Rural Innovation Initiative Grants

The Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) Regional Stream is an Eastern Ontario business funding program designed to offset technology adoption, adaptation, development, and commercialization costs. As administered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the program is very similar to the previous Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), a government grant designed to support capital investment projects.

The Rural Innovation Initiative provides eligible businesses up to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $100,000 in Ontario technology grants.

To qualify for the newly launched program, businesses need to operate in Eastern Ontario in a priority sector such as advanced manufacturing, clean technology, digital industries, and food/beverage processing. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, so companies can apply throughout the year in advance of starting their strategic growth projects. All activities funded through the program must be complete by December 31, 2020.

Rural Innovation Initiative: About the New Program

Building from the success of the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), the Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) was launched in May 2019 to support technology-based growth projects. Its “Regional Stream” seeks to bolster company investments in Industry 4.0 technologies, new/next generation equipment, and enhanced products/processes. Companies need to apply for funding prior to project start dates to receive approval, then projects can be initiated once government funding is in place.

Rural Innovation Initiative business applicants can access up to $100,000 in non-repayable funding contributions to offset the costs of implementing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Competitive applicants must demonstrate how their project advances innovation (through new technology, commercialization of a new product, process or productivity enhancements, etc.), creates high-quality, sustainable jobs in Eastern Ontario, and provides the potential for long-term business growth and competitiveness, both domestically and internationally. To meet all these criteria, projects need to be truly innovative and lead to new business opportunities that would not be possible using current technologies or processes.

Businesses Eligible for Rural Innovation Initiative Equipment Funding

To qualify for the Eastern Ontario Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) Regional Stream, businesses must be a private, for-profit, high-growth SME with potential for accelerated growth through innovation. Companies must also operate in a priority sector including:

  • Advanced manufacturing;
  • Clean technology;
  • Digital industries; and
  • Agri-food and beverage processing.

Eastern Ontario Regions

In addition to the above eligibility criteria, Rural Innovation Initiative applicants must operate in Eastern Ontario. As defined by the funding program, Eastern Ontario includes:

  • Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry;
  • Prescott and Russell;
  • Leeds and Grenville;
  • Lanark;
  • Frontenac;

  • Lennox and Addington;
  • Hastings;
  • Prince Edward;
  • Northumberland;

  • Peterborough;
  • Kawartha Lakes;
  • Haliburton; and
  • Renfrew.

Projects Eligible for RII Business Funding for Eastern Ontario

All project proposals sent to the Rural Innovation Initiative program undergo a comprehensive due diligence process to ensure only the best, most innovative projects receive funding. To qualify, projects must:

  • Include investment in Industry 4.0 equipment, technology, products, and processes that lead to business growth;
  • Focus on research and development, commercialization, and adopting business practices that support global competitiveness and economic diversification; and
  • Demonstrate how funding will accelerate growth, improve sustainability, drive prosperity, and create/sustain jobs.

Examples of High-Priority Projects

Some types of projects are a better fit for the Rural Innovation Initiative than others. Submitting a high-priority project does not guarantee funding but will make it easier to appeal to the program’s pillar focuses. Some projects your business should consider using to access these funds include:

  • Cloud computing;
  • Extended intelligence;
  • New materials;
  • Machine learning;
  • Rapid prototyping and engineering; and
  • Robotics and automation.

How to Apply for the Eastern Ontario Rural Innovation Initiative

Ready to get started with the Eastern Ontario Rural Innovation Initiative Regional Stream? Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, so unlike many other types of government funding programs, there are no intake deadlines to keep in mind. Companies should aim to submit RII applications approximately six to eight weeks ahead of their project start date to ensure a funding decision is made prior to eligible expenses being incurred. Applications must provide a strong case for the project and explain how it will enable greater use of technology.

Want to discuss your upcoming project and evaluate your Canadian government funding potential? Contact Mentor Works to identify funding opportunities and optimize the application process.

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Written by

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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