof, confirmed or conditional upon PrairiesCan's funding, will be considered acceptable. Examples of written proof include current bank statements detailing existing cash balances or the unused portion of lines of credit. If third parties are included in project funding, letters of intent or funding agreements from third parties, may be acceptable.

Application process

How can I submit an application?
If you have a project idea and would like to submit an application, we would strongly encourage you to contact one of our local offices.

When will I find out if my project has been approved?
PrairiesCan's service standard is to provide a funding decision to a client within 90 business days (90% of the time) of receiving a complete funding proposal.

What are the attributes of a strong application?
To be considered eligible for funding, applicants must clearly demonstrate:

  • alignment to one or more of PrairiesCan's priorities
  • strong market/industry demand (e.g., the project addresses a significant gap in the market or there is a demonstrated industry demand for the project)
  • measurable economic benefits for the Prairie provinces
  • effective governance measures and management team in place to carry out the project
  • strong rationale for the project
  • financial statements that demonstrate the organization is financially self-sustaining
  • leveraged funding from provincial governments, the private sector, and other non-government sources (typically 50% or more)
  • non-PrairiesCan funding is confirmed with written proof.
Reporting and project funding

How are disbursements made?
If you are successful in obtaining RIE funding for your project, PrairiesCan will normally provide the non-repayable funding in periodic reimbursements, based on the submission of claims for reimbursement. These reimbursements will be released to recipients for the approved portion (i.e. up to 100%) of eligible projects costs that have been incurred and paid. Recipients will need to plan project cash flows accordingly based on the timing of the claims and the period to process the reimbursement. PrairiesCan will provide an orientation to this process to all those who are approved for RIE funding.

Potential funding recipients are expected to have secured all non-PrairiesCan requested project financing (typically, at least 50%) before applying.

What kind of reporting is required during the project?
All successful applicants will sign a standard Contribution Agreement with PrairiesCan. The Agreement outlines the obligations of the funding recipient, including the submission of claims information and periodic progress reports (minimum 2 per year).

When must projects be completed?
Projects may vary in duration, typically ranging from a few months to 3 years.

When is a RIE contribution repayable?
Typically, contribution towards a commercial project with a not-for-profit organization or towards any project with a for-profit organization is repayable. However, this may vary depending upon how the project risk will be shared between the government and the project proponent.

For additional RIE information, contact us directly at one of our local offices or by calling 1-888-338-9378.

RIE is part of the national Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program. 

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