Start-ups and small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Ontario now have an opportunity to increase their global competitiveness while helping to solve pressing business and service challenges in the public sector.
The program was officially announced today (March 1) by Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG), and Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS), at a partnering forum with more than 200 attendees from start-ups and SMEs looking to collaborate with industry partners to solve innovation imperatives identified by various ministries.
Delivered by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) on behalf of the Government of Ontario, the Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) is a $28.8-million program that seeks high-potential, technology-driven start-ups and SMEs with up to 500 employees to tackle public sector business challenges and drive economic benefits to Ontario.
“Ontario Centres of Excellence is already a leader in the deployment of early adopter programs focused on public sector innovation, including the AdvancingHealth and AdvancingEducation programs that connect innovative companies with public sector partners,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO. “The Small Business Innovation Challenge will now help our start-ups and SMEs grow within Ontario by providing them with an opportunity to work on the development, evaluation, and adoption of new technologies targeting government challenges and addressing public sector needs.”
The first two areas of interest identified by Champion Ministries are Digital Identity, from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) and Vehicle Occupancy Detection, from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Following presentations from MGCS and MTO, representatives from participating companies gave 30-second “elevator pitches” on who they are, what they do and their collaboration interests. After a program overview, forum attendees participated in curated one-one-one sessions with ministry representatives.
Part of Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative, SBIC continues Ontario’s support for the development and demonstration of innovative technologies with high potential for public procurement and adoption.
“Governments need the transformative technology and innovation that start-ups can provide,” says Minister Duguid. “This challenge is a great way to encourage businesses here in Ontario to develop solutions that can help us better serve Ontarians, while testing ideas they can ultimately export to the global market.”
SBIC provides direct funding to Ontario start-ups and SMEs to address pressing public sector business challenges in an applied setting, while also providing them with a platform to springboard their technology innovations from the conceptual stage to globally competitive products and services.
“Supporting innovative Ontario-based companies and helping people in their everyday lives is truly a win-win proposition,” says Minister Moridi. “The companies that compete in this challenge have an opportunity to use it as a launch pad for global opportunities while also strengthening Ontario’s position as a global leader in innovation.”
Modelled after successful programs in the United Kingdom and the United States, SBIC will:
- Provide start-ups and SMEs with an opportunity to develop, test, demonstrate, and introduce their products in an applied setting with an eye towards eventual market entry;
- Increase commercialization opportunities for start-ups and SMEs through direct funding support; and
- Provide a stronger footing for Ontario start-ups and SMEs to compete domestically and abroad in both the public and private sectors.
For more information on this program, please visit the OCE SBIC web page.