Frequently asked questions: Strategic Innovation Fund

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

General questions

What is the deadline for submitting a Statement of Interest (SOI)?

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

Stream 4 operates on a competitive basis where SOIs 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 better suited to other federal or provincial business support programs based on its size, sector or activities. We recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform – a tool that brings together everything government can do for business, all in one place.

In February 2018, changes to the SIF were announced as part of the federal budget. The SIF now focuses its support on projects requesting at least $10 million in contributions. This means a minimum project size of $20 million.

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

As announced in the 2018 federal budget, the SIF will now focus its support on projects requesting at least $10  million in contributions. Given that 50% sharing ratios are not common, projects close to $20 million are strongly encouraged to explore the range of options available.

We recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform – a tool that brings together everything government can do for business to identify the most suitable programs.

Which industries or sectors can apply for this program?

The SIF is open to all industries and sectors across Canada.

I am unsure if the SIF is the best federal program for my business. What should I do?

Before applying, we recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform to identify the most suitable program for you. If after visiting the site you are still uncertain whether the SIF is right for you, the following factors generally indicate lack of a strong fit:

  • Projects that are not aligned with one or more of the Economic Strategy Tables
  • Project benefits that are mostly local and do not have a broader impact on Canadians
  • Projects that do not have a clear rationale and/or the necessary technical expertise to carry out the project activities
  • Technological development or growth that is part of expected business plans and does not represent an incremental or accelerated leap
  • New small scale or novel product development that are without a broader-based, market disruption capability or clear public benefits
  • Project activities and/or costs that can generally be financed through debt financing (e.g. purchase of new equipment, land/building costs)

Type of support

How much funding can I expect to receive from the SIF?

Experience shows that the government's share of funding for a given project usually varies from 10% of project costs up to 50% in exceptional cases.

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.

I need working capital, is the SIF for me?

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

What types of projects does the SIF support?

The SIF was designed to spur innovation in all sectors of the Canadian economy. It provides funding for projects that fall into at least 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 2-9
  • 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 applying, ask yourself the following:

  • Is my project innovation-based?
  • Does my project fall within one or more of the program's streams?
  • Would my project be better suited to other government programs or services based on its size, sector or activities?
  • Can I demonstrate, through my track record, that my technical and management teams can successfully bring the project to fruition?
  • Can I clearly describe the anticipated innovation, economic and 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.
  • A funding table outlining other support regarding your project.
  • Financial information on your firm and your project. This includes three years' worth of financial statements, but we will consider SOIs 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 submitting an SOI 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 on 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.
  • An outline of the anticipated innovation, economic, and public benefits of your project.

A form, with detailed instructions, will be provided 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, economic and public benefits.

What are examples of innovation benefits?

Innovation benefits include:

  • Creation and commercialization of new intellectual property in Canada
  • Development of new and/or improved products, services and/or processes
  • Collaboration between post-secondary institutions, NGOs, indigenous communities, and other private sector firms
  • Significant R&D creating technology with the potential for market disruption
What are examples of economic benefits?

Economic benefits include:

  • Creation/maintenance of high-skill, long-term employment in Canada
  • Increase in business revenue, exports, and involvement in the Canadian supply chain
  • Attraction and/or retention of significant R&D or production mandates, foreign direct investment and greenfield investment to Canada
  • Expansion of industrial or technological facilities and commercialization of products, services and/or processes
What are examples of public benefits?

Public benefits include:

  • Environmental benefits (e.g. increases in energy efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, conservation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources)
  • Increasing production efficiencies and reducing material usage
  • Improvements to employment equity and diversity, safety and human health
  • Substantial investments and impact in the local community
  • Enhancement and increase in national security

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 the 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 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 relate 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 request the maximum contribution of 50%).

Can 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.

All Stream 4 contributions are non-repayable.

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