Moving new and innovative technologies from research and development to the marketplace is not an easy process. Along the way, innovators need to formalize a commercialization strategy – requiring significant capital and human resource expenses. Yet for many Western Canadian businesses, pre-commercialization funding gaps are the main cause for products and services being delayed or not reaching the market at all.
Fortunately, the Western Innovation Initiative (WINN) is a product development funding program uniquely designed to help innovators overcome these pre-commercialization funding gaps. It provides repayable government funding contributions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with less than 500 employees. With this support, more Western Canada-based businesses will be able to bring new products and services to market.
The Western Innovation Initiative provides up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $3.5 million in repayable funding per project.
To access WINN funding, eligible businesses must complete a two-stage application process that includes an Expression of Interest (EOI), and if called forward to the next round, a full application. This process typically takes six months from the initial application deadline.
Deadline Notice: WINN has an upcoming deadline of November 29, 2017. Consider starting your application preparation now to avoid missing this cut-off.
Western Innovation Initiative: Product Development Funding for SMEs
The Western Innovation Initiative (WINN) is a government funding program for innovative SMEs in Western Canada. The program strives to accomplish four objectives, including:
- Help commercialize innovative technology-based products, processes, and services;
- Stimulate greater private sector investments in commercialization activities;
- Increase the number of jobs for highly qualified personnel in Western Canada; and
- Enable company growth.
Since being launched in 2014, the fund has invested nearly $97M in funding and will leverage these investments to create upwards of 1,600 new jobs.
How WINN Funding is Awarded and Repaid
WINN provides businesses with up to 50% of eligible expenses to a maximum $3.5 million in repayable government funding per project. Throughout the duration of WINN, businesses may receive up to $10 million in funding to support innovative product/service development.
Following a completed project, businesses will have a 1-year grace period before the repayment of funding begins. Once repayment begins, businesses are required to make even monthly payments over the following five years until the balance of funding has been repaid. Early repayment is possible without incurring penalties.
Applicants Eligible for the Western Innovation Initiative
To be a competitive applicant for WINN funding, businesses should:
- Be incorporated in Western Canada (either British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba);
- Be a for-profit business in operations for at least one year;
- Maintain fewer than 500 employees;
- Have a viable plan to commercialize an innovative, technology-driven product, service or process within three years of project commencement; and
- Have sufficient intellectual property (IP) rights to carry out the proposed project and commercially exploit the results.
Types of Projects Eligible for WINN Funding
There are two factors used to determine the eligibility of projects. This includes the type of activity (project) being performed and who the product or service will benefit once commercialized.
Activities Eligible for the Western Innovation Initiative
All activities should introduce a new innovation or to technologically improve an existing product, process or service for new/existing markets. This includes:
- Technology development and acceleration;
- Receiving product certifications;
- Pilot projects and technology demonstration projects;
- Validation of market potential and end-user acceptance; and
- Marketing, human resources development, productivity, and process or quality improvement directly related to innovation commercialization.
Economic Clusters Eligible for WINN Funding
Likewise, all innovations must directly support a core economic cluster, including:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Clean Technology;
- Clean Resources;
- Digital Technology;
- Health/Bio Sciences; and
- Value-Added Agriculture.
WINN Funding: Successful Projects
To date, nearly $100 million in Canadian government funding has been invested in Western Canada businesses through the WINN program. This includes:
- $3.5M Western Innovation Initiative Business Funding Awarded to Vitalus
- $14.8M in WINN Funding Invested in 12 British Columbia Companies
- Seven Calgary, Alberta-based Companies Share Over $2.5M in WINN Funding
How to Apply for the Western Innovation Initiative
To apply for WINN government funding, companies must complete a two-stage application process that includes an Expression of Interest (EOI), and if called forward to the next round, a full application.
Deadline Notice: WINN has an upcoming deadline of November 29, 2017. Consider preparing your application now to avoid missing this cut-off.
To discuss your eligibility for the program or learn how your application can be optimized with the support of a Government Funding Planner™, please contact Mentor Works.