Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I)

A. Program Changes
B. Program Overview
C. Program Objectives
D. How Funding Works
E. Eligibility
E.1 Additional Program Partner Eligibility
F. Evaluation and Assessment
G. Reporting Requirements
H. How to Apply
I. FAQ
J. Downloads


A. Program Changes

Please note the following program changes:

  • All VIP I applications:
    • Company (industry partner) must have been in operation for a minimum of two years, and have a minimum of two full-time employees.
  • NSERC Engage-partnered VIP I applications:
    • University-based applicants are limited to one Engage Grant awarded per fiscal year (April 1-March 31; this includes an applicant’s VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects combined).
    • 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.

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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 academia. 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 industry-academic collaborations 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). 

  • Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

    BDC is a Crown corporation whose mission is to help create and develop Canadian businesses through financing, venture capital and consulting services, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

      NSERC Engage for Colleges

      The NSERC Engage for Colleges is intended to give a company that operates from a Canadian base access to the knowledge and expertise available at a Canadian college. The grant supports a first-time collaboration between a college and a company for an R&D project of one year to solve a company-specific problem.

      • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

        NSERC Engage

        The NSERC Engage Grant (EG) is intended to give a company that operates from a Canadian base access to the knowledge and expertise available at Canadian universities. The grant supports a first-time collaboration between an academic researcher and a company for an R&D project of up to one year to solve a company-specific problem.  

        • Industrial Research Assistance Program

          NRC-IRAP

          The National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) is Canada's premier innovation assistance program for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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C. Program Objectives

The VIP I program helps eligible companies develop, implement and commercialize technical innovations by supporting partnerships between Ontario's industry and academia. Benefits to the project partners include:

Companies:

  • Gain access to new talent 
  • Develop relationships with researchers to extend company R&D 
  • Gain access to unique facilities and research equipment available in academic institutions 
  • Create marketable solutions to current industry challenges 
  • Increase productivity, revenue and jobs
  • Gain access to OCE's academic networks and exposure to other OCE programs
  • Access several funding sources through one application form

Academia:

  • Access exciting research challenges
  • Establish relationships with industry 

Students:

  • 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

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D. How Funding Works

  • The maximum OCE investment is $20,000 to support eligible research costs. OCE and industry partner cash contributions are provided to the academic institution.
  • 1:1 matching (cash plus in-kind) on the OCE contribution is required from the industry partner. A minimum of 25 per cent of the matching contribution must be in cash.
  • 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 $50,000 with zero fees and flexible, convenient terms. Industry partners on VIP I projects have simplified access to BDC financing through a dedicated, online portal for OCE client companies. Access is available through OCE’s online application system upon initiation of a VIP I application. Loans are available within two to five business days. Additionally, BDC offers a range of advisory services to assist SMEs to accelerate growth, improve productivity and build organizational capabilities. More information about BDC programs can be found on BDC's website.
  • If any of the funding partner programs are accessed, additional matching requirements may be required as shown in the table below. Program partner eligibility requirements and eligible costs must be consulted. Please refer to the Additional Eligibility information section below.
  OCE NSERC Engage for Colleges NSERC Engage IRAP
Max. Investment
($)
 
$20,000 $25,000 $25,000 $20,000
Industry matching
(minimum)
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
Sector All All Natural Science and Engineering (NSE) only All
Overhead 0% Up to 20% of Engage for Colleges support 0% 0%
Additional Eligibility 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 award amount minus a holdback ($10,000). 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.
  • 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 academic institution upon activation of the project by OCE.
  • For NRC-IRAP-partnered projects, IRAP will release their funds to the industry partner.

* 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.

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E. Eligibility

  • All applications require an academic partner and an industry partner who will co-invest in the project
  • Academic partner (applicant) must be a principal investigator at an Ontario-accredited, public post-secondary academic institution (college, university, research hospital). 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).
  • 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 academic environment and of the academic 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 (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).

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E.1 Additional Program Partner Eligibility

NSERC Engage for Colleges Eligibility

College 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.)
Company Eligibility:
  • 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.

Eligible Expenses:

  • 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), faculty release costs (up to $9,000/course/semester)

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
  • 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.

  • Applicants are limited to one Engage Grant awarded per fiscal year (April 1-March 31; including VIP-Engage and standalone Engage projects).
Company Eligibility:
  • 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

Eligible Expenses:

  • Publications and conference travel are ineligible expenses for NSERC

Please refer to the full NSERC Engage guidelines for program eligibility and information.


NRC-IRAP Eligibility

Project Eligibility:
  • 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 non-academic project can be valued as in-kind in the OCE budget form
  • Funds cannot be used for materials, infrastructure or overhead
Company Eligibility:
  • 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.


Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Eligibility

Company 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.

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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 academic 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. 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.

VIP I application process

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G. Reporting Requirements:

The following project reports will be required: 

Final Reports:

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 is required, it must be requested from your OCE Business Development Manager at this time.

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 academic 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.


Project Metrics:

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 the Ministry of Research and Innovation. Required metrics reports from all partners must be submitted in order to maintain good financial standing with OCE.


Retrospective Survey:

 6.   Two 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.

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H. How to Apply

VIP I applications are accepted at any time and must be initiated by an OCE Business Development Manager. To apply, please contact your regional Business Development Manager who will assist you with developing your application. Your OCE BD will also maintain oversight responsibility for the OCE components of any approved project. 

Applications are only accepted through OCE’s online AccessOCE system where full application and program partner requirements are listed. Download instructions for completion of the application.

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.  

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I. FAQ

Please review OCE's Program FAQ.

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J. Downloads

For more information on the VIP I program, please contact:

Bettina Klenkler
Program Manager
(416) 861-1092 x1066
bettina.klenkler@oce-ontario.org

OCE Application Support Team
(416) 861-1092 x2400
application-support@oce.zendesk.com