The autonomous vehicle (AV) industry continues to grow exponentially in hopes of a transportation future that is more sustainable, safe, and reliable. Significant progress has been made, stimulating much interest from federal governments, investors, and not-for-profit organizations.
“Connected and autonomous vehicles and shared mobility have the potential to make transportation more environmentally friendly, safe, and accessible.”
– Jeannette Montufar, PhD, P.Eng., FCAE Chair, The Expert Panel on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Shared Mobility
However, regardless of progress, there are many hurdles that AV innovators must overcome before autonomous transportation becomes a mainstream reality. Humans, despite many driving flaws, maintain an advantage over AVs because of our ability to adapt to weather conditions, traffic complications, and unforeseen circumstances.
“To operate at a level comparable to human drivers, autonomous vehicles require AI to ‘perceive’, ‘think’, and ‘reason’. Advances in perception and control algorithms are continuing, but humans still typically far outperform AI on such tasks.”
– The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA | CAC)
Despite the challenges, every difficulty creates an opportunity for businesses to provide solutions through new technologies, products, and services. Canadian AV innovators are pushing the boundaries of what the automotive world thought was possible. This allows Canada to establish itself as a world leader in AV technologies if we can harness the right talent, ideas, and resources.
“Analyzing and interpreting the raw data that sensors collect about a vehicle’s external environment and then driving accordingly — i.e., AI — is a difficult challenge in the development of fully autonomous vehicles.”
– The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA | CAC)
Canadian government funding has been quick to provide support for this bourgeoning industry, enabling Canadian AV businesses and organizations to grow and innovate. Here are some key programs that allocate funding for Canada’s autonomous transportation companies in the hopes of generating a more advanced and prosperous future for Canadian AV transportation.
Government Funding Programs for AV Innovators
Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN): Talent Development Program
AVIN’s Talent Development Program (TDP) is designed to match Ontario companies with young Canadians just out of post-secondary school. By leveraging the talent of recent graduates and soon-to-be graduates, businesses, and organizations in the Connected and Automated Vehicles (C/AV) sector benefit from new and innovative ideas, while providing a valuable workplace experience to those just starting their career. TDP is providing funds to Ontario applicants through two streams: (1) the TalentEdge Fellowship Program (TFP) and (2) the TalentEdge Internship Program (TIP). Applicants may receive up to $35,000 in funding for eligible costs.
Businesses eager to grow their workforce and talent pool for C/AV should consider AVIN’s Talent Development Program as a powerful tool for mitigating costs. Review the full program for eligible applicants, eligible projects, and program deadlines here.
Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN): AV Research and Development Partnership Fund
The AVIN also offers a program called the AV Research and Development Partnership Fund. Through the program’s Technology Demonstrations stream, lead applicants (technology developers) work with partners such as other SMEs, large enterprises, and post-secondary institutions to design, prototype, and validate innovative autonomous vehicle technologies. This initiative offers up to 33% of eligible costs to a maximum of $1 million in grants, dependent on applicant and partner contributions. If your organization is Ontario based and partnered with an SME, academic institution, or municipality you may be eligible to apply before this program’s deadline on December 31, 2021.
Review the AVIN AV Research and Development Partnership Fund program page for more details.
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration (EVID) Program
Another funding initiative that AV businesses should be aware of is the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration (EVID) Program, which is administered by Natural Resources Canada (NRC). This program was designed to advance and commercialize clean energy technology and infrastructure for electric vehicles. This program supports projects designed to tackle technical issues such as making charging stations more efficient and available for electric vehicles.
Successful applicants could receive up to 50% of eligible project expenses for a maximum of $250,000 to $3 million in funding. This program is not accepting applications as of the time this blog was published. However, with the re-election of the Liberal government, another intake is possible in the coming years.
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NGen Manufacturing Program
For businesses looking to perform collaborative technology development or technology application projects, the NGen Manufacturing program may be a good fit. This initiative helps Canadian manufacturing companies compete with industry leaders globally . By leveraging the collaborative structure of their Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI), groups of businesses or organizations develop high potential technologies in a way that removes the burden of costs for innovation. Funding for NGen Manufacturing is provided through two streams: the Cluster Building stream and the Feasibility & Studies stream. Applicants may receive between $25,000 and $8.8 million in funding.
Review the full NGen Manufacturing program page to learn more about eligibility criteria and funding amounts.
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
Another powerful program for investing in the AV sector is the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). This program supports investment in productivity improvement and economic beneficial projects. Financial contributions (repayable and non-repayable) may cover up to 50% of costs for applicants that demonstrate high growth potential in Canada. There are five streams currently being provided through SIF which compliment a wide array of investment types: (1) Research, Development, and Commercialization, (2) Business Growth and Expansion, (3) Investment Attraction and Retention, (4) Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration, and (5) National Ecosystems.
Each of these five SIF streams offer unique funding details and eligibility factors, so take a moment to verify if your business’ suitability by visiting this comprehensive SIF program page.
The Strategic Innovation Fund also has a Net Zero Accelerator (NZA) initiative which supports Canadian projects that are working towards making Canada achieve its’ net zero goals for clean growth such as electric vehicle technology. The NZA is providing up to $8 billion to assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
NRC-Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
The NRC-Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is implemented through the National Research Council (NRC) and helps companies, such as those in the autonomous transportation industry, accelerate research and development initiatives with funding. Businesses that are prioritizing the development of new, novel technologies, such as product development, manufacturing systems, and process development, are strong candidates for winning research funding contributions through IRAP. However, considerable consideration is also given to large-scale technology adoption projects which generate new capabilities and provide industry-leading capabilities.
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides tax credits for research and development projects. SR&ED applicants claim over $3 billion annually in tax credits. Automotive businesses looking to perform research and development may be eligible for SR&ED.
Receive up to 69% of labour and overhead costs, 36% of contractor costs, and 45% of material costs in tax credits.
For all eligibility details, including how to apply, visit the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program page.
The Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility (CITM)
Along with government funding programs, organizations such as the Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility (CITM) play a key role in stimulating the AV sector with valuable resources, market insights, news and information, and much more. CITM is one of six Regional Technology Development Sites (RTDS), operated by AVIN, that share the mission of supporting SMEs with a broad variety of mediums for a successful Canadian future in automated transportation.
Get In Touch with a Government Funding Professional
For businesses and organizations in the autonomous vehicle industry, government funding is a powerful tool that allows the leveraging of grant and loan contributions to accelerate technology innovation, drive research and development, and increase hiring and training.
However effective it may be, the government funding landscape can take time and research to understand what programs are right for each business. Review this comprehensive funding program directory which includes a wide variety of Canadian funding programs. The directory allows for filtering by location and program type. Additionally, please speak with a Mentor Works, a Ryan Company representative to get a smart start to the application process.