I3 Customer Demonstration Program

A. I3 Customer Demonstration Program Overview

The I3 Customer Demonstration Program is designed to help an innovative market disruptor demonstrate the value of their smart computing product/service to a receptor – generally a market leader. The program fosters development of a strategic commercial relationship between at least two parties, by supporting early market engagement and technical collaboration, and helping to build a business case for technology adoption.  A wide range of industries and sectors  are targeted.

As an integral part of the IBM Innovation Incubator Project, the I3 Customer Demonstration Program provides an opportunity for disruptor companies participating in Stream 4 to showcase to a potential client the value of their technology. One outcome is to increase the Disruptor’s visibility to IBM. IBM, OCE, and the Innovation Hubs actively collaborate to help funnel promising  technology companies into this Stream.

The program objectives are to:

  • Advance computing innovation;
  • Enhance productivity, competitiveness and skills development;
  • Identify and bridge barriers to adoption of emerging computing technology;
  • Increase economic impact for all parties.

All applications must entail a partnership and/or sales relationship between:

  • Applicant: one Ontario-based, small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) with fewer than 500 employees with a validated product/service ready to demonstrate (the “disruptor”)
  • Project Partner(s): at least one significant, strategic customer/partner with operations in Ontario, intended to be a receptor of the product/service (the “receptor”).

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B. How Funding Works

  • OCE will support up to 50% of eligible project expenditures, to a maximum of $50,000. Expenditures may be incurred by the disruptor (applicant) and/or receptor (partner).
  • Projects can be up to 12 months in duration.
  • One award is allowable per disruptor company during the program lifetime.

Flow of Funds

Successful applicants (disruptors), must execute OCE’s standard Funding Agreement within 30 days of notification of award. An executable copy of the agreement will be generated through OCE’s online system and sent to successful applicants and their partners upon project approval only.

  • Upon successful execution of the Funding Agreement, 25 per cent of funds will be released directly to the disruptor company. The remaining funding will be released to the disruptor company on a claims and reimbursement model for eligible expenses. Claims can be made when submitting interim report(s), and the final report, required at the end of the project. More information on reporting in section E. Project Reporting and Claims Requirements.
  • As funding will be released directly to the disruptor company, the disruptor company will be responsible for reimbursing the other partner(s), if necessary.

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C. Eligibility

  1. Partners
  2. Qualified Projects
  3. Use of Funds

I. Receptor and Disruptor:

  • All applications MUST entail a partnership and/or sales relationship between at least two partners with Ontario operations, with the potential of developing a sustainable commercial relationship.
  • The disruptor is a for-profit small-to-medium size enterprise (SME - less than 500 employees), with a validated innovative product/service ready for demonstration, and operations with R&D and/or manufacturing, and at least 50% of active personnel living and working in Ontario.
  • The receptor is a significant potential commercial partner / strategic client for the innovative product/service.  
  • The disruptor and receptor must have an arm’s-length business relationship.
  • Awardees must agree to cooperate with OCE in the development of case studies.

II. Qualified Projects

  • Support the demonstration of the disruptor's solution to a strategic client (receptor) to address a particular opportunity or problem.
  • Create a case for receptor adoption, by providing enhanced productivity or improvement of products and services.
  • Solution should have early market validation, meaning that a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) exists which has already been piloted with, or sold to, at least one client.
  • Receptor should provide disruptor an opportunity to scale its solution.
  • Solution should be highly innovative or disruptive, by providing a novel, or radically different approach to solve a problem for the receptor or sector.

  • Solution MUST be the basis for a globally competitive business and MUST offer good return on investment and benefits to Ontario (e.g. new revenues, job creation/retention, productivity improvement).

  • Solution MUST already have all necessary certifications, if required, for a project to be executed. 

III. Use of funds:

  • Generally, OCE funds will support salaries and benefits of staff and contractors. Operating costs to achieve milestones are also allowed. Capital costs are not eligible expenses.
  • Allowable technical activities include tasks such as adaptation, customization, and integration. Business activities related to the development of a strategic partnership are allowed.
  • Refer to the Eligible Project Expenses for a complete list of eligible expenses.

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D. Evaluation and Project Activation

The Customer Demonstration Program is a discretionary, non-entitlement program with limited funding.  OCE will fund qualified projects with potential for the greatest economic benefits to Ontario. Not all eligible applications can be funded.

Applications are internally reviewed for eligibility, completeness and financial compliance, prior to evaluation by external reviewers with domain expertise from academia and industry, including representatives of IBM as a program partner.  All reviewers are bound by Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). The final funding decision is made by OCE.

Evaluation Criteria

 Applications will be evaluated on the basis of assessment criteria which include but are not limited to:

  • Clarity of the receptor challenge, significance of the opportunity, and expected economic benefit to companies and Ontario (e.g. new revenues, job creation/retention, productivity improvements)
  • Ability of the innovation to address the receptor 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 receptor
  • Overall quality and completeness of the application

Projects that are outside of the scope of the program may be referred to partner programs as appropriate. 

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E. Project Reporting and Claims Requirements

1. Interim Progress and Claims Report(s)

Interim report(s), including progress, proof of expenditures, financial attestation, and a request for reimbursement may be submitted up to twice per fiscal year – by applicant company only.

Copies of detailed Reporting Instructions will be sent to successful applicants at the time of contracting. The report must be received and approved by OCE prior to release of funds for eligible claims.

NoteApplicants MUST retain all proof of purchases, receipts, and other relevant documentation relating to eligible expenses. These should be included in the Interim Progress and Claim Report.

2. Final Results and Claim Report

A final report, including progress, proof of expenditures, financial attestation, and a request for reimbursement, will be required at the end of the project. Forty-five days prior to the scheduled completion date, the applicant and project partners (disruptor and receptors) will receive an email notification of the project end date from the AccessOCE system, with a link to the Final Progress and Claim Report should the applicant and/or project partner wish to begin entering data.

  • Applicants are required to report on project milestones, success stories, deviations, financials, and commercialization + economic outputs.
  • Receptors are required to report on commercialization + economic outputs.
  • If a project extension is required, the applicant MUST request it using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file. Extension requests must be made before the project end date.
  • On the scheduled project completion date, both the applicant and project partner will receive another notification and a link to complete the Final Project Progress and Claim Report from OCE’s AccessOCE system.
  • All required final reports from the applicant and project partner must be submitted within 30 days of project completion in order to be reimbursed for eligible expenses and maintain good financial standing with OCE. 
  • If early reporting is required, the applicant MAY request it by emailing OCE Project Administration,project-administration@oce.zendesk.com.

3. Metrics Survey

If the project continues past a fiscal year end (March 31), the applicant 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 funders. Required metrics reports from all applicants must be submitted in order to maintain good financial standing with OCE.

4. Retrospective Project Reports

Applicants will be required to complete a brief retrospective survey on an annual basis three years from the end date of the project. The retrospective survey is mandatory for OCE to fulfil its contract with the Ministry.

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F. Timelines and How to Apply

Applications must be initiated in AccessOCE by an OCE Business Development Manager (BD). Once initiated, the Applicant will receive login information to begin completing the application. Prior to submission, applicants MUST first request their 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 initiation and BD endorsement steps 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.

NOTE: Applications must be accompanied by a signed letter of support from the receptor company, confirming the high-level project scope, budget, timelines, and commitment to the project as a “Project Contributor/Partner” (including cash, personnel and/or other contributions). A template for the letter of support is available. 

For program-related inquiries, including assistance with deadlines and applications, please contact:  

Martin Lord, Senior Business Development Manager at 416-861-1092 x 3236 martin.lord @oce-ontario.org

Derrik Leach, Business Development Manager at 416-861-1092 x1028 derrik.leach@oce-ontario.org

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G. FAQ

Please review OCE's Program FAQ.

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H. Downloads

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