Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program (AOP) Collaborative Research Funding
Please Note: This program has been discontinued. Please consider other Research & Development Funding for government incentives towards your innovation activities.
Complex innovation challenges can pose a significant challenge for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). However, when companies collaborate with each other and research institutions, it’s possible to achieve far greater results and increase the project’s value than they could achieve independently. This is the purpose of the Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program, a research initiative that seeks to solve issues that are national in scope to enhance Canadian business competitiveness.
The Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program (AOP) strives to tackle specific industry challenges through collaborative research and development activities. Through the program, companies will form a partnership with other businesses and academic researchers to develop new products and increase productivity.
This program solves problems faced by Canadian companies by creating and applying innovative research-based solutions.
Industry collaborators may receive government funding to offset the costs of performing R&D activities with academic research institutions. Businesses benefit by sharing the project costs with another industry partner, while also receiving comprehensive research support by leading universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutions.
The Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program Offsets Industry Research Costs
AOP is jointly managed by Alberta Innovates and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). Together they provide support for businesses in each province who are accessing research, development, and technology commercialization services.
Unlike most other government funding programs, AOP provides government funding to the research institutions and companies are not the direct recipients of funds. It does, however, offset research costs and provide exclusive access to the provinces’ best research facilities.
(Source: Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program Guidelines – Ontario Centres of Excellence)
Provincial government contributions provided through Alberta Innovates and OCE will fund up to 50% of eligible project expenses. The remaining expenses must be paid by the companies, with half of that amount paid in cash, and the other half through in-kind expenses.
So, assuming a collaboration of two industry partners requires $200,000 in funding (the minimum allowable through the program):
- Alberta Innovates would contribute $100,000;
- OCE would contribute $100,000;
- Industry Partner #1 would contribute $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in-kind; and
- Industry Partner #2 would contribute $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in-kind.
Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program Objectives & Focus
The program’s main focus is to accelerate the development of technologies through the collaboration of businesses and research institutions in Alberta and Ontario.
Targeted Industry Sectors
Companies who are addressing challenges in the following high-potential industries may receive support through AOP:
- Advanced materials and manufacturing;
- Aerospace and defense;
- Agriculture and forestry;
- Energy and the environment;
- Health technologies;
- Information communications technologies (ICT) and digital media;
- Life sciences and biotechnology; and
Partnership Composition Eligibility
Prior to applying, industry partners must form a partnership with another business located in the program’s other province. All partnerships must include at least one business from Alberta and one from Ontario; however, in cases where a company has physical operations in both provinces, it can apply as the sole applicant.
Research collaborations must consist of at least three parties, including:
- Either (a) a business with operations in Alberta and Ontario, or (b) two or more industry partners with at least one operating in Alberta and at least one operating in Ontario;
- One Alberta-based public research institution (university, college, polytechnic), an Alberta Innovates Applied Research Centre, or corporate entity capable of performing R&D; and
- One Ontario-based public research institution (university, college).
Businesses Eligible to Participate in the Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program
Industry partners who plan to participate in AOP must ensure they:
- Are incorporated (provincially or federally);
- Are operating in either Alberta or Ontario;
- Are for-profit and financially stable;
- Have been in operation for at least two years OR have at least two employees;
- Are innovation driven and currently researching/developing technology; and
- Can apply – and benefit from – the research’s results.
Small Business Research Services Performed Through AOP
The Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program will deploy teams of academic researchers in each province to work with the industry partners. Businesses will provide in-kind contributions of technology and time, and findings discovered by research institutions will be openly shared throughout the project.
Some of the services supported by academic researchers include:
- Research and development that transitions innovations to industry adoption;
- Product or process development, product design and validation, demonstration, and pilot trials that demonstrate feasibility to customers/investors;
- Activities that confirm market potential or customer demand for the innovation; and
- Use of research facilities and equipment available in academic institutions.
Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program Expenses Eligible for Funding
For each of the activities listed above, eligible expenses may include:
- Research institution personnel involved exclusively in eligible project activities;
- Equipment, materials, and supplies;
- Travel undertaken directly related to the project; and
- Overhead costs directly related to the project.
How AOP Funding Contributions Are Calculated
All Canadian government funding will flow from the funding agencies (AB Innovates in Alberta, OCE in Ontario) to the academic researchers responsible for administering research and development activities.
During the application stage, applicants are required to submit a detailed project plan that outlines specific outcomes. This project plan will be reviewed by a team of researchers who then propose a project budget based on the resources needed to achieve the project goal.
From this budget, half of the amount will be covered by Alberta Innovates and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. For projects requiring $400,000 in research or development services, $200,000 in funding would be awarded, leaving the remaining $200,000 to be provided by industry partners.
Funding agencies will provide a minimum of $200,000 and a maximum of $500,000 in support through the program over two years of R&D activities.
Leverage Additional Project Funding Through the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Program.
How to Apply for the Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program
There is a two-phase application process for AOP; this requires industry partnerships to be formalized and significant planning to be done ahead of time. It’s best to start early when planning AOP projects so that applicants can plan for:
- Expression of Interest (EOI): The first stage of the application process where companies reveal the innovation challenge and how results would be commercialized.
- Full Application: Including the full project proposal, budget, and letters of support.
- Final Decision: The point where the project may be approved, at which point the project can begin to undergo further research and development.
To discover if your project is eligible for the program, or would like to receive assistance throughout the application process, please contact Mentor Works.