Autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies are advancing at an incredible pace. Only a short while ago, connected and autonomous vehicles were thought of as being a long way from market readiness, but now it appears that they’re only a few years away from public roads. While there are still hurdles to overcome, governments and businesses must be prepared to navigate this transition and be competitive in the new automotive industry.
Fortunately, the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Research and Development Partnership Fund offers AV technology innovators (SMEs) Ontario government grants to develop, prototype, and validate pre-commercial autonomous vehicle technology. Through the program, lead applicants partner with other businesses, organizations, and post-secondary institutions to complete projects that advance the technology’s commercial readiness.
The Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Research and Development Partnership Fund provides up to 33% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $1 million in research grants.
To apply for the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Research and Development Partnership Fund, eligible organizations must develop a comprehensive application package that contains an overview of the partnership partners, project activities and expected outcomes, as well as a detailed research budget. Applications must be submitted during one of the program’s occasional calls for proposals that are scheduled throughout the year. Stream 1 is currently open with a continuous intake until funding is depleted. Stream 2 is closed.
Autonomous Vehicle Research and Development Partnership Fund: Grants Ontario
Consisting of more than 150 companies and 10,000 workers, the growing AV sector is an important part of Ontario’s automotive industry. Ensuring this sector has the resources it needs to grow and remain innovative is a key strategy for the provincial government, which is why innovation-based government funding supports are so important.
The Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Research and Development Partnership Fund is one of these supports that can be used to significantly reduce the cost and risk of autonomous vehicle technology projects.
Recipients of the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Research and Development Partnership Fund may receive up to 33% of project expenses to a maximum $1 million.
The program provides Ontario government grants to encourage collaboration and offset a portion of eligible project costs related to the development of pre-commercial AV technologies. This includes connected vehicle (CV) technologies that transmit vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.
Successful applicants will receive research and development funding and may also test their innovations at the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) demonstration zone.
There are two streams of Ontario government funding offered through the AV R&D Partnership Fund. Each stream offers funding for pre-commercial technology development/demonstration projects; the only significant difference between them is the scope/budget of projects accepted:
- Stream 1 – Collaborative R&D Projects: Provides up to 33% of eligible project costs to a maximum $100,000.
- Stream 2 – Technology Demonstrations: Provides up to 33% of eligible project costs to a maximum $1 million.
Partnerships must support the remaining portion of expenses (50% or more) through cash contributions. Applicants forming a partnership for the purposes of this program should discuss how expenses not covered through the program will be financed prior to applying for funding.
Applicant Eligibility: AV Research and Development Partnership Fund
To access the AV Research and Development Partnership Fund, applicants must be deemed eligible, both independently and as part of their AV research and innovation partnership.
Please Note: Eligibility factors identified below relate to Stream 2 of the AV Research and Development Partnership Fund and may be different than eligibility factors for Stream 1 applicants.
To be eligible for the AV R&D Partnership Fund, lead applicants must:
- Be a for-profit business;
- Maintain fewer than 500 employees;
- Operate (manufacture, research, etc.) in Ontario;
- Commercialize, demonstrate, and/or implement the results of the project in Ontario;
- Be innovation-driven and develop products or services addressing industry challenges;
- Have sound business/financial plans;
- Be in good financial and reporting standing with OCE;
- Demonstrate capacity to conduct contracted project activities; and
- Not be a lead applicant on another Stream 1 or Stream 2 project (can be a primary/secondary partner on multiple concurrent projects).
Research Partner Eligibility
Organizations eligible to partner with SMEs through this funding program include:
- Other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
- National and multi-national enterprises;
- Non-Profit Organizations;
- Public Post-Secondary Academic Institutions;
- Municipalities; and
- Indigenous Communities.
Autonomous Vehicle Development Grants: Project Eligibility
The Autonomous Vehicle R&D Partnership Fund typically provides for technology development, demonstration, product/service validation, testing, and proof of concept projects. To access funding, companies should ensure these R&D projects:
- Have at least one lead applicant and one partner;
- Focus on innovations with a current technology readiness level (TRL) of 3 to 7;
- Are completed within 24 months of approval;
- Receive a minimum 1:1 cash match (from applicant and partner) for project expenses;
- Demonstrate actual products that can be showcased at events in Stratford and Ottawa, Ontario, on the road, and at customer sites.
Innovators may access the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) demonstration zone in Stratford to test and gather performance data during the project.
How to Apply for the AV Research and Development Partnership Fund
To get started with the Autonomous Vehicle R&D Partnership Fund, businesses (lead applicants) should solidify a research and development partnership with an eligible partner. Once established and a common project has been decided, a formal application can be developed.
Since this program has a two-phase application process including (1) an Expression of Interest (EOI), and (2) a full application, potential applicants should choose a future application period and ensure that all documentation is submitted during that intake’s relevant deadlines.
Submit for Stream 1: Open with continuous intake – Projects must be completed within 12 months of approval. Stream 2 is currently closed.
To get started with the application process, lead applicants must complete a client intake form, available online via the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) website. From there, an OCE Business Development Manager will provide eligible applicants with documents needed for EOI submission.
To explore if this is the optimal government funding program for your upcoming project and learn how to optimize the funding application process, please contact Mentor Works.
Posted: April 23, 2018. Updated December 18, 2019.