A. Customer Demonstration Program Overview
The Customer Demonstration Program (CDP) is one of three Advanced Technology Platforms (ATP) Demonstration Programs. All three ATP Demonstration Programs are accessible via a common intake process. Other ATP Demonstration Programs include the NGN Demonstration Program and the 5G Demonstration Program. Applicants can apply for more than one demonstration program simultaneously if they meet program specific eligibility criteria.
The CDP is designed to help innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) demonstrate the value of their smart computing product/service to a Strategic Partner – 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.
The CDP is delivered in partnership with IBM via the IBM Innovation Incubator Project. The program provides an opportunity for the innovative SME to showcase to a potential client the value of their technology. To help SMEs significantly accelerate their path to market and increase their competitiveness, CDP participants are also given the opportunity to access a host of advanced technology platforms via participation in an IBM Innovation Hub:
- Highly scalable, security enabled cloud infrastructure
- Cognitive building blocks for developers (AI)
- Tools to operate data
- Targeted solutions for enterprise businesses
- IBM Blockchain platform
One intended outcome is to increase the SME’s visibility to IBM. IBM, OCE, and the Innovation Hubs actively collaborate to help funnel promising technology companies into Stream 4.
Overall, CDP objectives are to:
- Advance computing innovation;
- Increase economic impact for all parties;
- Enhance productivity, competitiveness and skills development;
- Identify and bridge barriers to adoption of emerging computing technology.
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 “SME”)
- Project Partner(s): at least one significant, strategic customer/partner with operations in Ontario, intended to be a Strategic Partner of the product/service (the “Strategic Partner”).
B. How Funding Works
- Funding will flow to the SME applicant to support project activities
- OCE will support up to 50% of eligible project expenditures to a maximum of $50,000 with the remainder contributed by a minimum 1:1 cash match from Applicant. Projects can be up to 12 months in duration.
- One award is allowable per SME company during the program lifetime.
Note: The Customer Demonstration program is part of the Advanced Technology Platforms (ATP) common intake process. As such, applicants can also apply for the 5G Demonstration Program and/or the NGN Demonstration Program in parallel using the same application form. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for each program they are applying to for this to occur.
Flow of Funds
Successful applicants 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 upon project approval only.
- Upon successful execution of the Funding Agreement, 25 per cent of funds will be advanced directly to the applicant company. The remaining funding will be released to the applicant 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 applicant SME, the SME company will be responsible for reimbursing the other partner(s), if necessary.
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.
Applications will be evaluated on the basis of assessment criteria which include but are not limited to:
- Clarity of the Strategic Partner 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 Strategic Partner’s 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 Strategic Partner
- 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.
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.
Note: Applicants 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 (SME and Strategic Partner) 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.
- 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, the applicant 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 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, email@example.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.
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. Post-submission, applicants will be connected to an Innovation Hub via their BD if they are already not connected to one.
NOTE: Applications must be accompanied by a signed letter of support from the Strategic Partner 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.
Please review OCE's Program FAQ.
For program-related inquiries, including assistance with deadlines and applications, please contact:
Regional Director, Eastern and Northern Ontario
(613) 726 3420 x4233
Portfolio Manager, Digital Economy Technologies
(416) 861 1092 x 1117
For general inquiries about the online application system and application form, please contact the Application Support Team at (416) 861-1092
x2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org