A. Program Changes
B. Program Overview
C. Program Objectives
D. How Funding Works
E.1 Additional Program Partner Eligibility
F. Evaluation and Assessment
G. Reporting Requirements
H. How to Apply
A. Program Changes
Please note the following program changes:
- NSERC Engage-partnered VIP I applications:
- As of May 1, 2018, university-based applicants are limited to one new Engage Grant awarded within the last twelve months (includes VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects). Awards granted prior to May 1, 2018, will not be considered as part of the previous 12 months and will not be subject to this new policy.Company partners are limited to two Engage grants awarded per fiscal year (April 1-March 31; this includes a company’s VIP-Engage/Engage for Colleges, and standalone Engage for Universities/Engage for Colleges, combined). However, partners providing cash contributions to ongoing NSERC-funded projects outside of Engage will be allowed up to two additional Engage applications per year.
- The VIP I program now includes a partnership with the Mitacs Accelerate Program. Applicants may simultaneously apply for internships through the Mitacs Accelerate Program when submitting an application for the VIP I program. Please see below for details.
B. Program Overview
The Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I) program helps eligible companies develop, implement and commercialize technical innovations by supporting partnerships between Ontario's industry and publicly funded post-secondary institutions. Projects funded through VIP I enable the development of new products and/or processes, facilitate productivity improvements, and help generate new revenues and high-value jobs for Ontario.
The VIP I program supports collaborations between industry and post-secondary institutions up to 12 months in duration that lead to knowledge mobilization, commercialization and increased productivity with significant economic impact for Ontario. In addition to VIP I as a standalone program, OCE has engaged a number of federal partners to enable applicants to develop larger-scope projects by leveraging OCE as well as federal funding through a streamlined, single-application process (whole-of-government approach). These partners include Business Development Bank of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the National Research Council (NRC) and Mitacs.
The VIP I program is administered by OCE on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
C. Program Objectives
The VIP I program helps eligible companies develop, implement and commercialize technical innovations by supporting partnerships between Ontario's industry and publicly funded post-secondary institutions. Benefits to the project partners include:
- Gain access to new talent
- Develop relationships with researchers to extend company R&D
- Gain access to unique facilities and research equipment available in publicly funded post-secondary institutions
- Create marketable solutions to current industry challenges
- Increase productivity, revenue and jobs
- Gain access to OCE's research networks and exposure to other OCE programs
- Access several funding sources through one application form
- Access exciting research and development challenges
- Establish relationships with industry
- Leverage knowledge and innovative ideas to solve industry problems
- Gain real-world experience
- Build relationships with established companies
- Gain access to OCE's industry and entrepreneurial networks
D. How Funding Works
- OCE will support up to 50% of the eligible research costs, to a maximum OCE investment of $20,000. The OCE funds will flow to the post-secondary institution.
- The industry partner must support at least 50% of the eligible research costs, i.e. must provide at least 1:1 matching on the OCE contribution. The matching contribution may consist of cash and in-kind support, however a minimum of 25% must be in cash. For example, for a request from OCE for $20,000, the industry partner must provide $20,000 with at least $5,000 of this in the form of cash. The industry partner cash contribution will flow, via OCE, to the post-secondary institution.
- Overhead is not an eligible expense for this OCE program.
- Companies that require a loan to support their contribution towards a VIP I project, or who have other business projects that need financing, can apply for a BDC loan of up to $100,000 with zero fees and flexible, convenient terms. Industry partners on VIP I projects have simplified access to BDC financing through a dedicated, online portal for OCE client companies. Access is available through OCE’s online application system upon initiation of a VIP I application. Loans are available within two to five business days. Additionally, BDC offers a range of advisory services to assist SMEs to accelerate growth, improve productivity and build organizational capabilities. More information about BDC programs can be found on BDC's website.
- If any of the funding partner programs are accessed, additional matching requirements may be required as shown in the table below. Program partner eligibility requirements and eligible costs must be consulted. Please refer to the Additional Eligibility information section below.
| ||OCE ||NSERC Engage for Colleges ||NSERC Engage ||IRAP ||Mitacs |
|Max. Investment |
|$20,000 ||$25,000 ||$25,000 ||$20,000 ||$7,500 per intern per 4- to 6-month internship unit |
|Industry matching |
|25% of OCE cash, the remainder in-kind to 1:1 minimum ||In-kind at a minimum ||In-kind at a minimum ||20% for internal technical salaries, 50% for third-party contracted work related to the project |
|$7,500 per intern per 4- to 6-month internship unit |
|Sector ||All ||All ||Natural Science and Engineering (NSE) only ||All ||All |
|Overhead ||0% ||Up to 20% of Engage for Colleges support ||0% ||0% ||0% |
|Additional Eligibility |
|See below ||See below ||See below ||See below ||See below |
- At the time of an award, an invoice for the industry cash contribution plus HST* will be sent to the industry partner by OCE. Upon receipt of the required industry cash component, OCE will release a payment equal to the industry partner’s cash contribution plus 50% of the OCE award amount (for example for an award of $20,000, $10,000 will be released and $10,000 will be the holdback). The industry cash must be submitted to OCE within thirty (30) days of notification of an approved award to activate the project. OCE will not release any funds until the project is activated, and will not be held responsible for any expenses incurred on the project prior to activation. If for any reason the requirements for activation are not met within thirty (30) days from the date of release of the approval notification, the funding offer may be retracted.
- A project is considered active upon receipt of the industry partner cash contribution by OCE. Project start date is by default date of project activation and cannot be changed.
- The holdback will be released upon project completion and receipt of the following: final progress and financial reports, outcomes and attestation from the institution regarding the use of funds.
- For NSERC Engage- and NSERC Engage for Colleges-partnered projects, NSERC will release their funds to the post-secondary institution upon activation of the project by OCE.
- For NRC-IRAP-partnered projects, IRAP will release their funds to the industry partner. Partners may apply to OCE VIP I within one month of receipt of an approved IRAP grant, or vice versa.
- For Mitacs Accelerate-partnered projects, industry partner should send their contribution to Mitacs and Mitacs will release the funds to the post-secondary institution upon activation of the project by OCE. Applicants will not be allowed to apply for NSERC Engage, NSERC Engage for Colleges or NRC-IRAP simultaneously with Mitacs Accelerate. Applicants will be allowed to apply for more than one internship.
* The Canada Revenue Agency requires OCE to collect HST on industry contributions. Please note that HST is 100 per cent recoverable by the Industry Partner as HST rebate. More information about HST rebate and recovery.
- All applications require a research partner and an industry partner at a publicly funded post-secondary institution who will co-invest in the project
- Research partner (applicant) must be a principal investigator at an Ontario-accredited, public post-secondary institution (college, university, research hospital). For college projects, the applicant must be a representative of the college applied research office, with the primary researchers included as team members. The applicant must have an arms-length relationship with the industry partner as defined on NSERC’s website (refer to the section Conflict of Interest Guidelines for Partner Organizations).
- Adjunct professors may be eligible on a case-by-case basis. At a minimum, the adjunct professor must 1) actively conduct research at an Ontario institution, 2) be allowed by the institution to hold a grant and given an institutional account, and 3) be allowed to supervise students.
- Company (industry partner) must be for-profit and have operations in Ontario (typically manufacturing and/or R&D directly related to the project) which are expected to commercialize and/or implement the results of the project in Ontario and for the benefit of Ontario.
- Company (industry partner) must have been in operation for a minimum of two years, and have a minimum of two full-time employees.
- Projects must leverage the unique capabilities of the research environment and of the post-secondary research team, and be non-competitive with Ontario private-sector capabilities.
- Intellectual Property (IP) arising from the project will be managed by the project participants as OCE does not claim or manage IP rights (note: Program Funding Partners may have different IP policies; please consult their guidelines for more information. See below for NSERC Engage-specific IP requirements). An IP term sheet (“Schedule D”) must be provided at the time of application submission.
- Participants must co-operate in providing project outcomes and metrics, annually at a minimum.
- Applicants must be in good financial and reporting standing with OCE.
- Companies that have over $100,000 in active OCE projects must complete those projects (including all final reporting) prior to OCE considering other applications for funding. This excludes TalentEdge internships and fellowships.
- If a program partner is engaged (NSERC Engage for Colleges, NSERC Engage and/or NRC-IRAP), additional partner rules and eligibility criteria apply (see below).
NSERC Engage for Colleges Eligibility
- Eligible to receive Tri-Council funding
- New relationship with the company. No existing or past association between the college and the industry partner is permitted. (Note: it is not considered a new partnership if there has been: previous research collaboration between the college and the company or any of its divisions; a consulting contract in excess of a few days; or involvement of a member of the college research team with the company. In addition, if an employee of the company sits on the Board of Directors [or equivalent] of the college, this would be considered an established relationship.)
- For-profit organization, with Canadian R&D and/or manufacturing operations related directly to the project, and the capability to exploit the research results
- First time collaboration between the company and the college
- Has a minimum of two full-time employees and has been in operations for a minimum of two years.Industrial partners are limited to two Engage grants awarded per fiscal year (April 1-March 31; includes the company’s combined ‘Engage Grant for Universities’ and ‘Engage Grant for Colleges’ participation for that year; includes VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects). However, partners providing cash contributions to ongoing NSERC-funded projects outside of Engage will be allowed up to two additional Engage applications per year.
The following expenses are eligible for NSERC funding:
- Equipment/material/operating costs (up to 20 per cent of NSERC budget), overhead/administration (up to 20 per cent of NSERC budget), project management (up to 10 per cent of NSERC budget), and faculty release costs (up to $9,000/course/semester)
- Travel expenses are eligible for college personnel to conduct the project but do not include international conferences to present research results.
Please refer to the full NSERC Engage for Colleges guidelines for program eligibility and information.
NSERC Engage Eligibility
Principal Investigator Eligibility
- Eligible to receive NSERC funding
- Has received an individual or small team peer-reviewed grant from NSERC within the past six years
- Holds a faculty position at an eligible Canadian institution
- Adjunct professors will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Adjunct professors who meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria and whose primary place of employment is at an eligible Canadian university may apply to NSERC grants programs.
- First-time collaboration with the company. No existing or past association between the researcher and the industry partner is permitted. Evidence of an established relationship between the researcher and industry partner includes:
- a previous research collaboration between the researcher and the company or any of its divisions or parent;
- researcher’s current or past involvement in the company;
- joint participation in a research network;
- researcher’s existing association with the company or its principals, including (1) whether the company principals or staff serve as a professor, adjunct professor or other colleague in the same university department as the applicant, or (2) in the case of a small company, whether a former trainee of the applicant now holds a key position in the company);
- past or current supervision of a graduate student who is supported by an industrial scholarship or internship with the proposed partner; and
- other evidence that an Engage Grant is not needed to foster a new research collaboration.
- Participation of collaborating researchers or co-applicants is not permitted.
- University-based applicants are limited to one new Engage Grant awarded within the last twelve months (includes VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects). Awards granted prior to May 1, 2018, will not be considered as part of the previous 12 months and will not be subject to this new policy.
- For-profit, with Canadian operations in R&D and/or manufacturing directly related to the project and the capability to exploit the research results
- First-time collaboration with the Principal Investigator
- Has a minimum of two full time employees and has been in operation for a minimum of two years.
- Industrial partners are limited to two Engage grants awarded per fiscal year (April 1-March 31;includes the company’s combined ‘Engage Grant for Universities’ and ‘Engage Grant for Colleges’ participation for that year; includes VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects). However, partners providing cash contributions to ongoing NSERC-funded projects outside of Engage will be allowed up to two additional Engage applications per year.
- All Intellectual Property arising from the project will belong to the company
- Publications and conference travel are ineligible expenses for NSERC
Please refer to the full NSERC Engage guidelines for program eligibility and information.
- Non-academic activities by the company or by a third-party service provider
- IRAP supports up to 80 per cent for internal technical salaries and up to 50 per cent for third-party contracted work related to the project
- The company’s contributions to the IRAP project can be used as in-kind in the OCE budget form
- IRAP funds cannot be used for materials, infrastructure or overhead
- Partners may apply to OCE VIPI within one month of receipt of an approved IRAP grant, or vice versa.
- A small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in Canada, incorporated and profit oriented
- Company with 500 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees
- Company has the objective to grow and generate profits through development and commercialization of innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes in Canada
Please contact NRC-IRAP for details regarding program eligibility and information.
- The following candidates from any Ontario universities/research hospitals from all academic disciplines who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or international students are eligible:
- Full-time graduate students
- Postdoctoral fellows (except those who have previously held a Mitacs Elevate award). PhDs must have been granted no more than five years prior to the project’s start date
- Faculty from any Ontario universities/research hospitals from all disciplineswho are eligible to hold Tri-Council funds
- For-profit corporations (or select not-for-profit corporations on a case-by-case basis only)
- Eligibility and project economic orientation must be assessed by the Mitacs Business Development Manager prior to proposal submission.
- The company’s contributions to the Mitacs internship cannot be used as the same industry contribution in the OCE budget form. The company must provide a cash contribution of $7,500 in addition to the cash contribution required for the VIPI project.
Please contact Mitacs for details regarding program eligibility and information.
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Eligibility
- The business has been in operation for at least 24 months
- Business owner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and has reached the age of majority in the province or territory in which they live
Please contact BDC for details regarding program eligibility and information.
F. Evaluation and Assessment
VIP I is a discretionary, non-entitlement program with limited funding. All eligible projects are assessed on their merit and undergo a review process where the applications are assessed against program objectives and assessment criteria.
Following confirmation by OCE of application completeness and financial compliance, and receipt of a funding agreement signed by the post-secondary institution and industry partner(s) (refer to the How to Apply section below), applications will undergo an external peer review by three subject-matter experts.
For applications submitted by colleges, representatives of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities may be included in the external review process as required, to assess the project’s degree of support of the college’s approved Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA).
Recommendations from the peer review process will be reviewed by OCE’s Internal Review Panel, which will have responsibility for the final OCE decision. Decision notifications are typically provided within 6-8 weeks of receipt of a signed funding agreement.
Where projects have program partners (NSERC or NRC-IRAP), simultaneous review will take place by the partners, as appropriate. While the VIP I program offers its partners the benefit of a single application process and streamlined review, the final approval of project-related support rests with each program partner. In order for a project to be awarded funding through VIP I, there must be a unanimous decision by all partners to support the project. The final decision notification will be provided by OCE.
Applications will be evaluated on the basis of assessment criteria which include but are not limited to:
- Clarity of the company challenge, significance of the opportunity, and expected economic benefit to the company and Ontario (e.g. new revenues, job creation/retention, productivity improvements)
- Ability of the innovation to address the company challenge
- Expertise and experience of the team members, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and evidence of collaboration
- Clarity, feasibility and appropriateness of the project plan and budget
- Evidence of next steps, and clear strategy and capacity to bring the results to market and/or implement at the company
- Overall quality and completeness of the application
G. Project Changes and Reporting Requirements
Project Change Requests
The applicant must contact the Program Manager for any material change in the project, including but not limited to changes related to the project’s principal investigator, the industry partner, scope of work or eligible expenses, when they are identified.
For any variances to the OCE budget of $5000 or greater, or extensions to the project end date, the applicant must complete a Project Change Request form prior to the project end date, using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file.
For any variances to the NSERC budget of 20% or more per budget line-item, or extensions to the project end date, the applicant must complete a Project Change Request form prior to the project end date, using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file. Details and justification for the change request should be entered under Additional Comments section or uploaded as a separate attachment in the Supporting Documents section.
The following project reports will be required:
1. Forty-five days prior to the scheduled completion date, the Applicant and industry partner (Client) will receive a notification of the project end date from OCE’s AccessOCE system, with a link to the Final Project Report should the Applicant or Client wish to begin entering data. If an extension to complete the project is required, the Applicant must request it prior to the scheduled project completion date, using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file. A maximum extension of three months will be allowable.
2. On the scheduled project
completion date, the Applicant and Client will receive notification and a link
to complete a Final Project Report (including progress, financials and metrics)
from OCE’s AccessOCE system. Both the Applicant and Client reports must be received
and approved by OCE within 30 days of project completion.
3. When the Applicant and Client
final reports have been approved, the post-secondary institution will be required to
complete an attestation of the use of funds to close the project.
4. All required final reports by all
partners must be submitted within 30 days of project completion in order to
release the holdback, and maintain good financial standing with OCE.
5. If the project continues past a
fiscal year end (March 31), the Applicant and Client will be required to
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 fulfil its contract with its funding Ministries.
Required metrics reports from all partners must be submitted in order to
maintain good financial standing with OCE.
6. At one, two, and three years after project completion, the Client will be sent a link to complete a retrospective survey to collect data on commercial outcomes from the project. This information is required by OCE for assessment of program impact and continuous improvement.
H. How to Apply
VIP I applications are accepted at any time. To begin the application process, please complete a client intake form. An OCE Business Development Manager (BD) will contact you to discuss the opportunity and assist you with developing your application. Your OCE BD will also maintain oversight responsibility for the OCE components of any approved project.
A sample application form is available. Applications are only accepted through OCE’s online AccessOCE system where full application and program partner requirements are listed. Download instructions to complete the application..
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 for the BD endorsement step to be completed.
All submitted applications must be accompanied by a completed Schedule D (Intellectual Property Term Sheet). Following an internal review for application completeness and financial compliance, the applicant’s institution and industry partner(s) will be forwarded a copy of OCE’s standard funding agreement, with an embedded copy of the submitted application and Schedule D, for execution. This funding agreement must be signed, via our online electronic signature function, by the institution and partner(s) and returned to OCE via our online application management system, prior to the application being considered for review.
Please review OCE's Program FAQ.
For more information on the VIP I program, please contact:
(416) 861-1092 x 1071
OCE Application Support Team
(416) 861-1092 x2400