Business Funds: 5 Guidelines of Ontario’s Small Business Innovation Challenge

In Ontario, the provincial government has introduced the Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) to support the growth of high potential, small-to-medium sized enterprises (SME’s) who are focused on technology driven innovations. Small-to-medium sized enterprises are those with less than 500 employees

This Challenge is designed to encourage and engage start ups and other small businesses to solve public sector challenges by providing the small-to-medium sized enterprises with opportunities to develop, test and demonstrate their products. It is geared towards increasing commercialization opportunities through direct funding support (small business grants) and allows for demonstration opportunities to prove the value of the innovations.

These small business grants are implemented through a two-phase process.

1. Phase 1 – Feasibility and merit.

Phase 1 is set to establish the technical merit or feasibility of the proposed solution. Small business grants issued in phase 1 are used to develop a feasibility study to validate the technology’s ability to provide a solution.

2. Phase 1 – Funding.

Funding in phase one covers up to 100% of the eligible cash costs, with a maximum of $100,000 available per project.

  • Funding during this phase supports projects with an expected duration of up to six months.
  • It supports innovative technology at the idea or concept phase.
  • Funds are used to develop the business case for how the innovation addresses aspects of the problem statement.
  • Funds are used to complete a market opportunity assessment and develop a plan for taking the technology to the next phase.
  • 25% of funds are released on activation of the project, with future disbursements based on actual expenditures for a particular reporting period.

3. Phase 2 – Product development and demonstration.

Phase two is for innovations that have gone beyond the feasibility study and merit phase and are ready for prototype development. Phase two allows for the grant recipient to conduct testing and carry out demonstrations in an experimental setting.

4. Phase 2 – Funding.

Phase two funding provides up to 75% of the project cash costs up the $1 million. The applicant must provide the additional 25% from their own resources.

  • This funding supports projects up to 2 years in duration.
  • Funding supports prototype development and can be used for testing and demonstration in an experimental setting.
  • 25% of funds are released on project activation, with future disbursements based on reimbursement of expenditures incurred for the particular reporting period.

5. Eligibility for Phase 1 and Phase 2.

In order to be eligible for a small business grant under this program, the company must be considered a small-to-medium sized, for profit enterprise. This includes:

  • Being a privately held company.
  • Being a company who pays at least 50% of the annual wages or salaries to people who are employed in Ontario.
  • 50% or more of the full-time employees must be based in Ontario; and
  • 50% or more of the senior executives must have a principal residence in the province of Ontario.

Small business grants allow for the advancement of technology innovations and solutions that may not otherwise come to fruition. If your organization can benefit from this program, check out the requirements and submit your application.

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