BioConnect: $4M for Digital Security from FedDev Ontario

BioConnect, an Ontario biometrics company, has received millions of dollars in funding from the Federal Development Agency of Ontario through the agency’s Business Scale-Up & Productivity Program (BSP). The funding will support multiple expansion projects at BioConnect, including commercializing new biometric technology and growing in new export markets.

Founded in 2010, BioConnect provides biometric access control solutions to verify a person’s identity through his or her unique physical traits (e.g. fingerprints). BioConnect’s technology ensures exact identity assurance, cybersecurity, and protection of valuable company assets for the organization’s 1,600 customers in Canada, the US, and the UK. These customers include more than 60 industrial partners, such as BMO Financials and Visa. In 2017, BioConnect was named one of Canada’s Most Innovative Companies by the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

BioConnect has been awarded up to $3.9M from FedDev Ontario to continue to develop cutting-edge technology in biometrics for multiple security applications.

FedDev Ontario is a federal economic development agency that serves southern Ontario and provides financial support to both for-profit and non-profit organizations to strengthen the province’s economic performance and drive innovation.

FedDev Ontario Fosters Biotech’s Innovations in Digital Security

BioConnect will leverage the funding from FedDev Ontario to continue to develop its innovative biometrics technology, which verifies a person’s identity through physical traits, such as facial structure, fingerprints, or retinas. BioConnect’s technology can be used across physical entities (e.g. doors), internet of things (e.g. security systems), and digital applications (e.g. mobile apps).

The $3.9M in funding will help strengthen the company’s product portfolio, as well as create 40 new high-quality jobs in Toronto, including 16 jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The funding reflects the federal government’s insistence in Canada’s Digital Charter on the importance of security in today’s digital economy: Canadians must be able to trust that their privacy is protected and that their data will not be misused, and it is Canadian technological innovation that will ensure this security.

BioConnect’s Government Funding Strategy

BioConnect frequently leverages Canadian government funding and Ontario government funding to help finance key projects that have been essential to the organization’s continued success. In 2014, BioConnect began working with Mentor Works to develop a government funding plan tailored to the company’s upcoming strategic projects.

According to Jeff Crews, President of BioConnect, “What sets Mentor Works apart is their strategic counsel. The sources of public funding for Ontario-based companies are numerous. However, that can be a double-edged sword where a tremendous amount of internal resources can be tied up on a potential application that proves unsuccessful.”

Crews describes how Mentor Works eases this funding process by providing a “recipe” for a successful application, working collaboratively with BioConnect’s team.

Canadian Government Funding Accelerates BioConnect’s Growth

Through a detailed funding strategy, BioConnect has been able to access several government funding programs to support essential components of its business growth.

Business Scale-Up & Productivity Program

BioConnect was able to secure the loan for $3.9M through FedDev Ontario’s Business Scale-Up & Productivity Program, by working proactively with Mentor Works to identify upcoming projects and apply to the appropriate government funding program.

BSP was an apt choice for BioConnect, as the program is intended to help businesses more easily adopt, adapt, and commercialize innovative technologies. Applicants can receive up to $10M to cover up to 35% of project costs. Funding is in the form of a 0% interest government loan.

Business Expansion Funding & Ontario Government Funding

BioConnect has leveraged millions of dollars in additional government funding to offset project costs and drive its success. The company has successfully applied for several categories of government funding:

  • Research & Development: BioConnect received support from the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Funding helped cover labour and contractor costs for the continuous R&D that the company needs in order to develop its platforms.
  • Hiring & Training: In 2015, BioConnect applied for government wage subsidy programs to offset the costs of hiring several new graduates. This helped the company save over $100k in payroll costs.
    • As well, when BioConnect brought in a third-party trainer to boost employees’ skills in sales and marketing, the company was able to leverage funding from the Canada-Ontario Job Grant to offset 66% of training costs.
  • Business Expansion: Each year, BioConnect attends top trade shows to capitalize on the growing global biometrics market. They have used business expansion funding programs, such as Export Market Access (EMA), an Ontario government funding program, to offset a portion of trade show fees. (While EMA is now closed, businesses looking for exporting support may be interested in the federal CanExport program).

BioConnect also received funding and advisory support through the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program to help the organization grow globally.

Crews confirms that BioConnect’s partnership with Mentor Works “has been very beneficial financially,” and that the funding the company has received, “has been a material catalyst to our growth.”

Is your business ready to access government grants and loans? Download Mentor Works’ Build a Government Funding Plan slide deck and receive the keys you need to optimize your government funding strategy.

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Sunnie holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University, and has published her writing in several academic journals, as well as in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. She combines years of experience as a professor in English with practical experience in the private sector as a trainer in writing and analytical thinking.

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