The federal and provincial governments have dedicated many program and funding measures to advance further innovation in sectors such as the water industry. Whether it be research grants and scholarships, federal and provincial programs, tax incentives, internships, commercialization initiatives, or international partnership programs, Ontario water businesses are able to tap into various resources based on their area of focus.
There is a substantial pool of grants available to Ontario’s water sector to foster innovation and to encourage Canadian companies to participate and invest in research projects. Some of the major ones include those from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
Development and demonstration have traditionally been the weak links in the innovation chain. To help ensure Ontario’s water entrepreneurs can successfully navigate the many challenges from idea to market entry, several national and provincial bodies have established program and funding support.
Some key examples of government support for entrepreneurs and company growth include:
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) supports clean technology projects without taking an equity stake, requiring ownership of intellectual property, or the repayment of funds; The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) administers competitive financial packages for clean technologies including operating line of credit, flexible repayment schedules of up to 20 years, and targeted venture capital investment.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund (GMF) is an endowment targeting projects that demonstrate leadership and innovation in addressing municipal environmental issues. This includes drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater projects. GMF covers a portion of eligible costs for projects related to plans, feasibility studies, and field costs.
Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative is a five-year, $400-million plan to help Ontario businesses grow and create jobs by promoting an innovation-based economy, helping small companies scale up, and modernizing regulations for business. As part of this initiative, Ontario has announced that it will introduce two new programs in 2017. The Scale-Up Voucher Program will provide support for high-growth companies to undertake critical expansion activities. The Small Business Innovation Challenge will provide small- and medium-sized business with opportunities to develop and implement technology solutions to public sector challenges.
The Export Development Canada (EDC) is a crown corporation and Canada’s export credit agency with a federal mandate to support and develop Canada’s export trade by helping national companies respond to international business opportunities. EDC provides insurance and financial services, bonding products and small business solutions to Canadian exporters and investors and their international buyers. EDC also supports Canadian direct investment abroad and investment into Canada. Much of EDC activities are undertaken in partnership with other financial institutions and through collaboration with the Canadian government.
The Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor Ontario) is an Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada program with a mission to address economic development, diversification, and job creation in Northern Ontario. FedNor supports Northern Ontario’s economy by encouraging communities and businesses to become more innovative, productive and competitive through the adoption, adaptation, and commercialization of new technologies. The federal program also fosters technology linkages between business and institutions, advances technological research and development, and promotes community innovation initiatives.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is similar to FedNor, but is focused on supporting economic development in the Southern Ontario region. The program administers a number of business development grants such as Investing in Business Innovation and Investing in Business Growth and Productivity. FedDev Ontario is also funds the Southern Ontario Water Consortium’s Advancing Water Technologies Program, which helps small- and medium-sized enterprises leverage world-class research facilities and academic expertise to develop and demonstrate water technologies for successful market introduction.
The Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) is a provincial fund that invests in early stage, privately held companies with no significant revenue or institutional investment. These companies must demonstrate their potential to achieve high growth and be enabled by truly innovative technologies that can provide the new venture with sustainable competitive advantage. The IAF assists emerging Ontario technology companies through leveraging IAF’s comprehensive network of resources, people, connections and funding that entrepreneurs and innovators can access. The IAF program is managed by MaRS and delivered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.
These are but some of the dedicated program and funding opportunities available to Ontario water businesses.