Supporting a more sustainable economy while fostering an inclusive and equitable recovery in southern Ontario
i.d.e.a. Fund is a program that fosters inclusion, diversity, environment and acceleration while contributing to a green recovery, and is delivered in partnership with the following Ontario Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): Innovation Guelph, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, WEtech Alliance, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, to support a more sustainable economy while fostering an inclusive and equitable recovery in Southern Ontario.
This program will provide specialized industry expertise to develop growth plans and related strategies in the areas such as talent attraction, raising follow-on investment, product development and quantification of product benefits/market value propositions, commercialization of intellectual property, and market diversification. Each RIC will distribute up to a maximum of $30,000 in matching seed funding to select innovative businesses in various sectors.
If your company is in southern Ontario, has a project that might fit the criteria and is interested in benefiting from a financial injection of seed funding and executive-level mentorship – keep reading!
Cohort 2 applications will open on March 24 to April 17, 2023.
Seed Funding + Support
- Non-repayable seed funding of up to $30,000 with matching funds
- Up to 40 hours of fully funded, targeted support from business leaders
Our experts have the knowledge and experience to help you address challenges and move your business forward in all areas including:
- growth plans and strategies
- talent attraction
- raising follow-on investment
- market diversification
- product development
- quantification of product benefits
- market value propositions
- commercialization of intellectual property
- and more
Who can apply?
We're looking for 120 companies that are:
- high potential businesses that have growth potential
- committed to reducing their impact on the environment by developing new or redesigning products, services, processes or technologies
Innovate Niagara provides 19 companies with $547,619 through Cohort 1 of Government of Canada-funded i.d.e.a. Fund
Across southern Ontario, approximately 120 companies received non-repayable contributions of up to $3,600,000 through Cohort 1 of the Government of Canada-supported i.d.e.a Fund. View the full list HERE. The Innovate Niagara-supported companies in Cohort 1 are:
For full selection criteria, consult the i.d.e.a. Fund Program Guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many companies will be accepted to i.d.e.a. Fund?
The i.d.e.a Fund will accept 120 clients into the program cohort.
- How does the expert-matching work?
Once accepted into the program, your Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) will determine the best expert/mentor to match you with based on your industry, business stage and specific project goals. There may be an opportunity to engage more than one expert, depending on project requirements.
- I am a co-founder/partner in the business. Do we all participate in this program, or is there one point of contact?
We expect that all decisions around financial commitments, project plans, budgets, milestones and KPIs, and updates will involve a decision-maker in the business. This is usually the owner/founder/C-Suite. Other members of your team can be involved in these meetings and are welcome. Once projects begin, involvement may be limited to one or more functional area and/or person depending on the project scope.
- What information will I be expected to provide for reporting requirements?
You can anticipate providing i.d.e.a. Fund regular project updates as well as general business metrics during your participation in the program, as a requirement to receive funding. Once the project(s) are complete there will also be post-program follow-up reports that will be requested for up to three years. Metrics may include but aren’t limited to: revenues, investment, employment and intellectual property.
- Which Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) will I be assigned to?
Your company will be allocated to one of the partner Regional Innovation Centres (RIC) based on a number of criteria including regional proximity and any current or previous history working with a particular RIC.
- I see that I need to have a scalable product/service to participate. Is there an opportunity, within the application form, to explain my product/service in more detail?
Yes. There are open-ended questions on the application form where you will have an opportunity to explain their product and/or service in as much detail as they’d like.
- If I’m not currently incorporated, am I required to incorporate my business by June 1, 2022 to participate in the program? Can this program support with the incorporation process?
No. Your business must be incorporated federally or in the province of Ontario by June 1, 2022 in order to participate in the program. If you need support to be incorporated, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- What are the eligibility requirements to participate in this program?
- One or two team members of the business’s leadership team are available to participate in the program between June 30, 2022 and February 28, 2023
- The applicant must be early-stage business or small to medium enterprises (1-499 employees) and the business must be headquartered in southern Ontario
- Business must be incorporated (Ontario or federal)
- Business must have a scalable product or service
- Can I download a copy of the application to review prior to completing it?
Yes. Prior to entering the application, there will be a PDF version available for download. Please note that this is for review purposes only; all applications must be submitted via the online application form. You will also be able to add members of your team to the intake form to collaborate online.
- Can I apply to this program if my business is pre-revenue? Is there a minimum revenue requirement?
There is no minimum revenue required for i.d.e.a. Fund. Companies must have fewer than 500 employees.
- How can I determine what stage my business is at (idea, discovery, validation, efficiency, scale)?
There will be five (5) options for your business state. The explanations are:
- Idea: Entrepreneur with idea; initial market and technology exploration.
- Discovery: Value proposition established; testing ideas; proof of concept; identifying customers; early financials; Friends and Family funding.
- Validation: Business model established; minimum viable product; customer verified; initial orders; testing go-to-market strategy; pursuing angel funding or in accelerator
- Efficiency: Initial market traction; scaling sales and marketing; demand creation; forecasting based on actuals; pursuing early-stage VC.
- Scale: Validated product and market; customer growth; established management team; pursuing later-stage investment.
- How much detail do you require for the budget in the application?
The budget form is created to provide us with a high-level understanding of your project and project activities from a financial perspective so that we can review how much seed funding you are requesting, how much you are contributing, and how you expect to use that money. If you are accepted into the program, we will be working with you to develop a more comprehensive budget, KPIs and milestones.
- Is there a “save and continue later” feature for this application?
Yes. This feature will be visible once the application form is started and after the pre-qualification questions.
- What is a business model canvas and is there a resource to assist with completing this?
A business model canvas is a visual tool intended for developing new or documenting existing business models. It quickly informs how an organization or business creates its products or services, delivers them and captures value (e.g. with your customers or revenue). Think of the business model canvas as containing nine (9) essential building blocks. We encourage you to attend one of our information sessions to see an entire walk-through of the BMC or visit www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas to learn more.
- Will the application form time out and delete what I have completed?
If you use the “save and continue later” feature, the application will not delete completed questions.
This program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund, which advances economic recovery efforts, supports businesses and organizations to help create jobs, supports the transition to a green economy, and positions local economies for long-term growth.
How to Become a Client
Becoming an Innovate Niagara client is quick and easy, and there’s no fee.
Complete the Become a Client form online.
We’ll schedule you a meeting with an advisor.
Meet with that advisor to plan your next steps.