Ontario is a hub for innovation and investment within Canada. Hosting many of the country’s top businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and leading academic institutions, Ontario is often sought as one of the top places to conduct business around the world. A growing supply chain sector and new government policies have enhanced the growth potential of Ontario businesses. To maintain this advantage, the province must continue competing with other regions, both domestically and internationally, to enhance competitiveness and secure new investment.
To support economic development in Ontario, the province is implementing a cluster-based approach to accelerate innovation and increase the strength of partnerships between businesses, research institutions, and economic development organizations through a program called the Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund. This program supports collaborative networking activities or research/feasibility studies between cluster partners can receive up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $100,000 in Ontario government grants.
The application submission deadline for Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund is March 1, 2016. Eligible Lead Applicants must apply for these economic development grants promptly.
Economic ‘Cluster’ Funding: Strengthening Ontario Industries
According to the Government of Ontario, a cluster can be defined as a geographically concentrated group of interconnected businesses and related entities. An example of this segmentation is Kitchener-Waterloo’s technology cluster, Communitech, which has foster and grow high tech firms, including market innovations such as BlackBerry and Kik. Clusters sometimes leverage the participation of post-secondary or research institutions, in addition to their for-profit members. Together, clusters provide networks of knowledge and skills that support long-term economic growth.
Post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and regional development organizations are required to assume the role as Lead Applicant.
Ontario government grants will assist clusters consisting of a lead applicant and one or more for-profit industry partners. Post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and regional development organizations are required to assume the role as Lead Applicant. Lead Applicants must submit the research funding proposal, and will receive funds dispersed through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). The Lead Applicant must also outline other cluster partners who will dedicate resources towards the cluster’s objectives. These co-applicants can be industry partners, research institutions, post-secondary institutions, and/or non-profit organizations. Partners must contribute at least 50% of project related costs, while funding support will cover up to 50% of the remaining costs up to $100,000.
Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund: Program Streams
The Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund will assist in the formation and strengthening of economic clusters through two unique streams, including (1) Networking Activities and (2) Research and Feasibility Studies.
Stream 1 – Networking Activities
Ontario government funding is provided to clusters engaging in consortium building and networking activities. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Organizing networking events to identify cluster opportunities;
- Development of digital portals or other electronic networking tools that enhance cluster performance; and
- Hosting independent or joint webinars/seminars to increase cluster knowledge and strengthen linkages.
Stream 2 – Research and Feasibility Studies
Research grants are available to support strategic planning and development activities such as:
- SWOT and market feasibility analyses;
- Limited, one-time research projects observing opportunities within the cluster;
- Cluster mapping and performance evaluations; and
- Development of electronic databases, tools, and platforms to support cluster collaboration.
Cluster Development Seed Fund: Eligible Applicants
Economic clusters require the participation of a Lead Applicant and at least one industry partner. In order to apply, the Lead Applicant must be an:
- Ontario incorporated not-for-profit organization;
- Ontario post-secondary institution; or
- Ontario municipality/municipal/regional organization.
Industry partners providing funding towards the collaborative research and development project must be an:
- Ontario incorporated business/company;
- Ontario incorporated not-for-profit organization;
- Ontario municipality, or municipal/regional development organization; or a
- Federal economic development agency.
Apply to the Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund
Although this cluster development grant supports collaborative networks, only the Lead Applicant is required to apply.
Funding Deadline: The application submission deadline for Ontario Cluster Development Seed Fund is March 1, 2016. Eligible Lead Applicants must apply for these economic development grants promptly.
If you have any questions about this program, please feel free to contact Mentor Works or the program directly.
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