Innovative Solutions Canada: 2019 R&D Challenges

Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) is an initiative that seeks technology-based solutions to federal government challenges. Through the program, companies can receive grant funding to research and develop solutions that overcome these challenges, therefore helping the Canadian government to function better. The Government of Canada may even purchase your innovation for further testing and deployment.

The three-phase ISC program offers Canadian government grants for research (up to $150,000), development (up to $1 million) and, if selected, innovators may receive federal procurement contracts.

To participate in ISC, you must submit a proposal for one of the program’s current innovation challenges. To help you find the most applicable challenge for your business, this article summarizes current and upcoming areas where solutions are required. Explore each stream to evaluate whether your business can develop and commercialize in-demand next-generation technology.

Innovative Solutions Canada: Federal Innovation Challenges

Innovative Solutions Canada is currently holding an application intake for the following innovation challenges:

Identification of Microbial Mixtures

Challenge: While micro-organisms and microbial mixtures can perform complex tasks in a range of biotechnology applications, the testing required for assessment of these micro-organisms can be expensive. Health Canada (HC) is seeking a technique to identify and characterize micro-organisms found in microbial mixtures and predict interactions that could mask or enhance adverse effects. The solution will help uncover risks to the environment and human health and help HC advise SMEs on cost-effective testing methods for microbial mixtures.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: The solution must: (1) identify members of microbial mixtures; (2) characterize their stability and population dynamics; and (3) predict possible interactions among the micro-organisms in the mixture that may mask or enhance adverse effects, such as toxicity, in humans.

Additionally, the solution must reduce testing costs per micro-organism to well below $150K. It must also be capable of identifying a wide range of target micro-organisms in the mixture and distinguishing different micro-organisms at least to species level, and it must be reliable for any microbial mixtures containing different micro-organisms.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 18, 2019.

Point of Care Diagnostics to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

Challenge: Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections are an increasing public health threat in Canada and elsewhere. The misuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals is a major cause in the spread of AMR infections. Health Canada is looking for new, easy-to-use, and cost-effective point-of-care diagnostic and detection tools that can identify and characterize antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and/or distinguish between viral and bacterial infections. The new tool or tools will help manage the rise of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections.

Research Grant Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: The solution must: (1) develop a detection or diagnostic tool that could be used at the point of care to identify and characterize antibiotic-resistant bacteria and/or distinguish between viral and bacterial infections rapidly (within minutes to hours); (2) be affordable and accessible enough for use at Canadian hospitals and clinics; (3) require minimal training to use and maintain.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 18, 2019.

Machine Learning to Improve Organ Donation Rates and Make Better Matches

Challenge: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the field of organ donation and transplantation in Canada. AI experts are needed to continually enhance the predictive ability of existing tools to identify the best potential donor-transplant recipient matches. Health Canada seeks approaches in Deep Learning and AI to predict the success of possible matches and outcomes to improve evidence-based decision-making about organ donation and transplantation.

Research Grant Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: The solution must use technological approaches in Deep Learning and AI to: (1) improve the predictive ability of real-time, clinical decision support tools so that it may be used by physicians across Canada to accurately identify candidates that are most likely to be successful donors; (2) individualize kidney transplantation by calculating the success of potential donor-recipient matches and choosing those with the best chances for excellent results; (3) reduce unsuccessful attempts at donation after cardiocirculatory death and improve transplant outcomes; (4) match kidneys to transplantation recipients, but also other organs, as needed.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 18, 2019.

Data Centre Discovery Tool with Options Analysis

Challenge: Shared Services Canada (SSC) is looking to reduce the amount of time, money, and resources it spends on gathering information on current technologies, applications, and services in aging data centres, which is currently performed using out-of-date tools and manual processes. SSC seeks an innovative solution to collect and analyze information from multiple data centres; the solution will provide options for reducing or consolidating infrastructure and strategies for data centre migrations.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: Proposed solutions must be able to: (1) collect data and deliver it to a central location across multiple VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks); (2) use no more than one Rack Unit of space; (3) analyze information obtained during discovery and provide options for reducing and/or consolidating infrastructure; (4) be able to analyze information obtained and provide plans for data centre migrations.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 24, 2019.

User-Centric Verifiable Digital Credentials

Challenge: In many contexts (e.g. airport security), paper documents remain the predominant way to prove key information about individuals, such as their names or security clearance. While this information might be digitized, there are not currently any widely adopted or standardized methods to verify digital identifications. The Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (TBS) and Shared Services Canada (SSC) need a standardized method to issue and rapidly verify digital credentials across different contexts. This method will reduce human error, increase efficiency, and ensure digital credential legitimacy using cryptography.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: Proposed solutions must: (1) create User-centric Verifiable Digital Credentials that work on a national or global interoperable verification platform; (2) protect the privacy and identity of the user; (3) incorporate emerging and/or mature specifications for interoperability that have been funded, tested, and/or championed by the US Department of Homeland Security; (4) adhere to applicable policy guidelines and frameworks.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 24, 2019.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine Matching

Challenge: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires a solution that uses predictive computer models to match foot-and-mouth vaccines with specific strains of the disease, in the event of an outbreak.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $100,000. Phase 2 – Up to $350,000.

Essential Outcomes: Proposed solutions to the challenge must: (1) use virus neutralization data to perform antigenic cartography and analysis; (2) have the ability to analyze over 100 antigens and compare each one to a set of reference serums; (3) display results in graphic form for easy interpretation; (4) produce antigenic mapping correlated with the genetic makeup of virus samples; (5) detect emerging variants based on distinctions in antigenic distances; (6) identify potential options for cross reactivity and cross protection between defined foot-and-mouth-disease antigens; and (7) use digital simulation or modelling to assess the relation between a food-and-mouth disease field virus and strains stored at a vaccine bank.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 29, 2019.

Hybrid Ceramic Powder Processing System

Challenge: The National Research Council (NRC) seeks a solution for processing raw ceramic powder into a coated, sinterable, hybrid carbon nanotube ceramic powder. The solution will support NRC’s research into possible applications for this new stronger composite material, including light-weight armours.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: Proposed solutions must: (1) produce a uniform distribution of carbon nanotubes, meeting required specifications; (2) deposit high-quality carbon nanotubes onto powder grains; (3) also work for carbon nanotube deposition onto silicon carbide powders; (4) process the powder at a rate of more than 1 kg/hour; (5) include all the necessary interlocks for safe, hands-off operation by a trained operator, be automated for programmable, repeatable operations, and be able to operate for 24 hours without stopping; (6) include all gas cabinets and abatement systems needed for safe handling of process gases; (7) have a footprint of less than 10 m2 and be less than 3m in height, and work at pressures ranging from atmospheric to below 0.1 bar.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 29, 2019.

Stable Liposomes as Drug Carriers

Challenge: Liposomes are used as medication delivery vehicles for cancer, pain management, and vaccines, as well as other applications. The NRC is looking for a solution to develop stable liposome formulations to establish NRC-certified reference standards and methods in relation to drug-loaded liposomes. These references will support drug product submissions, as well as streamline the regulatory approval process and improve the manufacturability of drug delivery formulations.

Contract Value: Phase 1 – Up to $150,000. Phase 2 – Up to $1,000,000.

Essential Outcomes: Proposed solutions must: (1) enable the development of drug-loaded liposomes, with stable sizes, in three specific formulations; (2) demonstrate the development of lipid nanoparticle products based on new formulations for gene or cell therapies; (3) show that the potency of the carrier is better than or similar to the lipid particle for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved RNAi (Ribonucleic acid interference) patisiran drug; (4) ensure that any oxidation and hydrolysis issues are addressed clearly; (5) ensure that the liposome particle size and polydispersity index are maintained during storage; and (6) develop liposomes that are non-toxic.

Timeline: Proposals accepted until October 29, 2019.

About the Innovative Solutions Canada R&D Program

Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) is a competitive proposal-based funding program that provides government grants to Canadian innovators. Through the program, applicants can choose an open innovation challenge and offer a technological approach to help overcome the problem. Proposals submitted from qualified applicants are called forward to Phase 1 (Proof of Concept). Selected concepts are invited to participate in Phase 2 (Prototype Development) and upon completion of the program, the department that initiated the challenge may purchase your innovation for deployment.

Research grants are awarded depending on the challenge and project phase. Consult your specific challenge for greater insight on ISC’s financial incentives.

To participate in any of the challenges listed in this blog, innovators must be for-profit, incorporated in Canada, maintain less than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, perform research and development in Canada, and maintain a workforce/management group that is primarily Canadian-based.

To discuss your eligibility for Innovative Solutions Canada and explore how your company can optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.

Apply for Canadian Government Funding

Posted: October 26, 2018. Updated: September 30, 2019.

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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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