How It Works

A. Program Overview
B. Problem Statement
C. How the Funding Works
D. Eligibility Criteria
E. Eligible Use of Funds and Activities
F. Project Reporting Requirements
G. How to Apply
H. Evaluation and Assessment
I. Timelines

J. Documents
K. Contact Information

A. Program Overview

The public sector requires innovative solutions to address a diverse range of challenges. Recognizing the role that government can play in building an innovation-driven economy, the Government of Ontario is introducing the Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) to support the growth of high potential, technology-driven, small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario.

The SBIC targets Ontario’s for-profit SMEs that have no more than 500 employees and demonstrate the capacity to develop an innovative technology/solution that could lead to a globally competitive business and market opportunity.

Through the SBIC, participating SMEs will be provided with opportunities to develop and implement innovative technology solutions to challenges identified by the Ontario Government. SMEs may also be invited to conduct real-world demonstration testing using the government as a testing ground.

The overall objectives of the SBIC are to:

  • Engage Ontario’s start-ups and SMEs in solving pressing public sector challenges
  • Provide SMEs with an opportunity to develop, test, and demonstrate their products to a real-world challenge
  • Increase commercialization opportunities for SMEs through direct funding support and applied demonstration opportunities to prove the value of their innovations to domestic and global markets
  • Provide a stronger footing for Ontario SMEs to compete domestically and abroad in both the public and private sectors

This Program is not a public sector procurement program. SMEs that successfully develop technologies through the SBIC and intend to make a commercial sale to the province will be required to participate in accordance with the Government of Ontario’s procurement policies and Trade Agreements.

How the Program Works

The Program has been designed to encourage applications from SMEs at various stages of development, from start-ups to SMEs (with no more than 500 employees). The SBIC has two entry points, tailored to the readiness level of the innovative solution:

  • Phase 1: Feasibility and Merit
  • Phase 2: Product Development and Demonstration

Eligible applicants may directly apply to Phase 1 or Phase 2.

Phase 1:  Feasibility and Merit

The objective of Phase 1 is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercialization potential of a proposed innovative solution. Phase 1 funding will be awarded to eligible SMEs to develop a feasibility study and/or business case to validate the technology’s ability to provide a solution to the Innovation Challenge.

OCE will cover up to 100 per cent of eligible project costs to a maximum of $100,000. Project duration is up to a maximum of six months.  More than one SME may receive Phase 1 funding in response to the same Innovation Challenge. Applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis.

SMEs that are able to demonstrate technical feasibility are not required to apply to Phase 1 prior to applying to Phase 2 of the program.

Phase 2:  Product Development and Demonstration

The objective of Phase 2 is to develop a prototype or proof of concept, and to conduct testing and demonstration in an experimental setting. This phase is designed to encourage participating SMEs to pursue commercialization opportunities by leveraging their demonstration and testing results.

Phase 2 OCE funding will cover up to 75 per cent of eligible project cash costs up to $1 million. Project duration is for a maximum of two years.  Following a successful development and demonstration phase, the innovative technology/solution will be ready for the next stage of commercialization activities and market entry. Note: Phase 2 funding cannot be used for commercialization activities.

Phase 1 project participants will have the opportunity to apply for Phase 2 funding once their Phase 1 project is completed with a satisfactory written report on outcomes delivered to OCE. Acceptance into Phase 2 is not guaranteed based on successful participation in Phase 1.

Following the successful completion of Phase 2, the Champion Ministry, at its discretion, may invite SMEs to test the solutions developed in Phase 2 in an applied government setting through an Optional Prototype Procurement. The Government of Ontario recognizes the important role it can play in providing applied demonstration opportunities for emerging technologies. This is an opportunity for SMEs to demonstrate the technology developed in Phase 2 in a small-scale trial in a government setting. Having a real-world tested product will better position SMEs to pursue commercialization activities and help SMEs establish the value of their innovations to the marketplace. This demonstration opportunity will be provided by the Champion Ministry and not by OCE. Due to funding constraints, only a limited number of prototype procurements may be offered.

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B. Problem Statement

The Government of Ontario, through its Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and Ministry of Transportation, is seeking innovative technological solutions for the following challenges.    

Problem Statement: Digital Identity Program (Phase 2 only)
Problem Statement: Vehicle Occupancy Detection Program (Phases 1 and 2)

OCE hosted a Partnering Forum (see I. Timelines) where details about the Program and Innovation Challenges were presented. Forum attendees had the opportunity to engage with representatives from the Ontario Government, startup companies, SMEs, industry associations, and other innovation sector organizations. 

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C. How the Funding Works

NOTE:  Eligible Stages below may differ depending on the Challenges presented by the Champion Ministries. Eligible Stages are indicated in each of the Problem Statements.

Phase 1: Feasibility Stage

  • Funding will cover up to 100 per cent of eligible project cash costs to a maximum of $100,000
  • Up to six projects may be selected per Challenge
  • Funding will support projects up to maximum six months in duration
  • Funding will support innovative technology/solution that is at the idea or conceptual stage. 
  • Funding can be used to develop a feasibility study and/or a business case that includes a description of the technology and how it specifically addresses certain aspects or all aspects of the Problem Statement, perform proof-of-concept studies to demonstrate the technology’s ability to provide a solution to the Problem Statement, as well as develop a comprehensive plan for undertaking the technology to the next stage of development and demonstration (see E. Eligible Use of Funds).
  • Successful Applicants will provide the following deliverables to OCE and the Champion Ministry:
    • Description of the technology and how it specifically addresses the Problem Statement, supported by valid data, if applicable
    • Comprehensive plan to take the technology to the next stage of proof-of-concept development or next stage of prototype development and demonstration in an applied/experimental setting, depending on technology readiness level at the end of Phase 1
    • Competitive analysis
    • Go-to-market strategy and the estimated financing required to get to market launch
  • Applicants who are able to demonstrate technology feasibility may bypass Phase 1 and apply directly to Phase 2

Flow of Funds: Upon project activation, 25 per cent of funding will be released to the Applicant. The final payment will be released upon project completion and receipt of satisfactory final progress and financial reports, outcomes and attestation from the partner(s) regarding the use of funds (see F. Project Reporting Requirements).

Phase 2: Product Development and Demonstration Stage

  • Funding will cover up to 75 per cent of eligible project cash costs up to a maximum of $1 million per project
  • Applicant must contribute the remaining 25 per cent of eligible project cash cost as a minimum requirement
  • Up to five  projects may be selected per Challenge
  • Funding will support projects for up to two years in duration
  • Funding will support innovative technology/solution that is at the proof-of-concept stage (Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3) to prototype development up to TRL 7. On a case-by-case basis, TRL 8 may be considered. Contact your OCE Business Development Manager or the Innovation Procurement Manager if you have question about TRL.  
  • Funding may be used for prototype development, testing, and demonstration in an applied/experimental setting and based on a reimbursement model (see E. Eligible Use of Funds)

Flow of Funds: Upon project activation, 25 per cent of funding will be released to the Applicant. Further payments will be reimbursed upon receipt and approval of expenditure report (see F. Project Reporting Requirements) at the 8th and 16th month of the project. A final payment will be released upon project completion and receipt of satisfactory final progress and financial reports, outcomes and attestation from the partner(s) regarding the use of funds.

NOTE:

  • The number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects selected under each Challenge will be determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to, the number and quality of applications received and available budget.
  • Phase 1 project participants may have the opportunity to apply to Phase 2 upon successful completion of Phase 1 project and satisfactory written report on outcomes delivered to OCE. However, funding for Phase 2 is not guaranteed and depends on the factors described above.
  • Following the completion of Phase 2, project participants are not guaranteed funding to support the next stage of commercialization activities, including the Optional Prototype Procurement phase offered at the discretion of the Champion Ministry, of the SBIC Program.
  • SME participants are not guaranteed procurements of any technologies that are commercialized as a result of their participation in the SBIC. Should SBIC participants wish to bid on Government of Ontario procurement contracts, they will be required to participate in the separate and standard competitive procurement process, in accordance with the Ontario Public Service Procurement Directive rules.

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D. Eligibility Criteria

  • The Lead Applicant MUST be a for-profit Ontario-based SME. NOTE: Ontario and other provincially, territorially or federally incorporated companies and foreign incorporated companies are eligible to apply provided they own a subsidiary incorporated in Ontario with R&D and/or manufacturing operations
  • An Ontario- based company is one that:  
    1. is privately held;
    2. pays at least 50 per cent of its annual wages, salaries and fees to employees and contractors who spent a majority of their time working in Ontario;
    3. has 50 per cent or more of its full-time employees located as their ordinary place of work in Ontario
    4. has 50 per cent or more of its senior executives (VP and above) with their principal residence in Ontario.
  • The Lead Applicant and Project Partner(s) are committed to research, develop, demonstrate, and commercialize their solution in Ontario
  • Additional Project Contributors can collaborate with the Lead Applicant. There is no limitation on the size of their operation.
  • The innovative technology/solution MUST be scalable further across markets
  • The Lead Applicant and Project Partner(s) MUST demonstrate the capacity to develop an innovative technology/solution that could lead to a globally competitive business and market opportunity
  • The proposed development and demonstration project MUST address at least some aspects, if not all, of the challenges identified in the Problem Statement issued by OCE
  • To facilitate the Government’s objective of supporting the growth of high-potential, technology driven SMEs, all Intellectual Property developed through the SBIC will be retained by the Project Participants.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) arising from the project will be managed by the Project Participants as OCE or the Government of Ontario does not claim or manage IP rights. Successful applicants and their partners must execute OCE’s standard funding agreement, including a completed Schedule D, Intellectual Property Term Sheet, within 30 days of notification of approval.
  • The Lead Applicant and Project Contributor(s), if applicable, will agree to provide project metrics and progress reports to OCE
  • The Lead Applicant and Project Contributor(s) MUST be in good financial and reporting standing with OCE

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E. Eligible Use of Funds and Activities

NOTE:  Eligible Stages below may differ depending on the Challenges presented by the Champion Ministries. Refer to the Eligible Stages indicated in each of the Problem Statements for Eligible Use of Funds and Activities outlined below.

Phase 1: Feasibility Stage

  • Market studies to validate commercialization potential, including competitive analysis.
  • Activities directly related to demonstrating the technical merit and feasibility of the innovative technology/solution

Phase 2: Product Development and Demonstration Stage

  • Prototype development, testing, and demonstration in an applied/experimental setting
  • Activities that are outside the scope of Phase 2 funding include pre-market evidence development, business case development, and evaluation of comparable and/or competing technologies.

Refer to the Eligible Expenses document for full details.

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F. Project Reporting Requirements

1. Interim Progress Reports:

  • At the end of the 8th and 16th month of the project, interim progress reports in addition to a detailed financial report – detailing actual expenditures and sources of funds – are required. OCE’s on-line application system, AccessOCE, will notify the Applicant and forward a link to the Applicant to submit the reports. The reports MUST be approved by OCE for release of funding.
  • Projects that are less than 12 months in duration will only require final reporting requirements as described below, and any additional reporting requirements depending on the Phase of the Program

2. Final Report(s):

  • Forty-five days prior to the scheduled completion date, OCE’s on-line application system, AccessOCE, will notify the Applicant (and their Project Contributor(s) if applicable) of the project end date and forward a link to the Final Project Report should the Applicant or Client wish to begin entering data. If an extension is required, the Applicant MUST request it using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file.
  • On the scheduled project completion date, OCE’s on-line application system, AccessOCE, will notify the Applicant and forward a link to complete a Final Project Report (including progress, financials and metrics, i.e. prototypes, jobs, investment). The final report MUST be received and approved by OCE within 30 days of project completion.

    NOTE: Final Project Report for Phase 1 projects will also include a report on the deliverables described in Section C above

  • Project Contributor(s), if applicable, are all required to complete final reports and MUST be submitted within 30 days of project completion in order to release the holdback, and maintain good financial standing with OCE. 

3. Metrics Survey:

  • If the project continues past a fiscal year end (March 31), the Applicant and their Project Contributor(s), if applicable, MUST complete an annual metrics survey each April, for the part of the project that has been completed since the previous March 31.
  • This annual report is mandatory for OCE to fulfill its contract with the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS)
  • Required metrics reports from all partners MUST be submitted in order to maintain good financial standing with OCE.

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G. How to Apply

Application to Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the SBIC Program is a two-stage process, consisting of:

  1. Expressions of Interest (EOI)
  2. Full proposal (invitation only)

STEP 1:

  • Interested applicants are encouraged to contact an OCE Business Development Manager or the Innovation Procurement Manager. Eligible applicants must engage with one of these Managers to initiate and prepare the EOI.
  • Applications are only accepted through OCE’s online system (AccessOCE), where the EOI questions must be attached and complete submission requirements as listed (including Lead Applicant and Project Contributor(s) Contact information, Summary for Public Release, Classifications, preliminary budget and milestones, and identified team members). 
  • Applications must be initiated via AccessOCE at least one week prior to these deadlines to qualify.

STEP 2:

  • Full applications will be accepted by invitation only and through AccessOCE, where the Full Proposal questions must be attached (only PDF format accepted), comprehensive Milestones Table, budget, follow-up to any of the EOI questions, and complete submission requirements (including Lead Applicant and Project Contributor(s) Contact Information, Summary for Public Release, Classifications, preliminary budget and milestones, and identified team members) as listed.
  • Prior to submission, applicants MUST first request their OCE Business Development Manager (BD) to provide an endorsement of the application for eligibility and suitability. Once the endorsement is provided, the applicant or BD will then be able to submit the application.
  • Please allow at least one week prior to the application submission deadline for the BD endorsement step to be completed. Applications initiated less than one week prior to the deadline MAY NOT have sufficient time for a BD to support the application and provide an endorsement.

  • Full applications for Digital Identity Challenge must be submitted via AccessOCE by 2 p.m. on June 13, 2017.

  • Full applications for Vehicle Occupancy Detection must be submitted via AccessOCE by 2 p.m. on July 13, 2017. 

Successful applicants and their partners MUST execute OCE’s standard funding agreement,including a completed Schedule D, Intellectual Property Term Sheet, within 30 days of notification of award. Intellectual Property (IP) arising from the project will be managed by the project participants as OCE or the Government of Ontario does not claim or manage IP rights. A copy of the Funding Agreement can be downloaded for your reference. Please do not fill out this form; a copy of the agreement will be generated through our online management system and sent to you upon approval of your project.

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H. Evaluation and Assessment

The Small Business Innovation Challenge Program is a competitive program with limited funding. Following internal OCE review for application completeness and financial compliance, all eligible EOIs and Full Applications undergo a review process where they are assessed against program objectives and assessment criteria.

The Program has a two-stage review process:

  • EOIs will be reviewed by members of OCE’s Internal Review Panel (IRP) and aided by technical expertise and advice from members of the Champion Ministry. The EOI will be assessed against project objectives and assessment criteria. Selected EOIs will be invited to submit Full Applications.
  • Full Applications will be reviewed by OCE’s External Review Panel (ERP), where the project will be assessed and scored against program objectives and assessment criteria. The ERP will be comprised of external industry and technology domain experts, and be aided by technical expertise and advice from relevant Ministry representatives as required. 
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) will be completed by the external reviewers prior to the review of the applications.
  • The final funding decision is made by OCE.

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I. Timelines

Activity

Date

Call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs)
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge


February 14, 2017
February 14, 2017

Small Business Innovation Challenge Forum

March 1, 2017

EOI Submission Deadline
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge


2pm EST, March 31, 2017
2pm EST, April 20, 2017

Invitations for Full Proposal
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge


April 19, 2017
May 15, 2017
Full Proposal Submission Deadline
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge

2pm EST, June 13, 2017
2pm EST, July 13, 2017
Award notifications to Applicants
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge

July 31,2017
August 21, 2017
Public Announcement of Results
Digital Identity Challenge
Vehicle Occupancy Detection Challenge

August 2017
September 2017

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J. Documents

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K. Contact Information

For project related inquiries, including assistance with potential applications, partnerships and details about the forum, please contact a Business Development Manager in your area or Laura Yu, Innovation Procurement Manager at laura.yu@oce-ontario.org.  

For inquiries specifically related to eligibility, contracting and funding disbursements, please contact: Laura Yu, Innovation Procurement Manager.

For general inquiries about the online application system and application form, please contact the Application Support Team at (416) 861-1092 x2400 or application-support@oce.zendesk.com

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