Are You Eligible for the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity?
The OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP) program is an Ontario government funding incentive provided through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), an agency that stimulates research partnerships among industry and academia. VIP funding is provided to help innovative businesses design, generate, and commercialize innovative technologies in collaboration with Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.
Through OCE VIP funding, Ontario-based innovators may offset up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $20,000 – $75,000.
To qualify for the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity, businesses must have been in operations for at least two years, employ a minimum two full-time employees, and have less than $100,000 in funding provided through OCE for current/active projects. Other eligibility criteria for OCE VIP funding specify the types of projects and expenses that can be included.
VIP Funding for Collaborative Research and Development Projects
Publicly funded post-secondary research institutions are catalysts for innovation in Ontario. While most small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) feel that they must innovate internally, using colleges and universities can provide considerable support that translates ideas into commercialized products and services.
This is the idea behind research funding programs like the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP). VIP research project support helps SMEs turn innovative concepts into market-ready products and services by offsetting a portion of costs incurred by the post-secondary institution that would otherwise need to be paid in full by the business.
The Voucher for Innovation and Productivity provides Ontario businesses with vouchers to offset up to $20,000 to $75,000 in project-related expenses.
The program is further broken-down into two unique streams of funding support:
- Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I): Up to $20,000 for research projects lasting up to 12 months.
- Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II): Up to $75,000 for research projects lasting between 12-24 months.
Unlike Canadian government grants, vouchers are a form of non-repayable funding that is awarded to the post-secondary institution that a company works with. This funding offsets a portion of costs and greatly reduces the overall costs which the business must pay.
To learn more about the purpose and nature of OCE VIP funding, please read Mentor Works’ Voucher for Innovation and Productivity overview blog.
OCE Funding: Applicant Eligibility for VIP Vouchers
To qualify for funding through the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program, businesses must:
- Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I): Be an Ontario-based company, verify they have been in operation for at least two years, employ a minimum of two full-time workers, and not be participating in any active OCE projects receiving $100,000 in funding.
- Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II): Be an Ontario-based company in operation for a minimum of two years Possess a manufacturing and/or R&D presence in Ontario, have at least five full-time employees, demonstrate the ability to commercialize and/or implement the project’s outcomes, and not be participating in any active OCE projects receiving $100,000 in funding.
Is Your Project Eligible for VIP Research and Development Funding?
Qualified projects that could potentially receive funding through the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program must:
- Leverage the unique capabilities and team of an Ontario-based post-secondary institution;
- Focus on early-stage research and development or later-stage validation and demonstration; and
- Lead to a commercially viable product or service.
What Types of Expenses Can Be Offset Through OCE VIP Funding?
Project expenses that can be included for funding through the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program include (but are not limited to):
- Select registration fees and travel/accommodation costs;
- Salaries and benefits for technicians, support staff, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and students involved exclusively in eligible project activities at the academic institution;
- Research materials, licence fees, publication, workshop costs, supplies, and prorated services directly related to the project;
- Research equipment purchase (as determined by OCE);
- Lab analyses and related services;
- Sub-contractor and consultant fees (if approved by OCE management prior to the start of the project); and
- Costs associated with the dissemination of findings (including translation).
Ineligible Expenses for OCE VIP Vouchers
Ineligible project expenses that cannot be included for OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity funding include (but are not limited to):
- Costs of commuting between a residence and place of employment;
- Wages and benefits of faculty, adjunct or visiting professors;
- Salaries and benefits for Principal Investigators (PI);
- Administrative charges and fees (except for colleges);
- Infrastructure costs;
- Intellectual property (IP) protection costs; and
- Other costs not directly associated with meeting the deliverables and milestones as specified in the funding agreement with OCE.
Get Started with the OCE Voucher for Innovation and Productivity
For Ontario-based businesses who qualify for the Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program, the first step in getting started is to contact an OCE Business Development Manager. During this stage, you’ll be able to further discuss your project and receive program endorsement (which grants access to a submitting a funding application).
Contact Mentor Works to discuss your project prior to getting started with OCE; this can help identify additional government grants and funding programs to support project expenses.