Stream 5: National Ecosystems

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

This stream is focused on supporting national ecosystems. It will support large-scale initiatives that create high-impact collaborations to support Canadian innovation ecosystems.

How to Apply

Applications for the Stream 5 are accepted on a continuing basis. There are no submission deadlines. The application process consists of two steps:

  1. Statement of Interest: Applicants will be required to submit a high-level overview of their project.

    Applicants will be provided feedback on whether the Statement of Interest indicates potential for program funding and if advancing to Step 2 is advisable.

  2. Full Application: Applicants develop and submit a detailed Application Form. The information provided will be used to complete a due diligence and benefits assessment.

Eligibility

The Lead Applicant is either a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Canada or a for-profit corporation incorporated in Canada, in collaboration with Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, for-profit corporations (including SMEs) and/or not-for-profit entities.

The Lead Applicant will be responsible for submitting an application to SIF on behalf of the ecosystem, managing the Ecosystem's projects, submitting claims, receiving the Government contribution, and reporting on results.

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General questions

1. What is Stream 5 of SIF?

A new stream of the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), Stream 5: National Ecosystems, will provide a new approach to enable disruptive innovation and growth of key sectors in Canada. The objective of Stream 5: National Ecosystems is to foster business-led collaboration between multiple organizations, including: SMEs, academic and research institutions, large corporations, and incubators/accelerators in order to accelerate commercialization in areas with demonstrated Canadian advantage to build Canadian ecosystems.

Since SIF is a business innovation program, collaboration with both SMEs and large corporations is critical to success. Proposals must leverage private sector co-investment to support SMEs and/or commercialization efforts. Private sector partners should provide demonstrated leadership to achieve the proposal's objectives, and be involved in industrial research projects with ecosystem partners.

Proposals funded under Stream 5 will seek to create a high-impact approach to technology development, commercialization, business development, scale up, and market growth. Proposals should target technology areas where Canadian firms exist at a significant scale, where key Canadian leaders are involved, and where Canada has strategic assets that can be commercialized. Target sectors should have both domestic growth and export potential.

2. What is meant by a "business-led" proposal?

Stream 5 Lead Applicants must be either a company incorporated in Canada or a non-profit organization incorporated in Canada. Since SIF is a business innovation program designed to advance industrial commercialization and sector growth, collaboration with industry — including both SMEs and large corporations — is critical to success.

Examples of criteria that demonstrate that a proposal is business-led may include:

  • Demonstrated private sector leadership that will be leveraged to achieve the proposal's objectives.
  • Significant private sector co-investment to support SMEs and/or commercialization.
  • Significant private sector involvement in the delivery of services within the ecosystem, such as mentoring and networking events.
  • Business involvement in industrial research projects with ecosystem partners.
  • Significant work-integrated learning and development opportunities for the workforce of the future (e.g. co-op opportunities, skills retraining within small and large private sector companies).
  • Significant collaborations among SMEs and large corporations, as well as ecosystem partners.
3. What is meant by "demonstrated Canadian advantage"?

Stream 5 proposals must target a sector or area with strong potential for both domestic growth and export.

Examples of demonstrated Canadian advantage may include:

  • Technology areas where Canadian firms exist at a significant scale and where key Canadian leaders (in SMEs, large corporations, and academia) are working together.
  • Regional networks exist that have demonstrated outcomes and are now coming together to grow and scale nationally for broad commercial impact.
4. What are the differences between SIF Stream 4 and Stream 5?

Both Stream 4 and Stream 5 are intended to support collaboration for the purpose of industrial research. Stream 5 is open to all areas and sectors of the economy through a continuous intake of proposals, whereas Stream 4 offers competitive calls for proposals in specific areas. Stream 5 will focus on commercialization initiatives and later stage TRLs in areas with demonstrated Canadian advantage and to help foster a stronger ecosystem.

Success of Stream 5 will be geared to Canadian SMEs and high growth industries attracting investments, improving competitiveness, advancing technologies, accelerating growth through expansion and facilitating access to diverse domestic and global markets, and supporting a stronger ecosystem. Successful proposals should target technology areas where Canadian firms exist at a significant scale, where key Canadian leaders are involved, and where Canada has strategic assets that can be commercialized.

Types of support (e.g. eligible costs, ineligible costs) for Stream 5 will be similar to those of Stream 4.

5. What are the differences between Stream 5 and the Innovation Superclusters Initiative?

SIF Stream 5 and the Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) support business innovation through high-impact collaborations between SMEs, large corporations, academic and research institutions, and non-profit organizations to accelerate commercialization and economic growth. Both initiatives include the following elements:

  • Firms of all sizes and other ecosystem players (e.g. post-secondary institutions, non-profits)
  • Significant private sector co-investment
  • Open governance structure that allows for new partnerships over time
  • Projects have both domestic growth and export potential
  • Develop IP that maximizes benefits to Canada

The five Superclusters were assessed through an extensive process to be world leaders based on a globally competitive advantage. Unlike SIF Stream 5, the Superclusters include organizations from multiple industry verticals. Therefore, the scale and impact of the Superclusters is more significant than what can be expected of strong SIF Stream 5 proposals.

Supercluster participants can be located in the region to which the Supercluster belongs, or join as part of a larger network. ISI projects connect to global supply chains, transition to high-value activities and position partners to become global market leaders. To learn more, please visit the Innovation Superclusters Initiative's website.

6. What is the deadline to submit a statement of interest (SOI)?

Applications will be assessed on a continuous intake basis. However, given the range of programming available, we encourage potential applicants to consider their options by visiting the Innovation Canada platform and by contacting ic.sifintegrationteam-equipe integration-fsi.ic@canada.ca.

7. How many applications does ISED expect to fund under Stream 5?

Specific amounts and number of contributions will depend on the nature and scale of the applications received.

8. What type of proposal is a good fit for Stream 5 funding?

A strong Stream 5 proposal is a business-led proposal that facilitates collaboration across various organizations with the goal of accelerating demonstrated Canadian technological advantage towards commercialization. Proposals should target technology areas where Canadian firms exist at a significant scale and where key Canadian leaders are involved. Target sectors should have both domestic growth and export potential.

A proposal may be a new collaboration that builds upon historically successful small-scale, regional networks that are set to scale up for national impact. Private sector partners should provide demonstrated leadership to achieve the proposal's objectives, and be involved in industrial research projects with ecosystem partners. Proposals from networks for the commercialization of technology-based high growth companies may be considered.

Supported activities under Stream 5 will include TRLs 1 to 9, with a strong emphasis placed on supporting technology development to accelerate pathways to commercialization in areas of proven Canadian advantage. Supported proposals must leverage significant private sector co-investment and have a clear objective and/or a path to post-proposal sustainability.

9. What type of proposal is not a good fit for Stream 5 funding? Are there other innovation programs accepting applications?

Proposals that include early stage technologies, without either a clear pathway to commercialization, national impact or a strong, demonstrated Canadian advantage, would not be considered a good fit for Stream 5. Further, proposals that are not able to demonstrate a clear objective and/or a path to post-proposal sustainability may not be successful. Small-scale collaborations with few partners and requiring less than $10 million in federal funding over five years, or proposals that must be funded well beyond five years to achieve outcomes may be better suited to other government programs.

We recommend that you visit the Innovation Canada platform to discover other government programs that support innovative businesses.

10. Can a Canadian university apply as a lead applicant?

Stream 5 Lead Applicants must be a company incorporated in Canada or a non-profit organization incorporated in Canada.

As SIF is a business innovation program, an academic institution (such as a university) is not considered to be an eligible Lead Applicant, but may be a partner of the National Ecosystem.

11. How do I apply to SIF Stream 5?

Interested organizations will first submit a Statement of Interest (SOI). During this process, you will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Information about your organization and key partners;
  • A description of your proposal and its impact on the ecosystem;
  • A description of the anticipated benefits of your proposal;
  • A funding table outlining other support regarding your proposal; and
  • Financial information on your firm and your proposal, including financial statements for three years. We will consider SOIs from organizations that have been in existence for fewer than three years.

If invited by SIF to the Full Application process, you will be asked to provide details related to the following information:

  • Your organization and full partnership list;
  • Your project/proposal schedule, activities, costs and location of work;
  • Your organization's capability to undertake the project/proposal, which includes information on your organization's finances as well as its technological and managerial capabilities; and
  • Your proposal's expected innovation, economic, and public benefits to Canada.
12. What kind of assistance will ISED provide to Stream 5 applicants in filling out their applications?

Representatives from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's SIF program will answer general questions about Stream 5 via email. Questions may be submitted to ic.sifintegrationteam-equipeintegration-fsi.ic@canada.ca with an acknowledgement of receipt within two days. Program representatives will not provide advice to shape specific proposals, so as to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest in the assessment and approval process.

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