Frequently asked questions

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Frequently Asked Questions will be updated regularly to reflect the latest inquiries from potential applicants. Please consult the list below to review questions added since the launch of this site.

About the Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI)

What is the Innovation Superclusters Initiative?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is a new funding initiative designed to help strengthen Canada's most promising clusters and accelerate economic growth in highly innovative industries (e.g., advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/bioscience and clean resources, infrastructure and transportation), while positioning Canadian firms for global leadership.

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will invest up to $950 million by 2022 to accelerate the growth and development of business-led innovation superclusters in Canada.

What is the difference between a cluster and a supercluster?

A cluster is 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. As a result, clusters have great potential to spur innovation, facilitate commercialization, enhance firm productivity, stimulate the formation of new companies and the growth of others, and sustain industrial competitiveness. Clusters energize the economy and result in economic growth in that region's economy, giving rise to new jobs.

A supercluster is an innovation hotbed that is home to a strong industrial cluster, or clusters, linked through their shared reliance on specialized inputs, including technologies, talent and infrastructure. Compared to clusters, superclusters have:

  • stronger and more numerous linkages across sectors, and between firms, public and academic research assets;
  • a strong brand and competitive advantage that translates into global recognition and impact, and the ability to attract talent and investment across highly innovative industries; and
  • exceptional performance, including an outsize impact on job creation and GDP.
Who is eligible to apply for funding from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative? Updated: 2017-10-12

Eligible Applicants are those invited by the Minister to participate in the second phase of the application process and included on the shortlist. The shortlist was selected by the Minister from over fifty applications received during the open call for Letters of Intent as part of the first phase of the application process.

Eligible Applicants must represent industry-led consortia that include firms of all sizes (e.g., start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large firms) as well as other innovation ecosystem players (e.g., academic and post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, etc.). Together, industry partners in the consortium must commit to providing funds and in-kind contributions that match, dollar for dollar, the requested contribution from the ISI. These funds and in-kind contributions must be used for eligible activities.

To be eligible to receive ISI funding, the industry-led consortium must be represented by an Entity incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act at the time of signing of the Contribution Agreement.

For more details on eligibility, please see the Program Guide.

My industry-led consortium is not yet incorporated as a not for profit organization. Can we still apply?

Yes. However, you must be incorporated prior to the execution of the Contribution Agreement.

Can non-Canadian companies apply for the initiative?

Yes, provided that the companies are incorporated in Canada and active in Canada. Many companies with a presence in Canada are headquartered elsewhere in the world. The Government expects that successful superclusters will attract investment from the world's best firms, regardless of location. However, it is expected that the activities carried out under the program will generally be undertaken in Canada, and that the resulting benefits will accrue to Canada.

How many superclusters will be funded?

The Government of Canada expects to make a small number of high-value, strategic investments where Canada already demonstrates cluster advantage. These investments will provide the kind of support that will allow Applicants to think big, make bold proposals, and gather partners willing to invest in the superclusters of tomorrow.

Investments are normally expected to be in the order of $125-250 million, with ISI funds equally matched by industry contributions. However, specific amounts and number of contributions will depend on the nature and scale of the applications received.

Have you already chosen the locations for the superclusters? Will there be a supercluster Entity in every region of Canada? Updated: 2017-10-12

Promising clusters can be found across Canada, and no locations were pre-selected for ISI funding. Investments will be determined by the applications submitted by industry-led consortia during the two-phase application process (see Program Guide for details).

The shortlist of applicants invited to the second phase of the application process, including details on their cluster locations across Canada.

Will this be a permanent initiative?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will invest up to $950 million over five years: 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

Who will oversee the initiative?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will be administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Day-to-day administration of Contribution Agreements will be performed by dedicated staff within each Entity; in addition, an industry-led Board of Directors must provide overall governance for each Entity.

Is this initiative exclusively for large organizations?

No. The Innovation Superclusters Initiative recognizes the important role that small and medium sized enterprises play in the Canadian economy, and it is expected that the funded entities will serve the full firm ecosystem in their superclusters. A minimum number of small and medium-sized enterprises (1-499 employees) will also be required as part of an Applicant consortium.

Does the Innovation Superclusters Initiative support activities that benefit only a single firm or organization? New: 2017-07-14

The ISI is intended to advance applicants' Supercluster Strategies, which will help participating firms to build a shared competitive advantage; boost productivity, performance and competiveness; achieve scale, connect to global supply chains, transition to high-value activities; and strengthen connections with private, academic and public sector organizations.

It is expected that firms will benefit from the Strategies in a variety of ways, whether by participating in specific projects (such as collaborative R&D activities), accessing IP generated through the Strategies, or taking part in activities designed to help firms scale up and access new market opportunities. However, activities for which the benefits would only accrue to a single firm or organization are not eligible costs under the ISI.

Does this initiative only benefit large urban centres?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is expected to build on pockets of deep regional capacity and expertise, where there is already density and capacity to become engines of growth. Successful ISI applications will draw on and accelerate the efforts of a robust firm ecosystem, including a critical mass of small, medium and large firms, and have the ability to demonstrate strong impacts on the economy.

It is also expected that the benefits of ISI-funded activities will extend beyond the borders of a supercluster, drawing on partners across Canada to achieve a national network effect. Therefore, regardless of their location in Canada, organizations outside the supercluster region will be eligible to participate in projects and/or have access to services.

Can members join a supercluster after it has been formed? New: 2017-07-14

Yes. As superclusters grow, it is expected that new firms will want to participate in their activities. Entities are therefore required to establish a membership structure in order to support service delivery, project governance, and effective operations as their clusters grow and evolve.

The membership structure must clarify the terms under which Members join (including payment for membership, if any), are retained, benefit from the projects organized by the Entity (including access to intellectual property generated through the Entity's activities) and services provided, are released from membership, and any other terms the Entity deems essential to operations. It is understood that the membership may evolve over time.


What is the federal commitment for the Innovation Superclusters Initiative?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will provide up to $950 million over five years.

How much funding am I eligible to receive?

Contributions to superclusters are normally expected to be in the order of $125-250 million, with funds matched by industry; however, specific amounts and number of contributions will depend on the nature and scale of the applications received.

Will the Government of Canada be the sole source of funds for the superclusters?

No. The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is intended to be a partnership between government and industry. Supercluster Applicants are required to demonstrate an industry commitment that matches the requested ISI funds (see Program Guide for details). Applicants are strongly encouraged to secure cash and in-kind contributions over and above the minimum mandatory cost-matching. This includes contributions from industry partners, or from other sources such as provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as educational institutions, Canadian not-for-profits, etc. However, these contributions are not mandatory for eligibility purposes and will not be matched by an ISI contribution.

Will there be a maximum contribution to a Recipient Entity?

ISI contributions will depend on the number of supercluster applications approved for funding, as well as the scope of activities that they propose.

Will in-kind contributions be counted towards the Applicants' "matching" requirement?

Yes. Both cash and in-kind contributions will be accepted for the industry match, most heavily weighted to cash (minimum of 75%) to ensure that the Entities have sufficient funds to operate. A maximum of 25% of the matching requirement can come from in-kind contributions. See Program Guide for details.

How does ISED value in-kind contributions? New: 2017-07-14

Funding requested from the ISI must be matched 1:1 overall by industry contributions. Up to 25% of the industry match can be in-kind contributions. The remainder must be cash. Generally, the Program will value in-kind contributions at Fair market value. This is the agreed-upon price in an open and unrestricted market between knowledgeable and willing parties dealing at arm's length that are fully informed and not compelled to transact. It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that the fair market value reported for items involving in-kind contributions is reasonable.

Can existing or planned business or R&D expenditures be used as an industry match? New: 2017-07-06

The purpose of the industry matching funds is to advance the applicants' proposed Supercluster Strategy. "Business as usual" activities that would have proceeded in the same manner without program support, that are not aligned with the Supercluster Strategy, or that do not support collaboration among cluster members are ineligible for funding and do not count towards the industry matching requirement as they do not meet the objectives of the program.

Does funding from Crown corporations or government-owned organizations count towards the industry match? New: 2017-07-14

Contributions from federal organizations such as Crown corporations do not count towards the industry match; however, alignment of federal organizations with the activities of a proposed supercluster is welcome.

Non-federal Crown corporations or other government-owned organizations may be significant players within a cluster; their funding, if derived from commercial activities, may count towards the industry match.

Can provincially funded institutes be part of consortia? Would their contributions count towards industry matching funds? New: 2017-06-15

To meet the ISI's industry matching requirements, contributions must come from private sector organizations and be used to support Eligible Costs (see section 2.3 Eligible Costs of the Program Guide for details). Entities are also expected to leverage contributions (cash and in-kind) from multiple private sector companies. Provincially funded institutes can participate in consortia and contribute towards its activities, but such contributions will not count towards the industry matching funds.

Can venture capital count towards the industry match? New: 2017-06-15

Yes. Venture capital from private sector sources can be counted towards the industry match requirement. However, funds obtained from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative cannot be used as venture capital.

Do salaries count as cash contributions towards the industry match? Amended: 2017-07-11

Yes. Salaries of personnel from private sector organizations count as cash contributions towards the industry matching requirement. Salary costs must be for incremental activities aligned with the Entity's Supercluster Strategy (see section 2.2.1 What activities are eligible? in the Program Guide). Only the portion of the salary that covers time spent on an incremental project may be applied towards the industry match. Applicants are also reminded that the full industry match must be confirmed at the time of the Full Application.

In general, recall that the intent of the industry match is to fund a Supercluster Strategy with a high level of ambition for the cluster. The strongest applications will reflect a well-funded Entity with a mandate to implement a robust, incremental Supercluster Strategy.

*Note that this response has been amended due to further questions from applicants.

Must industry matching funds be channelled through the Entity? Amended: 2017-07-12

Federal funds allocated by the program will be provided directly to the Entity; industry matching funds are not required to be channelled through the Entity. However, the strongest applications will reflect a well-funded Entity with a mandate to manage contributions from both federal and industry sources in order to implement the proposed Supercluster Strategy, which should reflect a high level of ambition and incremental activity for the cluster.

Recall that applicants are responsible for describing how industry matching funds will be managed and used to deliver on the proposed Supercluster Strategy. They will set out an appropriate governance model for their approach as part of a Full Application, which will be considered as part of the final selection process. Under a contribution agreement, funded Entities will monitor all supported projects and initiatives—those funded by industry and federal funds alike—and report to ISED on the activities and associated outcomes.

*Note that this response has been amended due to further questions from applicants.

When will my consortium have to have its industry contributions secured?

Applicants must secure industry contributions (cash and in-kind) to match the ISI funds requested by the time their Full Application is submitted in the second phase of the application process. Visit the Program Guide for more information on the industry matching requirements.

What kinds of costs will be funded by the Innovation Superclusters Initiative?

ISI funding can be used to support eligible 1) Administration and Operating Costs and 2) Project Costs.

Administration and Operating Costs include costs that support the day-to-day operation of an Entity to fulfill the terms of the Contribution Agreement and carry out the mandate of the organization. Project Costs relate to the activities undertaken to execute the Entity's Supercluster Strategy, and may include:

  • Portion of gross wage, salaries or contracts incurred which can be specifically identified and measured as having been performed or to be performed on carrying out the Eligible Activities
  • Equipment, facility and supplies, including purchase, rental, operation and maintenance costs, and user fees
  • Room or facility rental for projects
  • Materials
  • Capital expenditures
  • Travel costs in accordance with the National Joint Council Travel Directive

Visit the Program Guide for more information on Eligible Costs and Ineligible Costs.

Will the ISI provide contributions to specific companies? New: 2017-06-15

Program contributions will be provided to recipients, not for profit organizations, under the terms of a Contribution Agreement (see section 2.1.2 Who will receive funding? of the Program Guide for details).

It is expected that Entities will need to redistribute portions of the funding they receive to fulfill activities outlined in the Contribution Agreement. Organizations or individuals that carry out activities for which they receive ISI funding will be known as the "Ultimate Recipients" (e.g., individual members of an Entity such as businesses or academic institutions) and will be selected through processes conducted independently by the Entity.

Is the cost to purchase land or buildings eligible? New: 2017-07-14

The purchase of land or buildings is generally not considered an eligible cost. Exceptions may be negotiated with ISED in order to include these purchases in the Unfunded Eligible Costs category. Please see Program Guide Section 2.3.1 Funded Eligible Costs and Section 2.3.3 Ineligible Costs for more information.

How long will support from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative last? Will it taper off over time? Will superclusters need to become self-sufficient?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is a five-year funding initiative. The ISI will not provide funds beyond the date negotiated in the Entities' Contribution Agreements; however, investments in the cluster regions are expected to build long-term advantage that will lead to continued growth, job creation and success for firms across industries. Applicants should explain how they expect to continue their activities beyond the five-year funding window.

Will an industry contribution to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative be considered eligible under the Industrial and Technological Benefit (ITB) Policy?

Initial private-sector investments towards an Innovation Supercluster, which are cost-shared by the federal government, are not eligible under the ITB Policy. Any subsequent company investment into an established supercluster could be considered, and will be reviewed to determine if it meets ITB eligibility criteria. Companies are encouraged to contact ITB officials directly for more information.

Will an industry contribution to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative be considered for the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit?

SR&ED program advisors are responsible for determining whether industry contributions to the ISI are eligible for consideration. Applicants are encouraged to contact SR&ED for more information and/or to contact a tax professional.

Putting Together an Application

What is a Supercluster Strategy? Who will be involved in developing the Supercluster Strategy?

Applicants to the ISI must propose a Supercluster Strategy, which will be evaluated as part of the application process.

A Supercluster Strategy will outline the Applicants' bold and ambitious proposal to build a supercluster advantage for their local innovation ecosystem. A Supercluster Strategy must leverage strengths, address gaps, and incent players to work together more strategically for the collective benefit of their cluster region. A strong Supercluster Strategy will support long-term growth and advantage for the cluster that translates into major commercial opportunities, boosts productivity, creates jobs and drives economic growth for a better Canada.

What types of activities will Entities be expected to undertake?

Supercluster Strategies can be structured around five themes of activity eligible for co-investment under the ISI:

  • Technology leadership (mandatory). Collaborative projects that directly enhance the productivity, performance and competitiveness of Member firms
  • Partnerships for scale. Activities serving a target group of cluster firms to enable their growth, including by increasing domestic demand for cluster products and services or by facilitating expansion
  • Diverse and skilled talent pools. Activities enhancing regional labour force skills and capabilities or initiatives addressing industry needs for talent
  • Access to innovation. Investing in and providing access to assets, services or resources that benefit a range of cluster firms over a period of time
  • Global advantage. Activities and initiatives that position the cluster and its strengths as world-leading, enable firms to seize market opportunities, and attract international investments and partnerships

Activities will be proposed by the Applicants, and are expected to vary according to the unique assets, resources and capabilities already resident in the candidate cluster region, the existing gaps in the innovation ecosystem, as well as the priorities, composition and challenges of the participating sectors. Strategies are not required to address all themes, but the Strategy must include technology leadership activities to be eligible.

Visit the Program Guide for more details on Eligible Activities.

At which technology readiness level (TRL) or stage of commercialization are the eligible activities? New: 2017-07-06

There are no specific requirements regarding the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) or stage of commercialization for proposed activities.

Will the Government of Canada have a role in setting priorities for the Entities or the superclusters?

No. Industry-led consortia will be responsible for outlining strategic priorities for the supercluster in a Supercluster Strategy as part of the application process.

Recipients (not-for-profit "Supercluster Entities") must have an appointed industry-led Board of Directors to govern its activities under the ISI. The Board will be responsible for the Entity's management and financial accountability, as well as the execution of the Entity's annual corporate plans, reflective of the Contribution Agreement and aligned to the Supercluster Strategy.

How many partners am I required to have to apply in Phase II (Full Application)? Updated: 2017-10-12

Full Applications must include, at a minimum, eleven organizations:

  • Ten private-sector enterprises, including:
  • At least two large firms (500+ employees)
  • At least one medium firm (100-499 employees)
  • At least four small firms (1-99 employees)
  • At least one other small and medium-sized enterprise (1-499 employees)
  • One post-secondary institution (e.g., university or polytechnic)
How does ISI define the employment numbers for Large, Medium and Small Enterprises? New: 2017-07-14

Employment is defined as full time employees in Canada and includes the number of both permanent and temporary employees at the moment of the application.

Employment is calculated using the employment in Canada for the organization as a whole, not just the regional representation.

Can I still apply if I don't have my entire list of project partners finalized?

Applicants must meet the minimum required number of project partners at each stage of the application process.

How can I join one of the announced shortlisted supercluster proposals? New: 2017-10-12

The shortlist of Applicants invited to the second phase of the application process is now available. Interested organizations are encouraged to reach out directly to invited applicants with aligned interests prior to the November 24, 2017 submission deadline for Full Applications in order to strengthen the critical mass of large firms, innovative SMEs and industry-relevant research institutions coming together to build globally competitive superclusters.

I was not successful in Phase I (Letter of Intent) of the application process. Will the Government of Canada help identify other opportunities for my proposal? New: 2017-10-12

Over 50 Letters of Intent were received in Phase I of the application process, representing strong collaboration and highly innovative ideas from firms in every region of the country. Applicants are encouraged to contact those on the shortlist to advance opportunities to work together and build momentum toward a globally competitive supercluster. We are reviewing all applications to identify opportunities to assist applicants in advancing the ideas and high levels of ambition behind their proposals.

Can a post-secondary Institution be the lead applicant of a proposal? New: 2017-06-15

No. Academic and post-secondary institutions (e.g., university, college, polytechnic) and other not-for-profit and innovation partners are important contributors to clusters, and are encouraged both to come forward as part of an Applicant consortium and to participate in the activities of funded consortia. Each Applicant will require the participation of at least one post-secondary institution. However, such institutions are not intended to lead applications, nor will commitments from these partners be counted toward the mandatory matching funds from industry.

What is the role of post-secondary institutions? New: 2017-07-14

Post-secondary institutions are important players in the innovation ecosystem. They are expected to be part of the critical mass of organizations that contribute to the strength of the cluster through their knowledge and capabilities and that collaborate on projects to execute the Supercluster Strategy.

To be eligible, applications have to include the participation of at least one post-secondary institution, such as a university, college or polytechnic that will meaningfully contribute to the proposed Entity and Supercluster.

Are research institutions associated with post-secondary institutions considered post-secondary institutions for the purposes of the ISI application requirements? New: 2017-07-14

Yes. Non-federal research institutions affiliated with Canadian post-secondary institutions are considered eligible.

Can my cluster be national, or does it have to be located in a specific city? New: 2017-06-15

Applications to the ISI must contain a strong value proposition anchored in a cluster with a geographic focus and a strong, local innovation ecosystem. Applicants are expected to explain why the particular geographic region was chosen. Applicants are also encouraged, however, to extend cluster-based strengths to a broader network that can leverage the capabilities of innovation partners across Canada, outside of the geographic region.

Who can be part of my national network?

The concept of a national network recognizes that there are key assets and expertise across Canada that might benefit from and contribute to a supercluster work.

Any firm, research organization, academic institution or other innovation ecosystem member that is able to contribute to Entity's Supercluster Strategy can be part of a national network to further strengthen the supercluster.

How will the supercluster investments benefit Non-Members?

Selected supercluster Entities will be responsible for their own membership plans, including benefits provided to their Members (e.g., Canada-based private sector enterprises (large firms, SMEs, start-ups, including the Canadian branch of multinational enterprises, Canadian post-secondary institutions and other educational institutions, and Canadian not-for-profit or other organizations located in the cluster or part of a larger network).

However, not all organizations within a local cluster will choose to become Members of an Entity, and in order to support the objective of broader cluster development, Entities must also deliver activities and pursue initiatives that provide benefits to Non-Members. Whether these activities ultimately encourage Non-Members to join, or whether they simply provide services of general benefit to firms in the cluster, they should ultimately strengthen the conditions for supercluster firms' growth and success. Specific activities will be proposed by the Applicants.

Are the provinces/territories expected to play a role?

Provincial/territorial support is not mandatory, nor will provincial and municipal governments be eligible to apply. However, Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate provincial/territorial support (including funding, if applicable) for their applications, which will be considered as part of the overall value proposition they present.

Intellectual Property

Who owns the intellectual property created by the program?

The Government of Canada will make no claim to ownership of intellectual property (IP) resulting from activities that it funds.

Each Applicant is required to submit its own IP Strategy, including how protection for Entity-supported IP will be obtained, how rights will be owned and managed, and by whom (e.g., the Entity itself, for-profit Entity Members, academic Entity Members, or any combination thereof).

Visit the Program Guide for more information on IP requirements and strategies.

How is Entity-supported intellectual property managed?

Each Entity is required to have a Board of Directors representative of its membership. The Board will be responsible for setting an IP Strategy, including how intellectual property will be obtained, and how rights will be owned, managed, and by whom. This also includes:

  • how background intellectual property will be treated;
  • if and how non-entity supported intellectual property will be acquired; and,
  • how royalties on entity-supported IP will be managed.
What is "frictionless access" to intellectual property?

An Entity's IP Strategy must ensure all Entity-supported intellectual property is either owned or licensed in a manner that maximizes accessibility to Entity Members. Members who are entitled to make use of intellectual property should be able to execute that right substantively and without unreasonable delay.

Visit the Program Guide for more information on setting a strategy with frictionless access Entity-supported intellectual property.

Does the intellectual property that is supported by Entities have to stay in Canada?

Applicants will be evaluated on how their proposed IP Strategy will benefit the economic development of Canada. If a proposed IP Strategy is lenient in regards to Entity-supported intellectual property leaving Canada, the Applicant is strongly encouraged to explain how this and any other activities render the IP Strategy to Canada's net benefit.

About the Application and Selection Process

When are applications due? Updated: 2017-10-12

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative has a two-phase application process, consisting of an open call for Letters of Intent (LOI) and a Full Application requested by invitation only. The Letter of Intent phase closed on July 24, 2017, and a shortlist of Applicants has been selected to participate in the invitation-only Full Application phase.

All application documents, including the ISI Application Form, written proposal, and required appendices for the Full Application must be submitted online through the ISED website. E-mail, mailed, and facsimile (fax) submissions will not be accepted. Applications are due by 12pm (noon) Eastern Standard Time on the day of the submission deadline. Late submissions of any required documents will not be accepted.

Will Innovation, Science and Economic Development gather together interested participants to develop a supercluster application? Updated: 2017-10-12

No. During the Letter of Intent phase it was expected that potential applicants come together to formulate shared strategic plans with a high level of ambition to meet program requirements and objectives.

Following the assessment of the Letters of Intent, the Minister of ISED has invited selected Applicants to submit a Full Application. Information about the invited applicants is published on the Innovation Superclusters Initiative website to encourage the coalescing of ineligible or unsuccessful applications, as well as the addition of new Partner Applicants to the proposals. Applicants invited to the second phase will receive preliminary feedback on their applications to enable them to better address program objectives and requirements in the Full Application.

How are applications submitted? Updated: 2017-10-12

Full Applications will be accepted until the deadline provided on the ISI website and must be submitted through the "Submit" button in the Innovation Superclusters Initiative Application Form, which links directly to the online application system. Application forms submitted through any other means (e.g., email, mail, fax, or in-person delivery) will not be accepted.

Can I have an extension to the application deadline?

To allow fairness to all Applicants, no extensions will be permitted.

Will there be multiple intakes for the program?

There is a single intake process for the program, which is currently open. For more information on the application process, including application deadlines and application guidance, please refer to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative service page.

Can I participate in more than one application? New: 2017-07-14

Yes. Organizations may be part of multiple applications.

How will successful Applicants be chosen?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative has a two-phase application process, consisting of an open call for Letters of Intent (LOI) and a Full Application requested by invitation only.

Proposals will be considered against the assessment criteria outlined in the Program Guide. Funding decisions will consider the proposal's ultimate benefit to the candidate supercluster and to Canada, including its potential to generate real industrial benefits and economic impact.

Who are the Expert Reviewers?

Expert Reviewers will be industry professionals, researchers or academics with industry-related expertise and with technological, industrial or regional expertise. They will support the technical assessment of applications by giving consideration to the merit and potential of the proposals based on their expertise.

The selection of Expert Reviewers will be merit-based, and made in consideration of Canada's diversity.

When will successful Applicants be informed and what are the next steps?

It is expected that the selection process will conclude and funding will be provided to successful Applicants by the end of fiscal year 2017-2018. The department will notify Applicants of the funding decisions and next steps, as applicable.

What type of feedback will be provided to Applicants following the submission of the Letter of Intent? Updated: 2017-10-12

All Applicants who received a Letter of Intent as part of the first phase of the application process will receive a letter from the Minister of ISED indicating whether or not they had been invited to submit a Full Application as part of Phase II. Applicants invited to the second phase will receive preliminary feedback on their Letters of Intent to enable them to better address program objectives and requirements in the Full Application.

What is the expected timeline for the application process? Updated: 2017-10-12

Invitations for the Full Application Phase were issued October 12, 2017. Full Applications are due November 24, 2017. It is anticipated that contribution agreements will be negotiated and funding allocations will be made to successful Applicants before March 31, 2018.

The department will notify Applicants of the funding decisions and next steps, as applicable.

When will funding begin and end?

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will invest up to $950 million, starting in 2017–18 and ending on March 31, 2022. It is expected that funds will be available once funding decisions are reached and Contribution Agreements are executed between Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Entities.

Program Objectives

What will the Innovation Superclusters Initiative accomplish?

The purpose of the Innovation Superclusters Initiative is to accelerate the growth and development of business-led innovation superclusters in Canada, translating the strengths of our innovation ecosystems into new commercial and global opportunities for growth and competitiveness. This initiative will align Canada's strengths in new ways to translate industrial, regional and technological advantages into tangible economic outcomes that accrue to Canada in the form of jobs, firm creation and growth, and Canadian competiveness.

What will success look like, and how will it be measured?

The development of business-led innovation superclusters is expected to secure Canada's future as an innovation leader and maximize economic growth. Superclusters will:

  • accelerate the commercialization of new products, processes and services that position firms to grow and become global market leaders;
  • help tackle important industrial challenges for Canada's sectors of economic strength to boost their productivity and competitiveness; and
  • build long-term advantage and global brand recognition for Canada that will draw investment, attract talent, and lead to new opportunities for Canadians, including good, well-paying jobs.

Specific economic indicators, such as increase in Business Enterprise R&D and employment growth will be measured.


I would like to ask someone questions about the initiative.

Telephone (toll-free in Canada): 1-800-328-6189
Telephone (Ottawa): 613-954-5031
Fax: 343-291-1913
TTY (for hearing-impaired): 1-866-694-8389
Business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

I am an Aboriginal business. Can I participate?

All organizations incorporated in Canada and active in Canada are eligible to be part of an industry-led consortium and to participate in a Supercluster. Proposals should build on the assets and unique capabilities within a cluster, including firms of all sizes, and the activities undertaken must respond to the needs of these firms, enabling them to grow and become global leaders. Furthermore, superclusters must provide access to assets, services or resources that benefit a range of cluster firms over a period of time.

How does this initiative aim to promote gender balance?

Applicants must articulate how they will endeavor to increase female representation concerning both employment and leadership, including on the funded Entity's Board of Directors. Entities will be required to demonstrate on an ongoing basis how its project selection criteria encourage diversity among Ultimate Recipients, and to develop and propose activities that make technological and industrial topics accessible to a wide variety of audiences.

My business is located in a small cluster. What funding is available for me? Updated: 2017-10-12

The Government of Canada recognizes the important contribution that clusters of all sizes can make to Canada's economy. If your initiative does not meet the requirements for Innovation Superclusters Initiative applications, you might wish to consider the following sources of funds:


My industry is not included in the list of highly innovative industries included in Budget 2017 (e.g., advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/bioscience, clean resources, infrastructure and transportation). Are we eligible to apply?

Yes. It is expected that each proposal will focus on industries of strength within a given cluster. To maximize economic impact, and therefore the strength of an application, the participation of multiple sectors within a supercluster (including the highly innovative industries mentioned above) will be an asset.

How firm must the sources of funding be at the Letter of Intent Phase? New: 2017-06-15

Applicants are strongly encouraged to secure firm funding commitments as early as possible. However, if private sector funds have not yet been secured for the entirety of the 1:1 matching requirement, explain the approach to secure remaining funds and list the anticipated sources, in the corresponding section of the LOI Proposal Template (see Applicant Guide, part 7: Section C) Budget and financial commitment)

How many partners am I required to have to apply in Phase I (Letter of Intent)?

Letters of Intent must include, at a minimum, five organizations:

  • Four private-sector enterprises, including:
    • At least two large firms (500+ employees)
    • At least one medium firm (100-499 employees)
    • At least one small firm (1-99 employees)
  • One post-secondary institution (e.g., university or polytechnic)
Are there a target number of selected Letter of Intent participants who will continue to the full application process? New: 2017-07-14

No. The objective of the Letter of Intent Phase is to give the Minster a full view of all interested applicants and proposed projects. Decisions on applicants invited to the second phase of the application process will be made based on the nature of the Letters of Intent that are received.

Will consideration be given for smaller projects? New: 2017-07-14

All submitted applications will be evaluated using the same criteria and will be required to demonstrate how they will generate economic impact and global leadership for Canada. To achieve the desired critical mass and scale of impact, and to support bold and ambitious proposals with the capacity to supercharge regional innovation ecosystems, federal investments are normally expected to be in the order of $125-250 million, with this funding matched by industry applicants.

I would like to attend an information session.

Information sessions will be held across Canada in spring 2017 and are open to all potential Applicants and those interested in joining a supercluster initiative. Register for a session near you.

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