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

Partnering Forum

OCE hosted two partnering forums for the Small Business Innovation Challenge on December 12, 2017. Representatives from the Government of Ontario, Champion Ministries, and OCE presented further details on the SBIC Program and Round 2 Problem Statements. The Forum was an opportunity for interested SMEs to gain further insight about the Program and network with other SMEs and Champion Ministry representatives.
Event summaries are available:

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 and commercial opportunity beyond Ontario.

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 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. Phase 2 funding, based on successful participation in Phase 1, is not guaranteed and depends on the availability of funding.

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.

It is expected that following a successful development and demonstration phase, participants will be better positioned to pursue commercialization activities and prepare their product for market entry.

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 is seeking innovative technological solutions for the following challenges.

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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 and Merit Stage

The objective of Phase 1 is to establish the technical merit and feasibility, perform market studies to validate commercialization potential and market opportunity beyond Ontario, and proof-of-concept studies to confirm the technology’s ability to provide an innovative solution to the challenge.

Applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis.

  • Funding will cover up to 100 per cent of eligible project cash costs to a maximum of $100,000
  • Number of Phase 1 projects selected per Challenge will be based on competitive evaluation of applications received and availability of funding.
  • 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 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, complete a market opportunity assessment that looks beyond the Ontario market, as well as develop a comprehensive plan for undertaking the technology to the next stage of development and demonstration.
  • 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 and global market opportunity assessment
    • Go-to-market strategy and the estimated financing required to get to market launch
  • Applicants who are able to demonstrate technology feasibility to address certain and/or all aspects of the challenge 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. Post initial funding release, future disbursement will be based on actual expenditures incurred for the reporting period, including expenditures incurred from the 25 percent advanced disbursement. Applicant Organization will be required to submit a Financial Claim, Compliance Certificate, and Final Report to OCE via AccessOCE to be reviewed and approved by OCE. (see F. Project Reporting Requirements).

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. Phase 2 funding, based on successful participation in Phase 1, is not guaranteed and depends on the availability of funding.

Phase 2: Product Development and Demonstration Stage

The objective of Phase 2 is to develop prototype(s), and to conduct testing and demonstration in an experimental setting.

Note: Phase 2 funding cannot be used for commercialization activities.

  • 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. 

Flow of Funds

  • Upon project activation, 25 per cent of funding will be disbursed to the Applicant Organization.
  • Post initial funding release, future disbursements will be based on reimbursement of expenditures incurred, including expenditures incurred from the 25 per cent advanced disbursement, for required reporting periods. Section F. Project Reporting Requirements provides details on the reporting requirements and process.
  • OCE project contribution payments will be calculated and disbursed, for an approved project, using OCE’s contribution as a percentage relative to total budgeted eligible expenses (per the approved application) and based on reported eligible expenditures by the Applicant Organization. Example Scenario: An application is approved with a total budget of $1M, of which OCE funding is approved for $750,000 (75%). An initial OCE advance of $187,500 (25% of OCE’s contribution) would be disbursed to the Applicant Organization upon project activation. At the time of interim reporting, the Applicant Organization submits a financial claim for $500,000 of eligible expenditures.  OCE will recognize $375,000 of the $500,000 financial claim ($500,000 x 75 per cent). OCE will disburse $187,500 ($375,000 less the initial advance of $187,500) as the next payment by OCE. Subsequent disbursement will be calculated as shown above, without the initial 25 per cent advanced being subtracted from the payment.    
  • Subsequent disbursements will be released by OCE upon review and approval of interim reports biannually (March 31 and September 30), and final report at the end of the project. Interim and final reports include submission of the Financial Claim, Compliance Certificate, and Progress/Final Report by the Applicant Organization to OCE (see F. Reporting Requirements).

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 and Financial Claim Report(s):

  • Two interim report(s), including progress,  detailed financial reporting of expenditures, and a Compliance Certificate, will be required biannually (March 31 and September 30) for projects that are 12 months and longer. The applicant organization will receive notification and a link from OCE’s AccessOCE system to submit the report. The report must be received and approved by OCE prior to release of funds for eligible claims. 
  • 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
  • NOTE: Applicants MUST retain all proof of purchases, receipts, and other relevant documentation relating to eligible expenses, to ensure they align with the eligible expenditure guidelines. These should be included in the Interim Progress and Financial Claim Report.

2. Final Results and Financial Claim Report(s):

  • A final report, including progress, detailed financial reporting of expenditures, and a financial attestation, will be required at the end of the project. Forty-five days prior to the scheduled completion date, the Applicant will receive an email notification of the project end date from the AccessOCE system, with a link to the Final Progress and Financial Claim Report should the Applicant wish to begin entering data.
  • NOTE: Applicants MUST retain all proof of purchases, receipts, and other relevant documentation relating to eligible expenses, to ensure they align with the eligible expenditure guidelines. These should be included in the Interim Progress and Financial Claim Report.
  • If a project extension is required, the Applicant MUST request it using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file.
  • On the scheduled project completion date, the Applicant will receive another notification and a link to complete the Final Project Progress and Financial Claim Report from OCE’s AccessOCE system.
  • All required final reports by all Applicants 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 the project is completed sooner than the approved project end date, early final reporting may be requested by the applicant by contacting OCE Project Administration at project-administration@oce.zendesk.com.

    NOTE:
    Final Project Report for Phase 1 projects will also include a report on the deliverables described in Section C above to be uploaded and attached to the Final Project Report from OCE’s AccessOCE system.
  • 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 Government of Ontario. 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)

To begin the EOI submission process, please complete a client intake form. An OCE Business Development Manager (BD) will contact you to discuss the opportunity and assist you with initiating and developing your EOI. Your OCE BD will also maintain oversight responsibility for the OCE components of any approved project.

Expression of Interest Phase

Once an application is initiated, applicants MUST complete all requisite information requested in the online application module and upload a completed EOI form to the module. Applications MUST be initiated at least one week in advance of the submission deadline. Applications initiated less than a week in advance of the submission deadline may not have sufficient time for a Business Development Manager or Innovation Procurement Manager to support the application.

Please complete all the information in the EOI template to ensure:

  • The proposal’s font and format are maintained
  • The EOI document is uploaded as an attachment (only PDF format is accepted) to the online application form through AccessOCE.
  • Upon review of your EOI, OCE may request additional information or clarification to determine project eligibility. You will be notified via email and asked to follow up accordingly. 

Full Application Phase

EOIs will be assessed based on the EOI Assessment Criteria. A limited number of EOIs will be invited to submit a full application through AccessOCE, which will include the submission requirements (full proposal template, comprehensive milestones, budget & justification, and all other requisite information requested in the online application module).

Application Endorsement

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.

Successful applicants and their Project Contributor(s) (if applicable) 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. Only highly ranked EOIs will be invited to submit full applications. Full applications are internally reviewed for completeness, eligibility, and appropriate use of funds prior to evaluation by an External Review Panel. Applications will be reviewed by an ERP of domain experts against program objectives and assessment criteria. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) will be completed by the panel members prior to the review of the proposals.

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I. Timelines

Activity

Date

Call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs)
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression


November 27, 2017
November 27, 2017

Small Business Innovation Challenge Forum

December 12, 2017

EOI Submission Deadline
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression


2pm EST, January 9, 2018
2pm EST, January 11, 2018

Invitations for Full Proposal
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression


February 5, 2018
February 5, 2018
Full Proposal Submission Deadline
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression

2pm EST, February 27, 2018
2pm EST, March 1, 2018
Award notifications to Applicants
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression

May, 2018
May, 2018
Public Announcement of Results
Cannabis and Drug-Impaired Driving
Electronic Sales Suppression

August, 2018
August, 2018

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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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